Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't know why it's taking me so long to readjust to being back home. Well, it is true that i was away for almost ten months, and i've never been away from New York City for so long in my entire life! But the last month has been a flurry of travelling: from Berlin to Munich, then Munich to New York City, then a week at home, then to and from Santa Fe. It was the travelling to and from Santa Fe that was the killer: the delays, getting stuck in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport for hours, the horrible cramped conditions in the airbuses that make up the final lap of the trip to Santa Fe... agh!

I feel like i never want to travel again! Since we've moved to Brooklyn, we haven't taken many trips. In fact, the only trip i took was the one to my niece's wedding in Napa Valley. That was it. Now that i'm back home, i don't even want to go on the subway!

But i have been watching things on television, i saw some movies, of course i've been watching TCM's Summer Under the Stars. For Paul Newman day, i watched "Rachel, Rachel" and "Paris Blues". "Paris Blues" is one of those movies which (in a way) has improved with time. At the time of its release, the movie was derided for its rather cliched view of la vie boheme in Paris, especially since the movie was released at a time when the first Nouvelle Vague films were being distributed, so the image of Parisian life had to compete with "Breathless", "The 400 Blows", "Les Cousins". And in terms of race relations, Kerouac's "The Subterraneans" and Baldwin's "Another Country" had already presented far more complex narratives. But now, the location shooting in Paris seems so evocative and lovely, especially in the exquisite black-and-white cinematography; Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll give appealing star performances, and there's the Duke Ellington music, as well as Louis Armstrong's appearance. What's not to like? As for "Rachel, Rachel", the acting in it was really exceptional, certainly, that's one area where Newman was quite gifted as a director.

There are many movies which are problematic, but, when looked from certain angles, are quite impressive. Once such movie was "The Sun Shines Bright", which i got to see (in a rare 35mm print) in Berlin. It's hard to explain, because the intensity with which Ford seens to infuse certain scenes is difficult to explain. On the surface, the material seems very retrograde (more so because the same material had already been used by John Ford in the 1930s), but Ford's feelings seem to overwhelm everything.

I'm just so tired. I can't seem to shake it. Just watched "The Ghosts of Girlfrends Past"; obviously, not a movie that i would watch in a theater, but i decided i should see it because it has Jennifer Garner, who (along with Jennifer Aniston) was an object of scorn in a recent column by Maureen Dowd. Jennifer Garner isn't bad, in fact, there are moments when she's very charming. In a way, i don't understand current critical standards (or the lack thereof). It's like the current critical animosity towards Jennifer Aniston: where is this coming from? But it's coming from the same mentality which Hollywood foists on everyone, in which there are winners and losers. So Angelina Jolie is a winner (especially because "Salt" was a success) and so Jennifer Aniston must be the loser. And one of the problems with critics now is that so many critics want to be insiders, they want to know who's on top in the Hollywood hierarchy, they want to back the winner.

It's kind of a hideous situation. And nobody wants to break the trend.


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