Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Activity-wise, a customary double whammy arrives in early September with the kick-off to the new academic year coinciding with the Toronto film fest. Given that I'll be juggling teaching and film-festivalling, the prime challenges over the next couple of weeks will be smart time- and sleep-management. I don't know for sure if I'll be able to file any dispatches from the film front, but I will try to check in here every now and then. Do keep an eye on Darren's TIFF blog, 1st Thursday, for impressions and interactions of TIFF-goers during the festival.

* * *

Some recent reading:

-- At the TIFF site, the Future Projections symposium has interesting essays by Andréa Picard, Marc Mayer, and others, on the relationship between film and the visual-arts world.

-- Michael Sicinski on Straub/Huillet's Europa 2005, 27 Octobre; and anticipating TIFF.

-- Dan Sallitt: "I saw Bringing Up Baby 12 times in my first 15 years of film-buffery, and then let 20 years go by before my 13th viewing last week. My first impression this time around is that there are two films in there, fighting with each other."

-- We know that modernism influenced cinema. But did cinema influence the development of modernism? Malcolm Turvey at Artforum reviews two art exhibits that juxtapose early painting and film.

-- Steven Shaviro on Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales: "As is always the case in Ferrara’s films — and as almost nobody seems to understand — the real libidinal force of the movie lies, less in the (often sleazy, and here somewhat de-sleazified, but still, let us say, “provocative”) content, than it does in the force field of intensities created by set design, lighting, and especially camera movement. [...] Ferrara himself was in attendance. Introduced before the film, he looked out over the auditorium (in which there were many empty seats) and said, “Every empty seat is a knife in the heart of the director.”"

-- At Zach's: post+comments on an essay by Régis Debray called "Socialism: A Life-Cycle" in the New Left Review.

-- J. Hoberman: "Mumblecore’s compulsive navel-gazing, paucity of external references, and narrow field of interest is not for every taste—as Sam Fuller told a French journalist who asked him about Rebel Without a Cause, “I hate these adolescents and their problems.” Like, who doesn’t—although, seeing these films, I regret no one was on hand to fashion art from the stoned blather or communal shenanigans of Viet-era twenty-somethings."

-- Emmanuel Burdeau from Venice at Cahiers du Cinéma: On the new Arnaud Desplechin film; and Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited.

-- Kevin Lee on Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2.

-- Several recent posts at Jason Sperb's place, Jamais Vu.

-- Steve Erickson on Johnnie To at Gay City News.

-- Several pieces in the current issue of Screening the Past.

-- Online viewing at Expanded Cinema: Alexandr Hackenschmied's Aimless Walk, which "in many ways inaugurated the avant-garde film movement in Czecholovakia, while also proposing early ideas of 'psychogeography' later developed by the Situationist movement."

-- Phillip Lopate at Bookforum: Literary adaptations into film. (via Sachin.)


Blogger girish said...

-- New Film Comment.
-- David Bordwell:
"In the classic years, there was asymmetrical information among film professionals. Filmmakers outside the US were very aware of Hollywood cinema because of the industry’s global reach. French and German filmmakers could easily watch what American cinema was up to. Soviet filmmakers studied Hollywood imports, as did Japanese directors and screenwriters. Ozu knew the work of Chaplin, Lubitsch, and Lloyd, and he greatly admired John Ford. But US filmmakers were largely ignorant of or indifferent to foreign cinemas. True, a handful of influential films like Variety (1925) and Potemkin (1925) made an impact on Hollywood, but with the coming of sound and World War II, Hollywood filmmakers were cut off from foreign influences almost completely. I doubt that Lubitsch or Ford ever heard of Ozu."
-- Dave Kehr in the NYT:
"But Mr. Ishii’s heart seemed to lie with a hybrid of pink films and horror that the Japanese call “ero-guro”(short for “erotic grotesque”), of which “Horrors of Malformed Men” remains perhaps the most notorious example. Based on a selection of stories by Edogawa Rampo, a celebrated pulp novelist who took his pseudonym from the Japanese pronunciation of “Edgar Allan Poe,” “Horrors of Malformed Men” is less a lucidly plotted film than an exercise in streaming subconsciousness: a dreamlike outpouring of transgressive imagery that opens in a prison for topless madwomen and concludes with an explosion of optical effects that sends (none too plausibly) severed heads and body parts sailing through a purplish sky."

September 04, 2007 7:18 PM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Hey Girish,

Thanks for the link mention. Have fun at TIFF :) Please do let us know what films stand out and what fall below expectations.

One comment about a TIFF title. I have seen Árpád Bogdán's Happy New Life and I found it to be an interesting visual experience. Although, the story is something that has been covered by many films previously, I enjoyed being sucked into the portrayed landscape. I am hesistant to recommend it but in case something frees up for you...

On my side, I am excited by what CIFF and VIFF have to offer. This year, VIFF has a
spotlight on China
and the line-up for Asian films looks promising (as always). Also, I am happy that I might finally get a chance to see Yasmin Ahmad's Gubra (Malaysia) at VIFF. I have seen the other two movies in her Orked series and since her movies are hard to come by in my part of the world, this might be a great chance for me to complete the trilogy.

September 05, 2007 4:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey Sachin, that's a terrific East Asian program line-up at VIFF. Wish we had something like that at TIFF. I notice that Night Train is playing; Cinema Scope had an article on it in the last issue but it's not playing TIFF. I couldn't squeeze in the new Jiang Wen film but it seems to be getting strong reviews in Venice. The Jia and Wang Bing films are probably what I'm most excited for at TIFF.

September 05, 2007 5:27 PM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Actually if it were not for the last issue of Cinema Scope, I would not have had Wang Bing's Fengming on my radar. But I have read that article twice and I really hope to see it at VIFF. Their full schedule is out this sat and only then can I book my flight dates.

Last year, I spent most of VIFF watching their Asian titles. This year, I wanted to catch other titles but with this line-up, I can't think of seeing anything else :) Although, VIFF is showing Ferrara's Go Go Tales so depending on its time slot, I will try to catch that.

September 05, 2007 6:19 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Some reading:

-- At Zach's place: John Simon on Ingmar Bergman.
-- Dave Kehr on the upcoming John Ford box set.
-- Yoshie at Critical Montages: "Free contraceptives in Iran".
-- Pacze Moj: "McGraw Hill: Bad Textbook".

I'll teach my morning class today and then hit the Queen Elizabeth Way [the highway that connects Niagara Falls and Toronto]. Starting off the fest with Carlos Saura's musical documentary Fados this evening.

As always, pl. feel free to use this space to post links, chat, etc. Ciao.

September 06, 2007 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Gautam said...

Have fun at TIFF! I'll be definitely checking in every now and then for your posts- you should try and do a daily post if you can-

September 06, 2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hi, everyone.

Been hectically busy with the fest and then coming home to teach; I'm returning to the fest this afternoon after my day's classes.

In terms of average quality of films seen so far, this TIFF is the strongest I've attended. I have a wall-to-wall schedule, both film- and social-wise, and it's not looking like I'll be able to post any thoughts about the films till next week. Also, it'll be good to live with these films (and mull them) for a few days before trying to say something about them.

Hope everyone's having a good week. Ciao.

September 11, 2007 8:07 AM  
Anonymous girish said...

Just popping up to say that the big discovery of the festival so far for me has been Jose Luis Guerin's Dans la vie de Sylvia. An amazing film.

September 12, 2007 10:02 PM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Hey Girish, glad to hear that about Guerin's film as I was considering seeing that at VIFF. Also at VIFF, they are showing the movie along with Unas fotos en la ciudad del Sylvia, a 70 minute black and white segment that Guerin made along with the film.

September 13, 2007 1:06 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Wow. I'd love to be able to see that.

September 13, 2007 6:24 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oops, sorry for the typo above: the Guerin film is Dans la VILLE de Sylvia.

September 13, 2007 6:26 AM  
Blogger Filipe Furtado said...

It's great to hear about the Guerin.

September 13, 2007 9:17 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Filipe -- A huge thank you for recommending it! Guerin wasn't even on my radar until you mentioned him.

(Today's highlight: the terrific Paranoid Park.)

September 13, 2007 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Okay, Girish, after reading your recent comments, I now really wish I were still at TIFF. :)

I'm glad you're still catching great films. I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for the Guerin, since I couldn't schedule it in.

September 14, 2007 1:17 AM  
Blogger acquarello said...

Michael, you have a second shot at the Guerin over on the other coast at NYFF on Columbus Day weekend. Tickets are still available. ;)

September 14, 2007 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Back-to-back festivals: that would be an interesting experience -- and a real endurance test. :)

September 14, 2007 12:29 PM  
Anonymous girish said...

Michael and Acquarello -- Darren actually went to the Guerin for the second time today while I was seeing the Oliveira (which turned out to be, for me, a disappointment, even though I normally like his films).

The Rohmer, which we saw this morning, was wonderful. A little stunner.

Last day tomorrow: the Chabrol, Rivette and Jacques Nolot films coming up.

Michael -- I'm very glad we were able to spend some time hanging out in the first few days of the festival.

September 14, 2007 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Me too, Girish. I greatly enjoyed it.

You're the third person to give high marks to the Rohmer film; that's another one I'll look out for as it makes its way 'round.

September 15, 2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger celinejulie said...

I want to see Jose Luis Guerin’s films very much, especially after Acquarello wrote about EN CONSTRUCCION (2001) and compared it to Chantal Akerman’s films.

Manuel Yanez Murillo wrote about Jose Luis Guerin in Film Comment, Jan/Feb 2006, in an article about Catalonian cinema. He wrote:

“Guerin had toured the ghostliest corners of cinematic archaeology with SHADOW TRAIN (TREN DE SOMBRAS, 1997) and paid tribute to his masters: John Ford was honored in the documentary INNISFREE (1990), about the repercussions of shooting THE QUIET MAN in the eponymous town; the legacies of Bresson, Dreyer, and Victor Erice were evident in BERTA’S MOTIVES (LOS MOTIVOS DE BERTA, 1985).”

The article in Film Comment seems to imply that Mercedes Alvarez, who directed THE SKY TURNS (2004), was a student of Jose Luis Guerin and Joaquim Jorda at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

I think now is the time that someone should hold a mini-retrospective of Jose Luis Guerin.

September 15, 2007 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Walter said...

Girish, I'm glad you enjoyed the new Rohmer. It's one of the two movies I saw--the other being Schindler's Houses--that I enjoyed more on reflection than I did while actually watching it. It was great to meet you, albeit briefly, during the first half of the festival.

September 15, 2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger Tucker said...

The Rohmer, which we saw this morning, was wonderful. A little stunner.

Thanks for the heads up on the Rohmer. I would probably see it either way, but it's good to hear you liked it. It's amazing he is turning out quality films at his age - although I'm sure his mind and heart are still young. I hope I have that much energy when I am near 90 years old!

September 15, 2007 8:46 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, everyone.

CelineJulie -- I didn't know about the Film Comment article--thank you for telling me about it.

Walter -- I wish we'd been able to hang out and chat about our various common areas of interest (not just films but also jazz, indie comics, e.g. Gilbert vs. Jaime, etc). Perhaps next year...

Tucker -- The Rohmer film is one of the few that I'm very eager to see again soon. And it's time for me to watch Perceval, which (I think) might be the only Rohmer I haven't seen yet. It's also a period piece like the new one.

September 16, 2007 9:33 PM  
Blogger acquarello said...

Mercedes Alvarez and José Luis Guerín do seem to operate on a similar wavelength with respect to their treatment of "artifacts" of human (organic/carbon-based...) history, so the tutelage part actually makes sense. The scene with digging up the Roman skeletons in En Construcción in a way serves a similar function as Alvarez's shots of the dinosaur footprints in El Cielo gira in illustrating the "mortal coil" as something transitory and interchangeable vessels for an eternal consciousness (or souls, spirits). That aesthetic of capturing the idea of displaced souls by tracking empty spaces and shadows is what actually reminds me of Akerman.

September 17, 2007 12:22 PM  
Anonymous wallpapers cars said...

Wow. I'd love to be able to see that.

June 02, 2008 8:33 PM  
Anonymous seguridad industrial said...

Actually if it were not for the last issue of Cinema Scope, I would not have had Wang Bing's Fengming on my radar. But I have read that article twice and I really hope to see it at VIFF. Their full schedule is out this sat and only then can I book my flight dates.

June 02, 2008 8:34 PM  
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