Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Five Points in Search of a Theme

1. Raúl Ruiz is one of the most mind-boggling, frustrating artists ever. I'm a big fan--don't get the wrong impression--but one can't be a lazy fan of his work, that's for sure. His Poetics of Cinema, for those who haven't had the frustrating pleasure of reading it, is immensely and breezily erudite. It's along the lines of, 'In order to illustrate my Narrative Principle of Anti-Causality and its appearance in those old movie serials directed by Ford Beebe, I will have to go back to the 4th century BC Chinese text on architecture ...' That's parody rather than a summary or a verbatim quote, of course. But you get the picture of the way Ruiz playfully jumps from one context to another, pulling his arguments and running his reasoning through all of them one after another. It must be the sort of book which time and experience "open up." At least I hope it is. Frustrating Ruiz exhibit #2: Life Is a Dream. I tried watching it on video. I was fascinated, but defeated, very early in the film. Had to turn off the tape. (In my defense, I was exhausted at the time.) I'll go back and start the experience anew, but this is hardly the first Ruiz film I've had to struggle with before seeing fully through.

2. I find that I can group all of my really strong urges to spend money can be grouped into four categories: cinema (rentals, DVDs, screening tickets), music (CDs more than concerts), food (restaurants, groceries, alcohol), and books (all kinds!). Each week it seems like I'm obsessed with going and getting a bunch of one group or another. Lately I've been somewhat disciplined about not getting things, and probably deserve a pat on the back from myself. It will be what allows me to see some of these Japanese films this season.

3. Here are albums that I have been listening to and thinking about a lot lately: Love Cry (Albert Ayler), Hypnotic Underground (Ghost), New Skin for the Old Ceremony (Leonard Cohen), Aida (Derek Bailey), Now Is the Hour (Charlie Haden Quartet West), Fight Test EP (Flaming Lips -- but really only for the first two songs), The Stolen Stars: Anaphorian Dance Drama (Kraig Grady).

4. John Ford's Donovan's Reef is too beautiful for words. But, a few words anyway: what other examples of classical Hollywood cinema can we come up with that deal with the resolution of dramatic tension so subtly, so tacitly, as this one does?

5. I have to go do laundry now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was recently told a curious story behind "Poetics of Cinema" translations: the original was written in Spanish, immediately translated into French, at which point the Spanish original became lost (?!). The French translation was then used to translate it into English and (!) back into Spanish. Ruiz himself considers the English translation to be the most adequate "version" but the incomprehensibilty factor is still pretty high, as I've discovered over the last 2 years trying to translate it into Russian. (When I first read it 6-7 years ago, it seemed to make much more sense).