Sunday, November 20, 2005

On the Agenda

The past two weeks or so have been educational ones concentrating mostly on Soviet and Indian cinema. And these will be the areas I'll continue to 'crash course' myself in through December, I think.

1) For Soviet films, I plan to catch up with the remainder of canonical and semi-canonical works I haven't seen (e.g., Mother) from the first two decades, and then move into the Soviet fantasies, children's films, epics, sci-fi films, 'Easterns,' and all-around entertainments for a while. I am also toying with the idea--yes, it's tentative, mind you--about writing on the different employments (graphically and maybe even philosophically) of very similar landscapes (grasslands, plains, hills) in a lot of Russian films, as well as in, for example, Jansco and Malick. Thus far I have some notes and am gathering illustrative stills from the Web; I'll update with progress on the project if anyone is interested. At the very least I suppose I can make a blog entry about it in the end.

2) I've been thinking about the best approach for Indian film, and will try to concentrate on pre-1970s cinema first, with a few more recent examples to get a taste of different regional flavors and contemporary trends. After I see a nice handful (or the closest available) from Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray (whom I still barely know!), Ghatak, Dutt, Kapoor, etc., then I'll move on to more of the New Cinema. It seems like the New York Public Library's Donnell branch actually has a fine selection of VHS tapes and DVDs of various languages; it also seems that there are people who rent these films constantly, because (like HK/Chinese films) the available titles at each of my visits can change drastically.

3) I'll make stabs at the Film Forum Hitchcock retrospective, and I'll see Fred Kelemen's Krisana at Anthology, but I really want to focus my celluloid viewing in December on MoMA, which is showing some 1920s-30s Chinese films and continuing their Japanese series.

These won't be the only things I'll blog about, but for the next several weeks I want to make them major components, and try to write with some regularity (if also with brevity, sometimes) about what I see. I'm doing this largely as an exercise in self-discipline, which I sorely lack. I need to make myself truly focus on these reading/viewing projects. At the very least it'll be good preparation for grad school.

Edit - Postscript - I just wanted to say, with regard to these projects I'm so bad at following through on ... there have been several things I've expressed flashes of intense interest about on this blog in the past, but which appear to have disappeared. Not so in many cases--they've simply turned into longer-term, slow-simmer projects. Surrealism for example is still a frequent series of questions & concepts I think about, but feel that I need to spend a long time directing my antennae to the Surrealism/surrealism of individual works of art before I can really say anything productive about it as a movement. The specter of Walter Benjamin always hovers, as do a number of film critics and philosophers, over so much of what I think and write. John Ford? Still working out thoughts on him and doing viewing "research." Silent cinema, avant-garde film traditions, impersonal genre work, Abel Ferrara, Japanese cinema? Ditto. Slow-cooked meals are often the best ones, I tell myself, and I hope my knowledge and written work in the end will reflect this assertion.

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