1. I had never noticed this before, or if I had I'd forgotten it, but Olaf Möller had submitted his favorite films to Senses of Cinema two years ago. An interesting list, with some films I love (like The Thin Red Line or A Touch of Zen) and some films I haven't seen but should have (like The Best Years of Our Lives or This Sporting Life) and some films I just wish I could see (like Operai, contadini and Thomas l'imposteur). And if it's ostensibly his #1 film ever, then now I really, really need to go back and see Kagemusha, a film I remember liking but can't actually remember. I saw it when I was maybe 16. (If you're reading this, Mr. Contreras, perhaps I'll do a double bill of Kagemusha/Throne of Blood.)
2. Chinese films! I've seen only two of the old ones at MoMA so far. Sun Yu's Daybreak ('33), the first I've seen by the director, was decent. Rather simple and straightforward elements, but I appreciated them as mildly abstracted or stylized storytelling rather than 'well-rounded' drama. (Hmph, three dimensions are for bourgeois pigs anyway!) The ending is morbid and fascinating. I was really glad to see Red Heroine (Yimin Wen, '29); the film itself wasn't that impressive, but it was fantastic to see such an early example of the wu xia film. I also recently caught up with Stanley Kwan's Lan Yu ('01) which I liked but didn't flip over. It's a sensitive and nicely realized love story. Now I need to see Kwan's Rouge. Sammo Hung's The Moon Warriors ('93), honestly, exceeded my expectations. I couldn't discern anything special really but this is one of those films, like a good Charles Marquis Warren-directed Western (or maybe a minor De Toth like Thunder Over the Hills or The Stranger Wore a Gun), that simply makes the best case for the existence (and expense) of "generic" entertainment. We (the royal "we" at any rate) are willing to forgive it any number of minor inanities because it possesses no larger crippling stupidity. It's economical, tight storytelling, devoid of pomp and circumstance (except when a little of it might prove pleasurable), eschewing too much button-pushing or audience-corralling, simply letting its images flow one after another in a narrative progression, with a nice simple pattern of threads that may come together or taper off as they will.
3. Fellow New Yorkers: Did the Two Boots Pizza on Bleecker St. go downhill, or has it always sucked and I just never noticed it, or am I just unlucky? Over the past 6-12 months I've been there maybe three times, and each time I've left feeling like I wasted money. Today was the worst instance. (And to think that I passed up a bahn mi sandwich in Chinatown because "Two Boots is closer and I haven't been there in a while.") But the two or three times I'd had Two Boots before this recent period I've always thought it was excellent, and it always seemed fresher.