Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rotterblog (2)

Jan 30, '06

Hou Hsiao-hsien, a longtime Rotterdam attendee since the days when the late and great Hubert Bals was still running things, showed up to the premiere festival screening of Three Times wearing a baseball cap with the word "Hollywood" emblazoned on it. I can just picture the self-righteous grin coming from that Taiwanese distribution exec (see first entry), as if the hat represented Hou's admission to his own failure.

Three Times may not be commercial, but every filmmaker in the IFFR has Hou to both thank and blame for doing what he does at such an impossibly high level of artistic excellence. And if you like Three Times as much as I do, you'll see how easy it is to compare every film you see afterwards to it and say, "Well, it's no Three Times!" (See how lazy critics can be?)

I decided to watch Three Times on the gargantuan screen at the Pathe 1 over Takeshis', which I knew I could see at a later point and which was playing in a theater with a tiny screen. After the screening I headed over to de Doelen to see if Hou would be leading a karaoke ballad as he has in past years. Not this time, though I did run into the Dutch distributor for Three Times who helped me to secure an interview with Hou for this Thursday. Check that out, and more comments as I digest Three Times, at a later point on this blog.

Ruiz's Klimt, which two critic friends have asserted is much improved in the director's cut being presented at the festival than in the previous producer's cut, is still pretty bad if you ask me. As a portrait of the last years of Gustav Klimt's life (played by John Malkovich) in the Vienna of the fin de siècle, it joins the sub-genre of kitschy, tourist-eye biopics of painters in the tradition Ivory's Surviving Picasso and Schnabel's Basquiat. (Aside: the absolute masterpieces of this genre--it can be done well, believe it or not!--are Pialat's Van Gogh and Shengelaya's Pirosmani.) In Ruiz's superior Time Regained, which can only becompared to Klimt for being set in roughly the same time period, the eye-popping visuals (rollercoaster-like sets that have characters and objects shifting around in all sorts of ways) and time-shifting narrative worked in the service of Ruiz's interpretation of Proust. Here the fancy visuals are an expression of Klimt's delirium on his deathbed--a pedestrian use of Ruiz's creativity.

That's all for now, folks. Coming up still: Depardon at the Fotomuseum. Also, the interesting new film by Vibrator director Hiroki Ryuichi. And pictures!

--Gabe Klinger


Mubarak Ali said...

"Ruiz's Klimt...joins the sub-genre of kitschy, tourist-eye biopics of painters in the tradition Ivory's Surviving Picasso and Schnabel's Basquiat."

Ouch! There go my high expectations.

I think Peter Watkins' Edvard Munch also needs to be mentioned as one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) painter biopics ever made.

Brian said...

Mubarak Ali, I agree with your Watkins assessment, with Leduc's Frida, natureleza viva coming in second from among those I've seen.