Friday, January 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

It's not a brand-new write-up, I know, but I was just looking over it and paragraphs like this that remind me why I like Olaf Möller's film criticism so much:

"In the end, there was a program of 17 films in which people sung at times. Three of which are serious masterpieces: Above all, Makino Masahiro’s Oshidori utagassen (Singing Lovebirds, 1939), a spunky, vivacious, realist jidai-musical with a funky score by Jazz-maître Okubo Tokujiro and some serious political lip; then, Wang Tianlin’s head-strong, noir-fueled Carmen-paraphrase Ye meigui zhi lian (The Wild Wild Rose, 1960) whose I-am-the-Mandarin-Musical-to-end-all-Mandarin-Musicals swagger could impress the shit out of the naggiest skeptic; and finally, the dark horse, Liu Qiong’s Ashima (1964), an “ethnic minority” faux-folklore sort-of-opera whose elegant, subtle, Shanghaian ‘30s-left-wing-Modernism-inspired direction – spiked with sudden experimental stabs – made the most of its eye-popping location shots – magisterial movements through epic landscapes – and its wildly inspired studio-sets. Lovers of communist popular culture also fell for a pair of echt Maoist beauties, Su Li’s Liu Sanjie (Third Sister Liu, 1961), an often-remade paragon of Main-Melody-entertainment, and Xie Tian and Chen Fangqian and Xu Feng’s Honghu chiwei dui (The Red Guards of Hong Lake, 1961), an early model for a cinema that would, via Wang Ping’s Mother-of-all-Mao-kitsch-spectacles-cum-“Peasant, Worker, Soldier”-climax Dongfang hong (The East Is Red, 1965), find a final shape in the Yang ban xi adaptations of the Cultural Revolution-years – works people – ranging from the New Left to the Neoliberist Nostagia-Wizards of Amnesia – got recently again interested in as expressions of something like Maoist Pop Art, with tightrope walkers like Zhang Yimou doing Hongse niangzi jun (The Red Detachment of Women) and Liu Sanjie on stage and Zhang Yuan adapting Zhang Jie (2004) for the screen: a slice of history gets reclaimed and dis-/re-remembered, -imagined..."

I'm not sure I am familiar with a single title in this list, and who knows what is happening with the syntax, but what a great and generous acceptance of a quick connect-the-dots for a festival program that many writers may well have yawned away before even trying to engage?

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