Friday, March 16, 2007

A Little of This, a Little of That

1. The Tribeca Film Festival is putting up its line-ups on its website gradually, making me wish for the first time in years that I'd like a press pass to write about the festival (the Restored/Rediscovered section looks especially interesting). A futile feeling, though: I work a 9-to-5 and I think Tribeca's critics' screenings are in the daytime anyway, no? So I don't even need to worry about convincing anyone to sponsor me, or accredit me on the basis of EL.

2. Does anyone have DVD screeners, VCDs, whathaveyou, of Colossal Youth and/or Rain Dogs? I'm looking for certain images to screengrab, really, so I would appreciate a permanent trade, a loan, or even just being sent some jpegs.

3. Filmmakers I would love to see get travelling retrospectives (pleeease): F.J. Ossang, Shinsuke Ogawa, Adolfo Arrieta, António Reis, Rogério Sganzerla, Rose Lowder, Yervant Gianikan & Angela Ricchi Lucchi, Riccardo Freda, Raymonde Carasco, Parviz Kimiavi, Sohrab Shahid Saless, and Rattana Pestonji. Maybe we should start online petitions to get retrospectives together? Or do any EL readers have encouraging news about any of these figures? I know that some Freda films are on DVD; and Ossang also has a little home video representation; I know that I have missed a few chances to see the most recent Gianikan & Ricchi Lucchi film (my bad); but some of these figures--Pestonji, Carasco--I've waited a long time to see!

4. Not that I'm always good at seeing retrospectives, especially when they're at BAM--I still haven't made a single Imamura this month. Out 1 and Kiarostami have been the priorities, and these next few days would be great for me to catch a few--but I'm leaving town tonight for the weekend! So I imagine that if some enterprising local programmer were to actually take a weekend to show Ossang's films, it would (a) play on Thanksgiving weekend, or (b) play opposite screenings of Pestonji's Prae Dum.

5. I should be seeing 300 next week, and if I have anything to say about it at all, it might make for an interesting dimension to the anti-Persian currents briefly touched upon here w/r/t the Solomon-Kiarostami interview ...


Daniel Kasman said...

I have sadly heard of none of those filmmakers!

David McDougall said...

Tonight's Imamura is Profound Desire of the Gods. It's a shame you'll have to miss it.

I have no encouraging news about note #3. I would love to see any of those retros because I haven't seen any films by those on the list. I suspect you don't read Portuguese, but there's a terrfic and extensive blog dedicated to the life + work of António Reis here.

I saw 300 last Friday and hope to post my reflections this weekend.

ZC said...

Daniel, of those filmmakers, some of them are fairly important for their particular fields, they're just "invisible" for the majority of us who don't have special access to, say, particular national cinemas--Parviz Kimiavi and Sohrab Shahid Saless, for instance, were really major Iranian filmmakers (and if pre-1979 films by Farmanara and Ghaffari can come to New York screens in the early months of 2007, why can't theirs?); Pestonji is an important Thai filmmaker whose work is cited as a big inspiration for Tears of the Black Tiger; Sganzerla is big for the Brazilian Cinema Marginal; Shinsuke Ogawa gets mentioned as a major master of Japanese documentary filmmaking. Some of the directors, like Ossang and Lowder and Carasco, are mentioned occasionally by Nicole Brenez, so if you hang on her every word like I do, you feel an irrational urge to see the films of anyone she recommends. (And Ossang's Docteur Chance is just about the best feature film of the 90s in my highly singular opinion.)

Dave, I'm aware of that Reis blog. (Don't read Portuguese, really, but I can extract the gist of a paragraph.) Looking forward to your thoughts on 300 (and I liked your Satantango comments, btw).

It looks like my flight got cancelled tonight, and possibly my entire weekend trip, but I don't think I'll be able to make Profound Desire anyway ...

David McDougall said...

If you ever need a translation of a post from that Reis blog, I'm (barely?) up to the task. My Portuguese isn't as good as I'd like, but it's pretty good.

I'm very happy to hear you liked my Satantango post. My 300 reflections are mostly political, including some on the politics of onscreen violence and displacement when there's a war going on. I will need some time to put them together, though, and I have a lot of screenings this weekend (including, possibly, a first viewing of The Host). OK, off to see Profound Desire now.

girish said...

"And Ossang's Docteur Chance is just about the best feature film of the 90s in my highly singular opinion."

Wow, high praise, and good to hear. I picked up the VHS used on Amazon for only a few bucks recently and look forward to seeing it. (It was one of the items Nicole Brenez had posted an Amazon review for.)

Brian Darr said...

Pestonji has been subject of retrospectives in a few Asian film festivals in recent years. Singapore showed several films in April 2002. Bangkok showed some in January 2004, and Pusan showed four films in October 2005. At this rate, the next film festival to show a set should be in July 2007; I'm not aware of any major Asian festival at that time of year so maybe they'll be freed from that continent- aren't there several good festivals down under that time of year?

I have a sneaking feeling that any good news for Tribeca fans amounts to bad news for San Francisco festgoers, especially now that the dates line up even more closely, which ought to increase competition for prints and premieres. But I suppose I should wait until the full lineup is announced to really get hot and bothered...

Mubarak Ali said...

I just got back from an out-of-town trip myself - to all this awesome reading on EL.

I'd be happy to hook you up with a Colossal Youth screener. Decent quality too, all things considered. Still praying it shows up here on the big screen sometime.

To your (solid!) list of desired retrospectives, I'd add filmmakers like Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Cecile Fontaine, Masao Adachi, Yoshida Yoshishige, Werner Schroeter, Jean-Claude Rousseau, Peter Nestler, Koichi Onishi, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Alexander Kluge, Med Hondo, etc. Even DVDs would do...
ps - Just realised I've got a disc of Gianikian/Ricci-Lucchi short films (source uncertain, and, alas, From the Pole to the Equator not among them) - if you didn't mind seeing them on disc.

ZC said...

Mubarak, that's a great list, too! I'd gladly add them to mine. (The only one I don't recognize is Koichi Onishi--have to look that name up.) Some of those are such tantalizing figures, I've just wanted to sample them--Masao Adachi, Med Hondo. I've seen a film apiece by Yoshida and Gopalakrishnan, and maybe 4-5 by Kluge. I think in New York the only one with anything approaching serious presence on screens in the last several years has been Kluge. Maybe a few films by Shroeter and Kluge if you've been keeping a look out.

I'll send you an email, Mubarak.

ZC said...

Brian, do you know anything about that Country Hotel DVD available from Thai Film Foundation? I'm a little intimidated to order from the site.

Brian Darr said...

Its a good-quality DVD (burnt-in subs, if I recall, though) of a very interesting and entertaing (to me, anyway) film.

I don't own it myself though. A friend who traveled to Bangkok and was able to take a tour of the Thai Film Archive, which I believe is where he bought a copy of the disc. He was kind enough to loan it to me (speaking of which I ought to return it to him).

Mubarak Ali said...

Daisuke Akasaka's inclusion of Onishi's Northern Song among his SoC Top Ten was enough to land him on my wishlist. There isn't much info on him around from what I've looked at. I've seen one or two films by some of the other filmmakers I mentioned but I suspect their greatest films still evade us.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing my first Sganzerla film projected in a couple of months...

Anonymous said...

A great list, as far as I can tell, with one exception: Gianikian and Ricchi-Lucchi. I've only seen Oh, uomo, but it was painfully, embarrassingly bad. One of the few films I've seen in recent years which I would say was totally worthless. The sort of thing which only a state-subsidized "avant-garde" could buy.

The two films by Saless I've seen, on the other hand, are major works of art and extremely important to Iranian film history.

celinejulie said...

What a great list! I have seen only three films directed by Rattana Pestonji and one film of which he is a cinematographer and producer. I saw BLACK SILK (1961, A), DARK HEAVEN (1958, A), and COUNTRY HOTEL (1957, A+) in 1996, and a few years later I saw CHUAFAH DIN SALAI (directed by Marut, 1955, A+). I think CHUAFAH DIN SALAI can be translated as UNTIL THE END OF TIME. (The grade I give to each film indicates how much I love it, not how good the film is.)

Personally, I think Rattana Pestonji is excellent in film craftsmanship. He might be one of the best Thai directors, but he is not one of my most favorite directors. It is because I often feel some ‘distant’ from classical cinema in general. Rattana Pestonji’s films make me admire him, but don’t make me feel very strong emotions.

I think COUNTRY HOTEL is a very entertaining movie. I love the structure of this film. For the first half of this film, the story is full of nonsensical jokes, and suddenly the story turns from comedy into thriller. It gives me as much surprise as FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. The female protagonist is very brave, and I always like this kind of female protagonist.

BLACK SILK is a good classical film, but the female protagonist in this film is too good for me to identify with. Hahaha. She behaved like Penelope, Odysseus’s patient wife. I like this film as much as I like GOLDEN MARIE (1952, Jacques Becker), which also concerns with the love of a gang member. I think both films are perfectly crafted. Everything seems to be in the right place in the right proportion. The story is nicely told. But it doesn’t make me feel very exciting.

DARK HEAVEN is a nicely told melodrama. It is adapted from SEVENTH HEAVEN (1927, Frank Borzage). I like DARK HEAVEN as much as I like some of Aki Kaurismaki’s films. These films are about poor people with pure hearts who try to be happy together against all odds. But DARK HEAVEN is a little bit ‘loud’ compared with Kaurismaki’s quiet tone.

CHUFAH DIN SALAI is my most favorite among these four films, because Marut, the director, can make very good use of the sex appeal of the handsome leading actor. I don’t know anything about Marut, but this film feels much more ‘sensual’ than the three films of Pestonji that I saw. I also like the character of the leading protagonist. She is a very bad girl, like the one in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. Though the leading characters in this film are bad people (practicing adultery), I couldn’t help siding with them and prayed that they could win in the end. That’s why I think this film is great. It tells a romantic story of immoral couple, and can make the audience sympathize with them.

CHUAFAH DIN SALAI is also an inspiration for today’s Thai filmmaker. This film is strongly referred to in the short film called MIAMI STRIPS, HOLLYWOOD DREAMS (1999, Lee Chatametikool, A+). Lee Chatametikool now works as an editor in SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY, TROPICAL MALADY, and BLISSFULLY YOURS.

Rattana Pestonji was born in 1908, so I hope that there should be a centennial anniversary for him next year.

There are also some films by Pestonji that I would like to see very much. They are:

1.THAILAND (1958)
This film shows some historical places in Bangkok and the ordinary life of Thai people, which are very connected with Buddhism

This film shows Dhammachakra, which is an important symbol of Buddhism, and some stories related to Dhammachakra.

This film shows Khon, a Thai traditional dance performance. The performance is adapted from some Hindu mythology called Ramayana. It is about Nontuk, a loyal gatekeeper in heaven. By doing his duty well, he is given magical powers by the god Shiva. He is given a diamond finger that can point death to anyone he wishes to kill. So he points it to many deities and creates havoc in heaven.

This film collects many old advertisements for old products by Diethelm company.

This one is like an industrial film. It shows the process of work inside a factory of alcoholic drinks.

THAILAND, THE WHEEL OF THE LAW, and DIAMOND FINGER are short documentaries that Pestonji made for the Thai government, so that they can be distributed to foreign embassies. They are about Thai culture and many aspects of Thailand.

50 YEARS OF DIETHELM and SURA are documentaries that Pestonji made for some business corporations.

The four short documentaries (excluding SURA) have something connected to one another, and are very important in documenting Thailand in the past.

The information about these five short films by Pestonji is from an article by Manotham Theamtheabrat, my most favorite Thai film critic. The article appeared in a Thai magazine called THAI FILM QUATERLY, July-Sep 1999.

I also like Yoshida Yoshishige, Werner Schroeter, and Alexander Kluge very much. I saw WOMEN IN THE MIRROR (2002, Yoshida Yoshishige, A+), A PROMISE (1986, Yoshida Yoshishige, A+), THE DEATH OF MARIA MALIBRAN (1972, Werner Schroeter, A+), and MALINA (1991, Werner Schroeter, A+). As for Alexander Kluge’s films, the one that I like the most is FIREFIGHTER, E.A. WINTERSTEIN (1968). It is very crazy.

My retrospective wish list
He belongs to the SIXPACKFILM group.
I have heard that The National Film Theatre in London showed 21 films of Gosho in 1986,
16.PHANI MAJUMDAR (He is an Indian who is very important in the Malaysian film history.)

My retrospective witch list (for female filmmakers):
I’d like to see TRANSFORMATION IN THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT, which she directed with Corinna Schnitt and Alice Koenitz.
I’d like to see her film called TRUST YOUR FATHERS, IGNORE YOUR EXPERIENCE (1982).

ZC said...

Ah, Celinejulie (wish I could read more of your blog, by the way--I'm a fan of your Senses of Cinema lists, too), thanks for all the Rattana Pestonji information. And I'd be interested in retrospectives of most of those filmmakers you mention, too!

ZC said...

Anonymous commenter--sorry you weren't a fan of the G/R-L work you saw. I'll consider myself to have been warned if I don't like it ...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that there's room for reasonable people to disagree on this, but it was some of the most unimaginative, obvious, heavy-handed, monotonous use of found footage I've ever seen. Blandly dissonant soundtrack to signify horror layered over a banal inventory of images of same, (presumably) flattering the "humanist" sensibilities of the audience. It reminded me of the pseudo-avant-garde masturbation of Bill Morrison's Decasia, which is a similarly bombastic and similarly empty use of found footage. Both films would have been improved by being silent, but not much. Your mileage may vary.