Sunday, April 21, 2002

A Cloud-Capped Star (Ritwik Ghatak 1960) - I've always wanted to see a Ghatak film but none of them appear to be on video, not even on the traders circuit. But this showed at a screening in a beat-up 35 print. Would make an interesting double-bill with some Sirk film, All That Heaven Allows perhaps. Where Sirk approaches the melodrama as a form of excess, Ghatak prefers to strip melodrama to its essence. Or so it appears: he actually deploys some sophisticated use of music (nearly all digetic though there are some jumps into electronic UFO noise), depth of field, focus, stylized silent-movie-esque acting, etc all in a sort of counterpoint commentary (if that's not pointlessly mixed metaphors). The result is not emotional particularly--he wasn't aiming for Days of Our Calcutta Lives after all--but does create intriguing patterns and a meditation on suffering and sacrifice.


"In Visions in Meditation #2: Mesa Verde (1989) the black entrances to the famous Colorado cliff dwellings suggest voids in human understanding." Fred Camper on Stan Brakhage in The Chicago Reader, April 19, 2002.

This is confirmed by the following letter, previously unpublished:


In my function as one of the antennae of the race I understand that you do not realize the voids in human understanding. Not gaps, not lacunae, but Nietzschean VOIDS. Thus I have decided to suggest--not state, the artist must never be so blunt--this obscure truth by incorporating black entrances (doorways no longer) of a long-vanished people into my film. All 230 viewers--excluding myself: I seek no influences--should take the suggestion. I will insert an appropriate Renaissance reference when there is time to locate one. Perhaps Charlie Olson....alas he is dead. By the way, that closed-eye thing? Pounding my fists into my eyes produces the proper effect, oh why did I waste years attempting a filmic analogue?



Resident Evil (Paul Anderson 2002) - Solid addition to the soldiers vs. zombies filmography and certainly the highest grossing German-British film ever. Pop quiz: Compare and contrast to Ghosts of Mars (supermodel lead, train rides, corporate indifference, swarming opponents, enclosed spaces).


Small Time Crooks (Woody Allen 2000) - The script needed another rewrite. Or two.


Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (George Lucas 1999) - Not bad for a kids movie. You can amuse yourself imagining what it would be like if Lucas only had a brain or trying to figure out if he realized how racist it was to give the bad aliens Chinese/Asian accents.