Friday, January 2, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth Bennett: Oh, if you want to be really refined, you have to be dead. There's no one as dignified as a mummy
2008 top ten movie experiences:

1)I Don't Want to Sleep Alone
2)Duchess of Langeais and I'm a Cyborg and That's Okay @ IFC Center
3)Body and Soul (1925) and Cold Water (1994) @Anthology film Archives
4)Frownland @Olympia Film Society
6)My Winnepeg @O.F.S.
7)Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains@O.F.S.
8)The Fall (1968), Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, and All Freakin Night @ Olympia Film Festival
9)Vivre Sa Vie and Leave Her to Heaven @ S.I.F.F.
10)Jack Smith and Aldo Tambellini in general

Movies of '08 that I want to see but didn't yet (Che, Redacted, Milk, The Wrestler, Pineapple Express, the two newest Johnny To movies, the Pool, Assembly, Martyrs, Inside, Ex-drummer and Mishima by Paul Schrader)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

La Fille coupée en deux (A Girl Cut in Two)

This film inspired a lot of discussion. Is it patriarchal or a critique of patriarchy? If the latter, how is the critique limited by its participation in perpetuating what Laura Mulvey famously termed "The Male Gaze"?

I actually really enjoyed watching this film, like it was an Alfred Hitchcock movie or something. It was suspenseful and masterful. Still, a lot of women/feminists who saw it and don't have any context for the work (it's directed by Claude Chabrol) objected to the film strongly.

My own reaction was: why did he make this film now?

Being an enormous fan of the French New Wave, I tend to give Chabrol the benefit of the doubt here. How does film critique the world-as-it-is? Does art have to show heroic transformations where women overcome all odds and prevail in order to be feminist? After putting a lot of thought and work into it, I have come to the conclusion that feminist art is art that shows how womens' lives are shaped, formed and limited by their specific social, historical circumstances. (see: Godard's Vivre Sa Vie or Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things for two very different but excellent examples) This film does that well. But that's not all it does. It's a compelling work full of ideas, story and craft. To dismiss it as merely "sexist" is to miss a lot of what is happening in the film, including all the work and thinking that went into the making of it, which ultimately does a disservice to artists everywhere.

Art is meant to be considered carefully, not rashly dismissed. If you don't care, you don't care, but give it some thought: why don't you care? And if you find that you really don't care about the French New Wave, by all means, please start your own film movement that critiques society, promotes radical action and documents incendiary thinking! It's been too long.

Chop Shop

Chop Shop was my favorite movie of 2008, but it came out in 2007.

Best of 2008: the Dark Knight

I actually didn't see very many 2008 movies yet, because in Olympia we don't really get a lot of 2008 movies until 2009...and many don't make it to the big screen. Also a lot of the films we see are from 2007. But I'm making a list.

here's the most memorable:

Two-Face: It was your men, your plan!
The Joker: Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just... do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon's got plans. You know, they're schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. I'm not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. So, when I say... Ah, come here.
[takes Dent's hand into his own]
The Joker: When I say that you and your girlfriend was nothing personal, you know that I'm telling the truth. It's the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and look where that got you.
[Dent tries to grab the Joker]
The Joker: I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!
[Joker hands Two-Face a gun and points it at himself]
The Joker: Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!
[still holding the gun, Two-Face pauses and takes out his coin]
Two-Face: [showing the unscarred side] You live.
The Joker: Mm-hmm.
Two-Face: [flips, showing the scarred side] You die.
The Joker: Mmm, now we're talking.