Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I've been resisting it . . . but I'm caving in. My top ten films of the year (including re-releases) in no particular order.

Millenium Mambo by Hou Hsiao Hsien
Vendredi Soir by Clair Denis
Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola
Unknown Pleasures by Jia Zhang Ke
Los Angeles Plays Itself by Thomas Andersen
demonlover by Olivier Assayas
Au hasard Balthazar by Robert Bresson
Sans Soleil by Chris Marker
Millenium Actress by Satoshi Kon
Elephant by Gus Vant Sant

And applause for the Fassbinder retrosepective that made its way around the country last year.

Holidays at home . . . time to spare . . . watching VH1 Classics, taken aback by the extreme Road Warrior orientalism of Duran Duran's videos. But they were my favorite band in the 5th grade. Was I a Victorian in my youth?

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Au hasard Balthazar by Robert Bresson

Has any other filmmaker so delicately balanced cruelty and compassion? Or Schubert and hee-haws? The life of Balthazar, a duende donkey if there ever was one, is one of the great stories of cinema. And Robert Bresson is French Cinema, wrote Jean-Luc Godard, just as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is German music. Elsewhere Godard called Balthazar “the world in an hour and a half”. If so, pass the hankies, the world is one big sob.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Waggish, one of my favorite literary weblogs, is reading In Search of Lost Time, one of my favorite novels, and keeping a journal. He's reading the English Moncrieff/Kilmartin edition, pre-Enright, which was given the less literal title Remembrance of Things Past, from Shakespeare's Sonnet XXX:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:

Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight.

Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.

(But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.)

Waggish Reads Proust

Since I haven't read the pre-Enright edition, I don't know why the translators chose the Shakespearean title. I'd be interested in finding out why.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Noel King interviews Michael Wood in the latest issue of Jacket Magazine, touching on narrative ambiguity, Luis Buñuel, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Stephen King, crime fiction, Roland Barthes, and the oracular.
I hadn't realized that the Royal Art Lodge has a website. I should've known.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Recent screenings:

Bless Their Little Hearts by Billy Woodberry
21 Grams by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Perfect Blue and
Millenium Actress by Satoshi Kon
La Rupture by Claude Chabrol
The Smiling Madame Beudet and
La Belle dame sans merci by Germaine Dulac
All the Real Girls by David Gordon Green
Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne by Robert Bresson

Recent readings:

Buddha's Little Finger by Victor Pelevin
Season of a Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih
In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul
Travels by Sir John Mandeville
Some Values of Landscape and Weather by Peter Gizzi
Million Poems Journal by Jordan Davis
He and his man by J.M. Coetzee (Nobel lecture)

I've been wondering about the fate of Harmony Korine. It's been many years since his last film, Julien Donkey-Boy. Last I heard he was starting fights and getting himself beat up at Bergamot Station. (Harmony link via Green Cine Daily)

Monday, December 01, 2003

From the Harper's Archive, Pig Sticking in India, originally published June, 1880.

Every reader of modern English novels is familiar with the term “pig-sticking.” The gallant young officer who has won the heroine's heart, and who goes to India in order that the wicked rival may intercept his letters and destroy his happiness, is always engaged, while in that distant land, in either tiger-shooting or pig-sticking.