Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dept. of Self-promotion

The L Magazine, volume 4, issue 1, is now online and in attractive orange boxes on New York street corners everywhere. The film section contains, among other things, my reviews of Joe Angio's How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy it) and Johnnie To's Breaking News, Michael Rowin on Eugene Green, and Steve Gartland on Spirit of the Beehive. I also have a review of a two-disc DVD set featuring Eraserhead and the Short Films of David Lynch, and what I can only assume is an uncomfortably personal Cinephile's Notebook entry on Stan Brakhage's The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes.

I don't have very much to add to my reviews, although if I had longer word counts to work with the Breaking News review might have at least taken up an underdeveloped pet theory of mine about Hong Kong being the most tech-savvy cinema in the world- SIM cards, webcams, and digital editing programs play fairly integral parts in the plot of Breaking News, and their treatment is very matter-of-fact, as it is with, say, the cell-phone switches in Infernal Affairs. (Whereas American films still rely on hackers-ex-machina, as in the Italian Job remake.) Anyway, it's just a thought.
The one thing I didn't get to in the review of the Van Peebles doc (a skeptical mention of his performance of "Achy Breaky Heart" was cut for space) was the unmistakable scent of the locker room during the segment in the film dealing with Van Peebles's womanizing: it just came off as untentionally distasteful (the backslapping more than the actual fact of, really), and is unintentionally undercut when Van Peebles's daughter Megan sighs, "That's my dad." (The only one of his many vaunted conquests to appear is a Parisian girlfriend from the 60's, and while all three of his children are interviewed, his ex-wife earns nary a mention.)

And, since today is a light linking-to-reviews day, allow me to point you in the direction of Charles Taylor's review of the Cafe Lumiere DVD, the best review of that movie that I've read, one that takes a very practical look at the "how" of Hou's method, and makes efforts to unpack some of the emotional depth of the film rather than simply wax rhapsodic about it. The hardest review to write, at least in my experience, is one that manages to engage with a movie that you've loved and responded to on such a deep emotional level; reading Taylor try and quantify his affection for Cafe Lumiere helps me to love that movie even more than I already did.
(And, as this piece on a movie of particular interest to this blog also suggests, Taylor has a knack for this sort of thing.)


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