Monday, July 11, 2011

Artistic Consumption Log, July 4, 2011-July 10, 2011


Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983)


The Tree of Life (2011, Terrence Malick), screened at AMC Empire 25 in New York
I decided to take a brief break from my New York Asian Film Festival immersion and see this film again...and now I feel even more confident in speaking up in its defense, which is something I aim to do in a future blog post...someday soon, I hope.

10th New York Asian Film Festival, all films screened at Walter Reade Theater in New York:
Bedevilled (2010, Jang Cheoul-su)
Shaolin (2011, Benny Chan)
The Cabbie (2000, Chen Yi-wen & Chang Hwa-kun)
Ocean Heaven (2010, Xue Xiaolu)
Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983, Tsui Hark)
Reign of Assassins (2010, Su Chao-pin & John Woo)
More on all of these in a later New York Asian Film Festival dispatch. Allow me for a moment, though, to bliss out on the overwhelming experience that was Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, a martial-arts special-effects extravaganza that immediately takes a spot in my personal pantheon of the kind of breathless action film Roger Ebert has so affectionately called Bruised Forearm Movies—a pantheon that includes, among other films, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Die Hard 2 (1990), Speed (1994) and Unstoppable (2010).


Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 (1989, Herbert von Karajan & the Vienna Philharmonic)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 (1988, Herbert von Karajan & the Vienna Philharmonic)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 (1989, Carlo Maria Giulini & the Vienna Philharmonic)
Later this week, Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra come into town for a four-concert series featuring music by Anton Bruckner and John Adams. I'm working on a piece for The House Next Door previewing those naturally, I decided to give another listen to some of the Bruckner albums I have on my iPod. If anything, The Tree of Life could be said to be the cinematic equivalent of a Brucknerian adagio, full of spiritual striving and melting beauty. I will try my best to elaborate on this in the upcoming piece.

第六感 (1986, 蘇芮)
More Chinese pop, this time from Taiwan courtesy of one of Jia Zhang-ke's favorite pop singers from the 1980s. Remember the ballad Zhao Tao dances to by herself in Jia's Platform (2001)? That's the voice of 蘇芮 (su rey) you're hearing. Oh, and that song that fat guy sings to a crowd in the last third of Still Life (2006)? 蘇芮 originally sang that one as well. I'll say more about her in next week's artistic consumption log.


A Moveable Feast (1964, Ernest Hemingway)
I already wrote a bit about Hemingway's posthumously published memoir about life in 1920s Paris in relation to Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris in this recent blog post. At the time, though, I hadn't read the entire book. Now that I have read the whole thing...well, I might as well admit that I didn't find this as consistently compelling as I hoped it would be after its evocative opening few chapters. Maybe people who have read more Hemingway than I have will find this to be a genuinely revealing look at how his experiences as a struggling writer in Paris shaped his literary art; personally, all I got out of it were a lot of loosely connected gossip-y anecdotes, some more interesting than others. I read the Restored Edition, by the way, which includes a lot of chapters and fragments Hemingway left out of the published version—and frankly, I found a lot of the stuff that he decided to nix more fascinating than the chapters he left in.

For those who have seen Midnight in Paris and haven't read A Moveable Feast, though, I'd still recommend reading it, despite my general dissatisfaction, for all the reasons I outlined in that aforementioned post.

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