Monday, September 21, 2009

Link for the Day: An Interview With Sally Potter

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - For this post, I just wanted to invite you all to enjoy my latest contribution to The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog: an interview with director Sally Potter, whose latest film, Rage, premiered today not in theaters, but on mobile phones. (The film's minimalistic form more or less dictates the approach.)

I think that's it for now. Oh, yeah: also, Claire Denis's latest film, the generational family drama 35 Shots of Rum, gets my highest recommendation. In its warmth and poetry, it just about rivals Olivier Assayas's equally beautiful and profound Summer Hours (still my favorite film of the year to date, though both Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and maybe Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control---both film as far from the Assayas and Denis as possible---are running it very close). So there's that.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why I Love This Business We Call Film Criticism

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A couple of days ago, someone at work sent an email to a whole bunch of people that featured a picturesque photo of a castle high up in the mountains in Burma. When I saw the photo, I immediately made a connection in mind: this looks like something out of Powell & Pressburger's Black Narcissus! So, to a couple of editors sitting next to me who reacted to the photo with quiet amazement, I sent a still I found on Google from Black Narcissus of the palace in the Himalayas in which the film's gradually crazed drama takes place. One of them turned around to me and started asking me a bit more about the film it came from: what it was about, whether I liked it (I most certainly do), whether that still image really was color or whether it was colorized from black-and-white, whether there were any famous names in it (I mentioned Deborah Kerr, and she immediately recognized the name).

It was immediately after this brief exchange that I realized why I'm really interested in this whole film-criticism business. Really, it's simple: I love movies. I love talking about them to people who are willing to listen (even if I'm probably better than expressing my thoughts on a film in writing than I am in person). I love sharing my enthusiasms, my likes and dislikes. I love being turned on by a really great film.

All of these things give me a great pleasure. And dammit, I want to feel and express that kind of pleasure on a daily basis, full-time, for the rest of my life. Is there anything wrong with that? At this point, I don't care if that makes me sound impossibly naïve or impractical (all adjective my mother has used to characterize my foolish pursuit of the profession---cuz most regular folk don't care about "movie critiques," says she).

That's it. No higher purpose, really. Watching, absorbing, learning and gleaning insights and revelations from films---and from art in general---makes me happy. And writing about them pleases me immensely as well. Do I really need any other reason?