Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Beaches of Agnès (Varda, 2009): Mini-Film Review

This is my short love letter to The Beaches of Agnès (Varda, 2009), a documentary I'm grateful to have seen and would recommend. It is off the wall--at times loose (the camera captures household mirrors placed on a beach) and at times structured (interviews and historical footage)--as it questions what film is and how it is that a great filmmaker, Agnès Varda--both director and subject of the camera--finds herself, and finds herself in the story of film. 

In doing so she gets the last word in each of the conversations she depicts and participates in, from the French New Wave to the present. But she doesn't resolve as the story keeps on going.

#skatethru: Skateboarding Through Various Spots, Pt. 2

Here's a series of leisurely videos of riding through a handful of spots in Oregon and California. Part 1 of this #skatethru series, with videos from China and Korea can be viewed at this link. Thanks for viewing!

San Clemente State Beach Campground, CA (2017)

Myrtle Point Skatepark, OR (2017)

Ocean Beach, CA (2016)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Terrorizers (Yang, 1986): Mini-Film Review

Edward Yang's 楊德昌 masterpiece The Terrorizers (1986) 恐怖分子 is one of the few films that I find impossible to praise too highly. I recently re-watched it for the umpteenth time and remain astounded by its opening act which, as a definitive postmodern work, anticipates the multimedia, multi-soundscape, multi-layered editing techniques often attributed to more well-known world cinema films of the 1990s and early 2000s, such as the intro. to Stone's 1991 film JFK--although Yang's technique is methodical and less dramatized, it is more than equal in terms of technique and affect.

Moreover, Yang's narrative style, which interconnects the lives of multiple urban residents of mid-1980s Taipei, perfects this narrative form well before films such as Amores Perros (Iñárritu, 2000), 21 Grams (Iñárritu, 2003), Crash (Haggis, 2004), and Babel (Iñárritu, 2006).

In addition to it's landmark qualities within film history in general, it is equally significant as an unparalleled snapshot of Taiwan in the mid-1980s as the nation transitioned into a new era in terms of its postcolonial condition. I elaborate further on this film, its critical reception, and its representation of this important juncture in Taiwan history in the conclusion of my book on Taiwan film, Transnational Representations (HKUP, 2014).

#stilllife shots: various long takes

Long takes in film, in which the camera does not move, are my favorite. I think of them as moving still life images--it's as if a painting started to move. Some of my favorite directors of the long take include Ozu, HHH, and Fassbinder.

Here are a few very brief videos I shot on my S7 for no other reason than the spirit of the still life and the pleasure of the image.

Water wheel, National Folk Museum of Korea, Seoul 2017

Cheonggyecheon Stream, Seoul 2017

Starfish at low tide, Bandon OR, 2017

Low tide, Bandon OR, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Italian for Beginners (Scherfig, 2000): Mini-Film Review

Italian for Beginners (2000), directed by Lone Scherfig, is a Dogme 95 film produced in Denmark. Viewers unfamiliar with the stripped down aesthetic inherent to the movement, which lasted from 1995 to 2005 (notable Dogme 95 films are listed here), will be surprised by, among other possibilities, how stark the film appears in contrast to Hollywood production values, how ubiquitous this aesthetic approach has become in the mainstream since Dogme 95 (considering shows like The Office), and, regarding the narrative itself, how surprisingly easy it is to find oneself absorbed in the lives of multiple Danish characters from various backgrounds who are united by attending a beginners Italian course in this brief (90 minute) film.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Baby Driver is Guardians of the Galaxy

Really enjoyed Baby Driver (Wright, 2017). It begins with a car chase that puts the opening car chase in Drive (Refn, 2011) to shame, then puts Drive in its entirety in the rear view mirror after that.

But I keep coming back to the connections between Baby Driver and Guardians of the Galaxy though (both vols, Gunn, 2014 & 2017). Ok, they're not exactly the same, but:

A young protagonist who lost his mother at a young age...
absorbs himself in music (fortunately we can hear what's playing through those earphones)...
works on the wrong side of the law...
but has a noble heart and purpose...
as he pursues the love of this life.

Not complaining, just saying!