14 March 2015
Over the last month or so, Lisa was out of town so I got to watch a lot of my movies. Here:
Two art documentaries, The Artist is Present [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] and Exit Through the Gift Shop [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. Artist was more moving than I'd anticipated. Abramovic's show from the film's title--where viewers took as much time as they wanted to sit in front of her--went, in my mind, from being attention-demanding by the artist to more an act of respect for the viewer. Many who sat were brought to tears; a Tumblr page documents some of them. Exit was interesting at first when it was documenting the various street artists and their cavalier exploits (are there any other kind?!), but its twisty hook halfway in left me cold. Maybe I just wanted a different documentary. Exit is about, as the title would suggest, the commodification of free expression. I wanted a Scratch-like history of that free expression. Oddly, I was put off by Maria's conspicuous wealth acquired via an art form that started as rebellion against the over-commodification of art (paintings as investments instead of expression), yet showing street art in galleries did not bother me. A quote from the article VISUAL ART PERFORMANCE VS. CONTEMPORARY PERFORMANCE for reference:
One impulse behind Visual Art Performance was the rejection of making objects for sale in favor of creating non-commodifiable, ephemeral events that were meant to critique and undermine the capitalist structures of the art market. Some artists, like Marina Abramovic, have managed to commodify that work in retrospect, completely abandoning any pretense of anti-capitalism, in fact becoming major players in it.
Re-watched A Clockwork Orange [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] after a coworker commented on it. It holds up well, but its violence has become more satirical than grisly over time. Still, Malcolm McDowell is a memorable bastard. I'd avoided reading the book since many cite it as extremely difficult because of the first-person slang used, but decided to buy a copy and give it a shot. I got the Rawlinson-edited Norton edition because it contains a glossary and various essays on the book and the movie. Haven't started, but several random excerpts have been enormously entertaining. I had gone into one weekend with the hope of watching some classic Japanese cinema. I couldn't work up the courage to watch Ran (almost 3 hours), so I scanned Mubi's list of 30 MUST SEE JAPANESE FILM CLASSICS. I had already seen Woman in the Dunes (#13), Rashomon (#14), Tampopo (#28), and Audition (#30). For some reason Funeral Parade of Roses (#16) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] caught my eye. Their description sold me:
A feverish collision of avant-garde aesthetics and grind-house shocks (not to mention a direct influence on Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange), Funeral Parade of Roses takes us on an electrifying journey into the nether-regions of the late-'60s Tokyo underworld.
The director did interesting things with time-shifting and repeating scenes. I could see some of what Kubrick borrowed in the slapstick fast-forwarding. Experimental but actually moving at times with a wow ending.
More experimentation with The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. It wasn't until the 10th time I was reminded of Amer that I realized it was the same directors. Very style heavy but with a menace that files it with the memorable Berberian Sound Studio.
More mainstream stuff: I finally got to see Showgirls [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] since Netflix recently added it. Like not knowing what Rosebud is, I felt that a basic cinema element was missing in my education. The most unsexy sexy film I've ever watched, it wasn't as all-out horrible as was promised. Biggest surprise: Gina Gershon looking like she did on Seinfeld! The Grey [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] was stunning from start to finish. Writ as all metaphor, it maybe could have ended as melodrama but didn't.
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