Odds and Ends: Shoes and A Film

I’m posting on two disparate topics that were on my mind this week: pretty shoes for a new dress and a film I want to see–Alain Cavalier’s Le Combat Dan Lile (1962) playing at Film Forum.

I bought a very special dress at Girl Cat on Atlantic Avenue (which carries dresses by Anya Ponorovskaya) with the wonderful aid of my friend Fatima a few weeks ago. Ever since I’ve been trying to find shoes to match, which is especially difficult because I’m not up for wearing high heels. After many trials and tribulations, ok just trials of trying on shoes of all sorts, I think I’ve found them! Fatima suggested red would be good to go with the blue and white dress. She also said to think Jackie O., but all the pumps that I tried on just felt too uncomfortable and not me. I remembered a shoe store called Sacco near Union Square that I thought would have classic, pretty, and comfy shoes. And there I think I found my cute red sandles! (But I haven’t run them by Fatima yet…)

This weekend Craig and I are heading to Film Forum to see Alain Cavalier‘s Le Combat Dan Lile. (This Alain Cavalier link from the Pacific Film Archive gives more info on his life and work.) I noted it in FF’s weekly email and I saw that it stars the wonderful actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. I especially love Trintignant in Romer’s My Night at Maud’s (1969). Then I noted that my former colleague Jake Perlin’s company The Film Desk was the distributor and that added to my desire to see what Jake had picked.

Spending Time with Godard

I’ve been reading Richard Brody‘s book Everything is Cinema on Godard on and off for over a year. This book is so dense with information about his working style and film history that I’ve had to take it in small doses. It’s been worth the time as I now have a better sense of the sweep of Godard’s accomplishments.  Because of the breadth of his films, I felt I needed a deeper understanding of his working methods and intentions to grasp his oeuvre. I like that Brody tells the reader blow-by-blow about Godard on the set and about his partnerships. Here’s a thoughtful interview with Brody on writing this book.

This weekend I’m watching a somewhat recent Godard film, In Praise of Love (2001), as I haven’t felt ready before now to approach his work from this decade. I also decided to  start learning French at FIAF, something I’ve wanted to do for years.

Here’s a scene from the film:

Creative Kick-Start

I keep thinking and talking to family and friends about carving out time for my own creative projects. Even my new year’s resolution was about this topic. I told everyone that my resolution was to live my life with a peace symbol in mind–or pie chart cut into three parts: friends/family, work, and my creative projects.  The most difficult piece of the pie is creative projects. If I had to go to work at 1pm on Sunday I’d be there, but it is much harder to set aside the same time for a personal project. Or at least at the start. I’m guessing that once you have a framework, it’s easier to move forward. I managed to do this with my last chapbook. Setting a deadline, I worked backwards from that date to figure out when all the parts needed to be completed–drafts, copy editing, and printing.

Now I have a vague idea for a video project. I’m not sure if it will end up being a traditional short film or footage to use in an installation or maybe sometime to post on the web. That makes it a bit more difficult to start. But I think the first step is to try some of the ideas bouncing around in my head. I chatted with my brother Matthew today and he recommended two books that he thought could be helpful even for a non-traditional short film project. He suggested I read Writing Short Films by Linda Cowgill and Grammar of the Shot by Roy Thompson and Christopher J. Bowen. I like the idea of reading about the structure of short films as that might kick-start my getting out and getting started!

Rainy Sunday Activities

On this rainy New York Sunday I’m doing lots of odd and end activities. Some which I’d like to share.

I just read about this interesting SXSW panel coming Monday on the “Future of Context“. Here on some notes on the opening statement by Matt Thompson . He writes “‘ll be presenting a SXSW panel exploring how the need for context is becoming a driving force in journalism, publishing and other aspects of the media. (He’s on the panel Monday in Austin, TX with NYU’s Jay Rosen, Apture’s Tristan Harris and paidContent’s Staci Kramer).

I’m also finishing the second half the amazing doc Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque about the founder of the Cinematheque Francaise. Just watching him speak is transfixing. One can see how he could convince anyone of anything. What a towering figure!

I bought a few new graphic books yesterday…

I found Dong Hwa Kim‘s The Color of Water which is part of a trilogy, but the store only had this one. I loved it so much that I’m thinking of venture out today to find the other two. It’s a coming of age story about a young girl living with her widowed mother that includes stunning images of spring throughout.

And the other is Theo Ellsworth‘s Capacity which I’m just starting this afternoon when I do downstairs to do the laundry. It looks odd and dreamy. I can’t wait to jump it.

Kalatozov Rocks–Watch The Cranes Are Flying!

Sometimes there’s a serendipity of thought or in following a tweet link on a favorite film to a find another amazing, unrelated, film. I saw a tweet about one of my  favorite films Jean Renior’s Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932). So I went to Criterion’s site and came upon the fact that they are streaming Mikhail Kalatozov‘s The Cranes Are Flying (1957)!

This is another of my all-time favorites. When I was working with BAMcinematek we screened this film along with Kalatozov’s Letter That Was Never Sent (or The Unsent Letter) (1959), and Soy Cuba (I am Cuba) (1964) with its spectacular crane shots. All of which rocked my world. Both Cranes and Unsent Letter star the lovely actress Tatyana Samojlova, the Audrey Hepburn of Russian film! You can watch a bit of The Unsent Letter in Russian here to see how striking she is!.

I still ponder scenes in The Cranes Are Flying. I was just chatted with a colleague at The Whitney about it. This film as everything…beauty, exquisite shots, deep sorrow, and there’s scene-stealing toy squirrel.

Amazing Animation

There are at least THREE amazing animation films to see in New York this holiday season!

The most widely available and marketed is of course Wes Anderson’s THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, which is perhaps my favorite film of the year. I can’t get over the accomplishment of this film, the exquisite details throughout and the spot on teenage tensions, and the fabulous sense of humor throughout. And to top it off the nutty details such as how the possum’s pupils turn into spirals when he’s confused are so delicious.

Then there’s Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s  A TOWN CALLED PANIC now at Film Forum. I don’t want to give away the wild whimsy of this film*. I’ll just say it is insanely imaginative both in the way it’s made and the story itself.  I’d like to see it 3 times in a row to try to comprehend all the ideas used to tell this fabulous tale. *The film is based on a show of the same name which you can watch here.

And finally Nina Paley’s SITA SINGS THE BLUES will be a the IFC Center next week, Dec 25-31.  This film is sensationally original with its many levels of story telling and styles of animation. Here’s the IFC’s  film description:

“Tragedy, comedy and musical collide in this gloriously animated film from Nina Paley, New York’s own “One Woman Pixar” (Wired Magazine). Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three bickering shadow puppets with Indian accents act as comic narrators as these old and new stories are interwoven in a post-modern retelling of the ancient Indian epic, Ramayana, animated in a dazzling mix of traditional and collage animation style, and backed by a soundtrack from legendary 1920’s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. SITA SINGS THE BLUES follows in the line of Triplets of Bellville, Spirited Away and Persepolis to exemplify animation as a “serious” art form—which does not stop it from being laugh-out-loud funny. A panoply of monsters, gods, goddesses, warriors, sages, pyromaniac monkeys and winged eyeballs fills the screen with vivid color from start to finish, while the narrators’ improvisational debates over the Rama legend join the filmmaker’s own tragicomic story to layer a modern feminist commentary on the ancient Indian legend. The result is a subtly subversive, visually stunning, highly original work that is as enjoyable for children as it is for adults.”

Director and Actor Guru Dutt

Film historian Elliott Stein–who holds a monthly cinema chat for BAMcinematek–highly recommended that I see Guru Dutt‘s seminal work Pyaasa (1957) within the Dutt retrospective at the NYFF. Craig and I saw the wonderful story of a poet who is struggling with the world around him yesterday. (Elliott wrote on Dutt in The Village Voice here.)

This was one of my favorite scenes and songs/recitations of poems. Our hero Vijay/Guru is serving drinks at the home of his Boss the publisher who he has just found out is also the husband of his college sweetheart Meena! I’m trying to find a translation of the key line that he repeats. It’s something crazy melancholy like joy to those who love and are loved in returned.

Web Sites on My Mind

A few notes on web sites that have been intriguing me recently…

ArtBabble: This blog is a great place to view artist work and interviews with the artist.

K as in Knife: An amazing collection of curiously curated bits and pieces–fascinating ads that Swedish director Roy Andersson created, photos by director Iranian Abbas Kiarostami, and much more.

FLYP, A beautifully produced web-based culture magazine.

Alex Ross’ The Rest is Noise blog: Within this site there is a terrific chapter by chapter “listen-a-along” to the amazing book.

Kickstarter is well described in The New York Times and The Times Bits blog.

Best Source of Film News Ever….is back in action

I’m keeping this short and sweet today as I’m headed on a twoooo week vacation tomorrow-Los Angeles, Big Sur, San Francisco, and Napa Valley here we come.

I just want to tout the great David Hudson and his fabulous film news Daily column that is back in action today after a short hiatus and leaving its home at IFC.com.

David returns, guns ablazing, with a new format on TheAutuers.com, using both his new column here, as in the past, to compile the best of film coverage around the world. AND he’s found the fab uses of twitter. He’ll be tweeting key news throughout the day. AND the best part is one can subscribe to this via an RSS feed, so his tweets won’t get lost in the noise.

Read all about The Autuers Daily here on TheAutuers.com