Thursday, January 31, 2008

I been watchin…

I keep a running log of what movies I see, here. It is tucked inside my mental-diet-log. I have watched 9 movies in 7 days. I just watched Eisenstein's 1925 Stachka (Strike). It was a cinematic experience unlike anything I have ever enjoyed. I discovered that the music for it, originally a silent film, was both catchy and, yet, annoying, since I feel adding music to a SILENT film is as crass as muting a musical. The film, from the little I have read about Eisenstein, employs "dialectical montage" to create emotional tension, release, anticipation, etc. in the viewer. Prima facie, the acting is vaudevillian and spastic… and yet, it is so gripping. I can't articulate the experience, but it has certainly altered my view of cinema. I am inclined to say that nearly everything, after seeing Eisenstein, seems decadent. Perhaps it is just how primitive Eisenstein's technology was; as films became more "technically advanced", I think they also forfeited much raw visual material produced only by real humans doing real things in front of the camera. Paradoxically less artificial by being so authentically cinematic.

I recently found a video shop in Taichung, which I had heard about for at least a year, and I have been like a kid in a candy store. One director whose work I have desperately wanted to explore is Sergei Tarkovsky. The shop, called 8 1/2 (in honor of Fellini's film of the same name), has all of Tarkovsky's films, including a biography documentary of the director. I must watch Ivan's Childhood again but I was much impressed with Tarkovsky's use of unbroken shots.

8 1/2 works by paying either $30 for 12 movies over any time (to be returned in 1 to 2 weeks) or about $100 for 50 discs. I have checked out over 20 to take to the Philippines for my Chinese New Year vacation. w00t! One by Bunuel, Fellini and Kubrick, two by Li An, three by Woody Allen, a handful by Tarkovsky, and various titles I've wanted to see for a long time now. Bottoms up!

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