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August 23, 2009

Yesterday I saw two movies: Inglorious Basterds ( in the morning and the classic, Chinatown, at night  (  Though the opening scene in Inglorious Basterds is as fine a scene as can be found in any recent film there was no comparison…but then there are few films that measure up to Chinatown when it comes to storytelling and acting.  Jack is nearly as beautiful as Faye Dunaway.  jackDM_468x398And Faye…well, what can be said about her?  badpre2In the eight years from 1967 to Chinatown’s release in 1974, she was in some great films. Bonnie and Clyde, followed immediately by the Thomas Crown Affair (the word luminous comes to mind for her ‘Vicky Anderson’) and Little Big Man.  Add on another 7 years and her resume shows Three Days of the Condor, Network, First Deadly Sin–the book is far more frightening–and speaking of ‘frightening’, Mommie Dearest.  Of course there are a bunch of clunkers mixed in as well but that isn’t a bad decade and a half.

I’ve seen some extraordinary movies this summer.

I can hear you now.  “Extraordinary!?”  “Is he talking about THIS summer?”  “2009?”  “Where?”  The answers are Yes…yes…yes…and JBFC.  “JBFC?”  The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York.  JBFC_facadeYes, I can, and do, take advantage of all the great movie theaters in NYC but at less than an hour from the city, Pleasantville is one of those pocket, bedroom communities that, from this outsider’s eye, lives up to its name…it seems like a very pleasant place.  But I don’t go there to sightsee or shop or to eat, though I’ve had some good meals at the diner two blocks from the theater.  No, Pleasantville means only one thing to me: Movies!  Great movies!

This summer alone they’ve had three film series of note.  Back in June, for nearly three weeks, there was the “Classic Italian Cinema” series that included such Italian-2008-1241560273classics as: Amarcord, The Damned and Fellini’s Roma.  My favorite from that series was Marco Ferreri’s, Dillinger is Dead (Dillinger è morto), starring Michel Piccoli.  A very strange yet mesmerizing film.  It still haunts me.

In July there was The Meditative Life series. Unmistaken Child, Enlighten Up! and Silent Light were highlights for me. Unmistaken Child reincarnation_image001(   so impressed me that this is part of what I wrote to friends that night after seeing it:

For many reasons I’m surprised that this film has not been more highly touted.  First and foremost being that it’s the culmination of the perfect marriage of East and West.  The filmmakers have taken one of the great legends of the East, the legend of the “Unmistaken Child”–a child born as the reincarnation of one of the enlightened teachers of Buddhism, in this case the Lama Konchog–and documented it through Western film technology.

At one point as I sat there in the dark watching I wondered how often has this story been told?  How many times has this scene with the child unerringly choosing the Master’s possessions been played out? How many times?  Hundreds? Thousands?  How often have the parents of the chosen child walked out the door leaving him behind to live in the monastery?  How many times?  And how many times have we been able to SEE it happen?

It’s a good adventure and a great avenue for opening discussions like: Does this prove the theory of reincarnation?  If it does, what does that mean as far as the ultimate meaning of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ?   The questions go on and on.

None of this is really touched on by the filmmakers.  It’s almost as if they knew the story unfolding before them would suffer by being freighted with all that.  Leave well enough alone and let people like me be blown away by the story’s underpinnings.

===to be continued===

My favorite Trailer of the week is Legion:

My favorite Blog/Website of the week is Photographer: Alexandros Lambrovassilis:

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