Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Update on Me and on Foreign Film

This weekend, I'm going to be going to see The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby and Finding Neverland, so hopefully my comments about the Oscar nominations yesterday will be proven wrong. We shall see. I've got pretty high hopes for Million Dollar Baby, buzz has been good, though I wasn't a big fan of Clint's Unforgiven or Mystic River.

I've been really busy so far this semester, because I spend so much time sleeping. I have no morning classes, so I end up getting nine hours or so of sleep a night. While this is good, and when I'm in that haze between sleeping and waking up, it's the top priority for the day, it is bad becuase it leads to a shorter day. I end up staying up too late, and getting up too late. So, I basically don't accomplish much before class, am in class until 4:30, and two days a week I have night class, which means I'm not finished with everything until around 10. That's also the consequence of taking two film courses, much more time spent in class. I miss that time of doing nothing, I have far too little of it so far. Of course, I do have a three day weekend every week, which'll help, plus once I get back into the swing of the job, I'll take care of all my work there, and will have free time when I'm on my own. Work has been encroaching on my room time, and that is not good.

Good news is most of my classes are pretty good. Action film, we're watching the earlly silent films, and it's already flying by. The second half of the semester is either all good films I have seen, or films I've been wanting to see. Die Hard, Dirty Harry, Coffy, Bullitt, these are all films I need to see, and seeing them for class adds another layer of cool.

Youth Culture is pretty tight so far also. It's a discussion class, and there've been some interesting discussions about the high school experience and such. It gives me a perspective different than the Rye Neck one, which I'm interested in finding out about. News flash, no one's high school really was like Saved by the Bell.

Austrailian film is a bit too much Austrailia, not enough film, unlike German Film last semester which rocked hard. A great movie every week, and some good discussion about said movie. Getting to see The Merchant of Four Seasons, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, The Marriage of Maria Braun, The Tin Drum, Wings of Desire and Run Lola Run in class was tight. Plus, it exposed me to a lot of great films I would never have otherwise come across. The Tin Drum, that was must see, if only for the womb shot.

Science and Art definitely has potential. I think it'll be by far the best science course I could have taken.

Speaking of art, one of my big projects recently has been to learn to draw. It's something I always wanted to do, but never really put in the effort for. However, I am definitely improving, and more importantly, can have a lot of fun drawing. It's all in holding the pencil sideways.

So, it's busy times, but also good times. Maybe a little more work than I'd like, but at least it's in interesting areas.

One of the things I've noticed over this past school year has been that about half of the films I've been watching are foreign films. This means I'm either getting more mature or more pretentious, perhaps both, definitely the pretentious part. I guess it's because I feel like I've sort of exhausted contemporary American cinema. I'm sure there's still some undiscovered gems out there, but most of the "essential" movies, I have covered. Very consciously a couple of years ago, I decided to keep track of when people asked "Have you seen this movie?" and if I hadn't seen it, to get it out of the library and watch it. Now, there are some movies that are exempted from this. I don't need to see a Chris Farley movie to know it's not my thing. However, this led me to a lot of great films, like Trainspotting, Goodfellas and more. However, I basically covered it. I've seen most of those good movies that people have seen, and the ones left are ones that didn't really interest me for whatever reason, and that's not many.

So, I ventured out into the world of foreign film. I guess a big part of this was taking New German Cinema, which meant a new German film every week, and my exploration of the works of Wong Kar-Wai. These account for a bunch of the foreign films I saw and loved. Also, I think the good experiences watching these films broke down the stigma of the foreign film. I still can't watch something set in a country meadow about a poor woman who slowly dies, which a decent percentage of foreign film is, but the up tempo urban films of Wong Kar-Wai or Fassbinder feel incredibly relevant to my life, and more importantly, are extremely pop. The opening of Maria Braun, or practically every shot in Chungking Express, these are fun films to watch, not a chore by any means.

I think foreign film has a stigma that it's good for you, but not fun to watch. It's what you should be watching, and that's true, but that doesn't mean it can't be entertaining. Wong Kar-Wai, Fassbinder, Chanwook Park or Wim Wenders, these guys all make really fun and fresh films that are as entertaining as they are intellectually relevant.

If you need to get over the foreign film hump, check out these brilliant, thought provoking, and perhaps, most importantly, extremely entertaining films:

Chungking Express - Wong Kar-Wai
The Marriage of Maria Braun - RW Fassbinder
Oldboy - Chanwook Park
Wings of Desire - Wim Wenders

2 comments:

Keith G said...

Austrailian film is a bit too much Austrailia, not enough filmFirst of all - Australia.

Second - what does this comment mean? That you haven't learned much about Australian film? Or that there isn't much to be learned from Australian films?

What Australian films have you seen in class?

Patrick said...

Austrailian film is a bit too much Austrailia, not enough filmFirst of all - Australia.Ah, crap. I should probably remember that spelling if I'm taking the class.

Second - what does this comment mean? That you haven't learned much about Australian film? Or that there isn't much to be learned from Australian films?I meant that the class focuses too much on just studying Australia, as opposed to studying Australia in the context of its films. Like, when looking at a film, we don't view it as a film, we view it was a way of getting at something in the country. Now, this isn't neccessarily bad, but I much prefer the way it was done in my class on German film, where you focus on the film itself, and learn about the country by seeing how it influenced the director. So, I'd say that I haven't learned enough about the film culture over there.

What Australian films have you seen in class?So far, we've only watched The Walkabout, which I don't think was even made by an Australian. But, it was about Australia, so I guess it qualifies.