At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
August is “The Month of Reality” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, August 1: The Case of the Grinning Cat / Chats perchés (2004) by Chris Marker – 59 mins – France, Documentary. Generally favorable reviews: 79/78 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Shortly after September 11, 2001, when much of the world was showing its public support for New York City and America, a cartoonish smiling cat began appearing in Paris, stenciled on walls, buildings, trains, and the street. The yellow cat with its huge grin evoked the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll's classic tale Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but there was something very mysterious behind it. Eclectic documentarian Chris Marker became so intrigued by the graffiti cats that he began searching for them throughout the city, turning his own adventures into the charming 58-minute film The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chats perchés). Octogenarian Marker, the director behind such well-regarded works as Sans Soleil, A.K., and La Jetée, is a well-known cat lover; his cartoon depiction of his own cat, Guillaume-en-Egypte, is considered his alter ego, and he has made a short film about his feline pet as well, "Cat Listening to Music." For a while, the grinning cat disappears, but it shows up again at rallies on masks and placards. Meanwhile, the political climate has changed; Parisians are now protesting the Iraq war and the U.S. government, and especially President George W. Bush, so the reappearance of the cat takes on new meaning. Marker also follows the travails of Bolero, a real cat who lives in the Paris Metro subway system. Written, directed, and photographed by Marker, The Case of the Grinning Cat is an entertaining look at pop culture, political protest, the mass media, and street art.
The New York Times: Mr.Marker, whose best-known works remain his films “La Jetée” (1962) and “Sans Soleil” (1982), has a way of shooting in video that makes you think he’s probably had a camera embedded in his head. (Photographs always show him holding a camera in front of his face.) In The Case of the Grinning Cat, he fluidly moves over and under Paris, capturing images of fugitive beauty and pathos. The cat, a token of Mr. Marker’s own wryly detached, fully informed political conscience, observes this post-Sept. 11 landscape with little comment. He lets the wars and the rallies, where angry young protesters invoke Iraq in the same breath as Vietnam — but somehow forget the Kurds — largely speak for themselves. Mr. Marker doesn’t forget, but neither does he linger. He has places to be, cats to admire, a world to embrace.
DVD available from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, August 8: McLibel (2005) by Franny Armstrong, Ken Loach – 85 mins – UK, Documentary. Universal acclaim: 81/80 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: McLibel is the true story of a postman and a gardener who took on McDonald's and wouldn't say "McSorry," in a legal battle since described as "the biggest corporate PR disaster in history." McDonald's loved using the UK's libel laws to suppress criticism. Major media organizations like the BBC and The Sun had crumbled and apologized. But then McDonald's sued penniless activists' Helen Steel and Dave Morris. In what became the longest trial in English legal history, the "McLibel 2" represented themselves against McDonald's USD$19 million legal team. Every aspect of the corporation's business was cross-examined: from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage, and the company's advertising to children. Outside the courtroom, Dave brought up his young son alone and Helen supported herself working nights in a bar. McDonald's tried every trick in the book against them. Legal maneuvers. A visit from Ronald McDonald. Top U.S.executives flying to London for secret settlement negotiations. Even spies. Seven years later, in February 2005, the marathon legal battle finally concluded in the European Court of Human Rights. And the result took everyone by surprise - especially the British Government. Filmed over ten years by no-budget Director Franny Armstrong (Drowned Out), McLibel features reenactments of key courtroom scenes directed by Ken Loach. McLibel is not about hamburgers. It is about the power multinational corporations wield over our everyday lives and two unlikely heroes who are changing McWorld.
DVD available from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, August 15: Black Sun (2005) by Gary Tarn – 75 mins – UK, Documentary. Generally favorable reviews: 65 out of 100.
Stunning visuals in a documentary about painter gone blind.
Justpressplay: As director Gary Tarn floats the camera high above the rooftops of New York City’s bustling metropolis and people scurry far below like ants, it’s with a creeping sense of it-could-happen-to-anyone dread that we listen to narrator Hughes De Montalembert describe the brutal and senseless attack on his person that robbed him of his sight. One night, outside his home near Washington Square, two men forced him inside and demanded money. When Hughes informed them he didn’t have any the situation turned ugly and the men attacked him. While attempting to fight one of the men off with a poker from the fireplace, the other sprayed paint remover into his eyes, blinding him.
As an artist and filmmaker the sheer psychological devastation is almost beyond comprehension. But rather than give up and resign himself to the darkness, Hughes’ story is one of hope, triumph and a gentle hymn to the indomitable nature of the human spirit. With a quiet air of dignity, Hughes's gentle, warbling narration combined with Tarn's opaque cinematography act as a sort of lullaby to the senses as he at once captivates you with his soothing tones and regales you with his enlightening and empowering struggle. As Hughes describes the slow deterioration of his sight in the hours following the attack, Tarn fades us in and out with dark, grimy yellow filters and oblique tracking as slowly we too are plunged into darkness.
From there it’s a journey of rediscovery as Hughes begins his rehabilitation…
DVD available from Amazon.com.