La Fidélité

Dir. Andrzej Zulawski, 2000
Inspired after listening to the audio commentary on the Possession DVD, I felt the urge to watch Zulawski’s most recent film, which has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it in Taiwan last year (and still not available in the States). Of course, I didn’t expect it to match the bugout weirdness of Possession, but it had something going on, one being a discussion about tabloid culture and capitalism. The plot has Sophie Marceau (a respected young photographer) marrying an upper-class man she respects more than loves, and fighting off the urge to sleep with a much younger working-class paparazzi photographer. The two central words of the film are “Fidélité” (of course) and “Verité”, both of which are explored in the personal and in the realms of commerce, and how the latter undermines the former. Marceau’s character’s life is intruded upon numerous times, her most private moments made public, but she too is guilty of this, working for the same tabloid press as the young photographer (and for the Murdoch-like goon that may or may not be her true father). How media, and the mediaization of our personal lives, destroys us is one thing the film explores; how to escape is another matter. The film is apparently based on a novel by Madam de la Fayette, but I didn’t know this going in. Zulawski also uses a lot of quotes from Auden throughout, and a brief glimpse of the John B. Root film “Principe de plaisir” on a TV. It bears watching again, as it was complex in its characters and plotting–a second viewing would reveal more of its structure, I believe.

Is This Thing Recording?

When I was a kid, one of my most valuable possessions was a Sears mono cassette recorder, on which friends and myself made hours and hours of ridiculous skits and other shenanigans. I thought the thrill of hearing your own voice would have been lost to the camcorder generation, but apparently PC owners with MusicMatch Jukebox software have something called “Mic in Track,” the ability to hook a mike up and record straight to mp3. Possibly these people don’t know that their efforts are also downloadable from Kazaa if they save everything in their shared folder. Ah-ha….
Check out the audio verite at Stark Effect – mic in track.
Discovered at Boing Boing

An Ode to Mupesa Solomon

Ever got one of those spams supposedly from some poor resident of an African dictatorship promising you a 10% cut of millions of dollars if you help them squirrel some money out of the country? Sure, we all have. You ever wonder who these people are? An intrepid Scot and his buddies abroad set out to scam the scammers. This is absolutely brilliant stuff, and worth the long reading time. Thanks to my friend Chris for passing this on.

Once Upon a Time in China

Dir. Tsui Hark, 1991
Just borrowed a lot of DVDs off Jon, as Mr. Monkeypants is going to Japan for a few months. This is one of them, and this is the first time I’ve actually seen this movie, though I’ve read about it several times. Jet Li made a name for himself as martial arts master/folk hero Wong Fei-Hung, the same character Jackie Chan plays in Drunken Master 1 and 2. Bad guys exist of two levels: the low-down dirty gang, and the Imperialist pig dogs from both Britain and the U.S. (all played, as usual, by strange looking white men with beards). The film concerns itself a little with this uneasy period in Chinese history, when the West was making its presence known, and conning Chinese to come to America to find gold. Kung-fu can’t beat the Western guns, but Wong does well by using an umbrella and other props. Mostly, though, there’s oodles and oodles of absolutely top-darts fightin’, all choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping, not as much wire-work as I’d thought, and great camera work by Tsui Hark and whoever was cinematographer (the credits list six people). Culminates with a classic fight atop a set of bamboo ladders, ripped off most recently in that Musketeer flick.

Nice DVD, too. The film transfer is crisp, the print looks unworn, and the extras feature brief clips of classic footage featuring the earlier version of Wong Fei-Hung, played by Kwan Tak-Hing (who made something like 70 films as the character, still bustin’ heads way into his 70s). The fighting in these originals look slow and stagey, but the historical factor makes it enjoyable. The DVD also comes with a nice booklet outlining the history of the character and some general kung-fu/Wu-shu facts. I hear there’s a version that’s six minutes longer, and a DVD that has English audio commentary, but this one is fine.