July 7, 2003

What To Do On a Friday Night?

Here's what Cinecultist did this weekend: sat in the air conditioning. Some of the time it was at home, and some of that time was at the cineplex so you know it was a full three days. The recap goes a little like this:

ashes.jpgFriday CC met up with I for another one of the Heroic Grace movies at Walter Reade, this time Wong Kar-Wai's (subtitled!) Ashes of Time. This lush picture has all the markings of an epic with its large (and at times confusing) but very talented cast, a mythical story of great loves and disasterous betrayals, some fighting with swords and vast vistas to be gobbled up by the camera. Despite loving it, CC didn't really understand it mostly because old Kar-Wai refuses to present his scenes in anything resembling chronological order. Brigitte Lin is particularly wonderful as the man/woman warrior and Maggie Cheung is heart-breakingly beautiful, even though she does little beyond stare off into the sea. Watching Ashes of Time on the big screen made CC so happy for repetory festivals/revivals because the experience would not have been anywhere near the same if we'd just rented this movie. The deserts and the mountain streams need a large format.

fridaynightpstr.jpgOn Saturday, CC watched many crap movies on television (we're talking Three Musketeers with Oliver Platt, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris O'Donnell -- not pretty, folks) until we headed out to meet A and R to see Friday Night at the Quad. The Quad, though it plays the unusual arty movies, has the narrowest seats ever. And we mean ev-er. But despite the potential uncomfort, CC really loved this film. So quiet, it is practically a silent film, with an unexpected thread of whimsy, Friday Night follows a woman meeting a man during a traffic jam and going with him to a hotel room. But beyond this affair or the details of plot, Claire Denis appears to be capturing an impression or a mood that surrounds this night in Paris. It may sound high falluting or boring but every frame engages. And it's damn sexy.

After a browse through the Tompkins Square park greenmarket and a greasy brunch on Sunday, CC found herself drawn back to the art cinema this time Whale Rider. A Sundance audience fav, Niki Caro's feature follows a young Maori girl as she tries to draw her fractured tribe back together. With all the raves the movie's been getting, CC expected to lurve this movie but instead found it sort of slow and lackluster. Each individual scene and the performances have a quiet power but they don't propel the narrative forward. It lazes along rather than rushing to a destined conclusion. Though the scene with the whales did make the tiny hairs on CC's forearm stand up. Academy Awards for all those whales.

Yeah for summer days, controlled climates and the world of art cinema.

Posted by karen at July 7, 2003 1:25 PM