Ah, the years fly by. Another year done and gone and I must admit to not being a better man for it. Just a year older. It was an interesting year to say the least, the best and the worst of times. Seeing Obama get elected still astonishes me even a few months after the election and I have to persuade myself at times that it really happened. Following the campaign totally consumed my time and emotions this year. As I traveled around from place to place the first thing I would do in a different hotel would be to check the air conditioner and then check to see if they had CNN on the TV. In a few hotels I got stuck having to watch Fox News which was always good for a laugh. Then of course the economy went south and so many of us were hurt in many ways. Fortunately, I was already unemployed! And not looking too hard.
I very much lost touch with what was going on in Asian films. Nothing very important happened from what I can gather. The various Asian forums are empty of much enthusiasm for anything new. The financial mess didn't help but even before that the film industries seemed to be catching their breath and holding back. The collapse of a few US distributors who focused on Asian films was the pop of another smaller bubble. Asian films for a while were being picked up like candy on Halloween for silly amounts and I never understood the economics of it. Apparently neither did the distributors. Asian films have come a long ways in popularity in the USA over the last 10 years but at the end of the day they still rest near the bottom of the viewing barrel - right above travelogues. Film people on both sides of the equation who think differently are just chasing after fool's gold.
My ambitions for the new year are slight. Stay solvent. Get back to Asia. I want to review more films as I have slacked off way too much in this regard but for the most part I want to review older films that are not being covered by a hundred other web sites out there. The fascination for new films and the hype that often surrounds them that some sites cater to has left me jaded because the films so rarely live up to the hype and those exciting breathless trailers. I'd rather dig into the past for a while.
I want to read a lot more. A friend recommended a biography of Neil Young called Shakey that I put on my Christmas list. Santa brought it to me. 738 pages. I can barely lift it. It's great so far but I am questioning whether I really need to know that much about Neil Young. I figure if someone wrote a biography about me it would run to around 5 pages. My love for Asian films would be covered in a paragraph. "In the mid-90's he walked by a HK film festival on 12th Street in New York City and he came to an abrupt halt after spotting a poster of The East is Red with a colorful messianic picture of Brigitte Lin spreading her arms outward. He went in to the theater and in a sense he never came out. Later he joined up with some fellows who wanted to put on Asian film festivals and he began to watch films from Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Taiwan and anything else Asian. He liked those a lot too. Mainly because they were not afraid to draw their films outside the lines of conventional film making and film narrative. That and the beautiful actresses of course. His fascination began to wane a bit circa 2008 when many of the film companies began to draw within the lines in an attempt to sell their movies to Hollywood. The actresses are still beautiful, but there are no Brigitte Lin's out there."
Neil Young by the way is a rock and roll singer who has been around since the mid-60's and is still going strong today. Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and over 40 solo works. His quavering, plaintive voice has had a hold on me for decades. Except for the 80's where he really sucked. Sometimes acoustic, sometimes screeching electric he never fails to surprise you. Just to kill time I put together a top 5 albums and a top 10 songs:
After the Gold Rush
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Tonight's the Night
Like a Hurricane (American Stars 'N Bars)
Sugar Mountain (only released on a Best of album Decade and in concert)
Cortez the Killer (Zuma)
See the Sky About to Rain (On the Beach)
Helpless (Deja Vu with Crosby Stills and Nash)
Cowgirl in the Sand (Everybody Knows This is Nowhere)
Broken Arrow (Buffalo Springfield Again)
Ohio (4 Way Street with CSN)
Living in War (Living in War)
I Believe in You (and pretty much every song in After the Gold Rush)
I want to get to Edinburgh but probably won't. My sudden desire stems from reading three of the Isabel Dalhousie novels by Alexander McCall Smith over my Christmas stay at my parents. I am not sure I really like these books that much as they parade themselves as mysteries but are really just about the philosophical musings of Isabel. But I really love the Edinburgh that the author describes. I was there years ago as one stop on my hitchhiking tour around the British Isles one summer and I recall being charmed even back then when few things charmed me much.
I need to get to Shanghai also just because I want to finally read the three mystery novels I have of the Inspector Chen series by Qiu Xiaolong. But I am holding off on them till I go - hopefully on a train from Hong Kong.
I had posted a comment on this blog about dropping out of the New York Asian Film Festival. Thirteen festivals and three million films felt like enough and it was time to move on. It just gives me more time to do the things that I want to do these days. Needless to say the festival will continue without me - stronger than ever I am sure and likely without as many of the sentimental films that I always fought for. It will give me many fewer opportunities to see and report on new films but as mentioned above that is fine with me.
Anyway enough about me. I wish all of you a great year and exciting times.
A few pictures:
Vivian Chow - 1, 2, 3
Vivian Hsu - a little risque but I am just in the process of putting up everything I have left.