A little fella with a big belly on St. Marks Place, and an information overload on Forsyth Street.
• On the subject of Asia, I caught a screening of Murmur of Youth (1997) at the Anthology Film Archives last night. A coworker, Matt, happened to be there too, and we ended up catching most of the previous film’s Q&A with the same director (Cheng-sheng Lin), before Murmur began. One question dealt with the struggle of commercial success within the Taiwanese market that seems to only demand Hollywood films (which seems to have been a common issue internationally for perhaps, 60+ years in many countries). When questioned about his inspiration potentially coming from Wong Kar-Wai’s Days of Being Wild (1990), I didn’t catch his full answer (because the bulk of it seemed to be in Mandarin), but, he did mention something about overarching tone/emotion with characters. As Murmur began, I realized it was perhaps one of my first experiences with Taiwanese film making. As Matt mentioned, the pacing tends to be much, much slower than Hong Kong cinema, perhaps closer aligned with Korean director Ki-duk Kim’s films. I couldn’t help but want to label certain techniques and elements as trademark Wong Kar-wai:
1) the primary protagonist is a young female trying to find love and survive in a large city (except instead of Hong Kong, it is the outskirts of Taipei). Though, despite folk-indie act, Balthrop, Alabama, telling me that “Taipei is a sh*thole,” it’s quite beautiful in the film.
2) any sort of “love” the protagonist starts to experience is closer to prepubescent infatuation than anything genuine. (ie: numerous situations is Fallen Angels (1997)). Though, I happened to just read in “Killing Yourself to Live,” that Chuck Klosterman makes a case for infatuation and love being the completely same concept, though I suppose that’s another conversation. Though the one other thing I’ll say about Klosterman is that Chris and Melissa have an excellent anecdote from several years back. I won’t republish here, but let me know if you’re curious. But anyway, we’re discussing similarities of Lin’s “Murmurs of Youth” with Wong Kar-Wai works.
3) claustrophobia in terms of both physical space and the others’ strangling control dominates the characters’ worlds (OK, OK, this is a vague one. I mean, I suppose you could say this is the case with probably any drama set in a metropolis, and not exclusive to Wong Kar-Wai’s portrayals of HK).
4) the protagonist triggers on-screen music via a stereo, and proceeds to sing along, and seems to be the only time (aside from direct flirting and intercourse) that any happiness is seen (think Faye Wong in Chungking Express (1994)). But perhaps the emotion thing aside, the singing-along with music during the film typically doesn’t happen extensively in films, except maybe in a self-reflexive ode to musicals in PT Anderson films?
But anyway, the film is good, though no real benefit to seeing it on the large screen. What does make it interesting is that core of the film encapsulates an awkward lesbian experience without feeling painfully “coming of age” throughout.
• There’s a little place in Fort Greene called Pequeña that has an amazingly good lunch menu (check out the fish tacos). I’ve also heard it’s open fairly late (unlike some other spots in that area).
Previously unpublished shot of Big Joseph, on the roof of Jan’s place, circa early 2005