Tuesday, November 18, 2003

OK so I missed Indigenous Day by a day.

Can't sleep so no point trying to, as I have to get up early for the EdCom panel. Documentaries remind me so much of why I like America. The stuff people get interested in enough to devote big chunks of a mostly unremunerative life - Rock School, Melvin van Peebles, Henry Darger, the Corporation, that adorable Down Syndrome baby brother, the really cool schoolteacher from Rye. Compared to all this, so much of fiction is strangers-with-candy and all that is not cool about the US.

Speaking of docs, Errol Morris' 'The Fog of War" was a thinker. Of course the fact that I had this weird crush on McNamara when I was kid helped I'm sure. Go figure. I don't think anything of that level of intellectual discussion as revealed by the transcripts of JFK and McNamara talking, goes on in the White House today. Though some of the same mistakes, uncanny and sad, are being repeated today in Iraq. The most revealing was what the Vietnamese general, hand balled into a fist, says to McNamara on the latter's visit to Vietnam in 1985: "Haven't you read any history books? Didn't you know we would never, ever, have turned over our country to the Chinese?" How humiliating. The difficult part is how not lose sight of the micro and the real when trying to deal with larger abstractions like the Cold War and the Domino Theory. I think the film would probably be better titled "The Fog of Power".

Lester's "Mansion by the Lake" was an interesting and flawed film. Had to laugh of course. Based on "The Cheery Orchard"? Where is Charles Ludlam when we need him? G was clearly discomfited; charmed that he feels some cultural pride despite his do-I-care posturings. Courageous of Richard to program it though, if only to show that the world is seen very differently depending on where one is standing. It's a valid adaptation even though it might have been better not to put the Chekhov ref upfront like that. The sound of footfalls was so unfortunate. Lester gone hard of hearing since he is, what, 84 now? Or did he just turn it over to some overenthusiastic sound effects man? It is the elephant fable here to though I missed Gus van Sant's film of the same name.... made me remember the back-when times when I go to see a film with the crew and the actors only see the acting, the cameraman only sees the lighting and the makeup man comments on the complexion.

OK time to make the donuts...