Sunday, 3 April 2016

SIDE-BY-SIDE | UP-AND-DOWN: Comparative Videographic Approaches to Transnational Cinema Studies [#SCMS16]



VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Techniques of parallel comparison have always been central to literary translation studies. But what of the cinematic “translation” - the film remake?

[Screenshot from Jonathan Evan's article, "Film Remakes: The Black Sheep of Translation", Translation Studies, 7:3, 2014, 300-314]

Given that “Translation is a process that involves looking for similarities between languages and cultures”— (Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (London" Routledge, 2008): 264) how might the kinds of parallel comparison techniques emerging as a result of the use of easily available and operable video technology help us in examining questions of audiovisual transnational translatabilty? [LINK to YouTube video cited: "How to Split Screen on Final Cut Pro X" by Red Black Productions (2014)]? Let’s take a look at the work of a master to find out [LINK to ::kogonada, "What is Neorealism?", Sight and Sound, May 2013]


I’m just a novice video editor in comparison with kogonada, but less than a year after his video was published, I think I was very much insipred by it in deciding to explore videographically the opening of a Uruguayan low budget horror film and its US remake



Some of kogonada and my findings about transnational cinematic differences were, funnily enough, strikingly similar. But I would argue that this has as much to do with the fact that we were both comparing film openings. [Citations in the video: Peter Bradshaw and Xan Brooks, "Get Them by the Throat", The Guardian, July 17, 2007 ; and Thierry Kuntzel, "The Film Work 2", Camera Obscura 2 (2 5), 1980].

I also used split screens to explore different parts of the films I was studying and through those comparisons I found that the differences did not turn on sequence or shot duration or expositional detail


My principal interest in reflecting on this audiovisual research in this video concerns the utility of the multiple screen comparison. I’m so fascinated by how, as I've reflected before, these techniques frame similar kinds of phenomenological possibility.




[quotations from: Catherine Grant, "Deja Viewing...", MEDIASCAPE Winter 2013: http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Winter2013_DejaViewing.html]




They can’t help us with every scholarly question we might have, but such sensuous methodologies seem to me to be eminently suited to the epistemology and hermeneutics of cinematic intertextuality, and are of particular interest in expanding the range of what we can look at in relation to film aesthetics — and in particular - our experience of these - transtaional cinema studies too.

CREDITS

VIDEO PRESENTATION by CATHERINE GRANT, 2016

For the SOCIETY FOR CINEMA & MEDIA STUDIES ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2016 WORKSHOP: F20: VIDEO ESSAYS IN TRANSNATIONAL CINEMA STUDIES
Chair: Tracy Cox-Stanton (Savannah College of Art and Design) Workshop Participants:
Nicolas Poppe (Middlebury College)
Michael Talbott (Castleton University)
Austin Fisher (Bournemouth University)
Catherine Grant (University of Sussex - in absentia))
Jeffrey Middents (American University)

MUSIC: APRIL by KAI ENGEL, 2016. Licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International License and shared at the Free Music Archive: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Kai_Engel/Chapter_Two__Mild/Kai_Engel_-_Chapter_Two_-_Mild_-_05_April


THE VIDEO NARRATION ALSO CITED FROM:
  • Catherine Grant, ‘Déjà-Viewing? Videographic Experiments in Intertextual Film Studies’, Mediascape: Journal of Cinema and Media, Winter 2013. Online at: http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Winter2013_DejaViewing.html
  • Christian Keathley, Cinephilia and History, or The Wind in the Trees (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006) 

ALSO SEE on LA CASA MUDA:
  • David Martin-Jones and María Soledad Montañez, “What is the “Silent House”? Interpreting the international appeal of Tokio Films’ Uruguayan horror La casa muda/The Silent House (2010),” Forthcoming. 
  • Victoria Ruetalo, “La casa muda (2010): Miedo Real en Tiempo Real” in Rosana Díaz and Patricia Tomé (eds), Horrofìlmico. Aproximaciones al cine de terror en Latinoamérica y el Caribe (2012) 

FOR STUDY PURPOSES ONLY



Wednesday, 27 January 2016

UN/CONTAINED: A Video Essay on Andrea Arnold's FISH TANK (2009)



The above video presents "a dense yet concise study (and experience) of the intricate poetic-cinematic patterning of Andrea Arnold’s 2009 film Fish Tank as it is disclosed in a few fleeting shots from the film that I explore in relation to psychoanalyst-theorist Wilfred Bion's understanding of the “Container-Contained” (a theorization of the idea that we need the minds and bodies of others to contain our deep existential fears, from the very moment of our birth onwards, in order to properly develop our own emotional and cognitive capacities)." [Catherine Grant]

The above video essay of mine on  has just been published as part of my article:

This video originally formed part of my presentation at the 7th Annual Contemporary Directors Symposium: On Andrea Arnold at BFI Southbank, London, 13th MAY 2014 - NFT3: 1.00pm-5.00pm.

From the Oscar-winning short WASP (2003) to the innovative adaptation WUTHERING HEIGHTS (2011), Andrea Arnold’s films have established her as one of our most uncompromising and important directors. The Contemporary Directors Symposium [returned] to the BFI Southbank for an afternoon of presentations and discussion exploring Arnold’s films, including WASP, RED ROAD (2006), FISH TANK (2009) and WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

Speakers included:
Catherine Grant (University of Sussex)
Amber Jacobs (Birkbeck College, University of London)
Michael Lawrence (University of Sussex)
Jonny Murray (Edinburgh College of Art)
Sue Thornham (University of Sussex)

A full list of my 2012-1016 publications on audiovisual film studies [videos and texts], with links to all the material, is being maintained here: http://filmanalytical.blogspot.com/2016/01/interplay-audiovisual-or-videographic.html

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Interplay: Audiovisual Or Videographic Film Studies Research Publications by Catherine Grant, 2012-2015

Last updated with new publications on January 27, 2016

As I head off to give yet another presentation on audiovisual forms of film studies research, I realised that as well as making around 130 videos since 2009—many of them public here—I have also published quite a lot on these topics, and to date all of those publications are online.

So, below, I have pasted in the full list of those published reflections with clickable links to them, to accompany my latest published video essay, which just appeared in the most recent issue of the wonderful journal Lola

Thanks so much to all those fellow film scholars who nurtured, edited, reviewed and published the below essays of mine.


PUBLICATIONS BY CATHERINE GRANT ON AUDIOVISUAL OR VIDEOGRAPHIC FILM STUDIES RESEARCH 2012-2015/16

  1. Film and Moving Image Studies Re-Born Digital?’ Some Participant Observations’, Frames, 1, 2012. Online at: http://framescinemajournal.com/article/re-born-digital
  2. Bonus Tracks: The making of ‘Touching the film object’ and ‘Skipping ROPE (through Hitchcock’s joins)Frames, 1, 2012. Online at: http://framescinemajournal.com/article/bonus-tracks
  3. Déjà-Viewing? Videographic Experiments in Intertextual Film Studies’, Mediascape: Journal of Cinema and Media, Winter 2013. Online at: http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Winter2013_DejaViewing.html 
  4.  The Audiovisual Essay: My Favorite Things’, [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies - a Cinema Journal/MediaCommons Collaboration, 1.3. September 2014 on The Audiovisual Essay: Practice and Theory. Online at: http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/intransition/2014/08/26/audiovisual-essay-my-favorite-things
  5. How long is a piece of string? On the Practice, Scope and Value of Videographic Film Studies and Criticism’, The Audiovisual Essay: Practice and Theory of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, September, 2014. Online at: http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/audiovisualessay/frankfurt-papers/catherine-grant/
  6. (with Christian Keathley), ‘The Use of an Illusion: Childhood cinephilia, object relations, and videographic film studies’, Photogénie, 0, June 2014. Co-authored introduction/individually authored texts and videos. Online at:  http://www.photogenie.be/photogenie_blog/article/use-illusion
  7.  The Shudder of a Cinephiliac Idea? Videographic Film Studies Practice as Material Thinking’, ANIKI: Portuguese Journal of the Moving Image, 1.1, 2014, Online at: http://aim.org.pt/ojs/index.php/revista/article/view/59/html
  8. The Marriages of Laurel Dallas. Or, The Maternal Melodrama of the Unknown Feminist Film Spectator’, Mediascape: UCLA’s Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Fall 2014. [Video and text]. ISSN 1558478X Online at: http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Fall2014_MarriagesMelodrama.html
  9. The Remix That Knew Too Much? On Rebecca, Retrospectatorship and the Making of Rites of Passage’, The Cine-Files: A Scholarly Journal of Cinema Studies, Fall 2014. [Video and text]. ISSN 2156-9096. Online at: http://www.thecine-files.com/grant/
  10. Film studies in the groove? Rhythmising perception in Carnal Locomotive’ [video and text], NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies, Spring 2015.  Online at: http://www.necsus-ejms.org/film-studies-in-the-groove-rhythmising-perception-in-carnal-locomotive/
  11. TURNING UP THE VOLUME? The Emergent Focus on Film Sound, Music and Listening in Audiovisual Essays, The Cine-Files: A Scholarly Journal of Cinema Studies (Spring 2015) 8. Special issue on Film Sound. Online at: http://www.thecine-files.com/turning-up-the-volume/  
  12. ‘INTERPLAY: (Re)Finding and (Re)Framing Cinematic Experience, Film Space, and the Child’s World’ [Video and Text], LOLA Journal, 6, 2015. Online at:  http://www.lolajournal.com/6/interplay.html
  13. NEWLY ADDED: 'Beyond tautology? Audiovisual Film Criticism' [video and text], Film Criticism, Vol. 40, No.1, 2016. Online at: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.13761232.0040.113

Translations:


Into Spanish: 
(with Christian Keathley), ‘El uso de una ilusión: Cinefilia infantil, relaciones de objeto y estudios videográficos sobre cine’, Transit. Cine y otros desvíos, September 9, 2014. Translation by Cristina Álvarez López of ‘The Use of an Illusion: Childhood cinephilia, object relations, and videographic film studies’, Photogénie, 0, June 2014). Online at: http://cinentransit.com/cinefilia-infantil-relaciones-de-objeto-y-estudios-videograficos-sobre-cine/.
‘Las bodas de Laurel Dallas. O el melodrama materno de una espectadora feminista desconocida’, Transit. Cine y otros desvíos, January, 2015. Online at: http://cinentransit.com/las-bodas-de-laurel-dallas/. Translation by Cristina Alvarez López of the peer-reviewed video and article: Grant, C., ‘The Marriages of Laurel Dallas. Or, The Maternal Melodrama of the Unknown Feminist Film Spectator’, Mediascape: UCLA’s Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Fall 2014. [Video and text]. ISSN 1558478X Online at: http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Fall2014_MarriagesMelodrama.html
Into Italian:
Deja-viewing. FilmIdee (6) 2013. Italian translation of Grant, C., Deja viewing?: videographic experiments in intertextual film studies. Mediascape : UCLA's Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Winter 2013. Online at: http://www.filmidee.it/archive/35/article/435/article.aspx

Also see:

Monday, 25 May 2015

THEORY OF RELATIVITY, THE MARRIAGES OF LAUREL DALLAS, WOMEN'S WASHROOM, and RITES OF PASSAGE

Four of my recent video essays with accompanying texts

1. THEORY OF RELATIVITY



THEORY OF RELATIVITY is an experimental video about 'digitextuality' (or digital intertextuality) and cinephiliac relativity. It was inspired, in part, by "Time and Time Again: Temporality, Narrativity, and Spectatorship in Christian Marclay’s THE CLOCK," an article for the May 2015 issue of CINEMA JOURNAL by film scholar Julie Levinson. It was also made as a reserve entry for issue 2.2, Spring 2015, of [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies.

It asks, laterally, what can time-based compilation video projects do with clocks that get stuck, or go haywire, or with forces beyond the temporal, such as ones of attraction like gravity and cinephilia? As the author of the scientific Theory of Relativity Albert Einstein also found, although we usually think of lengths and times as absolute, these do turn out to be observer-dependent.

THEORY OF RELATIVITY meditates on a section from a Hollywood film sequence that Christian Marclay used to mark the important moment of midnight in his monumental 2010 art installation THE CLOCK (see https://youtu.be/iZe55tTAbw4). And it subsequently takes in the part of the sequence he didn't use (spoilt for choice with midnight moments in the cinema, perhaps). The video further (simultaneously) explores, through remix, a less well known American experimental film about time that was arguably deeply inspired by the film from which Marclay's midnight sequence was taken. The remixed film sequences illustrate, perhaps rather too succinctly for Marclay's compilation, the idea of a 24 hour clock, as also heralded by Alberto Cavalcanti's 1926 experimental film RIEN QUE LE HEURES/NOTHING BUT TIME, released on DVD in the same year as Marclay's THE CLOCK.

[In case anyone should think that a link between these two excerpted films might be considered spurious or, at least, lacking in interest, there is a further, bizarre, real life connection between them, and their two actor-directors, as this video shows: https://youtu.be/1oqtI517qpI]

Also see: Thom Andersen's great essay on THE CLOCK: http://cinema-scope.com/features/random-notes-on-a-projection/
    


The above video is published as an integral part of my multimedia essay "The Marriages of Laurel Dallas: Or, The Maternal Melodrama of the Unknown Feminist Film Spectator", MEDIASCAPE, Fall 2014. Online at: http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Fall2014_MarriagesMelodrama.html (this essay has been translated into Spanish by Cristina Álvarez López and published here, also: http://cinentransit.com/las-bodas-de-laurel-dallas/)

It is a videographic comparison of the final scenes of two cinematic adaptations of Olive Higgins Prouty's 1922 novel STELLA DALLAS: the 1925 version directed by Henry King, starring Belle Bennett as Stella Dallas, Lois Moran as Laurel Dallas, Alice Joyce as Helen Morrison and Ronald Colman as Stephen Dallas; and King Vidor's 1937 version starring Barbara Stanwyck as Stella (Martin) Dallas, John Boles as Stephen Dallas, Anne Shirley as Laurel Dallas and Barbara O'Neil as Helen Morrison.

The video adapts music from the track 'Sweet Tender' by Jared C. Balogh, shared at the Free Music Archive under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License: http://reemusicarchive.org/music/Balogh/Lunar_Elegance/SWEET_TENDER.

The video was first screened at the Maternal Melodrama Symposium, University of Kent, June 3, 2014: http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/melodramaresearchgroup/2014/05/07/schedule-for-maternal-melodrama-symposium-on-3rd-of-june/.

FURTHER READING:
Williams, Linda. "'Something Else besides a Mother': 'Stella Dallas' and the Maternal Melodrama," Cinema Journal Vol. 24, No. 1 (Autumn, 1984), pp. 2–27 in JSTOR
Stevenson, Diane. "Three Versions of Stella Dallas" for Jeffrey Crouse (editor), Film International, Issue 54, Volume, 9. Number 6 (2011), pp. 30–40.



"In the earlier film version of STELLA DALLAS [Henry King, 1925], the overwrought Stella takes refuge in the ladies’ waiting room at the train station directly after her visit to Helen [the woman to whom she has just entrusted her daughter]. She’s watched very closely by a woman whose flashy dress indicates her similarity to Stella in class status, if not in her dubious profession. The stranger offers the apparently inconsolable Stella a cigarette, and Stella puts it in her mouth and lights it end to end with the cigarette in the other woman’s mouth. A fade to black gives the gesture—which resembles a kiss—an elliptical significance, though nothing else is made of this scene. The shot echoes with Stella’s connection to Helen in the previous scene. But the silent version of STELLA DALLAS suggests that such sympathy, and women’s motives, need not be reduced to shared maternal feeling. The washroom “pick-up” scene doesn’t occur in the [original 1922 source novel STELLA DALLAS by Olive Higgins Prouty].

QUOTATION: Patricia White, UNINVITED: CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA AND LESBIAN REPRESENTABILITY (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999), pp. 107-8.

MUSIC: “Phantasm” by Kai Engel (licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Kai_Engel/Calls_and_Echoes/07_-_Phantasm).

VIDEO: Catherine Grant, January 2015

ALSO SEE:
C. Grant, ‘The Marriages of Laurel Dallas. Or, The Maternal Melodrama of the Unknown Feminist Film Spectator’, MEDIASCAPE: UCLA’s Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Fall 2014. [Video and text]. ISSN 1558478X Online at: http://www.ft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Fall2014_MarriagesMelodrama.html

C. Grant, ‘The Remix That Knew Too Much? On Rebecca, Retrospectatorship and the Making of Rites of Passage’, THE CINE-FILES: A Scholarly Journal of Cinema Studies, Fall 2014. [Video and text]. ISSN 2156-9096. Online at: http://www.thecine-files.com/grant/


     


See "The Remix That Knew Too Much? On REBECCA, Retrospectatorship and the Making Of RITES OF PASSAGE", THE CINE-FILES, 7, Fall 2014. Online at: http://www.thecine-files.com/grant/

A video essay on the liminal moments of the protagonist of REBECCA (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940), played by Joan Fontaine. This is a low resolution, educational, remix compilation, featuring sampled music originally composed for the film by Franz Waxman.

This work was completed in memory of Joan Fontaine (22 October 1917 − 15 December 2013).

See also the entry on Gothic Melodrama Studies in Fontaine's memory at FILM STUDIES FOR FREE: http://filmstudiesforfree.blogspot.com/2013/12/voluptuous-masochism-gothic-melodrama.html

Thanks go to Patricia White for the inspiration of her work on this film and on the gothic women's picture more generally (see, for example, her book UNINVITED: CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA AND LESBIAN REPRESENTABILITY (Indiana University Press, 1999)]. Read Annamarie Jagose's interview with White for further information: http://www.genders.org/g32/g32_jagose.html (GENDERS, 32, 2000).

Monday, 30 June 2014

Uncanny Fusion: Journey to Mixed-up Files


A true story.

The above autobiographical video UNCANNY FUSION forms part of a piece "of truly subjective, creative film criticism about the spectatorial experience." My accompanying text (from which a short excerpt is given below), was prefaced by a theoretical introduction co-written, in part, with Christian Keathley who also made a video and wrote an autobiographical refection for this work. This work has just been published as 'The Use of an Illusion: Childhood cinephilia, object relations and videographic film studies' at PHOTOGÉNIE 0, 2014: http://www.photogenie.be/photogenie_blog/article/use-illusion.

After several years of prolifically making video essays about films, of enjoying playing with their particular modes of disclosure and ‘unconcealment’ (as I reflected in a 2014 article), I began to be drawn to using video practice to work through some verbally quite inexplicable (or, at least, difficult to explicate) but recurrent spectatorial experiences.  I started to mine the potential connections between personally charged cinematic moments to test out Mikhail Iampolski’s understanding of how, through the insertion of a ‘“source” of a cinematic figure into a film as its subtext, the intertext can also function as a generative mechanism’ (246).  While Iampolski wasn’t writing about literal forms of ‘insertion’, how better to explore such filmic connections generatively than to remix them using the practices of audiovisual montage?  My earliest experiments, and this impulse, are described in my 2013 essay “Déjà-Viewing? Videographic Experiments in Intertextual Film Studies.”
     I didn’t fully explore in that text why I set out to do this, although I did mention an aspect of my adoption story for the first time in published work. But I was at least partly inspired by an encounter with the written work of Winnicottian psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas, specifically with his book The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known, which is mentioned by Kuhn in her Screen article “Thresholds: Film as Film and the Aesthetic Experience.”  The ‘unthought known’ of Bollas’s title – a deeply resonant concept for me as soon as I came across it, rather like Sprengnether’s notion of the ‘buried metaphors’ by which we live – refers toheretofore inarticulate elements of psychic life’ (210).  Ian Hunt concisely describes this concept as referring to ‘the ways in which individuals may organize their lives around an event or a traumatic pattern of experiencing that, although at some deep level known, can only with difficulty be claimed for conscious thought’. For Bollas, the unthought known can be intuited, inter alia, in the déjà-vu experiences of  ‘aesthetic moments’, occasions during which ‘an individual feels a deep subjective rapport with an object [...] and experiences an uncanny fusion with [it, with the sense] of being reminded of something never cognitively apprehended but existentially known’ (16).  As Ian Woodward and David Ellison write, this kind of experience
is a type of ‘spell’ that holds person and object in symmetry and solitude. In this experience of deep rapport, the person is provided with a feeling of fitting with an object. Bollas notes that this type of experience is often non-verbal, given its location in early childhood experiences [of parenting or ‘environmental’ idioms], and he argues that such experiences are difficult for even adult subjects to articulate precisely because they are reminders of past instances of integration and transformation between subject and object through the qualities of objects. (48)
The sense of uncanny recognition I experienced when I learnt that the unthought known might trigger powerful psycho-somatic aesthetic experiences was what set me off on the path that led to the [above] videographic study.  This video not only attempted to relate the (true) story of just such a (cinematic) aesthetic moment (one of a number that I have experienced in my life).  It actually provided the space and the form, across a production period lasting several years, in which I was able to articulate or, at least, to reproduce what, in the process of editing, I came to understand for the first time about this uncanny experience of connection.
Extract from Catherine Grant's autobiographical text in Catherine Grant and Christian Keathley, 'The Use of an Illusion: Childhood cinephilia, object relations and videographic film studies', PHOTOGÉNIE 0, 2014. Online at: http://www.photogenie.be/photogenie_blog/article/use-illusion.

Monday, 17 March 2014

INTERSECTION[S]: On Wong Kar wai's IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE

INTERSECTION, a videographic film study of In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000) 
By Catherine Grant, Chiara Grizaffi and Denise Liege


The above video explores the notion (and some of the motifs) of 'Intersection' in Wong Kar-wai's 2000 film In the Mood for Love. It works through a synchronous compilation of the images and soundtracks from the montage sequences in the film that use the same orchestration of a waltz originally composed by Shigeru Umebayashi for the film Yumeji (Suzuki Seijun, 1991). Watch the video, then read the below, intersecting quotations from written texts about Wong's film. Then repeat.


In In the Mood for Love [Wong Kar-wai] quotes lines from a 1972 novella, Intersection, by Liu Yichang, a Shanghainese expatriate writer living in Hong Kong. [...] The story of Intersection, the Chinese title of which is Duidao, tells of the way in which two characters’ lives – strangers to each other – appear to intersect in ways apparently determined by the nature of the city, and the structure of the novella provides a direct form of inspiration for Wong’s use of the intersecting motif in In the Mood for Love. [...] Wong explains the significance of the title [of the novella on which he based his film, as follows]:
'The first work by Liu Yichang I read was Duidao. The title is a Chinese translation of tête-bêche, which describes stamps that are printed top to bottom facing each other. Duidao centres round the intersection of two parallel stories – of an old man and a young girl. One is about memories, the other anticipation. To me tête-bêche is more than a term for stamps or intersection of stories. It can be the intersection of light and colour, silence and tears. Tête-bêche can also be the intersection of time: a novel published in 1972, a movie released in 2000, both intersecting to become a story of the ’60s. [See Tête-bêche: A Wong Kar Wai Project (Hong Kong: Block 2 Pictures)]'
Tête-bêche – the intersecting motif that makes up Wong’s narrative style in other films, notably Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Ashes of Time, and Fallen Angels (1995), which are narratives of parallel stories, finally finds its mature expression in In the Mood for Love where the motif assumes a diacritical mode."
[Excerpt from Stephen Teo, "Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love: Like a Ritual in Transfigured Time", Senses of Cinema, Issue 13, 2001]

[My] synopsis of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (IMFL) reveals three sites of intersection. First, there is the theme – the mood of love is rendered through the intersection of the sanctity of marriage and the restraint of the affair. Second, there is the space – the narrative of the story is structured through Hong Kong’s intersection with its region, including Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand (where the film was shot). Third, there is the time – history is replaced by a Jamesonian display of post-modern historicism, where the past surfaces as an intersection through the aesthetics of style.
[...] 
[My] essay takes Wong’s evocation of tête-bêche as a point of departure for an exploration of intersection in the film. Two practices of tête-bêche as intersection are evident in IMFL. First, tête-bêche is the intersection of Duidao and IMFL. The film intersects with the novella through the cinema, the space of Hong Kong and China, and popular media from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South-east Asia. Second, tête-bêche resonates with the temporality of Hong Kong before and after 1997, when the British colony returned to its socialist motherland, China. I have written elsewhere about how Hong Kong cinema expresses this temporality of pre-post-1997 as a culture that simultaneously forecasts and recollects. I extend that idea here, to suggest that intersection functions as a point in Hong Kong’s period of transition – both pre-1997 to Chinese rule and post- 1997 in the following fifty years of the unique ‘one country, two systems’ administration. This can be seen in IMFL’s conception and release. The film originated when Wong visited Beijing for a month in 1996, and he gave it the working title Summer in Beijing. He writes: ‘Between Summer in Beijing and In the Mood for Love, eras changed, locales changed, and the music changed. We moved from contemporary jazz to nostalgic waltz.’IMFL is Wong’s first post-1997 film, shot on location in Thailand while filming 2046, a science-fiction film set fifty years after Hong Kong’s 1997 return, highlighting its status as a product of temporal (before and after 1997) and spatial (China, Hong Kong and South-east Asia) intersections. In IMFL, ‘2046’ is the number of the hotel room occupied by Chow.  
These two practices of tête-bêche produce intersection as a point in transition characterised by convergence and divergence.
[...] 
Wong’s quotations inscribe not only local literature and vernacular pulp fiction, but also Japanese film, art and music. ‘Yumeji’s Theme’ is borrowed from Suzuki Seijun’s 1991 film, Yumeji, a bio-fantasy about the turbulent life of Japanese artist Takehisa Yumeji (1884–1934), played by popular singer Kenji Sawada, who embodied the romanticism of Japan’s Taisho era (1912–1926) with his hybrid woodblock and art nouveau style, and was renowned for his sketches of nude women.[...]
[Excerpt from Audrey Yue, "In the Mood For Love; Intersections of Modernity" in Chris Berry (ed) Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes (London: BFI, 2003) My emphasis]

Yue suggests that the film’s “historical and cultural mode of production” draws heavily on the ideas in [Liu Yichang's] novel, including the use of music and cross-cultural references. The film also begins and ends with texts adapted from the novel.
To summarise Yue’s arguments about the tête-bêche, the film offers three ‘sites’ of intersection. First, there is the tension between marriage and the possibility of an affair – between ‘sanctity’ and ‘restraint’. Next there is a spatial intersection with Hong Kong as a hub and movement to Japan, Cambodia and Singapore signalled in the narrative as well as the references to Shanghai (and the fact that the film was mostly shot in Thailand). Finally, there is the historical intersection – looking backward and forward.

Much of Yue’s analysis is not easily available to Western audiences without the detailed cultural knowledge needed to decode many of the references. However, other dimensions of the film’s importance are concerned with more current issues, such as the screening of the film at Cannes and its presence alongside several other high profile East Asian films, signalling a general international acclaim. But this too has a sense of ‘intersection’. Following Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ([Ang Lee,] Taiwan/US 2000), a ‘crossover’ film bringing a popular Chinese genre, the wu xia or martial chivalry film, to an international audience, In the Mood For Love’s Cannes Awards replaced Hong Kong’s usual association with action cinema with recognition of its arthouse status. Yet, in some ways Wong Kar-wai was following Ang Lee in re-visiting the film genres he had enjoyed as a child.

At the centre of In the Mood For Love is Maggie Cheung. Born in Hong Kong, schooled in the UK, briefly married to French director Olivier Assayas, she is also perhaps the most famous female face in contemporary East Asian film culture. As a film icon, Cheung is unusual in speaking English, French, Cantonese and Mandarin. In one of her most critically acclaimed roles as 1930s Shanghai melodrama star Ruan Ling-yu in Centre Stage (Hong Kong 1992) she shifts between Cantonese, Mandarin and Shanghainese with ease. [...] But as the camera lingers on her face (also made famous by Lux shampoo adverts) and her sublime body in an ever-changing display of cheongsams, it is worth thinking about how this supremely talented modern woman now represents the changing image of Hong Kong in a world in which, as Yue suggests, there is a convergence of the “Oriental, neo-Oriental and self-Oriental commodification of pan-Asian popular culture”. Here is the final intersection – the carefully composed reflection on the Shanghai/Hong Kong community’s past and and future and the way in which this is viewed across the world.
[Excerpt from Roy Stafford, 'In the Mood for Love [Programme Notes]', Cornerhouse Cinema, July 6, 2007]

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Mechanised Flights: Memories of HEIDI and Shirley Temple (1928-2014)

Mechanised Flights: Memories of HEIDI from Catherine Grant on Vimeo.

A video made today in memory of Shirley Temple (1928-2014) who died yesterday. It is forged from personal reflections on Heidi (Allan Dwan, 1937), and uses refilmed, cropped and re-edited digitised sequences from the black and white, and colorised versions of the film.

The following quotations were swirling around in the editing space, too, along with inevitable thoughts of Laura Mulvey's videographic study of Marilyn Monroe and Martin Arnold's found footage experiments.
'[Shirley] Temple must be approached as an intermediary and complicating presence poised between the adult originated film fiction and the viewer.' [Gaylyn Studlar, Precocious Charms: Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema (University of Califirnia Press, 2013) p. 67.
'The only other Temple film released in 1937 was HEIDI, which, according to Edwards, was a story suited to Temple's "slightly more mature personality". Edwards points out that Temple's hair had darkened and her ringlets brushed back into curls. Temple's theatrical instincts had sharpened, Edwards observes, and she suggested the Dutch song and dance dream sequence. After minor disagreements about the dance steps with the other children in the scene, director Allan Dwan had badges made reading "Shirley Temple Police".' Every child was issued one after swearing allegiance and obedience to Temple. Shirley wore one reading 'Chief'. "Shirley Temple", Wikipedia, Accessed February 11, 2014: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Temple. Citing Edwards, Anne (1988). Shirley Temple: American Princess. William Morrow and Company, Inc.: 106, 107, 111.