Sunday, July 19, 2009

WRAPPING OSHIMA

I've been living with Nagisa Oshima since late May and now find myself a bit melancholic that James Quandt's retrospective is leaving North American shores for Europe. I can't say that I caught every film in the series—even if I might have desired to; I was out of the Bay Area for a large middle section of its Pacific Film Archive stint—but, I caught enough to familiarize myself with Oshima's work and anticipate filling in the blanks come future opportunities. I likewise hope in future weeks to respond in writing to what I was fortunate enough to see.

Without question, the foreground experience was being invited by Susan Oxtoby to interview James Quandt during his visit to the Bay Area. Much like Girish Shambu owes his "cinephilic coming of age" to Quandt, my conversation with him bumped the word "autodidact" to the top of my favorite words list and has me seriously questioning the current festival practice of reviewing "films" by DVD screener (without responsible and requisite caveat).

At
Critical Culture, Pacze Moj offered a dissenting voice against the Oshima retrospective, primarily objecting to a comment made on the PFA website that few of Oshima's films were available on DVD or video. "Few films on DVD or video?" he writes, "Really? How odd: we Internet-generation peoples must be living in the future! ...because all but one of the feature-films playing in the retrospective are available online, through bittorrent or emule or both." Pacze then provides links to where the films in the retrospective can be downloaded onto computer. He likewise defends the new cinephilia, which doesn't demand in-cinema experience. We've agreed to disagree on this point of contention, though I would be interested to know how many writers actually use bittorrent or emule to download movies for review? I had always objected to the investment of time but Pacze argues: "[P]atience might depend on how you download. Emule can be slow, but a well-seeded torrent is quicker than going to the cinema, quicker than Netflix, quicker than driving to the video store." Pacze Moj's entry is particularly noteworthy for his links to Berkeley's CineFiles project, which I incorporate here for ready reference.

Tom Luddy's eight-page booklet from a 1972 Oshima retrospective. My eyebrow raised when I noted that films were only 75¢ back then!

David Owens' four-page booklet to a 1982 retrospective also called "In the Realm of Oshima".

Ian Buruma and Audie Bock's 23-page booklet from an Oshima retrospective held at the Hong Kong Film Festival.
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