Monday, May 02, 2005

Presidential Sex Lives, Absolute Privacy and Li Shaohong

My ever-reliable penpal has sent a link in answer to a recent question about the president's sex life.
My brother made another presidential mention that shocked me, that George Bush had said that he did not think that atheists were citizens or patriots. As Madeline Murray O'Hare explains in the previous link, Bush said this at a press conference back in 1987, and revised his position at his most recent press conference, claiming: "The great thing about America, David, is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want, and if you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship...That's the wonderful thing about our country, and that's the way it should be." I guess I'm glad that Bush's handlers have informed him of this aspect of American law, but I do wish I could call him a "flip-flopper." When I was looking for the quote I read a different old press conference transcript, and was once again shocked at the prez's inability to take responsibility for anything bad.
Last Tribeca Film Fest. comments:
This weekend saw two final films: a collection of "Animation by the Hubleys." (You can watch some clips on that link). These were really wonderful - Began with three by John Hubley with Dizzy Gillespie, including "The Hole." Emily's films were also great, especially "The Pigeon Inside," I thought.
The audience questions were somewhat hilarious. One person said, "Wow, these should be widely distributed and shown to children." Emily Hubley was cracking up and was a little snotty, but she did say, yes, they have been widely distributed and they have been shown to children. After all, Faith and John Hubley's films have won academy awards. They also did animation for the "Electric Company" and "Sesame Street." Perhaps she was offended that everyone did not know the history of her famous family. I had read the program, so I knew about the Oscars, the fame, etc. the fact that John Hubley created "Mr. Magoo," but otherwise: Who knew? Maybe we should have all seen that documentary about them as preparation. Another hilarious question came from a self-described art college student who wanted to know if the Hubleys (whose work started in the 1950s) used "macromedia flash." Again, amused, Emily said, no, although that is something that other people use. The student asked a follow up, quite genuinely puzzled, "how do you do it then?" The entire audience was stifling guffaws. What kind of art school could this person be going to that he wasn't taught anything about how cartoons have been made since the very origins of film? It's sad, isn't it?
I gained a new appreciation for Yo La Tengo, who I have often found pleasant, but a little bit derivative of Sonic Youth. (They'll be playing at Lincoln Center on May 18th, by the way, accompanying the films of Jean Painleve.)
The final film of the weekend was the winner of the narrative film competition, "Stolen Life," about a woman who leaves college for a man who makes his living by impregnating women and then selling their babies. As you can imagine, it was tragic. It was not particularly lurid, and the way the film depicted the life of the primary character explained why she would be so naive. She makes a great comment upon her decision to stay with her boyfriend after encountering him with another one of his women. After he gives her a wild story explaining how he came to be with this woman, she said something like, "I saw the facts, but my mind washed them away." This kind of knowing and not-knowing, or dismissing of what one knows, is something with which I'm quite familiar. It was interesting to see someone comment on it in a movie. You can read an interview with the director, Li Shahong. The film was banned in China. My guests and I wondered why, but we were unable to get an answer from anyone. The book on which the movie is based, Absolute Privacy by journalist An Dun, was a best-seller in China in 1998, but it has not been translated into English. I wonder if this film gets major distribution in the U.S. whether it will be. The book is based on a set of interviews with people in contemporary Beijing and is mostly the stories of love-affairs and prostitution. It apparently was not banned, but the movie was. Anyone know anymore about this?

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