August 2002

THE COLOR OF PARADISE (1999, 90 min.)

“The Color of Paradise” is an Iranian film of compelling sorrow and beauty.  It reveals the story of an unforgettable blind boy who reaches out everywhere for God, for love.  He understands what the birds are singing.  He sees shades of brilliant light, even in the darkest night.  “The Color of Paradise” is the transcending rainbow of undying love between this precious, exceptional boy and his grandmother.

 

 

 

THE KING OF MASKS (1996, 90 min.)        

“Luck and misfortune are inter-twined,” says a character in this astonishing story of a Chinese street performer, who tumultuously attempts to find a young boy to carry on his quick-changing mask act.  His performances are valued and applauded by many, including one steadfastly loyal fan, a very successful transvestite opera star.  “The world is a cold place,” he says at one crucial point to the “king of masks” young protégé, “but we can bring warmth to it.”  Together, they precipitate one of the most dramatic and surprising solutions to the old artist’s dilemma of impending doom.

 

8 ½  (1963, 140 min., Italian w/subtitles)

Director, Federico Fellini, creates his own prolonged panic attack and eventually resolves it in a great closing scene of the all-inclusive, circular dance.  The film is surreal, as Guido (Marcello Mastrionni) suffocates inside the cocoon of his own success, plagued by critics, yes-men, competing lovers, wild fantasies and fears of artistic sterility.  “I really have nothing to say,” he declares, “but I want to say it anyway.”  If you love surrealism and can bear with the hilarious agony of this troubled, beguiling character, you might make it to the best part – the final scenes of mythic reconciliation and celebrative wonder!

 

“There is nothing more fearful than imagination without taste.”GEOTHE

 

IKIRU (1952, 143 min., Japanese w/English subtitles)

Akira Kurosawa’s sensitive masterpiece about a man, around my age (67), learns that he is dying of cancer.  I have not myself been so diagnosed, but I definitely can identify with this character, so lost within the cyclonic whirlwind of his own emotional reaction to the news of his imminent demise.  After initial grieving and mock partying with a close friend, he suddenly finds himself spiritually adequate for the moment at hand, using his position in local government to build a desperately-needed, long-neglected playground project.  And there we find him as the film closes; sitting in the snow on one of the newly erected playground swings, singing his bittersweet song of affirmation.

 

THE MAGICIAN (1958, 102 min., B&W, Swedish w/English Sub-titles)

This movie is one of my most favorite Ingmar Bergman films! It has that same dark, brooding look of early Bergman creations, but there is a strong undertow of  “Joi de Vivre” that is not always the dominant theme of his works.  We don’t always know exactly what is going on, and at times the magician and his strange, wandering troupe seem to be only a sham.  But always, some deeper and truly magical mystery intervenes to reveal a scenario reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s great poem, “God is alive, magic is afoot,” although what is really afoot here is just pure, simple love, which is, after all, the most essential and unpredictable magic of all.

 

“Even if I set out to make a film about filet of sole, it would be about me.” – FEDERICO FELLINI

 

HUMAN DRAMA

Human drama is the preoccupation of cinema, because it is the essence of what makes life interesting.  In addition to the movies reviewed on this page, I recommend the following scenarios in the realm of personalized fiction: NOTHING BUT A MAN (about racial issues), NASHVILLE and TRUE STORIES. –BJ

 

M.E.A.L.

The name of our task group at the Wilton Congregational (UCC) Church was Media Explorations at Large (M.E.A.L.), a concept originated by “ring-leader,” Russell Guest. Within the huge, barn-like social hall of  “the Congo Church,” as the young people called it, we presented elaborate, homemade multi-media events in the late sixties, including a community series of exceptional films, such as ZORBA THE GREEK, THE SEVENTH SEAL, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS, etc.  Once, a member of the congregation, Mr. Bob Sanders, made available to us an advance 16mm print of PLANET OF THE APES–such a treat! And I well remember the first movie we projected onto the sail-like surface of the great, undulating sheet/ screen strung across the hall–MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, with Charles Laughton and Clark Gable! –Bill Joyner   

 

P. O. Box 3411 / Sarasota, Florida 34230

joynerbill28@gmail.com

 

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