Thursday, December 25, 2008

End of the Year, End of Take Two

This blog has languished for a year and a half as I struggled to establish Take Two. It's over now, after 11 plays and films featuring about 60 actors, some of whom I've admired for years. Getting people there was always a struggle, though at the end, it did seem like I could expect a very small audience without working too hard at it. And funding became a huge ugly monster of an issue. It's Christmas and I'm totally flat broke after Take Twenty-Two, the summer trip to Taiwan with my family, and the huge bust of the capitalist system in the last few months. My sentiments about Christmas this year are fully expressed by the feline below.

So blogging - well, I've been writing in this journal, mostly complaints about money that no one would be interested in. But I did manage to go see WALTZ WITH BASHIR the other day, courtesy of IFP's lovely membership program that allows starving artists like moi to see films for free before anyone else gets to.

Ari Forman's film is an animated first-person documentary about his journey to unearth long-suppressed memories of the massacre at Sabra and Shatila after being goaded by a friend's eerie nightmare. When I say animated, I don't mean there are animated sequences that illustrate a particular point or give levity to a historical lesson that would otherwise be really dry. The whole thing is animated like a comic book or a really great graphic novel, including Forman's memories and surreal dream of the massacre, the memories of his fellow veterans, and interview sequences that looked like they were drawn straight from video footage. Though it was beautifully done and certainly emphasized the storyline of the documentary, I did feel that the animation was one more step more in removing the audience from the brutal reality of the subject. I understood the poignancy of the film, but it didn't leave me angry or sad or upset in any way, and I'm the kind of sucker that cries while reading the New York Times. I wonder if the film would have packed a bigger visceral punch if there was more of the unvarnished footage that was glimpsed briefly at the end. On the other hand, the subject is so dark that maybe it would have just been unbearable to watch. At any rate, Forman is one gutsy director, who does the politically unthinkable, connecting the Jewish trauma of the Holocaust with the blithe viciousness of Israeli policy towards Palestinians. It's unfortunate that the film will probably preach to the converted, rather than people who are resolutely blind to the human rights abuses and atrocities committed by Israel.

Ari Forman, director of Waltz With Bashir and his doppelganger in the film:

Speaking of human rights abuses, I've been depressed about Taiwan and how there seems to be a total media blackout in the West on how the KMT seems to be quietly removing anything that might make it difficult for China to absorb the island like it never existed as its own entity. It's making me question the importance of national identity - does it matter that I consider myself Taiwanese-American? Does it matter that others consider themselves American or Senegalese or Jamaican or Mexican? The thing is, that Taiwan lacks identity in the Western world. When you think Senegal - okay I don't know THAT much about Africa - but I get the picture of African drumming, I think it used to be French, I think of grasslands. I'm refraining from googling Senegal so this could be totally wrong - okay, Senegal is probably not the best example since it's also a bit hard to define - but Jamaica or Mexico is easily identified by distinctive music, traditions and food. But Taiwan? The only thing anyone in America connects it with is cheap manufacturing.

No comments:

Post a Comment