ASHES TO ASHES

Written by admin on . Posted in Arts & Film, Film.


When I interviewed director Wong Kar Wai and cinematographer Christopher Doyle at the Apple Store’s event, “Music in the Films of Wong Kar Wai,” in Soho, it was Doyle who gave the best justification for this week’s release of re-mastered and re-scored Ashes of Time Redux. “I don’t think of it as a remaster,” Doyle declared. “I think of it as a re-invigoration!”
That doesn’t change the fact that Wong’s new edit of the 1994 film, adding new music by Yo Yo Ma, seriously screws with the world’s cultural memory of that earlier masterpiece. Wong’s Redux isn’t a total waste like Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux. New generations are often suckered into over-appreciating these fiddled-with, always-unnecessary second thoughts, but the general public had scant chance to see Ashes of Time in the first place. At least this incarnation of Wong’s martial-arts romance is in sharp colors. It should not replace the original; consider it a sparkling synopsis.
Some of Wong and Doyle’s most fantastic imagery remains: Metaphorical deserts as dream states. Scenes of combat and desire that convey its characters’ passions, acts of vengeance that are also acts of love. Wong and Doyle abstract the martial arts genre into poetry and emotion beyond simplistic Crouching Tiger storytelling. The fighting is kitsch, but the longing and weeping are rich and real. Its story about a blind lovelorn mercenary ironically poeticizes vision and memory.
Ashes of Time has such emotional, aesthetic intensity that its title-one of the greatest in movie history-is fulfilled. It recalls Peter Bogdanovich quoting Jimmy Stewart on the essence of cinema as “Pieces of Time.” Wong and Doyle make time-capturing art incendiary. Ashes is a movie-movie in the French New Wave sense, but Wong and Doyle make Godardian formalism psychedelic. Justifiably proud of their collaboration, Doyle defended their creations against the onslaught of art directors and fashion-mag editors who repeatedly steal from them. Doyle gave them a deserved salute: “F___ you very much!”

Ashes of Time Redux
Directed by Wong Kar Wai, at Lincoln Plaza and Angelika Film Center, Running Time: 93 min.

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Ashes to Ashes

Written by Armond White on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.


 

WHEN I INTERVIEWED director Wong Kar Wai and cinematographer Christopher Doyle at the Apple Store’s event, “Music in the Films of Wong Kar Wai,” in Soho, it was Doyle who gave the best justification for this week’s release of re-mastered and re-scored Ashes of Time Redux. “I don’t think of it as a remaster,” Doyle declared. “I think of it as a re-invigoration!” That doesn’t change the fact that Wong’s new edit of the 1994 film, adding new music by Yo Yo Ma, seriously screws with the world’s cultural memory of that earlier masterpiece.Wong’s Redux isn’t a total waste like Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux.

New generations are often suckered into over-appreciating these fiddled-with, alwaysunnecessary second thoughts, but the general public had scant chance to see Ashes of Time in the first place. At least this incarnation of Wong’s martial-arts romance is in sharp colors. It should not replace the original; consider it a sparkling synopsis.

Some of Wong and Doyle’s most fantastic imagery remains: Metaphorical deserts as dream states. Scenes of combat and desire that convey its characters’ passions, acts of vengeance that are also acts of love.Wong and Doyle abstract the martial arts genre into poetry and emotion beyond simplistic Crouching Tiger storytelling.The fighting is kitsch, but the longing and weeping are rich and real. Its story about a blind lovelorn mercenary ironically poeticizes vision and memory.

Ashes of Time has such emotional, aesthetic intensity that its title—one of the greatest in movie history—is fulfilled. It recalls Peter Bogdanovich quoting Jimmy Stewart on the essence of cinema as “Pieces of Time.”Wong and Doyle make time-capturing art incendiary. Ashes is a moviemovie in the French New Wave sense, but Wong and Doyle make Godardian formalism psychedelic. Justifiably proud of their collaboration, Doyle defended their creations against the onslaught of art directors and fashion-mag editors who repeatedly steal from them. Doyle gave them a deserved salute: “Fuck you very much!”

> Ashes of Time Redux

Directed by Wong Kar Wai at Lincoln Plaza and Angelika Film Center Running Time: 93 min.

Ashes to Ashes

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.


Hitler’s
thugs burned the politically incorrect books of Germany, and Stalin continued
this policy of cultural cleansing by populating Siberia with the Soviet Union’s
most gifted writers. Britain’s Tony Blair used the laudable battle cry
of education, education, education in his election campaign, and his lieutenants
are now implementing this policy in a curious way. The Dept. of Culture, Media
and Sport has issued an edict commanding the public libraries of all local authorities
to replenish their entire stocks within "relevant guidelines" within
eight years. The books being thrown out include the best in English and American
literature, as well as translations of European classics and works by contemporary
authors. In a recent survey, only seven out of a list of the "100 Best
Books" had survived this auto-da-fe of what New Labor deems "relevant."
When you combine this policy with the new censored state school curriculum and
the dumbing-down of the BBC programs, the desirable democratic result of a One
Party System of the Brainwashed will have been achieved.


The tragedy
is that this is a free country, not a dictatorship. This country has been in
the forefront of the education of the working class, as a recent eponymous and
moving book showed. The Scottish-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built hundreds
of free public libraries throughout the United States, and was of course rewarded
by hack journalists classifying him as a "robber baron." Another Scot,
David Campbell, the publisher of Everyman’s Library, is today distributing
free copies of classic literature to deprived state schools. The pupils and
teachers apparently love it, but some bureaucrat will find it socially disruptive.
The Socialist thinker Lord Young, who originated the wonderful Open University
program on tv, died in January, age 86. He must have been discouraged by New
Labor’s policies of "cleansed" education. Readers of "Taki’s
Top Drawer" have, however, been privileged to be educated and amused by
Lord Young’s son, Toby, whose columns would survive any politically motivated
detergent.


I am supposed
to cover proscenium events, not political polemics, so here goes. We have had
some wonderful solo performers in various venues: Patrick Garland’s adaptation
of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own was received with the
inimitable Eileen Atkins in the lead. Another brace of inimitables were Alan
Bennett talking about himself and Oliver Sachs ditto. If I paid those two royalties
on the anecdotes I quote from them I’d go broke. Sir Richard Eyre, the
former director of the National Theater, lectured on the subject of "Do
We Need the Arts?" and got a standing ovation. Noreena Hertz, a brilliant
young Cambridge economist, harangued the audience at one of the Daily Telegraph’s
lunchtime lectures. Her beef was against Global Capitalism and the Death of
Democracy, and this was greeted with an ovation in the polite English "one-hand-clapping"
category. Hertz, who is pretty and was dressed in Chanel leather, had demonstrated
last year at the G-7 meeting in Genoa, and had also sat, as she proudly announced,
"on a panel" with Bill Clinton. She had somehow escaped the raised
batons of the no-nonsense Italian carabinieri and of the former Oval Office
athlete! The last in this splendid series of lectures was Neil McGregor, currently
the director of the British Museum. McGregor, assisted by slides, spoke eloquently
about the portrayal of woman in art.


It would
be invidious to describe the revival of Jonathan Miller’s production of
The Mikado as a solo performance. Yet Dr. Miller, who is the nearest
thing England has to a Renaissance man, has singlehandedly rejuvenated that
ancient and dated piece of family entertainment.


Many decades
ago I saw those past glories of the stage, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson,
in Pinter’s No Man’s Land. The National has now revived this
wonderfully mysterious play with Corin Redgrave and John Wood, and I still had
a worthwhile evening. Wood is a particularly endearing actor, whom one remembers
from Amadeus, and as the poet Housman in the last of Tom Stoppard’s
fireworks, The Invention of Love. I must declare a personal interest
in that Wood played the lead in the original production of Ira Levin’s
Deathtrap. I was a lucky co-producer with Roger Stevens and Alfred de
Liagre in that venture and was therefore able to use the proceeds to finance
half a dozen other plays. The Royal Shakespeare’s production of King
John
was a revelation. I had never seen this forgotten play, which is most
pertinent to our world today.


When you
grow old some of your friends die on you. When I was at the Bar the head of
my chambers was Lord Hailsham, three times Lord Chancellor, a great scholar
and a loyal friend, who has now died. My first pupilage at the Bar was served
with Sir Harold Cassel, one of the most humane and humorous men, and a judge.
Harold had survived more than four years in a Japanese prison camp, and his
family invited me to speak at his recent memorial service. For those of us who
have not achieved very much in life it is a great consolation to know that a
few wonderful men and women have chosen you as their friend. I am grateful for
that.


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