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November 2002, Week 2


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Scott Andrew Hutchins <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 9 Nov 2002 19:30:20 -0500
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I watched The Puppetmaster Thursday night and was profoundly disappointed.  This film suggested a filmmaker competent enough to make good establishing shots, but little competent enough to do anything else.  Li Tienlu was fascinating, and I would have rather had a steady shot of him talking the entire film rather than what Hou gives us.  His characters wander in and out of the shots and without Li it would take a lot of cognition to assemble what's going on on his pretty canvases.  Maybe he should start making films like Bill Viola.  Whatever Village Voice reporter called him "the world's greatest narrative filmmaker" ought to have been fired.  The only reason he gets respect is because of his choice of subject matter, not his competence in dealing with it.  Another quote on the box referred to the film as "pure cinema," obviously having no concept of what the term means, since there is nothing cinematic in his choices whatsoever.  Minimal editing, minimal camera movement, average-quality acting.  Long takes in whcih nothing much happens.  I guess it makes sense that it was released by a company that didn't bother to subtitle some of the conversations, or the opening credits.  I honestly think Li Tianlu is the only reason to watch it.

Yet he seems to be covered a lot by the serious cinema press, why?

Scott Andrew Hutchins 
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Examine The Life of Timon of Athens at Cracks in the Fourth Wall Theatre & Filmworks

"When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."--Jonathan Swift

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