Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Arch (1969)

WHO: Cecile Tang Shu Shuen wrote, directed, and performed in this, her first film.

WHAT: I was hoping to get a chance to view a screener of this film before posting about it today, but a week of Jury Duty has screwed up my plans. Instead, I'll lean on a review by Kamran Ahmed from earlier this year, which I shall now excerpt from:
Cecile Tang Shu Shuen’s The Arch (1969) remains a visual masterpiece, whose formal rhetoric profoundly speaks to the inner dimensions of human existence. A film, in her words, about the “interior feeling of woman,” The Arch uses techniques and special effects, such as zooms and superimpositions/dissolves, to express the ineffable qualities of experiencing life as an isolated and repressed young woman in China during the difficult times of the Cultural Revolution.
WHERE/WHEN: Today only at the Pacific Film Archive at 3:00.

WHY: Today's screening of this rare film, championed by French cinephile Pierre Rissient among other leading international figures, looks to be a highlight of the PFA's final week of 2013 screenings. The rest of the week is filled out with the last three films in the PFA's Rainer Werner Fassbinder series, a 35mm print of Johnny Guitar, and a five programs in my least favorite PFA series of the year, The Resolution Starts Now: 4K Restorations from Sony Pictures; nothing against the films but with the digital presentation. Check my post on one of the films showing Friday the 13th, Dr. Strangelove, for more details on that.

I've seen the PFA's January/February calendar and am pleased to report there are no series like that 4K series on the horizon. Though there are some DCP showings of photochemically-created works on the schedule of the one series available to view now on the venue website, Film 50: History of Cinema, they're balanced by rare 35mm showings of things like Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow and Hirokazu Kore-eda's After Life. Otherwise, most of the upcoming films showing at the PFA will be shown using the medium of their creation: digital in the case of the African Film Festival, 35mm in the case of most of the selections in a focus on Golden-Age Hollywood comedy (from the Marx Brothers to Hepburn/Tracy to Billy Wilder), most of the screenings in the first installment of the PFA's year long Jean-Luc Godard series beginning January 31st with Breathless and Le Petit Soldat, and I believe all of the films in the first segment of an extended Satyajit Ray retrospective. I have a feeling Ray's cinematographer Subrata Mitra, who also filmed The Arch, would approve were he alive today.

HOW: 35mm print from the PFA's own collection.

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