Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Hole (1998)

THE HOLE by Tsai Ming-liang, Courtesy Celluloid Dreams.
WHO: Malaysia-born, Taiwan-based filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang co-wrote and directed this.

WHAT: This apocalyptic tale was the first of Tsai's films I ever saw well over a decade ago, on videocassette, and it immediately hooked me on a filmmaker who would later make some of my favorites from the past decade (Goodbye, Dragon Inn, The Wayward Cloud, and pending another watch Stray Dogs). Some quotes from my original notes on seeing The Hole (which I have not revisited since): "definitely the strangest musical I've ever seen, it makes Dancer in the Dark or Jeanne and the Perfect Guy look about as unusual as Rodgers & Hart!" "Tsai arranges his spaces through the camera to maximize alienation and isolation, and the constant sound of running water (sometimes punctuated by alternatingly inane and alarming broadcasts) contributes greatly to this feeling as well."

WHERE/WHEN: Screens 2PM today only at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

WHY: This screening kicks off the YBCA's Invasion of the Cinemaniacs series, the film component of the museum's seventh triennial Bay Area Now celebration of local arts. The "core idea" of this year's exhibition, according to YBCA's own pitch, is "to decentralize the curatorial process and centralize the public presentation of some of the most exciting artistic voices in the region today." To do this, the YBCA curators have essentially curated curators from art spaces around the Bay Area ([ 2nd Floor projects ], the Chinese Culture Foundation, the San Quentin Prison Arts Project, etc.) to present works by artists associated with them. Works of particular interest to cinephiles in the gallery space include Paul Clipson's incredible book of storyboard-esque sketches preparing film projectionists for reel changes, presented by the Bay Area Art Workers Alliance, and Christina Marie Fong's elaborate installation of a bedroom bedecked with dozens of her own interpretive posters from horror movies, part of Creativity Explored's contribution to the show.

On the Film/Video side of the YBCA program team, Joel Shepard has already used the curating-curators concept for programming moving image at Bay Area Now- back in 2008 when he picked several local independent film programmers to choose selections to screen in conjunction with Bay Area Now 5. This year he's gone further, selecting people who normally don't get a chance to choose what screens in local theatres, yet who are, in his words, "hugely invested in film exhibition, but generally behind-the-scenes." I'm deeply honored to have been selected to be one of these selectors, and have been diligently preparing what to say when I introduce Robert Altman's The Company at the venue this coming Thursday. But I'm excited to hear what local-legendary publicist Karen Larsen has to say about Tsai Ming-Liang and the Hole this afternoon, and to hear all my fellow Cinemaniacs' introductions over then next few months. I hope you can join me for as many of the ten screenings as you can.

HOW: All the Invasion of the Cinemaniacs screenings are sourced from 35mm prints, except for the most recent one, Pietà, which as far as I know has never screened in that format.