With its saccharine vocal tracks and armies of young women in whacky outfits, it is easy to think of J-Pop idols as just another weird subculture. But idols are big business in Japan, reportedly worth more than a billion dollars per year. At the centre of this maelstrom of hysterical cuteness and rainbow-coloured froth are some pretty basic human emotions — namely loneliness and sadness.
In Jennifer M. Kroot’s warm and deeply affectionate film, Armistead Maupin tells his story in his own words. Friends and colleagues including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan weigh in, but Armistead needs little help. A natural born raconteur, he talks about his first sexual experience, and then bursts into the torchy standard, “Is That All There Is?”
The legendary 13-part series, commissioned by Arte and the Onassis Foundation (that kept Marker’s work unavailable for twenty years), alights at DOXA in its first three episodes Interviews were filmed in Tbilisi, Athens, Paris, Berkeley, and Tokyo. The cast of character is equally expansive with composers, filmmakers, philosophers, and friends including Iannis Xenakis, Michel Serres, Cornelius Castoriadis, George Steiner, Oswyn Murray, Michel Jobert, and Elia Kazan. But what is most startling are the ideas examined.
Moving between past and present, Ghost Ship takes the viewer on a circuitous voyage from Oscar Wilde and Florence Balcombe to F.W. Murnau and a Portuguese party boat — discovering the history of blood science, film tinting, and the cruise ship industry along the way.
Manifesto is the flagship in our Spotlight on Troublemakers. It is the good ship trouble that carries a pirate crew of muckrakers, disturbers of the peace, radicals, revolutionaries, and, of course, cinéastes, embodied in the words of this century’s great cultural and political manifestos. Rabid dissent and gonzo defiance are given voice by actress Cate Blanchett in the guise of a baker’s dozen of characters.
Donna Haraway (A Cyborg Manifesto author) talks about her work and her life in director Fabrizio Terranova’s film portrait. Haraway’s winding reflections and insights are set against images of squiggly sea creatures, kooky animation, and a breezy electronic score. The result is a tranquil, yet playful meditation that dives headfirst into the mind of one of the most inventive and curious thinkers living today.
A more fitting film for our electoral moment is hard to imagine than Chris Marker’s Chats perchés (The Case of the Grinning Cat). The film has the serendipitous timing that is the hallmark of great art: it is always relevant, and au courant — sometimes painfully so.