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Zhang Yimou

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Name That Director!

Click above to REALLY enlarge...

UPDATED 01/28/10: 2:25 p.m. PST -- COMPLETED!: Thanks for all the detective work -- and special thanks to Christopher Stangl and Srikanth Srinivasan himself for their comprehensive efforts at filling the last few holes! Now I have to go read about who some of these experimental filmmakers are. I did find some Craig Baldwin movies on Netflix, actually...

Srikanth Srinivasan of Bangalore writes one of the most impressive movie blogs on the web: The Seventh Art. I don't remember how I happened upon it last week, but wow am I glad I did. Dig into his exploration of connections between Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and Jean-Luc Godard's "History of Cinema." Or check out his piece on James Benning's 1986 "Landscape Suicide." There's a lot to look through, divided into sections for Hollywood and World Cinema.

In the section called "The Cinemaniac... I found the above collage (mosaic?) of mostly-famous faces belonging to film directors, which Srikanth says he assembled from thumbnails at Senses of Cinema. Many of them looked quite familiar to me, and if I'm not mistaken they were among the biographical portraits we used in the multimedia CD-ROM movie encyclopedia Microsoft Cinemania, which I edited from 1994 to 1998, first on disc, then also on the web. (Anybody with a copy of Cinemania able to confirm that? My Mac copy of Cinemania97 won't run on Snow Leopard.)

Roger Ebert

The achievement of China

I begin with a confession of ignorance. Before the Olympic Games, I had a confused and narrow vision of China. It was assembled from many movies, some of them historical dramas like "Raise the Red Lantern," some of them biopics like "The Last Emperor," some of them powerful slices of life like "The Blue Kite," "To Live," "Ju Dou" or "Story of Qui Ju." But all of them depicting the distance, the strangeness, the difference of China. Along with those images came a heavy overlay from the Cold War, the reign of Mao, the idea of China as a hostile superpower. I saw photos of the Shanghai and Beijing skylines, but I also pictured tens of millions living in poverty and age-old conditions.

Roger Ebert

Confessions of a blogger

I've had my own corner of the internet even before the days of the web, back when I logged on to all-text Compuserve with my DEC Rainbow or Tandy 100. But I never wanted a blog. Yes, I made some enduring friends through my Compuserve forum, Andy Ihnatko for example, but eventually the task of reading and responding to countless messages became too time-consuming. I knew I wouldn't have to interact at such depth with a blog, but, frankly, most of the blog comments I read online were not ones I was eager too receive.

Roger Ebert

Zhang Yimou's gold medal

I was one of the allegedly three billion people watching the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on TV, and I think I received the intended message: China is here, big time. The scope, precision and beauty of the production was, you will agree, astonishing. The distinguished director Zhang Yimou was given $300 million and full rein of his imagination, and perhaps some of his background in opera was also useful. The sheer size of the production was awesome. It said a lot for China, both positively and perhaps negatively. With the exception of the star pianist Lang Lang, a duet between Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan, and some featured dancers, the emphasis was not on individuals, but on masses of performers, meticulously trained and coordinated. What was your reaction to the opening spectacle of 2,008 drummers, creating waves and shapes of lights with their drums? Mine was amazement and pleasure. Also a reflection of the discipline and dedication of these unpaid drummers. You could see the little earpieces with which they apparently received cues; you could imagine the performance otherwise breaking down into chaos.