January 2018 Catching Up with Catching Up
January was a strong start for the Catching Up With Film blog. It has been challenging but exciting to write every day, with most of my Canon reviews reaching a 1000 words or more. I don’t know if I can keep up the pace, but I will be writing as much as I can. I am hoping eventually to have a 1000 Canon entries (more than a millions words written!).
Best of the blog
I am quite proud of my review of Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden, especially since I spent nearly a month just wrestling with what I wanted to write about for that film. Canon reviews in general are the most time-consuming to write, but I am always glad I write them since it deepens my appreciation for films I already love even more.
My dive into Japanese filmmakers has been quite rewarding as well, with Naoko Yamada’s A Silent Voice and Naoko Ogigami’s Close-Knit standing out. It would be foolish to try to generalize about these diverse filmmakers, but the films I watched had a very empathetic view of humanity at its core. Almost all the ones I watched featured a minority of some sort (a transgender woman, a woman with breast cancer, a woman with leprosy, a deaf young girl), and I think all the films did a fantastic job of portraying them humanely.
I was tentative about writing about short films on Wednesdays, but now I am hooked and am so excited to immerse myself in a part of cinema that I have merely scratched the surface of. Real revelations included The House Was Black, perhaps the progenitor of modern Iranian cinema, and one that will definitely be a Canon entry in the future. Also, Joy Joy Nails gives me great hope that a director might be willing to take Asian-American cinema seriously and revitalize it.
Outside of the Blog
I have watched a lot of Hong Sang-Soo in preparation for a Frame by Frame on Oki’s Movie. My friends and I basically watched the movie beforehand and then watched it together while offering our insights. There is a lot more to Hong that meets the eye, despite his generally lack of showiness. You can read more on my thoughts about Hong here. I have also been catching up with the year 1998. For my Canon entries, I am going year by year and trying to write about lesser-known films, and I didn’t really have a good, obscure pick for 1998. So far, I have watched The General, Sombre, The Hole, High Art and Slums of Beverly Hills. I never ceased to be amazed at how many films I had never heard of before whenever I dive into some unfamiliar area of cinema, and 1998 was no exception..
Coming in February
For February’s theme, I will be going with Korean blockbusters. Many of the films from South Korea that make it into the English-speaking mainstream often don’t represent what an average Korean person might check out in the theaters. While directors like Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho are popular, others like Kim Ki-Duk and Hong Sang Soo have much bigger followings internationally than in their home country. I thought it would be illuminating to look at some of the more modern hits and how similar they are to typical blockbusters yet how they also retain their own Korean identity (whatever that is). Also, expect ten more Canon entries, since I am planning to do ten per month!