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Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman

Looks like Itzhak is going to go out in his boots.   Which prompts a bit of cultural something….

This week a few events came along, in both instances matters of intra-collegial courtesies.   The first was a performance of some kind by one of my fellow professors at Yonsei, for something called YMAP.   Last year I attended another of his spectacles, of which I think I wrote – a numbingly mindless work which went on and on, received a very tepid response, and left one to mainly wonder “how much did that cost?”   So going this year, under a certain kind of social pressure to do so, Marcella and I braced ourselves, thinking nothing could fall lower than the last one.   How wrong one can be.  This year’s spectacle high-jacked through excessively loud speakers Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring, tossed in a giant on-floor projection, a guitarist, a German language Korean Lied singer, all utterly disconnected in any discernible manner, and then his dancer-wife was splayed across the stage for endless minutes in some utterly dreadful choreography, all of which was then topped off with a long fashion catwalk conclusion involving 6 or 7 skinny models strutting and posturing for another 15 minutes.   It was more mindless, stupid and painful to sit through than the previous one.   I was told its budget, for a two night run, was around $100,000.   And I wondered, who put this up?  And how does this man carry on this way?  Can one not see and feel how awful it is when making it?  Can one not perceive the leaden thud of the audience response, again and again?    While I am sure the same phone calls and invitations will made in the coming year, should we still be here, I will not waste my time again.  Two tries, and nothing visible of interest, it’s enough.  If collegiality takes a hit, too bad.

The other event was also a performance from another of my Yonsei colleagues, Seo Hyun-suk.  This was something he’d been working on since autumn, when Marcella attended an earlier version.   A talkative piece, all in Korean, and hence the major part of it wasn’t accessible to me.  However it was an engaging spectacle nevertheless, with actors male and female nearly naked (black swimsuits), all wearing little pig snouts.  They were in a large cage like setting, with a kind of netting between themselves and audience; the lights played nicely through fake-fog, and it shifted now and then into rather campy segments with old pop songs of a particularly insipid quality, clearly making fun of certain values.  The actors mostly did not speak, but rather mimed to a voice-over track, which was rich with shifts from music to sounds.  At one point for those of us in the closer seats, a set of curtains fell over us, enclosing each person in a little black cubicle, from which hung down an airliner-style oxygen mask.   All in all a very curious piece, which I guess was about Korean style family traumas, though I wouldn’t pretend to have a clue as to what it was about.  Hyun-suk told me the verbal aspect was full of wordplay in Korean, and that translating it would be a hopeless endeavor.

Nope, not from Hyun-suk’s piece, but rather an opera on in Brussels, Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre.

Meantime, very far down on the scale of things cultural, the past week brought in a few more rejection slips for Parable: Saying “no thanks” were some lesser section of Cannes, and then the Jeonju festival.  They follow  Telluride, Venice, Rotterdam, Berlin, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and I forget, maybe another few.  What this means is that my previous assumption that some more or less major festival would take about anything I make is no longer valid.  Whether this is because Parable is just too weird or bad, or that the management of most festivals has shifted in personnel (most have) and/or that “tastes have changed” or other factors that I haven’t imagined, I dunno.  And, I guess my jaded soul really doesn’t much care.  At this point it is really more “films for no one” as being in a festival no longer offers even the slightest hope for making a dime as a consequence.  Instead it is basically a free screening for a 100 or maybe 500 people, who in the flux of a festival with always too much to see, bring marginal attention for the most part, and are mostly looking for “feel good” stuff, which Parable is decidedly not.   I’ll toss it at a handful of other festivals, more for the actors than for me, and hope some bite.  If not, well, you can buy a DVD from me.

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Rachel LeValley in PARABLE16 9.jpgParable

Back a bit I wrote about trying to get Swimming in Nebraska done by the time classes started again.  Instead first I lost the time-line to a computer stupidity of my own making (partitioning HD that had the edit on it); then after getting it sort of resurrected, the computer went a bit haywire, acting as if a nasty virus had taken it over, and I had over a month of rather passively trying to figure out what had gone wrong and how to fix it.  Finally the other day I got it sorted (by reformatting and then doing dskchk /f to the OS disk, and reinstalling XP and editing software, and then step-by-step recovering most the time line yet again.  Now in a methodical manner I am reconstructing it all, very defensively with each section as its own project, and will recommence editing, aiming now for an autumn completion, of yet another film for no one.

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Swimming in Nebraska

Oh, and then after a final revision (subject to a bit more), RANT, with Steve Lack, is finished.  With around 20 minutes more, it runs 85 minutes.  Added were some, well, rants from Steve, each cinematically packaged in some razzle-dazzle that in a manner I think gives the overall film some spine.  Just sent it off to the documentary festival at Yamagata, and will enter it in others.  It was largely Marcella’s work.   Speaking of whom, she is now just about finished on her own film, a first feature, about a cluster of mostly American kids here in Korea teaching at hagwons, or English language schools.  In this case those in the film are mostly a talented bunch in music and photography and other things, and she’s made a nice 60+ minute fictional portrait of their nomadic psychologies.  It too is off to festival-land shortly.

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DEALER SUPEREDx.jpgSCENEFROMJEWISHGAYBAR 506BC.jpgAbove from Rant


And then, not to leave out the important matters of the day, here’s more on the economic situation we are all confronting, a listing from a horse’s mouth about just how much our wonderful banks are in over their heads, and passing it on to you thanks to Mr Geithner and Mr Obama:

Here’s the breakdown, according to the International Bank of Settlements, which acts as banker for the world’s central banks:

1) Listed credit derivatives stood at USD 548 trillion;
2. The Over-The-Counter (OTC) derivatives stood in notional or face value at USD 596 trillion and included:

a. Interest Rate Derivatives at about USD 393+ trillion;
b. Credit Default Swaps at about USD 58+ trillion;
c. Foreign Exchange Derivatives at about USD 56+ trillion;
d. Commodity Derivatives at about USD 9 trillion;
e. Equity Linked Derivatives at about USD 8.5 trillion; and
f.  Unallocated Derivatives at about USD 71+ trillion.



The Shell Game

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