A visit to the #5 Bar will not find you a discussion about film - although you'll get all the English football and girls you can handle. And nearly any walk through the expat haunts of Saigon, even the upper market ones, will not do you much better. So maybe the Internet will hit the right target for me. Below are 4 films that have come to my attention recently. I haven't seen them all, but I'd like to. If you have thoughts on any mentioned, or have seen others of similar interest, please leave comments below.
Airing on HBO Asia currently, Grey Gardens offers a look into the lives of Big Edie and Little Edie Bovier Beale, the much poorer aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who live live in a dilapidated summer home in the Hamptons and seem almost completely and totally oblivious the the world falling apart around them. Sad, lonely, yet poignant, the film echos and updates the 1975 documentary by Albert and David Maysles of the same name.
#2) Georgia O'Keeffe(2009)
The somewhat misnamed film that depicts both the lives of Ms. O'Keeffe and lover/husband/promoter/photographer Alfred Stieglitz, traverses the highs, lows and incredible depth of a relationship that saw O'Keeffe become the most famous female artist in history and Stieglitz nearly forgotten by the time of his death in 1946. O'Keeffe would spend the next 40 years of her life on her own paintings and on memorializing Stieglitz's work until her death at the age of 98. A portrait of two fiercely individual spirits who both inspired and almost destroyed each other.
#3) The Red Chapel (2009)
Probably not a film I'm ever going to see in Vietnam due to this country's political friendship with North Korea, a Danish film maker takes rare look inside the fortress-like walls of North Korea. "Director Mads Bruegger's guerrilla/Borat-style tactics in 'The Red Chapel,' offer a fascinating but less-subversive-than-advertised piece of stunt filmmaking. Documenting his visit with two Danish-Korean comedians hoping to put on a show, Bruegger launches a sneak attack on what he calls "the most heartless and brutal totalitarian state ever created," yet his vigorous condemnations aren't always entirely backed up by what he uncovers. Sundance's World Cinema grand jury prize should raise the fest profile for 'Chapel.'" - Variety Magazine
#4) Louis Sullivan, The Struggle for American Architecture (2010)
"Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924) was one of the most influential architects to come out of the Chicago School of architecture in the late 1800s. He is often called the 'father of the skyscraper', and conceived the most famous phrase ever to come out of his profession, 'form follows function'. Sullivan’s most profound influence can be found in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, who spent more than six years as Sullivan’s chief draftsman before going on his own to advance Sullivan’s idea of American architecture into the Prairie School of the early 1900s. Sullivan died in 1924, penniless and forgotten to the public, and is buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery." - Official Film Site. I haven't seen this film but would very much like to to advance my knowledge and love of architecture.
All these films depict individuals, some more financially successful than others, but their stories give me hope that following a creative vision is a valuable way to live a life. Even the Beales found peace in their odd eccentric existence.