Howard Hampton

  • RAINMAKER: THE FILMS OF TSAI MING-LIANG

    This May 17, TSAI MING-LIANG's fifth feature film, Et là-bas, quelle heure est-il? (What time is it there?), premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Now, New York audiences will have a chance to assess the Taipei-based filmmaker's startling oeuvre. Howard Hampton sets the stage for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's upcoming retrospective “Urban Ghosts and Legends: The Cinema of Tsai Ming-liang” at the Walter Reade Theater, June 29–July 12.

    The numbed-down recurring characters in forty-three-year-old Malaysian-born, Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang's films behave like diseased guppies

  • Allen Smithee

    THE EMERGENCE OF ED WOOD as ironic culture hero—a status cemented by Tim Burton’s bemused Hollywood biopic—just about permanently blurred the line between auteurism and autism. Paying homage to an even more peculiar ghost in the studio machine, Directed by Allen Smithee dishes the very latest in anti-auteur theory by way of celebrating the half-life and work of filmdom’s most famous phantom director. Allen Smithee is the official pseudonym designated by the Directors Guild of America for directors who can document the loss of “creative control” of a film and further claim that the

  • The art that inspired them in 2000

    Those of us who live and breathe contemporary art will hold to the idea that art does change, if not the world, then the way we live in it. But our “world” can be more insular than we care to admit. So to open our look back at 2000, we asked twenty-one “outsiders” we admire—from novelist J.G. Ballard to musician John Zorn—to tell us about the art that inspired them this year.

    Dave Eggers (novelist)

    About a year ago, I saw Marcel Dzama’s stuff in zingmagazine and fell madly in love. Then his show at David Zwirner just killed me. A hundred or so drawings (bears with handguns, whale-men

  • Jean-Luc Godard

    ECM RECORDS' IMPOSING, slipcased five-disc sound-track album to Jean-Luc Godard's four-and-a-half-hour Histoire(s) du cinéma video project (1988–98), complete with four hardcover books of images and text in three languages—all for a list price of $180—is the last word in dolorous mood Muzak. Godard's eight-part Histoire(s) is his gnomic farewell to an art form—remixing and cross-referencing a century's worth of film to evoke cinema's obsolescence at the same moment its visual traces have replaced memory and history alike. Cahiers du cinéma was thrilled by the sound track's

  • The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack

    AIYANA ELLIOTT'S DOCUMENTARY about her demi-legend of a folksinger father, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack (which opens nationally this month), is the kind of plainspoken memoir-cum-biography you might stumble across on PBS some uneventful night and gradually get caught up in, the rhythms of its unspooling anecdotes seducing you against your will. “I've never heard anybody that was so enchanting on subjects I didn't give a damn about,” is Kris Kristofferson's affectionate characterization of the sixty-nine-year-old raconteur, rake, and self-made myth whose pale faux-Guthrie warble may be his least

  • The Straight Story

    SEVENTY-NINE-YEAR-OLD Richard Farnsworth’s performance in David Lynch’s The Straight Story (1999) has a beautiful, disarming nakedness: There doesn’t seem to be anything between the elements and his weathered skin except the stubborn pride the old actor projects. As seventy-three-year-old Alvin Straight, who can barely walk yet drives a battered lawn mower nearly 300 miles from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his sick, estranged brother, Farnsworth takes in the world and his own increasing frailty with an aching watchfulness. Farnsworth’s eyes articulate what Straight himself can’t put into words,

  • Howard Hampton

    1. The Last Bolshevik (Chris Marker, 1992) Farewell to the twentieth century: remembering the casualties of history, their dreams of a future that never came to pass.

    2. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995) The slippery, totemic poetry of America, wherein an innocent named William Blake receives his last rites from an Indian called Nobody.

    3. Swordsman II (Ching Siu-tung, 1991) In the realm of the senses—beautifully convulsive, irresistibly phantasmagorical.

    4. Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997) Sex, displacement, metamorphosis; out of Kafka by way of In a Lonely Place.

    5. Underground (Emir Kusturica, 1995)

  • Seijun Suzuki

    URINE PICTURESQUELY RUNNING DOWN a hit man’s socks into his wing-tip shoes, a systematic pillow girl servicing an army battalion on the Manchurian frontier, a cold-blooded killer getting aroused sniffing at a pot of rice, a frustrated student pounding a piano’s keys with his erect penis.

    There’s no business like Japanese show business, at least as practiced by ’60s B-movie savant Seijun Suzuki. Favoring violent non sequiturs and theatrical artifice over narrative continuity and genre boundaries, he hit audiences with hot and cold blasts of displacement, playfully tactile uses of image and sound,

  • Shohei Imamura

    THE SEVENTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD Japanese director Shohei Imamura’s studies in aberrant humanity have been nothing if not singular. The Eel (1997) was undoubtedly the best film ever made about a man’s near-cosmic oneness with his pet fish, and Imamura’s latest, Dr. Akagi (which opened in mid-January in New York), is more accomplished still: It’s the winningest comedy of all time . . . about hepatitis. The title character (fervently played by Akira Emoto) is nicknamed “Dr. Liver” because he diagnoses disease of that organ in virtually every patient he treats. We first catch sight of the doctor in an

  • Dogma 95

    THREE YEARS BACK, under the aegis of a radical (and largely spurious) Danish filmmaking collective calling itself Dogma 95, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg issued a directorial manifesto in the daft form of a “Vow of Chastity.” (Later, Christian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen signed on, effectively doubling Dogma’s membership.) Set forth in ten severe back-to-naturalism commandments, coupled with additional proclamations like “I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste!,” the vows’ monastic regimen is now put to the test in a pair of new movies (both of which premiered this year

  • Chow Yun-Fat

    CHOW YUN-FAT moves through a film like a time-traveler from the cinematic past. A violent apparition materializing from the shadows of memory, the Hong Kong star who made his Hollywood debut in The Replacement Killers and is slated to appear next in producer Oliver Stone’s upcoming The Corruptor imbues action with tenderness and regret, having one foot securely in the stoic moral codes of Only Angels Have Wings and the other in the weltschmerz of Wings of Desire. As an actor, Chow balances the innate and self-conscious with a special sort of bemused intensity, reconciling the emblematic qualities

  • Michael Haneke's Funny Games

    AN EXCRUCIATING compendium of banalities posing as “radical” filmmaking, the Austrian movie Funny Games suggests that celluloid serial killers have grown bored with murder sprees, necrophilic rape, and ritual sex mutilations. No longer content with violence—for—violation’s sake, they feel the need to place their acts in the larger context of media representation: using torture and slaughter for educational purposes, homicidal maniacs must now not only kill but comment on the whole death—making process. Indeed, the movie’s cherubic duo, Peter and Paul—suggesting a pair of run-amok