cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM Flânerie [The observing city stroller]





GRAPHIC ART Gustave Caillebotte [Paris street rainy day 1877]

Gustave Caillebotte – Paris street rainy day 1877


Watching Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty [2013] a few weeks ago – in a cinema, golly-gosh! – set me off on a little journey back into the world of the flâneur. Even someone familiar with flânerie, perhaps through reading of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, might find a reason to tarry here. This is the sub-species ‘flâneur in film’, so keep reading.

For the rest, start gently with a 2010 post in SeattleMet Fête du Flâneur: Be There. Dan Bertolet conveniently links to the wiki:flâneur to go a stage further. [Scroll down to the post…]

There are many interesting links on the flâneur in film. A selection later.

The most important to me so far is a paper by Jaimey Fisher originally published in The German Quarterly 78.4 (Fall 2005):

Wandering in/to the Rubble-Film: Filmic Flânerie and the Exploded Panorama after 1945

which introduces the Rubble-Film. Bear with it. 21pp. Not all rubble. You’re not a rubble-ist are you? A general enticement to rummage in rubble (films) might be mention of the connection between the 19c. flaneur and the modern detective. Lot of ideas to play with.

Overall it’s a historical overview arriving at the key area of the return of the flaneur in 20c. modernity.


As a supplement a review by Imke Meyer of:


The Art of Taking a Walk: Flanerie, Literature, and Film in Weimar Culture
by
Anke Gleber

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. 283 pp. ISBN 069100238X.)


Roughly 3 x A4.


Later, more filmic flânerie. Now I’ve got some reading to do.


Other


a blind flaneur a blog by Mark Willis.



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May 30, 2014 Posted by | flâneur, Rubble-film | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD A Man, A Woman and a Dog





FILM GODARD Au Adieu au Langage [iPhone]
{1}




Godard has a new film out. And he’s keen/anxious to talk about it, film ‘n stuff.

A few people have seen it, writing and talking about it at great length so spoiling it for everyone else who might have wanted to see it without the comments and interpretations of the expertigensia ringing in their ears, at what you now know are salient or significant points in the film [or the homage points, say, to his own films or film in general] which you’d hope to enjoy, be puzzled or exasperated by at your own pace.

Thank God (the one without the full stop or as the French call it, point, a word J-LG could have a field day with…). I made sure I did not read a lot before watching The Great Beauty. And then when I had seen it, I desisted from even translating the title into Italian or even mentioning that the phrase had been used by a character in the film in a certain way. See, there I’ve done it now. Now you will be on the look out for it, even though there has been no indication why this might have some significance.

One reads the contents of one’s mind before seeing a film, in anticipation of it, which in itself may spoil a film. Book, art, play, film. A filmic or booky equivalent, shall we say analogy, to phenomenological bracketing or epoché is impossible. I’ve already remarked in a recent post that as soon as I saw the poster for The Great Beauty, I knew [as would literally millions of others..] where we were coming from, though not necessarily where we were going to. Eric Morecambe’s famous riposte [applicable to almost anything, like the Actress & the Bishop jokes] to Andre Preview on his, Eric’s, terrible rendition of – was it Grieg’s piano concerto? – “I’m playing the RIGHT notes, but not necessarily in the RIGHT order!” always flings itself up from the recesses of my mind like the lyrics to an incomprehensible ’60s songs like the one by Noel Thingy called The Windmills of My Mind.

Why it is that I think of J-L Godard as the archetype (or prototype) of the incredibly difficult (but obviously highly intelligent) au contrarian conversationalist in any setting – uncle [ton ton] J-J at a family wedding or diner party, seated next to you in aircraft, etc. – who somehow manages to create the immediate suspicion he may well be mad, or temporally cured and released from some sort of mental institution (the old jackets…), yet, underneath the frightening persona, has something interesting to say which holds you there despite your inclination to run.

Really mad people we seem to have an instinct for as we have so much experience of them in everyday life. Like films we have seen too much about before watching them, Jean-Luc Godard comes with such a pedigree, a provenance, we are comfortable in the paradoxical nature of many of his pronouncements. Expect them even. Be lost without them, possibly. We know he, like a lunatic, assumes you know he is God [when it comes to film]. If you do, as he knows he is and you do, then all is simple.

The reviews on Adieu au Langage were not out when I was passed by Glen W. Norton, via a Godard forum, the link to the Canon video interview avec Godard with English subtitles

(…a classic God[.] subtitles joke in there not created by God[.] himself. Qua? Comment? These are accurate subtitles while his are notably unreliable.)

The areas I forced myself to listen to, while going Ni Ni Na Na with hands over my ears [mostly], were the technical ones. And this is reflected in graphics included in the post. Let’s try to grasp (as it is obviously important) why he at one and the same time decries technological advances and at the same time adopts them with alacrity. Except that is, in the case of editing (See relevant tab on the canon interview page) where he it is explained there – something know amongst God[.] watchers – he uses magnetic video tape to edit with, thus getting his technical collaborators who have filmed digitally to make video tapes for him to edit. The amusing thing is he’s renowned as an expert in editing with tape to an extent that makes many scratch their heads at his ingenuity.

I use this digital-magnetic example as a route into the mind of Jean-Luc Godard, in a sense prior to any messages he may be sending to his avid (an even not so enthusiastic) followers about life in general and of course the art of cinema, and Art.

While he argues here about his latest film that 3D is a FWOT

(Along the lines of, “It is useless! We see no more with it than before..” All true of course.)

he still uses it (At least twice so far..). And presumably this is a way of saying something. Well of course it is. And here is where we get to the crusty old uncle who frightens the sh** out of you, who blows cigar smoke into your face, and yet who let’s drop those few words which catch your interest. Words you know are true like you know a word of art by a master is true without being quite sure how to explain it.

With Godard it is for me when he talks of art. If you knew nothing about Godard the film genius and heard him talking of art in relation to all sorts of things, you will be gaining an experience of the mind of a man who has thought very deeply about his art and craft, film. Filmmakers who talk photography are in the same area. Even the knowledge that a film-maker was formerly a photographer says a lot.

The one who now always comes to my mind, when film and photography are mentioned in the same sentence, or should we even say thought in the same thought, is Nuri Bilge Ceylan. And if I may take a God[.]-like excursion down an dark alley which neither you the reader nor I may quite know is a dead-end or not – as this post is as ex-tempore as you are likely to get in postdom – Ceylan, has used severally the trope of bloke-wandering-around-ancient-site-with-camera-ignoring-and-annoying-girlfriend trope.

With Godard we have to understand that every film is the same film because he is trying to get over the same God[no .]-like message about how he as God [with or without .] can use film to get over his agendas [or not]. And so could everyone else to humanity’s general betterment, if they only had the brains and foresight to see. He like many good or even great film directors [even nerdy-looking baseball cap wearing ones..] is steeped in film from the year dot. And he evokes the complete history of film almost in every quakey sentence he utters. It’s always, “What is film?”. And of course, “What can it do and not do?” He seems to be saying all the time, “Film can’t do/isn’t doing so many things that people dreamed it might do.” And that’s because they don’t understand it well enough to see its talents.

Godard’s “cinema is dead” or “It is now!” [UK football ref there you no UK people..], or “Well, I thought it was then but it really is now” can confuse people. But it’s simple. He believed like Eisenstein that film was purely for political ends. The montage was the method. The Way, The Truth and The Light.

And so fast forward to a film like Adieu au Langage [3D]. Just like me with my immediate and deep apprehension of the depth of Italian cinema through a balding man sitting on a classy bench with shades that look suspiciously like the Ray-bans Marcello Mastroianni wore in 8 1/2, we should get the fact that every time Godard speaks on film (and life) he is thinking of how film failed. He may talk enthusiastically and yet mockingly or ironically about advanced technology, but you know he is still trying to get there, by any means at his disposal.

And all the time, he is still using the same film-text-film-text-text-film-film he developed from his earliest films. At one point in my Godard journey, I felt sure he was saying film could not replace writing and so his films had to constantly show this to be true. For the audience this can be both irksome and difficult. A major facet of this is his voice and text overs are in French. Unless French is your first language or a good second, his efforts to overlap three things at once are pretty much wasted on you, as an immediate effect.

If this all seems a bit too arcane and you have not got to Histoire[s] du Cinema (and perhaps never will) try reading Celine Scamma’s schema for Histoire[s] – a blog search in COTA will get you there.

And finally, as The Two Ronnie would say, there is that thing about Godard and his unreliable subtitling. Apogee: Film Socialism. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I sense he is saying that you can’t translate poetry into another language without destroying or partially destroying its original meaning. Which is true. Godel, Escher Bach, for some ideas and background. And he quotes poetry a lot in his films. As well as showing and talking about art.

And so for film. The very act of trying to make a film helps to remove your original intention (He seems to be saying..amongst many other things). If you just use film. So he, wanting to be sure of getting over whatever message he intends, falls back on words in films as text and commentary (plus the obligatory art),which in itself is an essay on the limits of film. Or the dialectic between The Word and The Film. (Being some kind of Marxist, he would want to show that dialectic is real moving things forward).

And so (and here back to latest interviews) he feels he can’t say directly (and never could or would) simply, in words, what he wants to say about film. This is both because it dishonours film (and maybe dispels some of its magic and mystic) and because he doesn’t want to make the whole thing seem simpler than it is. Instead he picks up on small points (in the Canon interview he starts with SMS, the modern, the dubious) from which to expand (why not start anywhere?) outwards and back inwards at the same time, to the core of what he sees film is and can do. And of course what life (using an iPhone) is and can mean (film your day he suggests..). That goes without saying. Though, like God[.], I’ve said it to make sure you don’t miss it.



Other

With Canon interview spoiler…

1/. Godard comes in many shapes and sizes
– He briefly reprised his views on aspect ration with Gallic hand gestures demonstrating the cutting off of the upper part of a shot, etc.

2/. Something I feel strongly: what a film is about or meant to be about can be taken separately from how it was made. Or not. They can complement each other. Or not. My natural inclination is to run these in parallel. Weaving in and out. Often when the going gets tough on the film itself as a story with a narrative imperative (or not), resorting, or even retreating (out of the sun into the shade..), to the How Did They Do That? seems the most sensible place to go. Even if in the end that strip of bright sunlight between the shady tree and the house has to be crossed.

Godard is often talked about in terms of his oeuvre when a new one pops up (as one does of directors in general). We get the jump cut standing for À Bout de Souffle, or Fritz Lang standing for Le Mépris (who starred in it but to whom Godard was also paying obeisance to as a director. (Wiki:Contempt (film) is an Idiot’s Guide to the latter with some of the associated Langifications – A browser search on Fritz on that wiki page will do the trick).



May 24, 2014 Posted by | Douglas Hofstadter, DSLR cinematography, DSLR Digital Cinematography Guide, Eisenstein, European art cinema, European cinema, European film, film analog/digital, Film and The Arts, film aspect ratio, film reflexivity, film sex, Film Socialisme, film technique, film theory, film [its techniques], French films, Fritz Lang | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM CANNES 2014 In conversation with Jean-Luc Godard





SNIP FILM GODARD Adieu au Langage [4]


SNIP FILM GODARD Adieu au Langage [2]


Images above © Jean-Paul Battaggia*


SNIP FILM GODARD Cannes interview 2014 [1]




So he was giving interviews. Thank God-ard, this one’s subtitled in Anglais mon brave.


In conversation with Jean-Luc Godard. Filmmaker extraordinaire



FILM GODARD Adieu au Langage [2]


From this page the interview in 2 parts, the short trailer and background info. Interesting to note that God.[Fr.point] doesn’t stoop to digital technology but has the digital ‘footage’ converted back to video tape so he can edit it. I remember reading elsewhere how he got really expert at using this medium. Here brief mention of this practice under the workflow tab, with cinematographer Fabrice Aragno. Under equipment he seems to be saying things like 3D gives you no more, we see the same.


* These are from a set on the webpage. I’ve tried to keep them in the right proportions but it’s easier said than done.
A picture speaks a 1000 words, so couple of images to give a bit of an idea of what 3D involves using SLRs. The rig looks home-made, which is an encouragement young film-makers. And of course a bit more advertising for Canon. Godard talks of filming with an iPhone. I have only just seen how my son can run up a music video on his mobile using on-board apps. Note what Godard says about the equipment side in the interview.



May 21, 2014 Posted by | Fabrice Aragno, Godard | , , , , | Leave a comment

TV PLAYWRITE SCRIPTWRITER Peter Bowker





SCRIPTWRITER Peter Bowker



A Writer’s Journey from There to Here


The BBC iPlayer page description :


Peter Bowker writes some of Britain’s most compelling television dramas, winning BAFTAs for the likes of Occupation, about the Iraq war, and Eric and Ernie, about the early career of Morecambe and Wise. He has also written other award-winning dramas such as Flesh and Blood, Blackpool, Desperate Romantics and the medical series Monroe.

Bowker’s latest three-part series, From There to Here, which airs in May on BBC1, is a bold, sweeping saga about two Manchester families and how their lives are changed following the IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996 and the events of the next four years leading up to the Millennium. It covers Euro ’96, Labour’s election victory, Manchester ‘s rave music scene and the banking collapse.

This film offers an exclusive insight into the life of Peter Bowker, who explains how he writes and where the inspiration for his writing comes from, and how after 23 years of writing for television he still feels insecure. ‘I always feel my next commission could be my last…’

He reveals his first foray into writing was as a punk trying to sell his poetry at Stockport market, and how the Manchester punk music scene helped his early development as a writer.

Bowker, who is from Stockport, now lives in Richmond and does most of his writing using pen and ink. ‘It’s the way I was brought up I suppose. I just can’t put it all down on a computer.’ In the film, he gives a masterclass on how he creates scenes and how he writes.

Relationships and family are key to his writing. ‘Every family has its secrets, its myths. We look at every other family and think they’re not like us, but scratch the surface and every family has its stories to tell, its secrets to keep.’

‘Part of the intention I wrote From There to Here was as a love letter to Manchester. And when I was thinking what that meant, I think it had to include the good and the bad… that’s the nature of love really, and I think I owe Manchester. It’s where I grew up, it’s where the rhythm of my writing comes from, it’s where even to this day I feel where I belong… it’s just about trying to capture the spirit of the place really…’.



May 20, 2014 Posted by | Peter Bowker | | Leave a comment

FILM BOOK Godard – Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television



BOOK COVER PUBLISHER CABOOSE caboose_History_of_Cinema

Images are freedom and words are prison.

–Jean-Luc Godard



Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television

Godard’s lectures and discussions in Montreal in 1978—a series of fourteen meetings that pave the way for the eight chapters of his Histoire(s) du cinema (1988–1998). Translated by Timothy Barnard. Caboose.


COTA has 2 posts on Histoire[s]

FILM VIDEO Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma {2010}

FILM Godard Histoire(s) du cinéma {2009}

both mention

La « partition » des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard created by Celine Scemama.

In the first sample page 1 of the partition makes it immediately obvious what the partition is, and how useful it can be as a follow-up on a viewing [or two] of Histoire[s]. It’s in French, but if you’ve had to watch Histoire[s] only partially understanding the French, this is blessed relief.


Celine Scemama has since written:

Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard: La force faible d’un art
By Céline Scemama-Heard [2006]

Musique, photographie, peinture, gravure, sculpture, littérature, archives, philosophie, poésie, discours, histoire et …cinéma. Godard a mis un s à ses Histoire(s) du cinéma. L’oeuvre de Godard impose une contemplation paradoxalement violente parce que l’écran des Histoire(s) est à l’image des plis du temps où sont retenus toutes les souffrances et tout ce qui est inachevé. Le montage permet des substitutions, des surimpressions et des rapprochements qui font du cinéma une grande puissance historique




May 18, 2014 Posted by | Caboose, Celine Scemama | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM The Great Beauty 2013 [1]





Toni Servillo in The Great beauty



Dead in the water. Stuck. Wanting to spill out you thoughts on a film you heard about, watched and then, hey everybody, this is good, it’s….ah,um….you’ve got someone you’d like to watch this film before you spoil it by explaining all. Who hasn’t had that sinking moment when you ask someone about film, only to realise the whole film is going to be recalled from prodigious memory for you, and there is no escape. Yes, seen it. Brilliant. And here is entire right down to the details of all the dialogue.

I’ve got the same problem with The Great Beauty directed by Paolo Sorrentino. What can I say? I’ve tried writing it through to see what can be said, ending up with half-written sentences stuttering to a halt well before reaching their destinations. I was even going to use a few Italian phrases heard in the film. No. There is no way round this except to say it’s termed an art-house film. It’s Italian. English sub-titles. It won the best Foreign Film Award at the Oscars last year. Must be worth watching for foreign film enthusiast. It is.

What to say on a film you want someone to watch before you say anything? Are there films you can say quite a lot about without spoiling someone else’s viewing? Is the smallest vignette permitted? No. Not in this case either. All I can say now is, Lo, a film, try it. So. Not even the title translated into Italian. How one has to exercise steely control. And so this post is also addressed to someone who has seen the film who might understand why the title has not been translated in the heading, or in the body of text. (But who can have a conspiratorial wink about knowing why, and in turn not being able to put a kibosh on things by making a comment..)

Perhaps as a displacement activity to assuage the frustration : une petite idée de film.

A man and a woman meet, fall in love. Have a relationship. Then it breaks up for reasons unknown to the audience. On show some bewilderment, anger, sadness, regret, etc. Hankies out. They both loved the movies and spent a lot of time watching them and talking about them. As one does.

They both realise they can’t share anything about film anymore – no communicating at all. They spend a lot of time thinking and imagining what they would be choosing to see, where they would be doing it if still together. Shown by the usual – inevitable – tropes [cleverly masked as homages and satire on] of shots of couples going into movies, etc. Even plugging in DVDs, blubbing, et al. Little scene in which one or other, disconsolate but determined, goes to see a movie. Buys a ticket, stands in foyer with the milling crowd – then after a certain amount of wistfulness, walks back out onto the street.

The upshot, to cut a short story shorter, is the means by each comes to terms with the loss of the film connection amongst the butterflies of lurv, and learns to live and love again. He of course has a film blog and finds he can’t write about films he wants her to see, so stalls, writes around the curly hedges, about production design or mise en scene, or even Godard being rude about actors, anything just to post with the film’s title on the heading. A marker for the future. A dog lifting it’s leg to a lamp post.

Suddenly one day he finds he can write a bit more on films he has seen. But not a lot. He still can’t bring himself to write about the latest releases – he doesn’t want to be a dirty little spoiler. But he realises he can write about obscure art-house movies that no one would want to watch, or even the technicalities of film making like editing.

Here’s one.

In the middle of a long dissertation on Hitchcock’s 1954 Rear Window, from an editing point of view (and POV comes into it a lot..), in Valerie Orpen’s Film Editing, on page 27, referring to an interview with Truffaut, at which point he is talking about the Kuleshov effect:


FILM EDITING orpen p.27 [hitch on actors] [2]


reading this, helps to see a bit more clearly what Godard means about actors. He’s saying the same thing, except he says it in such as a way as to highlight his role as auteur. Ce film, c’est a moi! Tout a fait….mon Dieu….mais oui….c’est vrai….il est moi! Godard=cinema=Godard. And Hitch was in the Hollywood system for the most part i.e. not what would be considered an auteur. Hitch was in control of his projects in a way most Hollywood directors were not. I’ve not read it said he was an auteur in the way the New Wave directors were. Though Godard is greatly interested in him and his work.



May 16, 2014 Posted by | Alfred Hitchcock, Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, POV, Rear Window [1954], The Great Beauty [2013] | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM DIRECTOR Jean Renoir



MCDRUOF EC029

Jean Renoir as August in La Regle du Jeu




Jean Renoir, a long, detailed post by James Leahy in Senses of Cinema, March 2003.



May 9, 2014 Posted by | Jean Renoir | , | Leave a comment

FILM SHORT Back to Land





Blue-Whale-Chart




Back to Land


….a meditation on the sight of a blue whale beached on a California shore. The film observes the onlookers and the nature of their looking.


4 min short by Tijana Petrović



This came to me from Aeon film, but decided to look for Tijana’s home page to show it from.


One for L.




May 9, 2014 Posted by | Tijana Petrović | | Leave a comment

FILM DIRECTOR Atom Egoyan’s pearls of wisdom





Wisdom Wednesday: Atom Egoyan’s Golden Rules




Honestly can’t remember watching any of his films. Ararat rings a bell. And didn’t know he was born in Egypt. His name looks like it’s Turkish or Armenian. Proves to be the latter. wiki:Atom Egoyan. I’m at a slight advantage because we had a couple of -ians at my school: Kevorkian, Torosian. Wiki:Armenian name tells me something I didn’t know either. The -ian means ‘son of’. Surnames, schmirnames. Messerschmidt. It’s forenames that count. And what a name Atom is! Every family should have an Atom in it. When he was a little boy, when you said his name, you could define him as well. Molecule. Mmmmm.

Atom’s #3 struck a chord. [ed. this is changed from ‘rang a chord’.]

#6 is in stark contrast to what I just read in footnote 1, chapter 2 Film Editing: The Art of the Expressive, by Valerie Orpen, on Godard’s view on actors.

“My relationship with actors is very hostile. I don’t speak to them….They don’t have a destiny and they know it. They are always conscious of their mutilation. The gap between the creator and the actor is the same as the as the gap between being and having. An actor cannot be.

[Le Nouvel Observateur, Oct 12-18, 1956]

No, but he can recite Hamlet’s soliloquy. One wonders if Godard had been reading too much of Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness”. Thought he might try it out on actors at their most vulnerable. Pretending to talk to the Arrifex, but clearly to the actors – who he doesn’t talk to – Your Being-in-itself is nothing! Etc.

But who is this Godard? Nothing….

Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot [2013], was mostly thought utter crap by the reviewers [32% reviewers/ 85% viewers, which is presumably based on the US audience]. The Sweet Hereafter [1997] got high praise, but I’d tend to go for Ararat [2002] – a lot because it’s a historical subject that interests me and is a film about a film. And there is some suspicion over why it was banned in Italy. And Turkey once wanted to be in the EU! Huh. Next thing we know it’ll be the German’s kicked out because of the Holocaust…



May 9, 2014 Posted by | Atom Egoyan | , | Leave a comment

FILM BOOK Découpage by Timothy Barnard





GRAPHIC Decoupage 2 [hand-drawn]
{1}


Découpage


By Timothy Barnard (Out in Autumn 2014, Caboose)


The first 36 pages are available in scribd


Catherine Grant in Film Studies For Free has also showcased the book:


On Cinematic Découpage


– including a set of associated source materials and a video seminar at Sussex U:


REFRAME Seminar: “DÉCOUPAGE and Otto Preminger’s CARMEN JONES” by Christian Keathley




45 mins. Better things to do with your film time? Confused? Quick answer? Why not look at diagrams of découpage [not the cutting up bits of paper and material ones..] in Google Image.

I’ve written several posts on découpage, quoting some books and papers on the bare essentials. Christian mentions long footnotes on découpage. When I looked it up this seemed to be the only place where it was explained, set against the other techniques – synopsis, traitement, continuité dialoguée, and then finally découpage techniqué.


When I eventually bought Colin Crisp’s Classic French Cinema 1930-1960, things got a lot clearer. From the first 36 page freebee pre-publication taster of Timothy Barnard’s Découpage, seems like it might be the one to get to put this baby to bed. Well, at least for a while.

Until the next Découpage post. A bientot.



May 3, 2014 Posted by | decoupage | , , , , | Leave a comment