The Magic Widow 6 November 2015 ~ film blog by Kristoffer T notable for the quality film stills
the cinematography of la Dolce vita: that’s deep, man
Brandon W. Irvines’ Underplex film blog, 20 June 2013 ~ always plenty of stills
La Dolce Vita: Lessons not learned
Kate Fitzpatrick, Brattle Theatre Film Notes, 24 June 2103
Search Brattle for other La Dolce Vita posts.
The first Wajda I saw was Danton, when it came out in the 1983. Before I even knew who Wajda was. It made me think that the French Revolution explained all subsequent revolutions, and proceeded to buy books about the events of 1789 onwards to see how the film did the book, as it were. When you’ve read the books you probably feel the same things as watching the film. One of these is that revolutions are plays for power by the middle-classes, who when they find their revolutionary principles of how society ought work don’t work, force them on everyone. In the film, Robespierre was miffed because Danton seemed to be both a man of the people and getting rich off the proceeds.
But Wajda and many others seemed to be saying it was made with more recent event in Poland in mind. Who was Danton meant to represent in that case? Lech Walesa? Don’t know – but he became pretty prosperous, so who knows. It’s complicated.
Poland has always been a devotedly catholic country, though the communist years pressed down on the church, quite naturally, because it was another focus of power and influence. With the rise of Solidarność [‘Solidarity’] eventually led by Walesa, there was this strange combination of worker organisation – with the involvement of the dissident intelligentsia, which one would assume to be Left politically – and the way the church had helped and been at the intellectual core of the movement. Walesa a devote Catholic. The Pope a Pole and the rest.
Then, I’ve just learned, there was Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Sollicitudo rei socialis, 30 December 1987, in which he “identifies the concept of solidarity with the poor and marginalized as a constitutive element of the Gospel and human participation in the common good.”
Just bought the Artificial Eye DVD of Katin, to watch a late Wajda. The long interview with Wajda on disk is a must. He talks film but also much of the surrounding social and political issues which gives it a context.
Kieslowski has been a specialism of mine. Seen pretty much all his films except the very early documentaries, which I know from reading are really a must if you are looking how a director under communism found he was obliged to turn to drama to film honestly.
The lesser but still worth it, Amator [Camera Buff], is a good way to look at this business of how to get around censorship. There is at least one longform post in COTA on Amator. Probably two. Don’t take them as professional analysis! A mere groping about of an enthusiast. I’m primarily concerned in film with how it presents the story, hence my focus on cinematography in many of these posts.
So I’ve done a bit of Polish Film School cinema: Wajda talks of Katin being perhaps the last of the Polish Film School.
RIP Andrzej Wajda, Humanist Auteur Who Inspired Polanski, Scorsese, and Coppola
Scout Tafoya, No Film School, 10 Oct 2016 ~ longform
Andrzej Wajda’s Ten Best Films
by Michał Oleszczyk, Roger Ebert, 10 Oct 2016
Five Easy Pieces (1970) is a Difficult Film
Wade Sheeler, The Retrospect, 10 March 2016
* Short recent review reminded me of this film.
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Tim Dirks, Filmsite.
* Wopper. Meticulous. Make a cup of tea, sit back. Can’t find a date on this. Always a hard one : buy the film then read all the stuff, or read then watch. My recommendation is watch it first [or watch it again after all these decades…you were young then….how do you see it now as a 70s classic, etc.]
A feed from a Godard forum is a request from Gloria for help using Godard’s Weekend in a course about the road movie.
Two suggestions were made by Francis van den Heuvel:
Un week-end avec Jean-Luc Godard
~ blog La Nouvelle Vague, 25 June 2013
Week End (1967)
Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau, Panorama, 6 June 2006
Notch that one up for a Godard post. Some are not posts about Godard, which I feel a strong desire to make so simply by typing in the letters G-O-D-A-R-D as if I were M. Godard himself in one of those scenes he films of himself typing away on a typewriter with which he accedes to the modern by making it one with electronic memory, so he can type then let the typewriter type as if it’s not him typing. Who is typing him or the machine? God given inspiration. That sort of thing. Noise and cigar smoke. Girl and a gun.
There must be someone out there in the big wide world who has done a thesis on Godard’s typewriters. Almost certainly 12 on his specs through the decades. If I was a young person I’d start with, “He needs to cut it up”, which will lead in six degrees of separation to montage. Type. Cut. Rearrange. Separate. Godard. Odd. God. Ra. Goad. Road! No! Has to be in French for this to work.
Wonder if anyone ever received an anonymous threat letter from Godard – financial backers possibly? – made of cut-out letters of various sizes all jumbled together, but everyone who got one knew immediately who it was from – they’d seen all his films.
With gap of it could be nearly 30 years, it was a delight to watch Paris,Texas again, even if I was sure it had aesthetically pleasing shots of rolling tumbleweed blowing across a road to nowhere – but not one. And – how we can forget – the closest to Paris, Texas we got was a small colour photograph of a for-sale board in a background of desert. Now what was that other film? Probably another Harry Dean Stanton in which people stand around in the Arizona desert in cinematographic perfection.
No shortage of films with tumbleweed in the title or theme:
There’s even a Tumbleweed Film Festival
But back to Wim’s film. It struck me how gentle it was. You’re half expecting something really terrible to leak out eventually about some traumatic past – perhaps with all that Blue Velvet screamy, demented, shaky camera, blurry stuff – but no, even that is reserved for a two-way reminiscence across a two-way mirror of a love gone wrong with a bit of nasty relationship violence. Someone has already done a post about superimpositions so there is not other side-track at this point.
The final strangeness of the whole film – though my favourite is the silent shoe arranging shots – is the booth/ one-way mirror scene in which Natasha Kinsky listens for a long time without any sign on her face she recognises who is speaking to her. Tell me I’m wrong. In the end it didn’t seem to make any difference. It could be explained any number of ways, and none of them added to or subtracted from the film.
Review: Paris, Texas
Through This Lens: Wim Wenders’ ‘Paris, Texas’ by Jae K Renfrow
At one point I thought of simply intercutting my sparse, thin gruel with wodges of Jae’s instructive text – a bit like an editor making one film out of two separate sets of footage [o.k., files] without [as if it were possible] being aware of what he was cutting together, except wanting to make a good fist of what he had to hand, which would remind one of a rather unbalenced conversation between a kindly expert [here a cinephile] with a considerable command of language, contributing detailed, thorough, complete [tending to], substantial, probing, penetrating, in-depth [if not exhaustive] suggestions and ideas and a companion struggling to express too hasty, cursory, perfunctory, passing, nodding, casual, sketchy, facile, desolutory, even slapdash and inattentive remarks in return. It would be possible, but rather time-consuming. So let’s leave it as a thought experiment and let him say his piece.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
LRB, Vol. 36 No. 8, 17 April 2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Screenplay by Wes Anderson
pdf/ pp. 122
David Parkinson, MovieMail, 23 November 2014
David Parkinson is a film critic and historian who is a reviewer for the Radio Times and the Oxford Times, and a contributing editor on Empire. He has written and edited a number of books on cinema, including A History of Film, The Young Oxford Book of Cinema, The Rough Guide to Film Musicals, Mornings in the Dark: The Graham Greene Film Reader and most recently, 100 Ideas that Changed Film.
TV, radio, everywhere. But here’s 3 A4s worth with added YouTubes. Sketch with Elaine May. And 3’15” of the catch-22 of Catch-22. Might be time to watch it again. Start looking for/ordering the DVD. Frankly I didn’t know he directed half the films I see he made. Convinced myself he looked like Michael Nicholson the ITV broadcaster!
Critics might have been a bit sniffy at the time the film Catch-22 came out, and it isn’t at the top of his top 10, but you read the book, you see the film, you know the difference. Had a little sneeze of the generic, Novel They Couldn’t Make Into A Film. Right behind it, finger under nose, building, building, Read the Book, Wouldn’t Watch the Film. Jamais deux sans trois in the sneeze-of-awareness dept.: Saw The film, They say it wasn’t a Patch on The Book.
Reading the book again seems it might be worth looking at how filmically he wrote it – if the dialogue lifts out the book into the film. 354 pages of the pdf on you left, film on your right, keep those pages scrolling.
Interestingly, there was novel, stage play and film. Heller writes in Catch as Catch Can about how much he was able to pack into the play.
Subsequent meeting with Nichols and scriptwriter Buck Henry. Felt awkward having the writer there. But,
“I gave them my opinion there was too much dialogue, too much extraneous transitional talk, and also that the first seventy pages or so had lots of action and lots of comedy but that nothing seemed to be happening in the way of developing either the story or Yossarian’s character.”
Nicholson asked him to make a list of specific suggestions, but Heller thought better of it. Half way through the script, with his list of suggestions, he said he realised the end of Nicholson’s request had been, “I’ll get back to you.”
Brought to my attention after posting: BBC Radio 4 Bookclub did Joseph Heller and Catch-22. One member of the audience was not shy to say he thought the film was terrible. (Rotten Tomatoes 85% 76%. “A brilliant failure” seems to be as succinct as you’ll get. A telling remark from a non-reviewer: “I have not read the book, which seems to be a pre-requisite for watching this movie…”) And that’s pretty much always true when you love the book and are almost champing at the bit to decry the film before seeing it! In the R4 Prog, Heller himself responds to the remark and adds a little bit more.
Looking at the list of authors on Bookclub, 199 progs in all available, it might be interesting to check out those which involved a film to go with the novel. If nothing else running down the page is a good test of film knowledge. Hmm….speechbubblethinks…Did they make a film of The Secret History? William Boyd – well they probably made films of all his novels. Michael Ondaatje – easy-peasy.
By the way, to avoid confusion, where the author was not available, someone else stands in. George Orwell obviously wouldn’t have been able to come. Overall, the main excuse was death.
This was meant to be a post about Nicholson but as the Tralfamadorians say, So it goes.
Wiki:Catch-22 has a few points of interesting. Not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but interesting. One can’t not be true and is very shocking.
Where’s that filmography….
Explore the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo
Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian DePalma’s BLOW OUT with this video essay entitled “Cross-Cut.” Note: This video essay originally began as a more theoretical project. The other drafts have been posted to Vimeo for the sake of pedagogy.
What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the final version of the theoretically framed “Cinefilea” version.
Differences from Version .75: Thanks to notes from Benjamin Sampson and Adrian Martin, I’ve tried to be more evocative in the opening (hence the use of the photographs from BLOW OUT and BLOW UP). I’ve also broken up the text quotations to assist in this and the reader.
Rationale for Why This Version Was Ultimately Abandoned:
My objective was to make a video essay about video essays through these three films with three theoretical texts without resorting to voice-over. After asking a range of colleagues for notes (including Corey Creekmur, Chiara Grizzaffi, Adrian Martin, and Benjamin Sampson), it became quickly apparent that clearly did not work. I typically make video essays that are either argumentative and theoretical (and thus voice-over driven and incredibly structured according to a progression of evidence) or largely evocative and poetic pieces. I had never really tried to cross the streams before and this piece functions as an artifact of that rather contradictory impulse and the dialogue that ensued between us afterwards. To boil it down, it isn’t easy to fuse scholarship and poetry when you’re making a found footage film. When I tried to superimpose cinephilia onto these three films, their original meanings and contexts exerted too much of a hold.
Drew’s comments associated with the videos have been included in full.
Persona was premièred at the Spegeln cinema on 18 October 1966. The editor Ulla Ryghe has described how the famous scene where the film burns up, often interpreted as if the actual celluloid cannot stand the friction between the two main characters, caused a number of problems at the initial screenings. After a number of projectionists had stopped the film, the film cans themselves had to be marked with red labels assuring them that the actual film does not catch fire, even though it appears that way.
This post is the beginning of my triple-ply, stronger, more absorbent re-look at Bergman, mostly through the lens of auteurism, starting with Persona which I watched again, fortuitously, a few days before reading about Godard, auteurists and cineastes. The Criterion version of Persona is currently available on YouTube. The naughty bits are in, so this must be Bergman’s cut. On the Criterion website, a set of essays on Persona and a 1.31 min. video essay without an oral/aural essay attached, which neatly catches some of the bits you’re bound to look for again in the rewind! If you’re fortunate enough to be able to watch the YouTube on a nice big tv screen, all the better. It’s good definition, but watch it while you can, you never know.
I feel I ought to say – which has probably been posted here and there before – that I’m not an academic (clearly) or a formal film student. How I’m learning about film is piece-meal and fragmented. And full of half-understood things. It seems at times like a person dragged off the street and pressed down in a chair in front of an old-fashioned editing machine, strips of film of various lengths hanging all about in the way we see in shots in films about editing rooms, and made to create a film, ending up with an out-takes ‘film’ just like the at the end of Cinema Paradiso but with some other subject apart from kissing. Or more appropriately, here, pre-credit sequence astoundingly similar to the ‘mad’ sequence in Persona.
In the previous post, the conversation I picked up the comments stream in a recent Girish post mentioning the publication by Caboose of an English version of Godard’s 1978 Toronto ‘lectures’, with the title Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television. A commenter made some remarks about auteurists and cinephiles as distinct, in opposition, which Girish had a distinct view on. All this seemed to be something I ought to get clear.
Anyone interested in films beyond watching them and a like/didn’t like, ends up with auteur theory, mentioned almost every time someone writes a film book or essay, which ineluctably leads to Truffaut’s “A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema”, back to Andre Bazin et al. and trillions of academic papers, essays and articles.
The auteurist vs. cinephile apposition which Girlish deals with made me realise I couldn’t blague my way through this with scant knowledge but needed to sit down and take some time over it.
And so for a while to Bergman, considered auteur de auteurs, how he made his mark, put his thumb-print on his work (and why even..). Having watched Persona before reading the post, I was primed, motivated, and ready to go.
As the opening paragraph of Ingmar Bergman the filmmaker, says:
The history of the cinema has seen directors whose works have been more “original” or “groundbreaking” (such as Eisenstein, Ozu or Godard). And there are plenty of directors who have made as many, if not more films (Griffith, Hitchcock or Chabrol). Yet the question remains: is there anyone who so epitomises the concept of the auteur – a filmmaker with full control over his medium, whose work has a clear and inimitable signature – as Ingmar Bergman?
The Law in These Parts
1 hr 26 mins
Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True
The New Yorker, 23 January 2014
Lick Pier, Venice, California, 1926
Wisdom Wednesday: John Sayles’ Golden Rules of MovieMaking
MovieMaker 6 November 2013
Why use my own words when those of the website are readily available and, well, they know what they’re doing. I’m just shining my spotlight on another corner of the film world magnificently exposed to everyone – film expert, buff, film student, even those unsure about film over book – through the wonders of the interweb:
INTERCUT is a film podcast supported by the #yegfilm collective which explores a love of film, the process of filmmaking, and filmmakers themselves.
I started with Dailies #1 purely because it has Michael Douglas in Kubrick’s 1957 Paths of Glory as it’s cover. Think it’s time to watch that again. What a pleasure to hear them start talking about Bela Tarr. Since I’ve spent hours rewinding the opening cow sequence of Tarr’s Satantango, hearing anyone at all talking about his films is really exciting.
My Tarr’s can be found in this search on Cutting on the action. Slow, slow film, requires slow, long posts.
N.B. I’m not a film expert, I just watch films and dream of making my own. (The making equivalent of the guy working in the New York restaurant as a waiter who says he’s an actor, usually seen as a scene in a film…). So don’t expect illumination: you might be disappointed. Anywhere I have written at length about a film is mostly me working through things about a particular film I’ve just seen. It won’t be expert analysis or criticism. Or if turns out to be either or both, that’s probably purely accidental.
P.S. Check out these images of Paths to Glory. There’s a whole set of posts in there on colour and black & White film…
….note the way light rays and blocks of light on objects work so well in monochrome.
Writer and Filmmaker With a Genius for Humor
There will be many encomiums on/critiques of Nora Ephron, so why not this long one by Charles McGrath NYT.
Jim Emerson, Jim Emerson’s Scanners :: blog, 14 November 2011
► My theory is that deceit does not require language. To lie, you have to make a statement. You have to say something in words for it to be a lie. But deceit only requires misdirection. All it requires is the intent to have someone think something that is different from what you believe. ◄
► One of the nice things about Cambridge, Massachusetts is that ‘Baudrillard’ isn’t in the phone book. ◄
Errol Morris: Biography from his website
Wiki : Errol Morris
Famous for documentary The Thin Blue Line (1988) and
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
He’s written a 5-part article:
♦ Did My Brother Invent E-Mail With Tom Van Vleck? (Part One)
Errol Morris, New York Times, 19 June 2011
If the link doesn’t work, you may have to register with NYT.
♦ “Believing Is Seeing”: Truth, lies and photographs
–The director of “The Thin Blue Line” investigates five famous accusations of photographic fraud
Laura Miller, Salon 29 August 2011
Errol has written a book Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)
Book review: ‘Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)’
–Enigmatic filmmaker Errol Morris doesn’t arrive at comforting conclusions in his six essays on visual art and artifice.
Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 28August 2011
♦ Believing Is Seeing
Errol Morris, NYT 13 July 2008 [short]
♦ Seven Lies About Lying (Part 1)
Errol Morris, NYT, 5 August 2009
♦ Photography as a Weapon
Errol Morris, NYT, 11 August 2008
♦ Cartesian Blogging, Part Three
Errol Morris, NYT, 12 November 2008 [replies to comments in Photography as a Weapon]
Recovering Reality: A Conversation with Errol Morris for the Columbia Journalism Review.
YouTube: 8 mins
Werner Herzog and Errol Morris (1 of 4)
A very shaky home video which you’d be best to treat as a radio prog. No close-ups. Just a recording of two men on a platform, wobbling and gyrating and mostly out of focus. Which I love, because here’s a person in an Audience With (so far unknown..) who admires these two men and wants to record what they say on video, but fails to live up to the two directors film skills both, while admiring their film and book talk.
Mirabile dictu, the sound quality is quite good, if a bit hissy at times. Both are clear. Two different sources, probably. The guy with the little video camera -we joke- didn’t go on to be a film-maker (in his epilogue…) and use a tripod, or chuck it and buy an anti-shake DVC. Or just learn that thing of relaxing and letting the camera float at the end of the arm.
Errol Morris #8
Describes on video an opportunity to write for The New York Times, when thought he was permanently blocked – for 40 years ! – which allowed him, in the process of writing, to develop projects that were unfinished or he thought might not come to fruition.
Seven Inspiring TED Talks About Filmmaking
A mixture of documentary and feature film-maker, some really famous, some not quite so.
Mostly here because I haven’t watched them all. Hypothesis: the film maker might not be so good at explaining verbally as showing filmically. Let’s see. In the few I’ve watched where the film extracts used as illustrations demonstrate better than the words in the talk introducing and and explaining, even if they are interesting and important. Film-makers are not all good public speakers. It’s rather ironic that unwittingly the film-maker selling film in words often demonstrates the time talking film might have been better spent making another film.