cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

Film book: How to Read a Film by James Monaco

How to Read a film: the World of Movies, Media, and Multimedia Art, Technology, Language, History, Theory by  James Monaco

First published 1977.

3rd. edition, 2000.

{GoogleBook}

“….The one work on the subject one ought to buy as the nucleus of a library.” says the backpage. An uninterrupted first 65 pages of over 650, to make up you mind if this might be true. Looks pretty good to me.

January 3, 2009 Posted by | film analysis, film editing, film theory, film [its techniques] | , | Leave a comment

Concentrating on Kieslowski: The Decalogue



The Decalogue: Kieslowski’s Finest Hours

Mubarak Ali  in  The Lumiere Reader



December 30, 2008 Posted by | film analysis, film directors, film theory, film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | , , , | Leave a comment

Concentrating on Kieslowski: Peter Weir vs. Krzystof Kieslowski



The Truman Show and Three Colours Red: European vs American allegory
by Rich Swintice

Netribution Film Network

In my browser, the title  is not visible.



December 29, 2008 Posted by | film analysis, film directors, film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | , , , | Leave a comment

Concentrating on Kieslowski: White and Red transcribed dialogue



Three Colours: White

Three Colours: Red

Transcriptions like these are often put in script sites. Cetainly handy for the dialogue when things get tricky, but without the headings and narrative descriptions (including sound) a lot is missing! Though it might be a useful exercise to put them in based on your own viewing.



December 29, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | , , , , | Leave a comment

Concentrating on Kieslowski:The Double Life of Veronique / Jonathan Rosenbaum on Potential Perils of the Director’s Cut



In this long essay, Potential perils of the Director’s Cut, dealing with a variety of films, there is nugget about Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique.

He first quotes from Kieslowski on Kieslowski,  then deals with the Kieslowski/Harvey Weinstein issue about the ‘happy’ ending of the U.S. version of the film.



December 29, 2008 Posted by | director's cut, film [its techniques], Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski | , , , , | Leave a comment

Film: Béla Balázs


Film art has a greater influence on the minds of the general public than any other art.

Béla Balázs



Theory of the Film (Character and Growth of a new Art)

Complete e-text . Facsimile.

Learnt about the existence of this book from Film Studies for Free. The links there would keep even the most ardent film person busy for ages.

English translation by Edith Bone. !952.


Wiki:Béla Balázs


Revealing the Soul: Balázs and the Close-Up [9.29.03]
By Britta Blodgett


Grand Hotel

Screenplay by Béla Balázs



December 28, 2008 Posted by | Béla Balázs, cinematography, film analysis, film directors, film theory, film [its techniques] | , , | Leave a comment

FILM Film’s Illusions





Film’s Illusions: Kuleshov Revisited

by

Jan Uhde, Prof. of Film Studies U. of waterloo, Ontario.


{from Kinema: A Journal for Film and Audiovisual Media}


I had thought of including this in FODII post


Concentrating on Kieslowski: Camera Buff (Amator) – A first viewing, and beyond


For the moment it can stand alone.



December 15, 2008 Posted by | film analysis, film directors, film theory, film [its techniques] | , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM A first viewing of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours Trilogy





fo_bednarski_nagrobek_kieslowskiego_1997__h170

These remarks and those in Kieslowski posts to come are best addressed to someone who has already seen the films. If you haven’t, it might be better to do so before having your viewing experience ruined by these ruminations, which let slip here and there details you might prefer to watch first.

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The package came in the last post before the weekend: accidental, fortuitous, perfect timing.  When the cellophane sleeve came off and the four disks* were laid bare, it was obvious – knowing something about Three Colours – there might be a delicious prevarication (a) over whether to watch them in the order most people do and (b) one after another in quick succession or with sufficient gaps – days even – to let each one soak in.

* Number four in this Artificial Eye set includes a 1994 Documentary, I’m So-So, by Krzysztof Wierzbicki {1} {2} , in which you see Kieslowski smile. I have wanted to know if he always kept a straight face since watching the interview he gave which came with the Artificial Eye two disk set of The Double Life of Veronique: the film that was my introduction to Kieslowski. A few commenters have suggested I’m So-So doesn’t tell you much, but I think it does. If you think you might be into Kieslowski, don’t skip it.   I won’t give away what the title is about, except to say my version is “As well as can be expected under the circumstances.”

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Some might chose Decalogue first, but I felt, on balance, watching the ex-Poland films first, then some of the earlier Polish stuff, might be more instructive. Maybe it doesn’t matter either way. Decalogue was, if my memory serves me well, shown on British TV some years ago, and I think I saw one or two, which I found a bit heavy going, despite Decalogue being generally considered his masterpiece. In any case,  watching Kieslowski as a film student might ( Amator next….), whether I enjoy his films is irrelevant.  And of course, it can be a pleasure to watch a film without the subject matter being pleasurable. I want to know how he made them, why he made them, what it took to do it, and why he is considered a master.

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After watching Blue,  I felt it such an impressive film it would be a kind of sacrilege to watch one of the others until the buzz wore off.   In any case, thinking and reading about Blue afterwards took so much time, it was the next day before White.  Having watched White, it seemed a good idea to have kept it separate from Blue by a day. After White, which did not hold me as much as Blue,  I did not feel the same inclination to wait for Red, watching it the same evening. After Red,  I wished I had left it to another day! (For the re-match, it seems as if it might be Blue followed by Red and then White.

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There are many reviews and essays on Three Colours. This by Paul Newall is good, as is Reading Three Colours:Blue by Richard Rushton in Senses of Cinema. There is long academic paper by Tammy Clewell, The Shades of Modern Mourning in Three Colours Trilogy, which is not my favourite type of reading, but there are snippets here and there on various themes within mourning, which can be useful.

Wiki:Krzysztof Kieślowski gives the background.

kieslowski-tombstone

Sculptor: Krzysztof Bednarski

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The web is full of Kieslowski, so not too many links here, for those who might be coming to him, or like me, part of the way in. later, I might add a few more if I find any particularly good ones.

Senses of Cinema: Krzysztof Kieslowski by Doug Cummings

Culture.pl has a long profile on Kieslowski, with an annotated filmography

An interview with Kieslowski which covers Three Colours. It is not clear who the interviewer is or whether this is a transcript from a filmed interview.

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After some posts on watching Three Colours a second time there will one or more on Amator, or in its English rendering, Camera Buff.  There will be a good set of links to Amator because this is a film not much watched and which few would probably chose to buy if they were collection Kieslowski: it’s considered to be a weaker specimen of the species.  I haven’t watched Amator – on its way – but in debates with others about the nature of film and in particular the ins and outs of videoing someone you know in detail, it has come up as a way of helping to examine questions such as whether making a documentary of someone is by its nature exploitative and /or manipulative. I have already posted on Operation Filmmaker, a film by Nina Davenport, but have not really exhausted my thoughts on what that film might tells us about documentary: might bring some of it into the Amator post.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Krzysztof Kieślowski | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Documentary film “Operation Filmmaker”: Muthana Mohmed meets Antoine Doinel

Storyville ran Operation Filmmaker, a documentary by Nina Davenport on BBC4 recently. Some clips in YouTube and elsewhere. It appealed to me because it was about a young Iraqi man: I lived in Baghdad in the 1950s.

After watching Operation Filmmaker I ran through my thoughts and immediately wrote them down: on the film itself and documentary as a genre. Then I checked for information on what happened to the star of the story and started to read the reviews.

The film has been played elsewhere as can be seen from the Operation Fimmaker website, and there are many reviews which can be accessed from the site.

A review  Everything Is Deracinated: Nina Davenport’s “Operation Filmmaker” in IndieWire by Michael Koresky [June 1, 2008]

John Power’s audio review on NPR is particularly good.

An article with more of  Nina Davenport’s views:

Nina Davenport on Operation Filmmaker in The Lumiere Reader

Two interviews with Nina Davenport:

(1) The Strand Magazine (U. of Ontario)

(2) ComingSoon.net

After watching the documentrary I had an overweening desire to write to Nina to ask what she had been paid to film Muthena, whether she was paid right through to the end for her own expenses or whether it transmuted into a production company (the film goes out under her as ‘director’) which she had to finance, and how much was doled out to Muthena over the course of the film in money and kind. Near the end, just before Nina decides to cut her losses, he demands $10,000.

This makes me wonder exactly how much such a project involves. Did Muthena gradually become aware of the amounts, which made him feel he should benefit financially as well. When he does ask for his money, it did seem he was asking the question, How much do you want to make this movie? Although in the finished film Nina Davenport  is heard and even seen trying to persuade him to carry on, she already has quite enough to make a film.

In the end, being cut short before the natural ending is as good an ending as one could wish for, simply because at this length the viewer is thoroughly engaged and begins to feel there will be a finale. There is no post-script. Not a person watching this film is not expecting one which will say what happened to Muthena.

Before Nina decides to stop filming, Muthena progressively sees and asserts on camera he is being made to look bad and is not keen on being filmed any more. This is true: he is behaving badly and he is shown to be. He says he is not interested in money and wants to be a free spirit. Though he is obviously seen (and depicted) as more than half pillock*, by this stage, his demand for money did not seem unreasonable to me. He’s the star of the documentary. They are going to make money out of it, why shouldn’t he?  Why didn’t Nina or someone mollify Muthena by offering him a cut of the royalties? If you’re doing cinematographic reflexivity, then why not include the dosh side as well. Professional films are made with money and for money. The one thing that didn’t come out of the final edit was what he was learning about that side of film-making.

Indulge me. After putting aside the notions of what this documentary said to me about film, I had a sudden flash of Antoine Doinel.

antoine-doinelle

Muthena Mohamed

muthena-mohmed-2

became Antoine Doinel.  One of the great facilitators of film discussion is youtube clips! You can go off on an Antoine Doinel track right here if you wish, but please come back.

Cutting to the quick: at first Antoine came to mind, as this afterthought, through looks and mannerisms: trying to be cool and knowing but usually coming out as a bit of an arse. Running rapidly through the permutations, it seemed unlikely that Muthena knew The Adventures of Antoine Doinel” series, but it also seemed almost inconceivable Nina Davenport had not, as a film student, studied Truffaut and Godard. The end of the finished film, Operation Filmmaker – the edited film as opposed to the filmed film, perhaps – seemed to have a nouvelle vague-ish quality. Maybe every documentary since the 60s has been squeezed through the cinematographic sieve of Godard’sÀ Bout de Souffle { Film blog, Everyday Cinephile, has a great still of Belmondo and Seberg and has a good summary}. Then again, maybe because the image of Muthena as Antoine is stuck in my mind and tickles my fancy, maybe I am forcing the notion into a film which does not possess it. Or is is that all documentaries that aspire to art, become nouvelle vague documentary style by default.

It is a bit more complicated than just Muthena = Antoine. After all, Operation Filmmaker is a documentary and Trauffaut’s Antoine series are fictions (even if based on the life of Truffaut). If you know Truffaut, you know Jean-Pierre Léaud is reputed to have got a bit mixed up as to whether he was the actor Jean-Pierre Léaud or character Antoine Doinel.  Operation Filmmaker is a documentary about Muthena: there is the obvious sense that Muthena is becoming a character in a film in the documentary his is in, and he’s progressively aware of it. To me, Nina Davenport is a chronicler to start with, (In this YouTube she says she was a camera for hire) but then slowly changes into the director of the film: she is perfectly aware this is happening, as is her subject. Even the edit (wouldn’t we like to see all the video she shot….) could not disguise how much she was in the end fashioning a film, which is fascinating for someone interested in film-making.

One of the side issues is that Muthena fancies himself an actor as well as a Hollywood director. He is good at playing to the camera whether to charm or in expressing his feelings. This person almost trying to burst out of the confines of film gets built into the shooting process.

What happened to Muthana? He has a 5 year permit to stay in the UK. No news of whether he persisted in film.

*Pillock is an English English expression for “A stupid or annoying person”

November 9, 2008 Posted by | documentary, film [its techniques] | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Béla Tarr’s Long Takes (an education in film)



18 August 2008


If you are anything like me you will come across an extreme example or two of the cinematographic long take and end up doing an impromptu film course by default – a bit like coming across random pages of the text of a film school course blowing down the street.

I came to Béla Tarr by accident through a quote in Spurious of part of an interview with Tarr.

I have never watched any of his films. There are some extracts in Youtube.  The first one I came across was the opening sequence from Werckmeister Harmonies. Then the tango from Satantango: there is a short cut to a boy looking through a window which breaks this up.

Knowing nothing about Tarr’s work at this stage, I was put in mind of Tarkovsky : the later bar scene in Stalker goes on and on and on, though it is a pretty static shot, if I remember correctly: perhaps one zoom in.

The opening sequence from Satantango lasts for 7.54 minutes in the Youtube version. The first 60 seconds is static. Then the camera tracks slightly to the left (or pans a degree or two from the track position…..keep you eyes on the foreground puddles) to better frame building ends, perhaps, or to better group the cows as they begin to move leftwards across in the middle distance in front of  the buildings. This is documentary filming, though one knows it is the beginning of a fiction. One is becoming aware of the camera. This awareness would be broken if some serious action was introduced such as a cowman entering the shot calling out to his cows. But nothing happens except the camera tracking the cow’s movements. One becomes aware of thinking that the track has been laid out in advance, despite the cows seemingly acting on their own. If the camera stays fixed to the track there is a limited amount it can do.

One of the things I became aware of is that the cows were acting independently. In other words, whatever the director’s plan for this scene, he could not direct the cows. The plan had been for a long, slow take, whatever the action, without any rapid camera movement. When a few cows come into the foreground, one rather close (though it is not possible to judge from this how close it is to the camera – whether the track is much further back) one suspects the camera may be moved away from it. There seems to be an attempt to get the front cow out of the picture, but since the modus is ultra slow camera movement, it doesn’t happen. The curious cow and a few others further back wander off out of the frame to the left, the front one left half in the frame for a while.  What this amounts to is an awareness that the filming is ex tempore. No one knows what the cows are going to do. The director knows he cannot jerk the camera away from anything that doesn’t accord with his image. So what you see is mind of the cinematographer (or maybe the director himself might have been in the chair) as small adjustments are made to the scene.

Afterwards I read that it was believed amongst film theorists that this slow movement of the camera is seen an non-intrusive, not playing a part in creating what is filmed, unlike montage. I don’t think this is true. Though I don’t dislike the effect. I thought the length and slowness of the procedure in this Tarr take made it clear it was not just like something I might watch in real life (a single point- of view) but was obviously mediated through the camera. Though the idea – so the theorists say – is depth of focus is designed to let the viewers eye roam the scene much as it might in real life.

The arrangement of such a shot gives it limited possibilities. The camera is on a length of track set down in a specific orientation.  Within this there can only be tracking, panning and zoom. Tarr doesn’t use any zooming here. But the static 60 seconds turns into slow, narrow-angle left pan – or track and pan – which made me wonder if the beginning static shot had been started with the camera at an angle greater or less than 90 degrees to the buildings in the background.

I could almost see the crew pushing the camera on the trolley along the tracking as the scene unfolded. To me this is as intrusive as the narrator in a novel who interrupts his own story to make comments about characters in it: here in film is a kind of generic statement about film, rather than about this film, “This is being filmed”.

The effect of montage film can be unreal but mostly because of the rapidly changing point of view, changes of focal length, and so on, which don’t give you time to ponder about cameras and crews. In what is I learn called the normative style of film making (the one we see in almost every Hollywood film we watch) – short takes tightly edited to force the story through by compression – there is no time to mull over how the effect has been created through sheer momentum of a series of short shots. In other words, with fast cut action you must keep up with the action, whereas with a very long take, it’s inevitable the brain will drift off the viewing into private thoughts about how it was achieved as well as the content.

As the cows begin to move left, the camera  tracks very slowly parallel to the action.  The parallelness of the track becomes apparent as it passes puddles in the foreground and once it runs close to the wall of a  building (which is immediately in focus), till at last it arrives at a road/track at 90 degrees to the track, where the cows are seen walking away from view and out of sight.

Watching the sequence again, it seemed that the slight pan after 60 seconds was a correction to make sure when the final long track took place it was parallel to the long row of building in the foreground. So at the start the camera had been set on the track at an angle of about 100 degrees to make the view square to the background long building along which the cows ambled. At the end of this row is a building set on its own at a slight angle to it. It is to this that camera seems to use the slight pan to adjust to, before the long tracking right to the end of the sequence.

The way my brain works ( leaving aside the intended meaning of the scene with its eery soundtrack – I haven’t seen the film) I imagined the director had seen the cows move like this on many  occasions.  This is fiction but in documentary style. He can’t control the cows.  Interesting to see how many out takes there are of this scene.  I felt as if the cows were not pushed into moving by someone outside the frame. They did this every morning.

The tango dance from Satantango some say they find mesmeric.  It is not a continuous take – there is an intercut of a boy looking through a window. But it goes on and on, and on and on. The swirling dancers keep swirling as best as they can in between tripping and falling over. A distinct story line evolves  with the man, balancing what looks like a banana on his forehead, keeps on crossing the dancing traffic. The short loop of music adds to the effect. Its like an over-long music video in this respect.  But there is a lot going on in the action. Watch it a few times. It is a self-contained story.

There came a time, about 30 seconds into the dance, when I began to suspect it will go one much longer than I would like and could bear. It did. Having watched the whole scene again, there seemed to have been some point to the length.  Being able to re-watch one scene is not possible in a theatre viewing. It makes it possible to focus on things one might not have the first time around.  So there is already a question here in asking if the director expects the viewer to pick out all the detail or to drift in a mode which is saying, this is a dance sequence, I’ve seen plenty of these and pretty much know what goes on in them. But then, because of the sheer length what else can you do but start to pick out detail?

For me, the focus was on the woman in the light coloured pullover and her bespectacled partner.  Although this was said to be impromptu, and Tarr himself says the actors were tiddly, when you think of the whole thing afterwards you recognise a lot was going on in there. It was self-contained story.

There are many questions to be asked about such a film technique and viewer participation. Does the mind drop into a less attentive mode as it becomes apparent that the sequence is very much like a loop with its seemingly repetitive action?  Does the mind, once it loses attention and because of the sheer length of the scene, begin to recognise that a lot more is going on than first thought and become re-attentive?  And then regret not paying attention to begin with?

Most directors would structure a scene like the tango with several points-of-view and with cut-aways to people at tables watching the dancing and then back, close-ups of dancers head and shoulders, or to other secondary elements, such as someone leaving the room to smoking a cigarette outside, perhaps with the sound of music coming through the open door, or a cut-away to dancers through a window.  You can watch a dozen films with a dance-hall scene in it and find these elements. The audience is asked to fill in what is not shown. The construction of this scene assigns the audience one POV  while asking it to imagine the others.

Tarr seems to be saying, ” Look, this is what happened in its entirety. I am showing you everything that happened in that room in the ten minutes it happened. Nothing has been left out. I have shown it to you from one point-of-view only, but it was all there.” The assumption is that he knows perfectly well irritation and possibly lack of attention will set in.  This can happen when we watch real-life action such as the complicated movements across a station forecourt with people criss-crossing across the space. How many people idly waiting for a train would start to pick out specific faces, acts or categories of action from within the seeming samey mass of it?

Tarr knows that we are used to films with lots of short shots stitched together with jump cuts. Some commenters say they can’t watch the film (which lasts over 7 hours) without beginning to squirm quite early on.

At the beginning of the cow sequence in Satantango, the camera points unrelieved (a full 60 seconds) at the cow shed and the cows coming out. The viewers start to ask what can be learnt from this commonplace scene. They know what happens with cows.  But the moment this thought enters the head, when something only slightly different happens (a cow gets curious about the camera and crew) it is noticed.

It seems almost inevitable in any long film sequence like this that the mind wanders off the events being filmed to notions of film per se: that there is a camera in front of us, there, and in front of it is a scene being acted out.  Though it can be said this is realism because everything in a given time was included, unlike a similar sequence consisting of many edits, it becomes unreal because of its length and slowness.

Tarr specialises in shots of people walking off into the distance. There are a few YouTube examples. They walk and walk (along a road, say) and the camera follows or lets the walkers go. There is nothing much in the distance or to the left or right.  My question is whether, filmically, it is enough to say I have seen every second of the walk? Are we talking narrative or the Aesthetics of Shot ?

Film theorists like Tarkovsky and Andre Bazan argue for the long take by criticising montage. By doing so they are arguing for realist cinema.  Another thing I learnt after watching the Tarr sequences, is that realists saw Eisenstein’s montage techniques as novelistic: the cut being the full stop, etc.  One of the most useful texts here is the essay The Long Take That Kills: Tarkovsky’s rejection of montage by Benjamin Halligan. Might as well link here to pages in filmref.com. (1) Shots – The Aesthetics of Shot (2) Camera movement [ “The film critic Andre Bazin was one of the great champions of camera movement within long takes, believing that such shots had then potential to record the reality of the world in front of the camera more accurately than sequences constructed through editing.”](3) Realism – Theories of Realism (The whole realism section really). Haligan, referring to a scene in Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia, says:

“The speed of the tracking is of the utmost importance here; its slowness strips the camera movement of a narrative function., since the camera movement does not advance the narrative progression of the film [….]. So what does this slowness do to the aesthetic? Having removed it from the context of the film’s narrative, it reworks it as a meditative, perhaps hallucinatory, swell of mobile imagery.”

There is something called the Average Shot Length ( mentioned at the bottom of wiki: Long Take together with a table of  the highest ASLs of films starting with the one-take movie Russian Ark. Numbers two and three are Werckmeister Harmonies and  Satantango with ASLs of 223.7 secs and 145.7 secs. respectively.  It should be obvious to the the statisticians amongst you this is not greatly meaningful because a film with one very long shot and a mass of very short ones could end up with the same ASL as a film with a lot of slightly longer shots. It certainly tells you that one film may contain more long shots than another. It allows students of film to write about how things have changed over the years shot-wise.

Other views?

Darren Hughe in Long Pauses, Boring Art Films, October 4, 2005:

In the mad dash to build and resolve, build and resolve narrative tension, most movies use standard continuity editing to do the work for us. In the perfect genre film (Psycho, for example), we’re at the director’s mercy. We willingly surrender our freedom for two hours and go wherever the film leads. Boring Art Films, by contrast, are often elliptical. Instead of splicing together a perfectly coherent line of narrative development, they leave gaps. I like the words “parataxis” and “hypotaxis.” The former juxtaposes, the latter draws connections. “I left. She cried.” versus “When I left, she cried.” Boring Art Films typically use parataxis to force the viewer into a participatory role. We get to be creative when we watch. We get to fill the gaps.

Girish in a July 2006 post titled The Long Take, does Bazin but points out there is a view that the long-take can be put to non-realist purposes, citing Godard’s Weekend.

Fast cuts, Slow views by Richard Herskowitz (mentions a book by Kundera called Slowness) :

…..Antonioni, Ozu, Bresson, Kubrick, Rohmer, Malick… These slow-teurs have suffered some abuse for telling uneventful stories. Remember how some critics dubbed Antonioni’s leisurely films about alienated characters and their environments “Antoniennui?” How Gene Hackman in Night Moves passed on an invitation to watch an Eric Rohmer film by comparing it to “watching paint dry?” In response, I’ll quote Robert Bresson: “Condemned are the films the slowness and the silence of which are mistaken by the slowness and the silence of the audience in the cinema.” The action of contemplative cinema is latent in the mind of the viewer who becomes, in our featured guest Paul Schrader’s words, “an active participant in the creative process.” Schrader’s influential book Transcendental Style in Film, on Ozu, Bresson, and Dreyer, noted that the paring down of action and performance and spectacle liberates the viewer to soar imaginatively and spiritually.

There’s quotes from Bazin on deep-focus and realism in Screenville.

A blog calling itself Contemplative Cinema  has a set  of posts on Bela Tarr, including one with an awful lot of links to all sorts of things Tarr.

And finally a selection of sites dealing with Bela Tarr’s films :

The Melancholy of Resistance: The films of Bela Tarr by Peter Hames in KinoEye (New Perspectives on European Film)

MovieMartyr.com (subtiteld ‘suffering for your cinema’) does a review of Satantango.

Satantango: And then there was darkness by Donato Totaro in Offscreen.

Lateral Sculpture: Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó is a very long, interesting and well-written post by Ryland Walker Knight in  a  blog called The House Next Door, which introduces Tarkoky’s book, Sculpting in Time, and links to a dedicated Torkoky site, Nostalghia, which links to articles and essays  including The Long Take That Kills: Tarkovsky’s rejection of montage.

Prof. of film Studies David Bordwell’s post Tango Marathon.

A Place in the Pantheon: Films by Bela Tarr ( Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader)

A one-page review of Satantango in NYT.

Darren Hughe’s Long Pauses blog covers Satantango and Damnation in separate posts.

Short effective review of Satantango in Movie Habit by John Adams.

Waggish has two posts on Satantango.

Satantango by Rumsey Taylor in Slant Magazine.

Opening shots: Satantango ( out1 blog) – handy link to the opening sequence in Youtube.

Another version of the Nostalghia links on Tarkovsky.

Strictly Film School (filmref.com) on Almanac of Fall, Damnation, Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmonies

Hope Deep Within – Béla Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies by Gabe Klinger in Senses of Cinema.




August 19, 2008 Posted by | Bela Tarr, film [its techniques] | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Film: Paul Schrader on Robert Bresson (two part Youtube)



Paul Schrader ( famous scriptwriter of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver) sheds light on Bresson in a two part Youtube.

I learnt about Bresson a few years ago and bought the DVD of Au Hasard Balthazar as a start.   It is possible to hate a film’s style but understand what the creator was getting at and so really not quite hate it just be annoyed by some of the ways it was made.  A very common reaction amongst viewers is to to say the donkey was the star: it was, without a doubt.

Schrader going through Bresson’s Pickpocket was a highly instructive.  I made myself watch  Balthazar again, overcoming the feeling that I could not bear to watch the suffering one more time.  The stylised wooden acting still jars. But this time I thought of masks in a Greek play. But it doesn’t work for me as I would like it to. One can get the point of a film while not enjoying the experience of it.

There is a lot of meat in the interviews: at one point Schrader says Bresson’s is saying with Pickpocket (and presumably the rest): “I am going to recede from you ever so slowly till you start coming towards me.” Schrader later goes on to discuss  his view that film is not a spiritual medium.

A second film post will tackling the cinematographic long take after an experience with some Yuutubes of samples of the Hungarian director Bela Tarr.



August 15, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], Robert Bresson | , , , | Leave a comment

Screenplay: Chinatown [1977]



Screenplays for you includes Robert Towne’s Chinatown.

As when scripts were put up in Moleskine Modality, note it is not clear from the site whether these are the originals or transcribed from movies.

I came here from a comment Townes made (sorry, can’t find it again, just a few scribbled notes) about  the symbolism of the title. One of the nubs being about how J.J. ( Jake) Giddes (Jack Nicholson) doesn’t ever know whether he is helping or hindering a situation.

In the wiki:Chinatown, it says “Chinatown can symbolically mean here an alien place beyond J.J. Giddes understanding or control.”



July 20, 2008 Posted by | film [its techniques], screenplay | , , | 1 Comment

Smorgasbord {1}



Radio 4’s Start the Week introduces two new books: Raymond Tallis’, The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head , on the brain ( TimesOnline review: Why we kiss, laugh, yawn and cry ) and a new biography of Sartre and de Beauvoir, A Dangerous Liaison by Carole Seymour-Jones, summarised on radio by the author herself and reviewed here by Graham Robb in the Times.

Having got to within 25 pages of the end of Nausea – spurred on by a suggestion to compare it to Woolf’s The Lighthouse *- without in any way removing from mind the Author versus the Work Problem churned up by considering Naipaul, the snippets of revelation about their sordid lives only adds to the problem: it was pointed out on the radio program the French couple’s sordid lives began well before they were both famous: which logically leads to sordid lives in of people who are not or who do not become famous and generally known. Well, sordid lives in general and what effect they have on others. Or to something along the lines of do the sordid lives of famous people have greater impact than the sordid lives of the not-famous, if so, why?

Wood s Lot (the mysterious lack of apostrophe) leads to David Weinberger’s post in JOHO, The Future of Book Nostalgia, which in it’s turn leads back to Anthony Grafton’s New Yorker piece , Future Reading: Digitization and its Discontents (which I have already linked to in another post). DW also links to a GoogleBook (if you don’t know what that is it’s a partial fascimile of a published book which invariably has the page you are most interested in missing), The Social Life of Information, By John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid, which is comprehensively reviewed at The Complete Review.

The book is more than just a welcome antidote to digital silliness. It is also an important description of the complexities of innovation. – The Economist

Also from Wood s Lot a review Farhang Erfani of a new book on Walter Benjamin called Walter Benjamin, By Esther Leslie.

There is also a lecture (in 10 minute 16 parts) on YouTube by Dr. Sean Homer which its titled Reading Film with Lacan, which may or may not be interesting to filmophiles depending on whether you are into psychoanalysis and Lacan’s theories. Part of the education shall we say? Certainly I am comforted by a quick check under Jouissance in the Literacy Enclyclopedia that:

For Lacan, on the other hand, jouissance seems to imply a desire to abolish the condition of lack (la manque) to which we are condemned by our acceptance of the signs of the symbolic order in place of the Real.

On Start the Week, they were briefly discussing the idea that we are the only species detached from reality. Forgive me: I have been wading through Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. And reading a smidgen on phenomenology.


* Sartre was said to acknowledge a debt to Virginia Woolf’s writing.



April 21, 2008 Posted by | de Beauvoir, human nature, Internet, neuroscience, Sartre | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

screenplay resources


A selection (which happen to be excellent films too):

For these two (also a great film) the thing is to compare transcript and script proper:

Here from Moleskine Modality, gathered together all the film related post (some are not on film per se but have ‘film’ in the text). Again, by using

EDIT > FIND in this page > HIGHLIGHT all

it’s easy to scamper down the page quickly looking for all occurrences of the word film to find something you might be interested in, rather than trawling through the lot.

It would be better to get everything across in bulk to make the text and links a better database to access, but it’s not possible, so various bits are being selected as they re-interest me. Today its film.

There is a movie category in the Moleskine Modality blogroll with a mixture of fiction and non-fiction films which came into view. They are not all serious. One link is to Great Directors from the great film site Senses of Cinema




November 1, 2007 Posted by | film directors, film [its techniques], movies, screenplay | , , , | 1 Comment