Monday, February 08, 2016

Sabbatical

Colvinist Cinema




You can watch the film in its entirety (1 hour 12 minutes) for free here (obviously click and view in full-screen mode):



Merriam-Webster:

adjective sab·bat·i·cal \sə-ˈba-ti-kəl\

1: of or relating to a sabbatical year

2: of or relating to the sabbath (sabbatical laws)


In Brandon Colvin's Sabbatical [2014], Robert Longstreet plays Ben Hardin, a college literature professor who has taken leave from his institution to tend to his mother Elizabeth (Rebecca Koon) convalescing at the family home following a stroke. Hometown ex-girlfriends (Rhoda Griffis) and school peers (Thomas Jay Ryan) enter the scene answering requests for general aide, emotional companionship, and buttressing a deadbeat brother (Kentucker Audley) who has arrived not so much to help out as to prolong a period of drifting.

Colvin's film is a world that longs for the glance and the hewn. Heads bow at length, bodies present their backs to the camera, breath held: a visual hum with all suspense for outburst or eruption, irruption, defused, diffused, by the soft filtering by DP Aaron Granat of a light that acquires and imbues a holy or merciful tuck upon individuals troubled bodily in abstraction. Godard in Vivre sa vie on hens, Nana/Anna Karina, Bresson, etc.: "If you take off the outside, there remains the inside. If you pull back the inside, then you see the soul.”

Vivre sa vie, film en douze tableaux by Jean-Luc Godard, 1962:



Sabbatical addresses an entire tradition of pictorialism — in filmmaking (Robert Bresson, Charles Burnett [especially The Horse]), in painting (Andrew Wyeth, James McNeill Whistler). Thinking confronts the exterior and the interior world: what's now being termed augmented reality (coming down the road to us soon, via Meta, Magic Leap, HoloLens, Apple works-in-progress), a mixed reality.

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth, 1948:


Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 by James McNeill Whistler, 1871:


Un condamné à mort s'est échappé, ou le Vent souffle où il veut by Robert Bresson, 1956:

The Horse by Charles Burnett, 1973:



Colvin films thought and thought's interruption, concentration of thought and the breaking of concentration. Concentration manifest, hewn, in framing of image and the focus of the sound-recording: the scratch of Ben scrawling across an adolescent writing desk. Interruption from work, plans, projects for errands, chores: Ben's mother experiencing a stroke; Ben fixing a broken old TV set; his dropping mom off for church service; the arrival of Dylan/Kentucker, the useless sibling; their mother falling ill again. Each thought 'caught' in the shot, with each 1.37 frame a discrete unit, no camera movement.

A sequence of locked-frames, the flow of consciousness versus concerted impediment.












Like a spell intoned with gradual urgency, these sentences are spoken throughout the picture:

"Don't wake up." (Ben to Dylan, crashed on the recliner)

"Wake up." (hometown friend to Ben, crashed on his living room sofa)

"Wake up." (Ben to his mom in bed, unable to be roused)

Then, Ben (mentioning Robert Longstreet once more, as this is the best performance of his formidable career to date), at the end of the film: "Last time I was scared. Now it's not so bad."

An increasing urgency, gradually given over to dimming. This is the terrible, calm, and urgent beauty of Brandon Colvin's film.



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Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Death of Jacques Rivette as Cinemasparagus Turns 10


Jacques Rivette: 1 March 1928 – 29 January 2016




I realized recently that 2016 will mark the 10th of this blog. Throughout the upcoming year I plan on re-posting pieces from the archive that might hold up. Among those posts, I planned on including some of the pieces on Jacques Rivette that I've posted throughout the years. Rivette died yesterday after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Someone in the loop of the director told me last year that he had good days, and he had bad days.

Besides Godard, Kubrick, and probably Lynch, Rivette is unquestionably the director in my lifetime that has had the most profound influence on me. Before I had seen Out 1 and Céline et Julie vont en bateau, I imagined them, based on Jonathan Rosenbaum's essays "Work and Play in the House of Fiction" and "On the Non-Reception of Two French Serials". The films surpassed all expectations. The conclusion of Out 1 (Episodes 7 and 8) remains the most stunning experience I've ever had in a theater, and I'm thankful that everyone can now see this supreme masterwork in essentially perfect editions on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming, thanks to Carlotta and Arrow.

And of course the last films of Rivette... What to say? Masterpieces one and all. (As Fred Veith pointed out on Twitter, perhaps now Studio Canal can be spurred into action to release the complete cut of Va savoir which ran for a single week in Paris circa 2002 under the title Va savoir+. Rivette expressed his dissatisfaction with the known version, which of course had been cut for contractual reasons of length.) (Does "late Rivette" begin with L'amour par terre? La belle noiseuse? Va savoir?)

It's difficult to eulogize an artist as great as Rivette and who has meant so much to me. I wrote on Facebook after hearing the news yesterday morning:

"RIP to the filmmaker I consider my master: Jacques Rivette. No-one besides Godard has influenced me, electrified me, more than Rivette. In many ways his 13-hour Out 1 is the film of my life, and I'm not alone in that feeling. His influence on some of my best friends in cinema is incalculable: no, on all of my best friends in cinema [Tag Gallagher called us "the Rivettniks"]: to paraphrase part of the meaning behind the film's title, when it comes to Rivette, you're either "in," or you're "out." In addition, he was one of the greatest film critics of all-time, and a locus, the secret sharer, of the Cahiers du cinéma of the '50s and '60s. Too much to say and process right now, though it was a certainty this day would come. He suffered from Alzheimer's over the last decade, and had to exit the shoot of his sublime final film early: 36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup (retitled Around a Small Mountain in the US). An enormous loss, but his cinema will go on to live, and terrify, forever."

Andy Rector, in his own FB post, put it more beautifully, sharing this image from the set of the epic L'amour fou:

"Rivette is gone. There was no greater writer on the cinema in its significant history. He invented gravity and was the center of it for film criticism in the 20th century... In intellectual operation and divination he possessed a direct line to cinematographic truths and deceptions, and their worldly (he was the most political) and otherworldly (the most spiritual) stakes, and then, tout à coup, in turn, as a filmmaker he put everything heavy into play, to tear the flesh of representation, gaily, terrifyingly, to change blood in mid-air, to restore the stage of cinema (we realized that without it we'd lost its very valuable terror, and would be slaves to all roles unless we could see and feel the stage underfoot again), the music of cinema (he literally showed music), the plots of cinema, the women of cinema..."



In a note to me he added: "My condolences to you, you've been the one, most committed friend to Rivette that I've known. Condolences to the ritual, to the affirmation without evidence, to the evidence, to the tearing weight and violence of the signifier, and the beating freedom when it comes undone."

Yesterday Pedro Costa sent Andy this wordless image, which Andy shared on FB:



Andy added at his blog Kino Slang a translated text by Jacques Rivette from Cahiers du cinéma no. 95, May 1959, in which Rivette reviews François Truffaut's Les quatre cents coups here.

Shortly afterward Andy shared the English translation of a text by Rivette from Arts in March 1956 that pertains to Eisenstein — "An Esoteric Order"here.

He's also added to his blog my English translation of Rivette's short 1964 text on Georges Franju's Judex, here.

Dave Kehr's obituary in The New York Times is here. "Jacques Rivette, a French director whose challenging and often enigmatic work was revered by film aficionados, died on Friday at his home in Paris. He was 87."

The front page of the 30/31 January edition of Libération, the title of which can be translated as both "Obscure/Mysterious to the Core" and "[New] Wave to the Core":



At Slate France Jean-Michel Frodon has written a piece — here. "D’ailleurs, quand il n’en faisait pas, il y allait: aucun réalisateur peut-être n’aura vu autant de films que Rivette, et dans tous les registres. Il allait au cinéma, et il en parlait, de manière aussi remarquable que souvent inattendue, toujours stimulante. Et il riait." ("In the end, when all was said and done, there was this: Perhaps no other director will have seen as many films as Rivette did, and in all registers. He went to the cinema, and he talked about the cinema, in a way as remarkable as it was, often, unexpected — yet was always stimulating. And he laughed the entire time.")

Carlo Chatrian, artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, has written an excellent piece on Rivette translated in English at The Notebook, "(Three Reasons for) Remembering Rivette," which you can read here.

Anna Karina, star of Suzanne Simonin, la Religieuse de Diderot, was quoted in Le Figaro: "Le cinéma français perd un de ses réalisateurs les plus libres et les plus inventifs." ("French cinema loses one of its most liberated and most inventive filmmakers.")

Emmanuelle Béart, star of La belle noiseuse and Histoire de Marie et Julien, wrote on her Instagram, in a caption to a still from La belle noiseuse: "My heart breaks literally.. Something of my soul goes away with You my brother Jacques ..I do not find the sense anymore ....Hope everyone will watch your movies ..masterpieces."

Anne Diatkine and Elisabeth Franck-Dumas gather words from Béart and other Rivette accomplices in the aforementioned 30/31 January edition of Libération: here: "Le cinéaste le plus libre qui soit" ("The Freest Filmmaker There Could Be"). My English translation:

"Balibar, Béart, Bonnaire, and Bulle Ogier, Rivette's muses, evoke his cinema and its impact on their career."

JEANNE BALIBAR (Va savoir and Ne touchez pas la hache): "When I learend of his death, I thought of the figure of Pascale Ogier in Le Pont du Nord, confronting the lions, this figure so frail, so courageous, so singular: for me, that was Jacques. An immensely cultured individual (to such a degree that whenever he moved house, his books were inevitably strewn all over the floor), but with such a light-touch, never a pedant. At once joyful and despairing. As Kafka put it: "In spite of it all", the grand in-spite-of-it-all. He told me, "Every young French filmmaker has talent, except for one" — he was funny, generous, but never sentimental. He placed a lot of responsibility in his actors, but in a such a gentle way, at the same time so acute. I think the filmographies of the actors before and after Jacques Rivette just weren't the same; he changed their relationship to cinema, to life."

EMMANUELLE BÉART (La belle noiseuse and Histoire de Marie et Julien): "The first time I met him, he started talking to me, strangely enough, about a film by Édouard Molinaro, À gauche en sortant de l'ascenseur [1988]. Because Jacques spent his life at the cinema; he went to see everything. He also spoke to me about Elle magazine; he said: "I read Elle every week." He came by my house to talk with me about La belle noiseuse, explaining to me that he could understand very well why I'm refusing it — whereas I hadn't said a word, and he was [already] thinking of other actresses. I was very confused. He left; and then, being the big joker that he was, very erudite but also very shrewd, he called from the phone-booth downstairs to say that this film couldn't exist without me — and I accepted. During the shoot, there was no screenplay; Pascal Bonitzer and Christine Laurent were writing as we were shooting the film, making gradual progress at nighttime, but Pascal and Christine were like two pocket-lights saying, 'Don't worry, it's just up ahead, a little bit further.' I had the feeling of being part of an artisanal workshop. With moments of intense joy and moments of anxiety where, suddenly, Jacques would stop working. The first time I had to take off my robe, I was trembling, and when it stopped, I said, 'Was it okay?' and he responded, 'Oh, I don't know, I don't know,' in his quiet voice. He was a mixture of uncertainty and natural authority, a prankster monk."

SANDRINE BONNAIRE (Jeanne la pucelle and Secret défense): "He's someone who has left his mark [a été marquant] on my career, like a tattoo; there's not much more to say than that. To pitch Jeanne to me, he met me at a café in Montmartre, left Régine Pernoud's book and told me: 'Read this book, and see what you like.' That's what was fantastic about him: he involved the actor in the writing so much. He got me involved in the direction of the project, what to keep in or not. We weren't preoccupied with the religious aspect, only with her faith in justice; we wanted to show an active woman of that period, surrounded by men, a woman for whom life has been very brief, the very concrete, human, sensual side of the character. On the set he was very precise, very cheerful, the entire time. He had a passion for actors, a very childlike side. We had problems with the weather, so we'd have to wait; I sang a lot and he sang along with us. He had a childlike smile; it's that smile that stays with me, and his head cocked to the side, he always had his head cocked, to the point that at the end of the film, I was tilting my head to the side too — in part because he spoke very softly. There are wonderful roles that you have a hard time letting go of, and that was one of them. I named my daughter Jeanne in memory of this beautiful adventure. We made a second film together. He tells me: 'You're a very good murderer; I'd love you to play a criminal.' I had a moral issue with that — I didn't want any gratuitous violence, and he heard me out. Right up to the end, he held a particular standard, and a universe, unto himself. Which is incredible. But he found it difficult to show his films. I'm grateful to Maurice Tinchant and Martine Marignac; they never let him down — he was able to go on thanks to them — they were unbelievably devoted."

BULLE OGIER (La bande des quatre, Céline et Julie vont en bateau, Le Pont du Nord, etc...): "It was a movie friendship, but like the movies, it was his life, it was a lifelong friendship spending nights talking about a film we'd just seen. We didn't see one another outside of shooting, but intensely saw one another during those six months and before starting a film. He did research, wrote about the characters on little scraps of paper, dreamt, asked me want I wanted, what colors, what sounds, what gestures. All of it with tremendous joy. Jacques is the one who made me make my real first film, L'amour fou, before which I hadn't yet met Barbet [Schroeder] and Alain Tanner. For the first time, I was in front of a strange camera, and this first time unfolded into a film hors norme, no script, no pre-established duration, that resembled nothing else that existed. It so happened that this film won me an award in New York and changed my life. I was very much constructed as an actress as a result of his films, from Céline and Julie vont en bateau to Le Pont du Nord, with Pascale, my daughter. Jacques wasn't afraid to put the two of us together; being together was a great happiness. Jacques is a new consciousness of the cinema. The freest filmmaker there could be: he allowed everything, didn't let himself get hindered by any limit, whether temporal or scenaristic. He wasn't afraid of taking inspiration for his stories from his protagonists (actors and characters). He had no fear at the moment of the shoot. Which is just to say he was as free as these films. Like them, he was constrained by no timetable, except only those involving movie showtimes. His death is a terrible shock. A void."

In the same edition of Libération, Didier Péron spoke (here) with Pascal Bonitzer, Rivette's accomplice and co-scenarist (with Christine Laurent). My translation:

"I think he was a bit of an outsider in the Nouvelle Vague and, at the same time, he was its soul, one of the most radical ones, and the most confidential. I worked with him for the first time in 1982, for this film project that went on to become L'amour par terre. As a screenwriter, I was still pretty much a novice. The development of the script was pretty light-handed; we'd meet at a café and speak a little about everything, films we'd seen, books we'd read; — the time devoted to the project itself was pretty marginal in the end. He conceived of work as a kind of game; he no longer wanted total improvisation and at the same time wanted the intrigue itself loosened up somewhat, only slightly defined. He springboarded from the idea of the théâtre d'appartement with actors playing out and jumping from one room/play to the next [d'une pièce à l'autre] inside of barren apartments with the spectators meandering in the middle of the action. He gave me the opportunity to experience something I was completely unfamiliar with, writing during the shoot, allowing me to be exposed to the actors, to the locations. This method had profound repercussions on the way in which I subsequently envisioned work on a screenplay. He was a very intuitive filmmaker who manipulated people a lot, with this method of quasi-improvisation and changing the script and dialogue on the spot, in the idea that the actors be unable to go too upstream from the text. He put everyone in a state of tension and danger, but it always stayed very fun because he was so charming. Rivette spoke very little about the past; the past held no interest for him; he always refused to publish his critical texts; the idea of retrospective, of museumification disgusted him; he lived only for the present and for the project of the film to come."

Also from the same edition: a piece by Luc Chessel titled "L'envers, pavé de bonnes inventions" ("The Inverse, Paved with Good Inventions") which you can read here. ("Le cinéma de Jacques Rivette, envisagé comme une forme de théâtre, représente les fictions du monde comme les produits des bifurcations du réel.") ("The cinema of Jacques Rivette, envisioned as a form of theater, represents of the fictions of the world as the products of bifurcations of the real.")

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Notes on La belle noiseuse

Originally Posted April 24, 2006

"Breaking through". One place to another. Places. Two houses, connecting path: guest-house and Frenhofer's. Past, or the memory of the past, within the present. Frenhofer-Piccoli's room and Liz-Birkin's: two bedrooms, separate beds, a doorway in-between. The softened hues of Liz's room, the blues of Frenhofer's, matching the hue of the shirt. Nicolas's sister: "This room reminds me of the studio we used to have... I hated that room..." Marianne-Béart and the fetus-crouch. "We must go further." The mark of one woman on the other: Béart's buttocks (fetus-crouch, all asshole) effaces Birkin (crab-hand reaching out of ass; a blue that again matches the hue of Piccoli's shirt); Birkin's dirty footprint effaces the white paper of a sketch of Béart. Béart rejects Birkin's treating her "like a doll". The posture, movement, t-shirt of Nicolas-Bursztein, a smug pragmatism, the concerns for business, a rage against Frenhofer's methods: a mirror opposite of Frenhofer. The relationship between the cinema-screen and the canvas: a précis on framing, point-of-view, and the manufacture of new worlds (Frenhofer attempting to 'reframe' Marianne after drunkenly falling off his stool); acting and "method-of-acting" in relation to bodily "work"; filmed work vs. commedia dell'arte / the Clown. "Chance" re-examined, 're-framed' by painting, capturing the moment, the ephemeral, point-of-view-as-singularity in space-time. The position of Liz's painted face (a) on the canvas whereupon she appears as half-crab, painted over as mentioned with the Béart-crouch, before the canvas is adorned with the violent red vaginal slash; (b) on the canvas at which position within Rivette's frame during WHICH particular shot/point of the process of reconfiguring the painting with Béart's presence. A floating, disembodied head, made more bobbing and dislocated in each shot during this sequence as its position in the frame changes position like a broken clock-hand. "Ten years ago you weren't afraid to go farther" — a painting of madness, a cinema of madness: Rivette reflects upon his current aesthetic vis-à-vis his '70s aesthetic (or up to the point of Le Pont du Nord in 1981).

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L'amour fou and Out 1: Spectre

Originally Posted December 7, 2006

The screenings in the Museum of the Moving Image series "The Complete Jacques Rivette" (something of a misnomer: there will be no complete versions of Jean Renoir, le patron, L'amour par terre, Jeanne la pucelle, and Va savoir) mark the end of a cinephile-era. The most legendary of Rivette's films — L'amour fou, Out 1, Out 1: Spectre, and Merry-Go-Round — will have been screened in New York at long last, and in good prints at that. So what's left for me now, as movie-mad groundling scouring the augurs of his heroes? Pretty much nothing, beyond a most-complete-version of Feuillade's Tih Minh, and Godard's Six fois deux and France/tour/détour/deux/enfants, which I'm much more likely to see on a DVD before any kind of public screening hits town. With all the aforementioned films almost certainly taking their residence in my nervous system someday — a feeling probably akin to that of the dead in the next world finally getting a chance to be reunited with the deep souls they knew on earth following THEIR respective, and long-expected, expirations — I'll have "seen it all," all of my own personal "cinephilic holy grails" in any case, as Dennis Lim, or someone, has coined. And speaking of coin, the DVD releases are impending, in due time, in due time... And the screening room at Moving Image is already one step further from the cacophonous, bewildered spaces of Anthology, where Spectre came beamed like an artifact in all its pinkness and pops, true archaeology... And yet, something comparable to my excitement for this weekend's screening of Out 1 has already arrived with yesterday's release of Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE, which I'll see for a first time next week... — The cinema that moves me most deeply contains the pain and the glory of the Crucifixion. In its form and vision of a world it scars me and turns my gaze upon my own past and future.

Such is the case with Jacques Rivette's 250-minute L'amour fou (Mad Love, 1968), which I am able at last to assert as one of The Great Films. The time in my life when I needed this film and both Out 1 and Céline and Julie Go Boating most, during a period of crisis, has passed, but the promises made by "the literature" (Rosenbaum, Hughes, Martin, Frappat) have all held true. Much of what I "imagined" them to be, great and secret shows, happened to conform to the actuality of the films, all present there in their images, intimations, forms, ideas — in their aesthetics and in their experiential principles — so either I had a few manic flashes of prophecy or Rivette is the filmmaker who has turned out to be as weirdly in touch with the disposition of me, one spectator, as he has proven to be with his actors on- and off-set. L'amour fou, Out 1: Spectre, and Céline and Julie Go Boating will always remain mysterious, profound enclosures of self so long as I live, even if they are no longer, strictly speaking, wholly "imagined" films. (Still, there will always remain that one bout inaccessible: Léaud's on-screen breakdown at the end of the work-print of Out 1, although maybe this is the form it's best that prized, diabolical piece of movie assumes.) However, until L'amour fou becomes available to anyone who wants to see it, and at any time, I'll share some description, clarification, reflection, of a moment, which is to say four hours, in time:

-The print. Beautiful. And the subtitles were good. I think everyone said a silent prayer that the opening '60s-era logo for New Yorker Films implicitly telegraphed: "...who no longer hold the rights for video versions of the film."

-Aspect ratio. The film was screened in 1.66:1, and the compositions looked dead-on. In her book Jacques Rivette, secret compris, Hélène Frappat lists the screen format as 1.85:1, so... I don't know? Hopefully any digital release will take a 1.66 frame, rather than a 1.85, is all I'm saying.

-The opening credits. The first appearance of Rivette's signature opening-credits "design template," which is to say all titles/names/words are announced in a white, Janson-esque font on top of black. The percussion on the soundtrack foreshadows the opening of the long version of Out 1, wherein the body exercises metamorphose into (gradually make themselves known as) dance.

-35mm and 16mm. When I was younger and had read about the film, I had either misread descriptions of the way in which the varying film-stocks interacted within Rivette's film, or I had read descriptions which were not written clearly enough for the "uninitiated" to understand. My confusion took the following route: The film switches between 35mm and 16mm footage? Does this mean two projectors are needed to screen the film? Does this mean it's in the lineage of the same materialist processes that make Godard's own Un film comme les autres so reviled by audiences? It was only later that I realized — and yes, seeing the film confirmed this — that the 16mm footage has been blown up to 35mm, and is incorporated into the montage. The film, then, is, as Frappat succinctly describes: "35mm." Also note that the film, and all its footage-as-shot, is black-and-white. (It also contains some of the most gorgeous cinematography of the 1960s; I'm thinking particularly of the close-up on Bulle Ogier's face while she reclines in the bathtub.)

-What one might talk about when one "talks about L'amour fou." First it might do to sketch out the premise: Jean-Pierre Kalfon is directing, rehearsing, a stage-performance of Jean Racine's Andromaque with a group of young and beautiful actors (which includes that freckle-shrapneled john from Godard's 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her). His wife (although the fact that they're not just a "couple," but married, isn't made explicit until around the 2h30m or 3h mark), played by Bulle Ogier (who, if I might interject another parenthesis, has never looked more beautiful than in this film in which her hair is cut in simple bangs, her costume is unadorned, and her eyes are so fetchingly mascara'd), descends from the stage during the opening rehearsal and leaves for home; Kalfon's direction to his wife, who has been cast in a primary role, fails to penetrate. Effectively having left the production for good, Ogier thereby assumes the role of homemaker and paranoid idler throughout the duration of the film. L'Amour fou is thus the document of Ogier's and Kalfon's relationship discord inside their apartment (not "marital" discord — whatever legalities are involved between the two, their relationship is something beyond the traditional assumptions inherent to the term), set against, and existing within a fluctuating state of exchange with, the tumultuous rehearsals inside the barren theater — which are being filmed the entire time by a crew headed by André S. Labarthe.

Bon. This is where things get complicated, and interesting. As such, I'll attempt to be as clear as possible with, however, no guarantees of success. — In L'amour fou and Out 1: Spectre, Rivette posits freedom and liberation, but the overriding frameworks represent absolute Control. Which in turn represents the structure, the entity, that most terrifies his characters, who flinch at shadows and break down in frustration. The montage of Out 1: Spectre is punctuated by black-and-white still images — photographs, if you will — of the film's characters in conversation, in solitary motion, etc. The images often do not correspond to any scenes, situations, present within Spectre itself; and these still images also "predict" situations that take place later in Spectre while seeming not to originate from any shot that exists within Spectre. The appearance onscreen of each still — accompanied by a loud electronic hum, and occurring at times seemingly key, at other times seemingly at "random," at their "own," in varying rhythm — arrives like an apparition that foretells fates and doom; that describes paths not taken, exhilarations and tragedies unknown. Yet these stills do not exhibit their own sentience nor (perhaps the opposite now, to arrive at the same ultimate idea) do they register an absolute blankness, a non-sentience. Who "shot" these stills, after all — when, and how? Rivette has described them as expulsions of sorts, hailing from some computer-brain outside the film-world, and indeed, they register as the prophecies of an extra-filmic intelligence, one which — most disturbingly, given the concerns of the "plot" and of the characters — has the ability to consider and enact permutations to the fiction; to variously control and concede to the fiction which it has nevertheless set in motion.

In L'amour fou, the extra-filmic intelligence or entity — which, let me reveal if it's not already clear, is not just Jacques Rivette, but a subconscious within and around Jacques Rivette — sets about juxtaposing Rivette's own 35mm film footage, shot under his own direction, with the 16mm footage of the rehearsals shot by Labarthe, and thereby ostensibly "not under" Rivette's direction at the time of the shooting. To further complicate matters, Kalfon — in character, no less, as a Kalfon-not-Kalfon — is "really" directing these actors (whom Kalfon himself, the "real" person, has chosen): for the production of Andromaque that they rehearse in L'amour fou is meant actually to be produced and performed in front of a general audience. To summarize: Rivette directs Kalfon, who in turn directs his rehearsals under his "own" auspices, which Labarthe-not-Labarthe (for he too is a character in the "diegesis" of Rivette's film) then captures on film, and which the 16mm announces stylistically as "documentary footage."

More profoundly than in perhaps any other film, L'amour fou provides a discourse (but, make no mistake, a discourse with a real story, this isn't mere cold "meta-text") on where the border exactly, or non-exactly, runs between fiction and reality in cinema, theater, and life. (More on this below.) In the shuffling of 35mm and 16mm footage, the film asks: "Who is filming the truer fiction?" "Can we see, either somewhere in the magnified grains of the 16mm image, or in its synchronized real-time cut-backs to the more expansive 35mm footage, the precise moment where the reality drops off and the fiction takes over, or vice-versa?" As a result, Rivette's fictional framework internalizes Labarthe's documentary framework, and the juxtaposition of the two stocks created in the editing process (where the entity exerts his influence!) subsumes even the 35mm footage shot by Rivette himself. A "super-story" thus results in which the documentary footage (like the revenant-stills of Out 1: Spectre) appears seemingly at the volition of the extra-intelligence, in dynamic rhythm and proportion (the latter the result of the duration of the footage used between each cut), and given the context of its positioning vis-à-vis the 35mm footage the very method of inserting the 16mm footage comes to mean different things at different times. (Particularly in the second half of the film, in which the couplings of footage stand in as metaphorical representations of the two very different and very similar people making up the Kalfon-Ogier duo; recall nuances of earlier conversations between couple and actors; throw Kalfon's direction into relief against his personal relationships with the actors and professional/personal relationship with Labarthe and his crew; provide a glimpse of where the various sexual affairs that take place between Kalfon and his actors begin and end; echo the "needs" expressed by Kalfon and Ogier "in character" during the razing of the apartment; and so on. As Jonathan Rosenbaum so often draws a connection between the concerns of both Rivette and Thomas Pynchon, I would contend that these footage-juxtapositions and their eventual proliferation of meaning beyond one's initial and naturally cursory sense that they "attempt to penetrate deeper into the reality of the rehearsals" underscore certain similarities with Pynchon's narrative aesthetic. Namely with regard to the way in which Pynchon tends to advance his fiction in each novel; no matter how similar the "trajectories" of his books, the reasons why his narratives progress the way they do changes from V. to Gravity's Rainbow to Mason & Dixon to Against the Day.) Because such a technique could so easily come off as arbitrarily, thoughtlessly employed meta-wank, or as the repetition of an idea whose one-time expression would have been times enough, the shifting, constant renewal of "meaning" becomes the very validation of its existence — an assertion, or implicit proposal, that parallels the dreams, hopes, and terror of L'amour fou's protagonists. A dialectic between formal elements, control and non-control, fiction and reality — a series of recursive nestings and escapes given hilarious (the nearly-sold-out audience at Moving Image howled with laughter and appropriately so!) and terrifying acknowledgement in the scene in which Bulle Ogier pulls apart one matryoshka doll after another after another after another, until she's left with a pebble-sized peasant. She later reconstitutes the shells into a towering Gaudí-esque cone on her nightstand, and like Rivette in his film makes (discovers?) something of mystery and wonder in all elements...

Yet perhaps the grand mystery of Rivette's cinema, one which supersedes and indeed envelops that of the liminalities of fiction and reality, is the relationship between creation and destruction, their own liminalities, and their vicinity to (and masked pantomimes as) the main gestures of life: love and self-fulfillment. Creation and destruction are after all the base elements of existence: the beginning and the end, generation and degeneration, alpha and omega. How to organize oneself, how to find structure amid chaos, reverse (deflect, distract?) what Pynchon calls "entropy"? Through fiction, through play. The work of theater encapsulates and recreates the "play" of childhood abandoned in adulthood. It lends order to the chaos it allows, to the chaos it creates. Human beings come together and separate, make love and fall apart.

-The climax. That's why the destruction of the apartment by Kalfon and Ogier near the end is so amazingly moving, particularly in retrospect. It's a scene that really must be seen to be understood, and that being after hours of having watched during the rehearsals a type of "formalized" theater take shape contrary to its best, quasi-sentient efforts. I won't make an attempt to describe the apartment-"wreckage" other than to say it's the purest expression of manic elation in movies, and the melancholy that follows is of a desperation that knows not yet what it has effected, is the fear that does not know its incarnation harbors still worse.

I would also mention that this "destruction" scene does not possess the kind of emotional tenor I had been expecting from my readings of Jonathan Rosenbaum. (Although since, sorry, I don't like to know the plots of films before I see them, it's possible I missed something in a skim.) For anyone expecting a recreation of the most violent freak-out imaginable in the 1967 disintegration of Jean-Luc Godard's and Anna Karina's marriage, you will not discover this — but something else instead.

Note however, that earlier on, the blood is real.

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Rivette / Duncan

Originally Posted August 13, 2007

Jacques Rivette, on the set of Out 1, 1970:


Image from The Wit of the Staircase by Theresa Duncan, July 10, 2007:
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2007 Interview with Jacques Rivette

Originally Posted December 21, 2007

I've translated into English the following excerpts from the greater part of an interview with Jacques Rivette, conducted by Jean-Marc Lalanne and Jean-Baptiste Morain for the March 20th, 2007 edition of French culture-weekly Les Inrockuptibles. The occasion: the release of Rivette's latest film (and by all accounts another masterpiece) Ne touchez pas la hache (Don't-Touch-the-Axe, 2007). Thanks to the tip-off from jdcopp's excellent My Gleanings blog, which is essential regular-reading for les cinéphiles. The interview appears in full (and in French) here.

Jacques Rivette on the set of Ne touchez pas la hache [Don't-Touch-the-Axe, 2007], in 2006. Photo by Moune Jamet for Pierre Grise Distribution.



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[...]

LALANNE/MORAIN: Is the reception that your films receive something that still burns you up? Were you hurt by the bad reception for Histoire de Marie et Julien [Story of Marie and Julien, 2003]?

RIVETTE: You always wish there were more of a response. But often it comes five, ten years down the road. As it turns out, for Marie et Julien, I'm starting to get a sense these days of some change of heart. But films today have a completely different life with DVD, which I think is the greatest. First of all because that's practically the only way I watch films anymore.

LALANNE/MORAIN: Which films have you seen recently on DVD?

RIVETTE: I've been really disappointed by the new films I've seen. I'm pretty appalled by the current American cinema, after having thought so highly of it. Scorsese has disappointed me a lot. I think that Coppola is a much more interesting filmmaker. When you see One from the Heart [Francis Ford Coppola, 1982] again, you're really struck by a very strong desire for cinema. I'm often struck today by the way in which filmmakers build this image of what their cinema is, and then are no longer willing to let go of it. Even filmmakers that I've liked a lot, like Clint Eastwood, have disappointed me. I couldn't bring myself to go see his two latest films. [Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)]

[...]

LALANNE/MORAIN: L'Amour fou [Mad Love, 1969 — which I've previously written about here] is a rather overwhelming film about the complexity, the instability of a couple's connections. But that question disappeared in your cinema, up until the two most recent films, Histoire de Marie et Julien and Ne touchez pas la hache where it becomes totally central again. Again we find the same, very naked pain, tied to love.

RIVETTE: (A long silence.) Yes. (Laughs.) But no, I'll respond. I shot L'Amour fou telling [Georges de] Beauregard, the producer, that I was going to make a film about jealousy, which wasn't entirely true. We shot it in five weeks, under very tight conditions. The film was marked by what I was discovering at the time in the theater, namely the performances of Marc'O, and his actors... Jean Eustache was doing the editing on Les Idoles [The Idols, Marc'O, 1968; starring Bulle Ogier, Pierre Clémenti, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, and Michèle Moretti] but also for the documentary on Jean Renoir, Jean Renoir, le patron [Jean Renoir: The Boss, Jacques Rivette, 1967], that I made in '67 for the Cinéastes de notre temps [Filmmakers of Our Time] series. I remember long discussions that we had on the question of true and false. It followed that the basic principle of the cinema should be reality, and what's more, truth. What I was opposed to was the idea that there were no truth other than fiction. In a certain way, L'Amour fou is a fiction-film relative to the sense that it proposed the truth-film: La Maman et la putain [The Mama and the Whore, Jean Eustache, 1973 — a.k.a. "The Mother and the Whore"]. The film is a direct autobiography, all the characters on-screen were literally people I knew from the period. Jean was writing with the will to be utterly faithful to the biographical material, to find the most exact equivalence to it. In Une sale histoire [A Dirty Story, Jean Eustache, 1977] this very volition becomes the film's subject.

LALANNE/MORAIN: In Out 1 [1971], that 12-hour-long cult-film, you added to Marc'O's troupe two slightly younger individuals, invented by two of your associates in the New Wave: Jean-Pierre Léaud and Juliet Berto. It's really a great film about the '68 youth-culture without ever coming right out and saying so...

RIVETTE: Yes, I shot two years after '68 and, without ever making reference to the events, the characters never stop referring to what happened two years prior. As for Jean-Pierre's and Juliet's characters, they absolutely do not comprehend the world in which they're evolving. But around them, the secret society of the Thirteen ([Michel] Lonsdale, Ogier, Bernadette Lafont) never stops commenting upon what's happened. For me, it's clear, the film speaks of '68, or rather the immediate post-'68.

LALANNE/MORAIN: You were the only filmmaker of the New Wave to establish a bridge with the New York avant-garde of the '60s, and Warhol in particular...

RIVETTE: In the '60s, I kept going to the Cinémathèque. Which François [Truffaut], for example, no longer did. It's there that I discovered the New York avant-garde films. I remember discovering The Chelsea Girls [Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey, 1966], which impressed me a great deal.

LALANNE/MORAIN: Did you meet Warhol?

RIVETTE: Once, at La Coupole, early in the '70s. I was meeting up with Bulle and we were in the same group of people. But he was very hemmed-in; spoke little; looked like a sphinx.

LALANNE/MORAIN: You shot Merry-Go-Round (1978), with Joe Dallessandro, thinking of Warhol?

RIVETTE: I found him magnificent in [Paul] Morrissey's trilogy, Flesh (1968), Heat (1972), and Trash (1970). But the idea was Maria Schneider's, who really wanted him to be her partner, because she had met him in Rome, I think... The shoot was very difficult. Maria wasn't doing very well; was in a physical state that didn't make work very easy; she was sleeping all the time or not at all; — without going overboard, I felt like Billy Wilder waiting for Marilyn [Monroe] to get ready without ever being certain that she'd actually show up. Very quickly, Joe understood that he'd get nothing out of this film. The relation with the production was very tense, we had a lot of illness crop up at the onset of the shoot. But he had a kindness to him, and an impeccable seriousness. Total respect for Joe Dallessandro.

LALANNE/MORAIN: After that film, you went on to Le Pont du Nord [1981], which takes a hard look at the end of the '70s and the squashing of the utopias of '68.

RIVETTE: We shot that film in November of '80. At the time, we thought that Giscard had every chance to win a second term. You don't remember the end of the Giscard years with any certainty, but it really wasn't anything to pin a medal to. Ministers were committing suicide, were getting killed leaving their homes, all followed by a series of scandals, there was the affaire des diamants, of "sniffer planes" for locating oil despoits... Giscard's last year in power was delirious. Le Pont du Nord is a slightly polemical film about this deep malaise, this asphyxiated feeling that belonged to the France of the late '70s. But the film was released a few months after François Mitterand's victory. It was therefore already out-of-date, historically.

LALANNE/MORAIN: The passing of the baton between an individual contemporary to '68 such as Bulle Ogier and a succeeding generation that has no memory of the events, embodied by Pascale Ogier and her punk petit soldat silhouette, is tremendous...

RIVETTE: The idea was to refer to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Passing from the Parisian quartiers outward to the peripheral areas, within those zones that are slightly uncertain, but without ever leaving Paris. We also wanted to show everything that was in the process of being transformed, under construction.

LALANNE/MORAIN: Does the current presidential race interest you?

RIVETTE: It's amusing. If you can't laugh at it, then what will you ever laugh at. No, frankly, I don't have any big thing to say about it.

LALANNE/MORAIN: At what point your films took account of the political mutations inside of France has already been discussed somewhat. What do you think of the films that were speaking more directly about politics, the utopias of collective cinema around the time of '68, Jean-Luc Godard's Dziga-Vertov group?

RIVETTE: The films that you're speaking of were collective in the same way that the regime in Peking was a democracy!

LALANNE/MORAIN: In your connection with improvisation, you've always put into place a collective practice, whereby the actor takes part in the direction...

RIVETTE: In certain films, that's true. None of my films were built according to the same rules of the game, even if I'd resorted several times to a large degree of improvisation, where the actors in part had to invent what they were doing, what they were saying, and sometimes contributing all the way up to the story of the movie. Sometimes this got very risky, but each time in a different way. I've often taken the risk of keeping my mouth shut on my films, but never the same way twice. But in any case, I think that cinema is always collective, even in Bresson.

LALANNE/MORAIN: That's not what Anne Wiazemsky wrote in her recent novel [Jeune fille]...

RIVETTE: I've read that too, I really liked it. Still, we see that the shoot is somewhat collective. Sometimes, the donkey just would not respect what it was that Bresson wanted... (Laughs.)

LALANNE/MORAIN: Why do the credits of your films always indicate: "direction: Jacques Rivette" ["mise en scène: Jacques Rivette"] rather than "a film by"?

RIVETTE: I detest the formulation "a film by". A film is always at least fifteen people. I don't like "réalisation" very much either, which seems to me very portentous, maybe because its root is "reality." Mise en scène is a rapport with the actors, and the communal work is set with the first shot. What's important for me in a film is that it be alive, that it be imbued with presence, which is basically the same thing. And that this presence, inscribed within the film, possesses a form of magic. There's something profoundly mysterious in this. It's an alchemy that one procures, or does not. Early in the shoot, anything's still possible, but once you've made two or three steps, already you have to follow the course that the film has taken. But that's what's interesting. It's a collective work, but one wherein there's a secret, too. For that matter, the actor has his secrets as well — of which the director is the spectator.

LALANNE/MORAIN: Then is the cinema, for you, a collective work between people who have secrets?

RIVETTE: Yes. It's a little closer to that. And I think that the story of a film always ends when you talk about it.

Jacques Rivette and Emmanuelle Béart in San Sebastian, 2003.




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Le coup du berger

Originally Posted December 30, 2010

Le Coup du berger [Shepherd's Mate / Scholar's Mate] by Jacques Rivette, 1956:



Behold "the night of the third full moon..." — ?... a phrase from Jacques Rivette's earliest surviving/released film, the half-hour-long Le Coup du berger from 1956... a phrase which joins full-circle with the last image that will ever be signed "Rivette," the one at the close of his 2009 small, gentle, precious masterpiece 36 Views of the Pic Saint-Loup / A brief word about the title: "le coup du berger" translates literally as "shepherd's mate," which refers to a particular chess stratagem — I know nothing about chess (despite my love for Nabokov, for Kubrick, but that's the way it goes), I've devoted at least fifteen minutes, three times, to trying to learn the moves and how anyone even wins, but I've forgotten the moves every time and have never been able to make sense of how these moves all add up into a rule-set or a winning move — obviously I'm just not wired for the game — anyway, my understanding is that the "shepherd's mate" is the French term for something referred to as the "scholar's mate" in the U.S. and England and whatever — I learned this years and years back from someone, I can't remember whom, who in any case also struck out the caveat that the translation of the title in English as "Fool's Mate" was a false equivalency based on a misunderstanding of what the specific set of moves was, and he swore that le coup du berger — the shepherd's mate — was in fact equal to the scholar's mate, and not the fool's mate, and if whoever said this was who I think it was I take his word for it / Anyway, the cuckolded husband in the movie, Jean, is played by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze (one of the founders of the Cahiers du cinéma... of course the film contains the requisite shot of a yellow Cahiers, laid on a nightstand and sporting a Magnani cover): thus, when we encounter the character portrayed by the same actor in 1971's Out 1 (one of the movies in the diagram I might draw showing the power-relationship among the works I consider the three greatest films ever made), we witness him hunched over a chessboard / Claire [Virginie Vitry] mentions to her husband Jean the ticket she claims to have found by chance... Jean (blankly suspicious of Claire's goings-on) claims to have no interest in the matter... this ticket would unlock the compartment in the station where she and her lover Claude (Jean-Claude Brialy) have 'planted' a fur that Claude has amorously gifted Claire — the idea being, with this ticket announced as merely 'found,' she can retrieve whatever 'turns out to have been left' inside the station-locker — from then on, she'll ostensibly be able to wear the fur around her husband with impunity / As Claire spins the yarn to Jean back in their apartment, his gaze shifts to the wall where hangs a painting built around his wife's body's nudity / Upon retrieval of the fur by the couple, Jean delivers the crushing blow: "A rabbit-skin." / Claire returns to Claude later on to tell him... that the suitcase was empty / And so the camera dollies back in wide long shot as Claire says goodbye to Claude, the long dining room table become an abstract figure, a gameboard / Cut to: — the evening party at Claire's and Jean's — the attendees include Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Robert Lachenay, etc. / Claire's sister (Anne Doat) arrives with the fur / Jean has played the winning move / — Rivette's film deals in admirably clear, 'contiguous' geography of space, despite its character austere and bourgeois, alternating shots held for a long duration with those that only fleetingly show, an effortless and unpretentious shuffle between master-shot and insert / My personal favorite among the film's lengthier shots appears within the party scene, where a young '56 Truffaut, cigar dangling from his mouth in the manner of miston pantomiming grown-up, begins to chuckle, overcome by the camera's presence

Le Coup du berger [Shepherd's Mate / Scholar's Mate] by Jacques Rivette, 1956:



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The frames from the film (not 'production-stills') placed above are stolen from various sites around the Internet; I couldn't get my DVD to correctly rip-for-grab. I'd have liked to present images from the party scene, particularly the image of Truffaut.

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Thoughts on Out 1 After My 2nd Screening at MoMI

Emailed to B. Kite on October 17, 2007

"Rivette Track 1b" is totally fucking brilliant, btw. I just finished a first reading of it tonight. I'll have more to say soon. I think everything you discuss about Out 1 is accurate and cogent -- and so extremely rich, such that it seems with every re-read or new return-on-your-own-part to the material in written form one senses new inlets (off the top of my head and not necessarily related, I especially liked the characterization in the Spectre section of the image-punctuations as "distress signals" from the malfunctioning earlier film) -- but I do think that (at least in my own head) the recurring shots of the "place" (someone mentioned to me it was the Place de l'Italie maybe?)/signage-corner are not entirely inscrutable / strategically[non-strategically?]-non-signifiant (although they absolutely function as you note as well)... Although the movie does work -- complexly and brilliantly -- as a "systems film" (to use an easy term), as a mechanism set into motion, I think it can be understood as well as (parallel with its status as a postmodern object/artwork) a modernist object/artwork, with coherence and full-thrall in its narrative.. and I say this because for me (as I may have mentioned once), that sign, "L'Hôpital Hospice de Bicétre," with the arrows pointing out of frame, is the key (placed by the author and the consciousness-non-consciousness of the mechanism too), occurring at many crucial points, most intensely around the conversation with Lucie and Warok if I recall correctly, pertaining to Pierre, and giving us some indication of his off-space whereabouts, and signals one outcome for Quentin, who wanders in the background during the shot's final iteration. And of course, from there, through some twisty tangents, the other great off-space figure, the mirror of Pierre, is Igor, whom as I mentioned I believe to be dead, and the inhabiting, 'diegetic' cause of the super-phenomena in the climaxes (the statues, the possession, the simultaneities, trick-clairaudience, etc.). I loved everything you wrote about the continuity and the inserts btw, inside of the car etc. Anyway, just some quick thoughts, will discuss more in-depth soon...

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With that, it's essential to end this post with two of the greatest pieces of criticism ever written, and about Rivette at that: B. Kite's Jacques Rivette and the Other Place, Track One and Jacques Rivette and the Other Place, Track 1b, which were originally published in Cinema Scope magazine in 2007.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Origins


Fast Notes




These are some quick observations on what for me is one of the most exciting American films of the last few years, which I figure will be "rediscovered" around or shortly after 2020. It's Mike Cahill's follow-up to Another Earth (a really good movie, the last scene of which has profound implications), — it belongs to a techno-philosophical thread in recent American movies which counts among its proponent-adherents Cahill, Batmanglij, Carruth, and someone else I'm forgetting. In many ways (aside from Carruth) the auteur is co-writer/co-producer/star Brit Marling.

(1) Double-lives, doppelgängers, are a staple of Cahill's cinema to date. He cites Kieslowski's La double vie de Véronique as a major touchstone. I Origins was written as a "prequel" to an as-yet-unmade "core"-film called I. This sibling has not yet come to fruition, although my understanding is that Fox [Searchlight] have acquired the rights to that film alongside I Origins. Michael Pitt is himself here a doppelgänger for Brady Corbet. cf. Haneke's Funny Games redux — a terrible movie but which sports some of the most beautiful compositions and lighting (by way of Darius Khondji) so go figure.

(2) Sex-trafficking. An undercurrent of the film. When Michael Pitt's character, Ian Gray, takes up residence in the Indian hotel he encounters a sick-priest played by Tom Cruise's cousin, William Mapother, done up like Dano in There Will Be Blood. He tells Pitt he's in town for "sales" and that it's all in accordance with the big man up above. Later Pitt with Kashish ("Salomina") will avoid the hotel elevator when he sees that Mapother stands inside, and will take the staircase instead. One shot shows Pitt throwing a glance off-camera as though Mapother is present (or checking to see if he's present) when he brings Kashish inside his room.

(3) In a new world-of-the-movie literalized variation of screenwriting, intent begets reality, opening the door to a singular metaphysics. At the moment Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey ("Sofi") does her schtick in the stuck-elevator (which makes the first 30 minutes of the movie exasperating, but it's only a red-herring), Pitt snaps and proclaims her "a child". After the brilliant and only appropriate usage in a movie I can think of of a Radiohead track, "Motion Picture Soundtrack," the closer of Kid A (the greatest album "of a life"), Pitt will have adopted Kashish.

(4) More maybe soon

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cool Apocalypse


Therapy and Depictions




Michael Glover Smith's 2015 feature reboots the saga of some of the earliest Mumblecores: traits variously include dancing in Chicago, black-and-white images high and low contrast, cheap living on low wages, and a primary leisure activity involving kitchen table conversation. Swap Chicago for Paris and Cool Apocalypse reboots the earliest Nouvelles Vagues, most especially the first film in the movement as it's most commonly understood (when it is neither Vigo nor Renoir), Présentation, ou Charlotte et son steak by Éric Rohmer (silent version and image edit completed 1951, sound version completed 1961).

With its two pairs of 20-something couples, Cool Apocalypse smashes together the modern no-to-micro-budget relationship-film with the love story as I've historically understood it, from '60s Godard through the Carax of Boy Meets Girl and beyond. As such, it comes full-circle with both American independent cinema's significant recent past (Joe Swanberg's Young American Bodies and Kissing on the Mouth, Frank V. Ross's Present Company, Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation) and its present (the relationship-film-meets-love-stories of Swanberg's Happy Christmas and Digging for Fire). One couple (Tess [Chelsea David] and Claudio [Adam Overberg]) act out a relationship-film, the other (Julie [Nina Ganet] and Paul [Kevin Wehby]) a love story. The dynamic, the tension, between the idioms offers a critique, intentional or not, on the current and (at least at present) seemingly endless procession of slow-burn character-studies that involve "dramatic conflict" as the crux of worthwhile "dramatic" art. The love story portion of the picture corrects the relationship-film portion and ultimately resolves in an "all's right with the world" ending like a breath of fresh air.

Nina Ganet, of the love-story element, is as captivating as a Rohmer heroine: specifically, her lean-in and natural goodwill remind me of Katerina Diaskalou of Triple Agent without the cloying reliances that I still have not been able to reconcile with my love for Rohmer and that film in particular. There is in Cool Apocalypse even a shock moment, or beat, that would not be out of place in either Rohmer or perhaps even Rivette and which involves a cane and a wineglass.

I mentioned therapy against depictions; I want to say that the love-film is an act of therapy, and that the relationship film is a mere depiction of reality. The designations might be reversed; note for further elaboration. For now I will quote Godard in Adieu au langage, who says: "Those who lack imagination feel the need to take refuge in reality." I believe this trait to be endemic of most of the present American (truly) independent cinema and represents a kind of fall from the age of the earliest Mumblecores, such as their legacy as been misunderstood by a great deal of post-Swanberg post-Bujalski would-bes.

Love-ideal v. real(ationship)politik?

Yet in Smith's film the composite parts: the restaurant, the bookstore, the kitchen, the smoking balcony, the sidewalk: everything seems a quotation and a new instillment. The nocturnia of the film, too, recalls implicitly a kinship with another Chicago picture of recent vintage that searches for a new path, that is, a new way out: Vishnevetsky's Ellie Lumme.








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Rest in Peace Forever David Bowie. Image from Leos Carax's Mauvais sang [Bad Blood, 1986].

"I'm standing in the wind / But I never wave bye-bye / But I try — / I try —




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Saturday, January 02, 2016

All the Cinema I Watched in 2015



24 Exposures [Joe Swanberg, 2013]
24 heures de la vie d’un clown [24 Hours in the Life of a Clown] [Jean-Pierre Melville, 1946]
4:44: Last Day on Earth [Abel Ferrara, 2011]
65 Revisited [D. A. Pennebaker, 2006]
88:88 [Isiah Medina, 2015]
Abus de faiblesse [Abuse of Weakness] [Catherine Breillat, 2013]
Adam’s Rib [George Cukor, 1949]
The Adventurer [Charles Chaplin, 1917]
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes [Aguirre, the Wrath of God] [Werner Herzog, 1972]
Aimer, boire et chanter [To Love, Drink and Sing] [Alain Resnais, 2014]
Alone Together [Jacob Pinger, 2015]
Als ich tot war [When I Was Dead] [Ernst Lubitsch, 1916]
American Guerrilla in the Philippines [Fritz Lang, 1950]
American Psycho [Mary Harron, 2000]
Un amour de jeunesse [A Youthful Love] [Mia Hansen-Løve, 2011]
Assault on Precinct 13 [John Carpenter, 1976]
Atari: Game Over [Zak Penn, 2014]
L’avenir du cinéma [The Future of Cinema] [Catherine Breillat, 2013]
L’avventura [The Adventure / The Fling] [Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960]
Baby [D. A. Pennebaker, 1954]
Banshun [Late Spring] [Yasujirô Ozu, 1949]
Barbe Bleue [Catherine Breillat, 2009]
Behinderte Zukunft, zur Situation der körperbehinderten Kinder in der Bundesrepublik [Handicapped Future: On the Situation of Physically Handicapped Children in the Bundesrepublik] [Werner Herzog, Hans-Peter Meier, and Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein, 1970]
Behind the Screen [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
La Belle Endormie [The Sleeping Beauty] [Catherine Breillat, 2010]
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt [Fritz Lang, 1956]
Il bidone [The Swindle] [Federico Fellini, 1955]
Black Mass [Scott Cooper, 2015]
Black Panthers {English-Language Version} [Agnès Varda, 1968]
Blondes in the Jungle [Lev Kalman and Whit Horn, 2009]
Boston Fire [Peter Hutton, 1979]
Bridge of Spies [Steven Spielberg, 2015]
A Brief History of Time [Errol Morris, 1991]
Broken Arrow [Delmer Daves, 1950]
Casa de lava [Lava Home] [Pedro Costa, 1994]
Cavalo Dinheiro [Horse Money] [Pedro Costa, 2014]
CCDT Presents: Rehearsal: Season 2 [Alex Fischer, 2015]
Une chambre en ville [A Room in Town] [Jacques Demy, 1982]
Charli XCX: “Famous” [Eric Wareheim, 2015]
Le chemineau [The Vagabond] [Albert Capellani, 1905]
A Christmas Carol [Edwin L. Marin, 1938]
A Christmas Carol [Clive Donner, 1984]
Chuck-A-Luck [Fritz Lang, 1952]
Cinéma Cinémas: ‘Jour de fête,’ à la recherche de la couleur perdue [Cinéma Cinémas: ‘Jour de fête’: In Search of Lost Color] [Claude Ventura and François Ede, 1988]
Ciné Regards: Jacques Tati [André S. Labarthe, 1978]
City for Conquest [Anatole Litvak, 1940]
Clouds of Sils Maria [Olivier Assayas, 2014]
I clowns [The Clowns] [Federico Fellini, 1970]
Cobra Verde [Werner Herzog, 1987]
Colleen [Alfred E. Green, 1936]
Color Guard [James Alexander Warren, 2015]
The Conjuring [Andrew Wan, 2013]
Cool Apocalypse [Michael Glover Smith, 2015]
The Counselor [Ridley Scott, 2013]
The Count [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
Cours du soir [Evening Classes] [Jacques Tati and Nicolas Rybowski, 1967]
Les croix de bois [Wooden Crosses] [Raymond Bernard, 1932]
Crystal Voyager [David Elfick and George Greenough, 1973]
The Cure [Charles Chaplin, 1917]
Dangerous Money [Terry O. Morse, 1946]
Dave Lambert: Audition at RCA [D. A. Pennebaker, 1964]
Dawn [Rose McGowan, 2014]
Daybreak Express [D. A. Pennebaker, 1958]
Dead Man on Campus [Alan Cohn, 1998]
Decker 3: Decker vs. Dracula [Gregg Turkington, 2015]
Decker: Port of Call: Hawaii [Tim Heidecker, 2015]
Decker vs Dracula: Behind the Truth [Tim Heidecker, 2015]
Decker vs Dracula: The Lost Works [Gregg Turkington, 2015]
Dégustation maison [House Specialty] [Sophie Tatischeff, 1977]
Dent May: “I’ll Be Stoned for Christmas” [Robbie Hillyer Barnett, 2015]
Designing Woman [Vincente Minnelli, 1957]
A Diary for Timothy [Humphrey Jennings, 1946]
Digging for Fire [Joe Swanberg, 2015]
Dinner at Eight [George Cukor, 1933]
Documenteur: An Emotion Picture {Bilingual Version} [Agnès Varda, 1981]
La dolce vita [The Sweet Life] [Federico Fellini, 1960]
Dont Look Back [D. A. Pennebaker, 1967]
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [John S. Robertson, 1920]
Easy Street [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
L’école des facteurs [Postmen’s School] [Jacques Tati, 1946]
L’Éden et après [L’Éden and After] [Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1970]
The Eighty Days [Humphrey Jennings, 1944]
Ellie Lumme [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, 2014]
Enough Said [Nicole Holofcener, 2013]
Entertainment [Rick Alverson, 2015]
Escape from Tomorrow [Randy Moore, 2013]
The Fall of Babylon [D. W. Griffith, 1919]
Fata Morgana [Werner Herzog, 1971]
Faust, eine deutsche Volkssage. [Faust: A German Folktale.] {Domestic German Version} [F. W. Murnau, 1926]
Fa yeung nin wa [The Age of Blossoms / Those Wonderful Varied Years] [Wong Kar-wai, 2000]
Fellini-Satyricon [Federico Fellini, 1969]
Fitzcarraldo [Werner Herzog, 1982]
The Fireman [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
flight [Les LeVeque, 1998]
Forza Bastia 78, ou l’Île en fête [Forza Bastia 78, or: The Festive Island] [Jacques Tati and Sophie Tatischeff, 1978/2000]
Frau im Mond. [Woman in the Moon.] [Fritz Lang, 1929]
A Free Soul [Clarence Brown, 1931]
Fulta Fisher’s Boarding House [Frank Capra, 1921]
Gai dimanche! [Cheery Sunday!] [Jacques Berr, 1935]
The Gang’s All Here [Busby Berkeley, 1943]
Ganja & Hess [Bill Gunn, 1973]
Ghostbusters [Ivan Reitman, 1984]
Ghosting [Kim Sherman, 2015]
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night [Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014]
Giulietta degli spiriti [Giulietta of the Spirits] [Federico Fellini, 1966]
Glaube und Währung [Faith and Currency] [Werner Herzog, 1980]
Glissements progressifs du plaisirs [Successive Slidings of Pleasure] [Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1974]
Golden Casket [Doug Lussenhop, 2015]
Grand Hotel [Edmund Goulding, 1932]
Grimes: “Flesh Without Blood / Life in the Vivid Dream” [Grimes, 2015]
Die große Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner [The Great Ecstasy of the Figure-Carver Steiner] [Werner Herzog, 1975]
Halloween III: Season of the Witch [Tommy Lee Wallace, 1982]
Hapax Legomena: 1: (nostalgia) [Hollis Frampton, 1971]
Hapax Legomena: 2: Poetic Justice [Hollis Frampton, 1972]
Hapax Legomena: 3: Critical Mass [Hollis Frampton, 1971]
The Haunting [Robert Wise, 1963]
Heaven Knows What [Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, 2014]
Les herbes folles [Wild Grass] [Alain Resnais, 2009]
Her Cardboard Lover [George Cukor, 1942]
Hernia [Jason Giampietro, 2015]
Her Wilderness [Frank Mosley, 2014]
Herz aus Glas [Heart of Glass] [Werner Herzog, 1976]
Hijôsen no onna [Dragnet Girl] [Yasujirô Ozu, 1933]
The Hills Have Eyes [Wes Craven, 1977]
Hiroshima mon amour [Hiroshima My Love] [Alain Resnais, 1959]
Hogaraka ni ayume [Walk Cheerfully] [Yasujirô Ozu, 1930]
L’homme qui ment [The Lying Man] [Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1968]
Horrible Bosses 2 [Sean Anders, 2014]
Horse Feathers [Norman Z. McLeod, 1932]
House [Steve Miner, 1986]
House of Dark Shadows [Dan Curtis, 1970]
The House of Seven Corpses [Paul Harrison, 1974]
How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck…: Beobachtungen zu einer neuen Sprache [How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck…: Observations on a New Language] [Werner Herzog, 1976]
How to Fix the World [Jacqueline Goss, 2004]
Hua yang ne nian hua [The Time of ‘The Age of Blossoms / Those Wonderful Varied Years’] [Wong Kar-wai, 2001]
The Ides of March [George Clooney, 2011]
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas [Hy Averback, 1968]
The Immigrant [Charles Chaplin, 1917]
The Immortal Story [Orson Welles, 1968]
L’immortelle [The Immortal] [Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1963]
Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Love and Death: With Erland Josephson [Stefan Brann, 2000]
Inherent Vice [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014]
The Innocents [Jack Clayton, 1961]
Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages [D. W. Griffith, 1916]
Is Marriage Necessary? [aka “The Palm Beach Story”] [Preston Sturges, 1942]
It Happened One Night [Frank Capra, 1934]
Jailhouse Rock [Richard Thorpe, 1957]
Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle [Every Man for Himself and God Against Everyone] [Werner Herzog, 1974]
The Jinx [Andrew Jarecki, 2015]
Joanna Newsom: “Divers” [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2015]
Joanna Newsom: “Sapokanikan” [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2015]
Jour de fête [Fête Day] {Tati’s Intended Color Version} [Jacques Tati, 1949]
Koroshi no rakuin [Branded to Kill] [Seijun Suzuki, 1967]
The Lady Vanishes [Alfred Hitchcock, 1938]
Laila [George Schnéevoigt, 1929]
Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit, aus dem Leben der taubblinden Fini Straubinger [Land of Silence and Darkness: From the Life of the Deaf-Blind Fini Straubinger] [Werner Herzog, 1971]
The Last Days of Disco [Whit Stillman, 1998]
The Last House on the Left [Wes Craven, 1972]
The Legend of Cambo [Harmony Korine, 2015]
Less [Hollis Frampton, 1973]
A Letter to Three Wives [Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1949]
Limelight [Charles Chaplin, 1952]
Lions Love… and Lies / Lions Love [Agnès Varda, 1969]
Lolita [Stanley Kubrick, 1962]
Louie: Season 5 [Louis C.K., 2015]
Louis C.K.: Live at The Comedy Store [Louis C.K., 2015]
Love & Mercy [Bill Pohlad, 2015]
Love Streams [John Cassavetes, 1984]
Madame Dubarry [Ernst Lubitsch, 1919]
Mad Max: Fury Road [George Miller, 2015]
Magellan: The Birth of Magellan: Day 0XX = 30 Dec: The Birth of Magellan: Candenza 1 [Hollis Frampton, 1980]
Magellan: Straits of Magellan: Day 000 = 1 Jan: Pan 0 [Hollis Frampton, 1974]
Magellan: Straits of Magellan: Day 000 = 1 Jan: Pan 1: Light Pull Pendulum 1/74 Eaton [Hollis Frampton, 1974]
Man of the West [Anthony Mann, 1958]
Manual of Arms [Hollis Frampton, 1966]
The Martian [Ridley Scott, 2015]
Marty [Delbert Mann, 1955]
Master of None: Season 1 [Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, et al, 2015]
Mauvais sang [Bad Blood] [Leos Carax, 1986]
Medium Cool [Haskell Wexler, 1969]
Meet Me in St. Louis [Vincente Minnelli, 1943]
Meet the Fockers [Jay Roach, 2004]
Message de salutations: Prix suisse / remerciements / mort ou vif [Message of Greetings: Prix suisse / Many Thanks / Dead or Alive] [Jean-Luc Godard, 2015]
Metropolis [Fritz Lang, 1927]
Les misérables [The Wretched] [Raymond Bernard, 1934]
Mon oncle [My Uncle] [Jacques Tati, 1958]
Moonfleet [Fritz Lang, 1955]
The More the Merrier [George Stevens, 1943]
The Mother and the Law [D. W. Griffith, 1919]
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [Frank Capra, 1939]
Mr X [Tessa Louise-Salomé, 2014]
Muck [Bruce Smolanoff, 2015]
Mulberry St. [Abel Ferrara, 2010]
Mur murs {Blingual Version} [Agnès Varda, 1980]
Myra Hess [Humphrey Jennings, 1945]
My Uncle [Jacques Tati, 1958]
N. a pris les dés… [N. Took the Dice…] [Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1971]
Nashville [Robert Altman, 1975]
Nathan for You: Season 3 [Nathan Fielder, et al, 2015]
New York Portrait: Chapter II [Peter Hutton, 1981]
Nie Yinniang [Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015]
A Night in the Show. [Charles Chaplin, 1915]
Nijushi no hitomi [Twenty-Four Eyes’ Irises] [Keisuke Kinoshita, 1954]
No quarto da Vanda [In Vanda’s Room] [Pedro Costa, 2000]
North by Northwest [Alfred Hitchcock, 1959]
Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht [Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night] [Werner Herzog, 1979]
Nugget [Sarah Salovaara, 2015]
Obvious Child {feature film} [Gillian Robespierre, 2014]
Obvious Child {short film} [Gillian Robespierre, 2009]
Oscar Night Year 2000 [Jason Giampietro, 2009/2015]
The Offence [Sidney Lumet, 1972]
On demande une brute [A Brute Wanted] [Charles Barrois, 1934]
One A. M. [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
The Other [Robert Mulligan, 1972]
Our Daily Bread [King Vidor, 1934]
Outrage [Ida Lupino, 1950]
Paper Moon [Peter Bogdanovich, 1973]
Parade [Jacques Tati 1974]
Partie de campagne [Country Outing] [Jean Renoir, 1936]
The Pawnshop [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
Peau d’Âne [Jacques Demy, 1970]
Le père de mes enfants [The Father of My Children] [Mia Hansen-Løve, 2009]
Pet Therapy [Catherine Orchard, 2015]
Pickup on South Street [Samuel Fuller, 1953]
Playground Love [Sofia Coppola, 1999]
PlayTime [Jacques Tati, 1967]
The Postman Always Rings Twice [Tay Garnett, 1946]
Private Resort [George Bowers, 1985]
The Professor [Charles Chaplin, 1919]
Queen of Earth [Alex Ross Perry, 2015]
Quelques remarques sur la réalisation et la production du film 'Sauve qui peut (la vie)' [A Few Remarks on the Direction and Production of the Film ‘Sauve qui peut (la vie)’] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1979]
Ransom! [Alex Segal, 1956]
Resident Evil: Extinction [Russell Mulcahy, 2007]
Results [Andrew Bujalski, 2015]
Ride the Pink Horse [Robert Montgomery, 1947]
The Right & Left Brains of Casey Jane’s [Casey Jane Ellison, 2015]
The Rink [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
The Rise and Fall of The Clash [Danny Garcia, 2012]
The Rover [David Michôd, 2014]
Sabbatical [Brandon Colvin, 2014]
Saint Laurent [Bertrand Bonello, 2014]
Salem’s Lot [Tobe Hooper, 1979]
Sauve qui peut (la vie) [Jean-Luc Godard, 1979]
The Scary Movie [Peggy Ahwesh, 1993]
Secret Beyond the Door… [Fritz Lang, 1947]
Secret in Their Eyes [Billy Ray, 2015]
Seishun zankoku monogatari [A Tale of the Cruelties of Youth] [Nagisa Ôshima, 1960]
Sequence: Four Short Stories [James Alexander Warren, 2014]
Shoah [Claude Lanzmann, 1985]
The Shop Around the Corner [Ernst Lubitsch, 1940]
Le silence de la mer [The Silence of the Sea] [Jean-Pierre Melville, 1949]
Silicon Valley: Season 2 [Mike Judge, et al, 2015]
The Sisters [Anatole Litvak, 1938]
The Sleepwalker [Mona Fastvold, 2014]
Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman [Stuart Heisler, 1946]
Snow White and the Huntsman [Rupert Sanders, 2012]
Soigne ton gauche [Keep Your Left Up] [René Clément, 1938]
Someone’s Watching Me! [John Carpenter, 1978]
Sono yo no tsuma [That Night’s Wife] [Yasujirô Ozu, 1930]
Sous le nom de Melville [Under the Name of Melville] [Olivier Bohler, 2008]
The Spectacular Now [James Ponsoldt, 2013]
Spione [Spies] [Fritz Lang, 1928]
Spotlight [Tom McCarthy, 2015]
Spring Breakers [Harmony Korine, 2012]
Stalag 17 [Billy Wilder, 1953]
Stroszek [Werner Herzog, 1977]
Sullivan’s Travels [Preston Sturges, 1941]
Summer of Blood [Onur Tukel, 2014]
The Swarm [Irwin Allen, 1978]
Tagebuch einer Verlorenen [Diary of a Lost Girl] [G. W. Pabst, 1929]
The Tall Target [Anthony Mann, 1951]
Telephone Me [Michael Demetriou, 2014]
The Thief of Bagdad: An Arabian Nights Fantasy [Douglas Fairbanks and Raoul Walsh, 1924]
The Thin Red Line [Terrence Malick, 1998]
Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories: Sauce Boy [Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, 2015]
Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories: Tornado [Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, 2015]
Time [Theodore Collatos, 2015]
Tokyo-Ga, ein gefilmtes Tagebuch. [Tokyo-Ga: A Filmed Diary.] {English-Language Version} [Wim Wenders, 1985]
Tôkyô monogatari [A Tale of Tokyo] [Yasujirô Ozu, 1953]
Tôkyô nagaremono [Tokyo Drifter] [Seijun Suzuki, 1966]
To the Wonder [Terrence Malick, 2012]
Touch of Evil [Orson Welles, 1958]
Trade Winds [Tay Garnett, 1938]
Trafic [Traffic / Circulation] [Jacques Tati, 1971]
Trans-Europ-Express [Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1966]
The Tree of Life [Terrence Malick, 2011]
The True Story of Lili Marlene [Humphrey Jennings, 1944]
Two for the Road [Stanley Donen, 1967]
Two on the Guillotine [William Conrad, 1965]
Uncle Yanco {Bilingual Version} [Agnès Varda, 1967]
Under the Skin [Jonathan Glazer, 2013]
L’univers de Jacques Demy [The Universe of Jacques Demy] [Agnès Varda, 1995]
V.1. [Humphrey Jennings, 1944]
Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot [Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday] [Jacques Tati, 1953/1978]
The Vagabond [Charles Chaplin, 1916]
Valerie a týden divů [Valerie and Her Week of Wonders] [Jaromil Jireš, 1970]
Veep: Season 4 [Armando Iannucci, et al, 2015]
Violent Saturday [Richard Fleischer, 1955]
The Virgin Suicides [Sofia Coppola, 1999]
Viskningar och rop [Whispers and Cries] [Ingmar Bergman, 1972]
Un vivant qui passe [A Living Being Passing Through] [Claude Lanzmann, 1997]
Vous n’avez encore rien vu [You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet] [Alain Resnais, 2012]
Wedding Crashers [David Dobkin, 2005]
Welcome to New York {Complete 2h 5m cut} [Abel Ferrara, 2014]
We’ll Find Something [Casey Gooden, 2015]
Western Union [Fritz Lang, 1941]
While the City Sleeps [Fritz Lang, 1956]
While We’re Young [Noah Baumbach, 2014]
Whiplash [Damien Chazelle, 2014]
Wild Canaries [Lawrence Michael Levine, 2015]
Wild Orchids [Sidney Franklin, 1929]
Wild River [Elia Kazan, 1960]
The Wind [Victor Sjöström, 1928]
The Winds That Scatter [Christopher Jason Bell, 2015]
W/ Bob and David: Season 1 [Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, et al, 2015]
Woman of the Year [George Stevens, 1942]
The Woman with a Whip {aka ‘Forty Guns’} [Samuel Fuller, 1957]
A Wonderful Cloud [Eugene Kotlyarenko, 2015]
Woyzeck [Werner Herzog, 1979]
Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast] [Seijun Suzuki, 1963]
You and Me [Fritz Lang, 1938]

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Her Wilderness


"In the sound of a few leaves"




I came away from my first viewing of Frank Mosley's 2014 feature Her Wilderness nonplussed, questioning whether its tack wasn't to formulate clichéd (albeit good-faith) provocations à la recent 'experimental' microbudget cinema. I expressed my frustrations to Frank, and he responded with a spirited, articulate defense of his picture. And why shouldn't he? Every film should speak for itself, but when a director gets put on the spot, he should be able to stand his ground, say, "Think what you will, and take what you will from my telling you this was my impetus — ..." After that I watched it twice more: which is all it took — both times I thought it was a terrific film. I asked him why he chose to describe the picture as an experimental narrative, that wasn't he only pigeon-holing himself or leading the potential audience, or rather potentially drawing only a certain sort of audience. He replied that if anything, it was more of a way to pre-emptively alert festival programmers screening the submission that they shouldn't dismiss it from having a place in their series.

For me, one of the most impressive aspects of the movie has to be the sound design and mix. It's as though all the voices in the film exist as their own entity, as though sonically the film registers as 3D in 2D: voices as an element of a foreground plane: existing at once in a vacuum but also liberated: body and soul disassociated, and in this separation, a clarity of their unity. You might think of Her Wilderness as a Joe Frank radio episode playing on top of the images, or, indeed, set to images.

The vibe of the movie and, I think, its general theme share an affinity with one of my favorite R.E.M. lyrics: "Whispered with calm, calm: 'Belong.'"

Vignettes interact: late at night or early in the morning a woman teases electrocution suicide in a bathtub after calling a male co-worker she's obsessed with, waking him up from sleep next to his pregnant wife. Her mother slips off a ladder propped against a house while she argues on her cell with the man she left a first husband for. All throughout, a little girl wanders lost in a labyrinth of trees that at last opens onto presumably the same lake shore that borders the older woman's property. A lightning storm erupts; this has been the weather of late: a fuse blew the lights out in the married couple's home.

The child is the avatar —

Water, suicide, birth, death, blood-pressure, yoga, sleep, coffee, eggs, flip-phones, electricity. Rain falls, shadows play on the wall, tree leaves dapple the sun, candlelight flickers on the ceiling above the tub, as soft light flickers cross the face of a wife. An extraordinary opening credits sequence streams for five minutes as letters slowly emerge upon stark white leader as though embossed — the full list of participants atypically placed at the front of the film so at the picture's end all that remains is a cut to white and a fade to black.









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Like so many others, I'm really excited about the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens on Thursday/Friday, and I've got my tickets for Friday afternoon. I even tuned in for the live feed of the red carpet premiere in Los Angeles on Monday evening at StarWars.com. It was fun, but there were strange technical difficulties beyond buffering that made what seemed to be an already awkward interview with George Lucas just that much more bizarre. (If viewing from a computer, click to view on YouTube, as Blogger technology is ten-years outdated and won't scale the embedded-version to the content area.)



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