From “Looper” to “Star Wars VIII”

  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was directed by Rian Johnson (born in 1973). As I often like to chain the movies I watch with a link, I watched Looper… his previous film, the day after. Looper is a splendid Sci-Fi movie and I watched a long interview of Johnson in the bonuses. I discovered an adorable geek with a fast brain, capable of talking about Casablanca, Akira, who wrote, organized and directed the movie, which “delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action”, 93% on Rotten Tomatoes!
  2. I really respect and understand that the Star Wars teams wanted this guy, as they wanted Gareth Edwards (born 1975)  for Rogue One. Monsters was a haunting masterpiece (though very low budget), and his Godzilla was… really different.
  3. I have a third example : Joss Whedon. Smart father of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly (then Serenity), a great “space western”. After Cabin in the Woods, he was swallowed by Marvel Studios, directing two huge Avengers movies.

 

OK, here’s the pattern : smart directors swallowed by huge systems to make the biggest blockbusters.

Could it be a special Peter Principle?

Did we lose the guys for good cinema? Why?

 

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Long cool movies for holidays Part 1

Winter holidays are linked to childhood. I was born in 1966 and there were 3 TV channels. Three. I was happy to spend a little time with the TV magazine, to circle good films with a red pen.

Today I remember these Big Budget Long Movies, with an Intermission, see? I remember Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (“with the guy of Mary Poppins”), Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, or Dr Zhivago. These let you, as a child of this era, full of tears, happiness and energy, and I’m sure it put a strong core into me. Something like… whatever.

 

Have a nice New Year’s eve!

Thank you Elia Kazan

Elia Kazan (1909 – 2003) was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described by The New York Times as “one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history”.

His autobiography, “A Life”, is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Smart, fast, generous, complex, it made me study his films, Marlon Brando, McCarthyism, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, the “Methods” in acting, New York vs Los Angeles, the crisis of 1929, what it is to be a director, a migrant, etc…

Kazan is a controversial personality because he gave testimony before before the “House Committee on Un-American Activities”, and you can see an example on YouTube when he got an honorary Oscar at 90 years old, a few actors refused to applause him.

So, you could study this interesting struggle between what is quick-easy to judge as a “mistake”, and the huge talent of this man. I read his own book (he explains himself in many pages), I watched “On the Waterfront”, and I understood. It was like a relief…

I’m thankful today because he made me understand many aspects of the American culture, he whetted my curiosity on many other artists. I read the Arthur Miller’s autobiography just after Kazan’s book, and watched many movies adapted from Tennessee Williams (Kazan directed A Tramway Named Desire on stage and as a movie, both with Brando).

A book, and a year long travel, around this, in fact : “What is it to be a standing man?”. Thanks, mister!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Urban Cowboy, y’all

OK. As a movie lover, I knew Urban Cowboy was a good movie, but I never watched it until today.

I know something : for American people, the “South” is something, say, like… different. The accent, for example. So : imagine what it can be for… a French!

It’s a bit like all of you, but worse, you see? When I see a country music singer (with his hat), I have “this” smile. I’m sorry, but it’s VERY strange for us. Imagining to wear a cowboy hat in a joint, OMG…

One day, a American good friend of mine took a few hours to explain me country music, with the lyrics, etc. Broken hearted men, singing about sorrow, regrets and lost love. It left me in a awe (and, well, my own life was a sadness disaster at this time). I knew nothing about it all. It was interesting…

Urban Cowboy is the story of a dumb alpha male (John Travolta), quitting the family farm for the city of Houston. In a honky-tonk he meets a girl (Debra Winger), marries her, then becomes jealous of a stupid bad guy released of parole (she’s attracted, of couuuurse). Everybody rides a mechanical rodeo bull, etc.

So : East Texas in the eighties, country music and, as I saw in IMDB, “young couples without big bank accounts who have trouble getting along”.

The actors and the director manage to do something great : we, little by little, learn to LIKE these people. A simple minded sexist redneck, a dumb spouse falling for the first bad guy in town, etc. And we love them!

Well, it’s impossible not to love Debra Winger, right?

The hold of tragedy squeezes them all, and it becomes… important. It’s a good movie, I told you!

 

This is a useful tool, and a dial : don’t mock unknown cultures too fast, even if it’s the easiest path for you. Be serious, hold on, bend over, lean, study the most boring universe, and find your seeds. Little by little, I was interested in this film, and I found the music really great (lyrics included). Who will do the same with opera, or Italian classical music or Belgian literature?

Have a nice day, y’all!

 

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La Grande Vadrouille / The Great Stroll

Hi, my American readers! From San Francisco to New York City by way of Wellington, Fayetteville and Wichita, it’s SUNDAY, a special day, right? Time for a barbecue and Rosé wine, or maybe a good old French comedy classic?

La Grande Vadrouille is one of the best. It means literally “The Great Stroll”; originally released in the United States as Don’t Look Now… We’re Being Shot At!

It’s a big production, made in 1966 (a good year : I was born this year). Wikipedia says :

“For over forty years La Grande Vadrouille was the most successful French film in France, topping the box office with over 17,200,000 cinema admissions. It remains today the third most successful film ever in France, of any nationality”.

I copied pasted the plot from wikipedia too :

Summer 1941. Over German-occupied France, a Royal Air Force bomber becomes lost after a mission and is shot down over Paris by German flak. Three of the crew, parachute out over the city, where they run into and are hidden by a house painter, Augustin Bouvet, a puppet show operator, Juliette, and the grumbling conductor of the Opéra National de Paris, Stanislas Lefort. Involuntarily, Lefort, Juliette and Bouvet get themselves tangled up in the manhunt against the aviators led by Wehrmacht Major Achbach as they help the airmen to escape to the free zone with the help of Resistance fighters and sympathisers.

You’ll hear French good persons trying to speak English, fighting with a huge sense of… Frenchiness against the German occupiers… If you like The Great Race and other big budget sunny happy crazy movies, it’s for you.

Is it or Netflix or something? No idea. But if it is, give it a try!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Elbowing the Audience by killing the Suspension of Disbelief

“Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and,
instead of bleeding, he sings.”
R. Benchley

 

ONE

If you go see a theater play, you have to make a deal with yourself, even if you even don’t realize you do it  :

“I accept to believe that these people on the scene are real”

If you don’t, you’ll watch actors making as if, that’s weird, right?

This is not new, of course : Coleridge (an English philosopher) called it Suspension of disbelief :

“a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”

You watch Braveheart on TV. You need your good “willing suspension of disbelief”, and if you don’t, you will laugh all along : you’ll see Mel Gibson (Australian actor) running in a skirt, pretending to fight for Scotland, hahaha.

And in a magic act, “an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half or transforms into a gorilla in order to enjoy the performance.”. Now imagine the work you have to do to accept an opera! 🙂

OK, you got the concept.

TWO

Creators and critics are aware of that. Nathalie Sarraute, a French writer, wrote a book (The Age of Suspicion), where she says that the novels’ readers less and less believe in the author “I know all” invention, and therefore that the writers tend to depersonalize the characters. Readers are more and more also critics, they analyze their pleasure, and you have to be smart and inventive to catch’em back.

In fact, this phenomenon appeared in many Arts.

  • In theater, directors began to play with the old “suspension of disbelief” trick : keeping the lights on in the room, allowing characters to call out to the audience.
  • In novels, the “omniscient narrator” began to speak to the reader (about his doubts, or the way the story was told).
  • In movies, characters suddenly watched the spectator, talking to him (Cf Pierrot le Fou, Godard).

THREE

I found this idea in interviews of movies directors like Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and Brian de Palma. Their idea is the same, I would formulate it like that :

“I KNOW for sure that I want to make movies for an audience who is AWARE that it’s a movie. I don’t want to put them in a classical “dream mode”, but I want to play with the audience with the fact a movie is like a clock, a fake funny mechanism MADE FOR HIM, therefore I constantly ELBOW THE AUDIENCE with nods, tricks, implausible twists and turns. They have fun not because they believe it, they have fun because they know I’m here with the scriptwriter working for their entertaining intelligence – so there!”.

So what is played here is not “sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment” any more, like in the normal Suspension of Disbelief. It’s a weaving between entertainment AND logic and realism. Inside the audience, the spectator AND the critic are dancing tango, with a smile. Intelligence is summoned, not only the dreaming capacities…

TOOL :

Where would you use this? Advertising? Poetry? Marketing? What would be a private joke to an audience? What is to elbow you spectators, and how to? Why? If you succeed, what happens?

You can also read : Strangeization.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : __bodylanguage__

 

Light a fire under my fantasy flaw : Words VS Action

This article was triggered by a friend in the USA, telling me that many men from other countries asked her to visit (all this linked to love and attraction, etc…), but… “Who takes a plane to visit ME?”.

I read many interviews of filmmakers, who love to write stories and scenarios, and like to work for days on the editing process, but these directors hate shooting because it’s a compromise of their script – or at least they find it boring and complicated. You’re surrounded by a huge team who spend their time to fix problems, right? With actors who are fragile, lost, or complicated. They know they HAVE TO do it, though.

I think I’m this kind of guy. This is a flaw, and this is bad. I tend to live in a fantasy world. I like ideas, books, and metaphors. I like to say “Let’s keep it a dance”, but I don’t propose real tango lessons. I fantasize about traveling but I don’t even have a passport! I’d love to visit Luca (Italy), Yalta (Ukraine), or Petaluma (California)… and I don’t even have a car.

I’m not a doer, I’m not a strong person, I’m a dreamer and we dreamers tend to overthink instead of moving our asses. I know it can be felt as a betrayal by action people…

I should light a fire under my ass (ohh these American idioms with the word “ass”) but I don’t and won’t. Somebody could light it for me, but that’s lazy to easy to say that, right? And if I don’t move it could hurtburn my bottom, poor me! Condemned to stand up for the rest of my life…

Nevertheless, I think that you could find a sidekick lover, a partner who likes your conversation and dreaming capacities (fair’s fair), who settles in, takes their place next to you, not to become an engine or a pusher, which would be exhausting, but who knows you well enough to guess when to trigger this lever they know about. A single well placed sentence and a dreamer can become a strong action happy man. Tadaaaa.

OK, too easy, and lazy, right? It was probably…

…a dream 🙂

Have a nice day!

(Fair’s fair… I like this one!)

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