Exploration of explorers’ works. Let’s Robert Altman & Werner Herzog, for a while

“There’s hope but not for us”, said Kafka. I don’t know why I think about this when I think about Robert Altman (in fact, I exactly know why…).

Cut prices time, I just bought an American big book about Altman (the director or M.A.S.H.) :

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I remember being amazed by the choral qualities of the splendid Nashville or the toxic Short Cuts (weaved from R. Carver’s short stories), being bored (but couldn’t stop watching) with The Long Goodbye, the modernity of Three Girls, the sound of McCabe (and the snow), laughing with MASH, the cruelty of The Player or Prêt-à-Porter.

I also remember that I ALWAYS loved reading about him and his work. You can not label him. He explores.

Googling “Best Robert Altman movies” leads to good pages. Article or comments give elements :

  • Let’s face it. You either “get” Altman or you don’t.
  • Pretentious asshole who’s work was so far removed from the wrapping of “genius” that his siciphants and fans labelled.
  • It’s hard to rate Altman’s films because you need such different criteria for each of his films to be fair.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson has frequently testified to Altman’s influence on his work.

 

https://www.indiewire.com/2014/10/robert-altmans-top-15-films-190632/

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/ten-must-see-robert-altman-films/

Yes, there’s a hopelessness in Altman, and Nashville is an American one…

 

Well also I watched Burden of Dreams, about Werner Herzog‘s movie Fitzcarraldo. I was amazed by the will of this man (on the left photo). His gaze. His German strength. A crazy will, a gorgeous, beautiful willpower.

Thus I’m downloading all his best documentaries. Here are some on IMDB :

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls066303643/

 

(I won’t go in the jungle, but I’m interested in this guy’s obsession – astronomer/astronaut, remember?)

 

Exploration of explorers’ works. This will be an interesting summer…

 

 

Have a nice day!

 

 

There’s ALWAYS hope
it’ll never end
when it’s worth it, right?
It’s all about willpower.

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A vanished searching energy?

As you know, I’m watching documentaries about movies.

I’m finishing a good one turning around Hitchcock & Truffaut (the French director interviewed the old master for days, and made a book of it).

It became like a Bible for many directors we see in the doc, like Fincher or James Gray.

I came to a place where people like Martin Scorcese and Paul Schrader (who wrote plenty of good films, see : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Schrader ) talk about Hitchcock’s movie : Vertigo – which is a masterpiece!

In the seventies, before VHS tapes or DVDs or the Internet, there was a time when it was virtually impossible to watch the film.

Then they talk about the greed, the big hunger it triggered in movie lovers’ heads. This movie was a myth, something like an invisible treasure…

Nowadays, everything about culture is everywhere. A movie? You can buy it, rent it, stream it, watch docs, read online. It’s a great era for thinkers and explorers.

Therefore, people lost “this” hunger.

I talk with “movies lovers” kids, but most of them don’t know about the old masters.

I personally (I think) managed to keep this hunger. Sometimes I want to push the younglies : listen to Stravinsky, watch Bergman, read Faulkner! Well, nope.

The questions become :

Should we transmit this cultural hunger to new generations who don’t care? How? How come curiosity almost died as soon as everything is online, from University articles to YouTube videos? In a way, that’s what I do here : trying to trigger a few grams of curiosity. Does it work?

PS : Maybe the hunger is living elsewhere. Video games for example. And it works pretty well with smart marketing : Beats headphones as a good example (an average became THE thing people wanted to buy because…).

Thanks for reading!

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Best Documentaries about Cinema, Actors and Film Making

I can’t wait to watch the HBO Documentary about S. Spielberg. This impatience made me thought about great other documentaries about cinema I watched before.

Here a some you could stream one day. I know them, they’re GOOD :

  • Stanley Kubrick, A Life in Picture (awesome)
  • Hearts of Darkness : A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991) (flabbergasting)
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture (about a Paramount producer)
  • Listen to me Marlon (built around the voice of Marlon Brando)
  • The Cutting Edge – The Magic of Movie Editing (I ADORED this one)
  • Cameraman : The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff
  • Fellini : I’m a big liar
  • Dangerous Days : Making Blade Runner (very, very good)
  • A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
  • Room 237 (really fascinating theories about The Shining)
  • The Beast Within : The Making of ‘Alien’

I googled to find more docs with good notes (or on “every” list), I will check soon :

  • Side by Side (digital or not?)
  • Visions of Light (about Photography in movies)
  • Directed by John Ford
  • American Masters Episode: Woody Allen (Sydney Lumet, too, I think)
  • Burden of Dreams (Herzog & Kinski in the forest)
  • Final Cut: The Making of Heaven’s Gate and the Unmaking of a Studio
  • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
  • No Subtitles Necessary : Laszlo & Vilmos
  • Billy Wilder : confessions
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • Lost in La Mancha
  • That Moment : Magnolia Diary
  • Cinematographer Style
  • The Godfather Family : A Look Inside
  • Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau

 

Have fun!

JP

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Where to apply modernity?

Reading my Jeff Wall book I found this little paragraph about certain movie directors who were modern (and even avant-gardist) BUT in a tradictionnal form.

Fellini, Bergman, Rohmer, Bunuel, Eustache or Fassbinder, making movies with this idea :

Putting modernity pressure not on the form itself, but elsewhere, on elements of the classic form.

Each example is very clear, when opposed to Jean-Luc Godard, who killed, enstranged, deformed, distorded, dented the classical forms of movies : experiences on the sound, narration, superposition, edition.

“Rule Breaking Films” (you can YouTube this) are interesting ALSO to find out (and list and sort) where modernity has been applied.

Kaleidocopic (Persona), surreal/casual (8 1/2), jazzyist jumcuts (A bout de Souffle), no sets (Dogville), refusing artificial dramas (Patterson), watching the camera (Pierrot le Fou, Monica, Do the right Thing) : you’ll find your own examples with Google.

 

Anyway, what’s interesting me here is this tool :

Apply modernity, break some rules, push avant-garde elements. OK, but what if on some places only, letting the rest totatlly “normal”?

Where? Poetry? Photography? What’s your field? How will you choose your “element”?

 

Thanks for reading!

JP

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Films with gathered disillusioned friends?

Films with gathered disillusioned friends?
(The Big Chill & Peter’s Friends to begin)

They were friends, they gather, they talk. Things burst. Disillusions. Memories. Mistakes. It’s a good subject, and I’d like to study the way writers treat this matter. Thus :

I had the idea to ask this question on a Facebook group page (“Cinema, mon amour”) then in another one (“The Empire Magazine Group”) and got a few answers. I present here the greatest ones (more than 7/10 on IMDB) :

 

The Big Chill (1983) : A group of seven former college friends gather for a weekend reunion at a South Carolina winter house after the funeral of one of their friends.

We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974) : Gianni, Nicola and Antonio become close friends in 1944 while fighting the Nazis. After the end of the war, full of illusions, they settle down. The movie is a the story of the life of these three idealists and how they deal with the inevitable disillusionments of life.

Peter’s Friends (1992) : Six former college friends, with two new friends, gather for a New Year’s Eve weekend reunion at a large English countryside manor after ten years to reminisce about the good times now long gone.

Career Girls (1997) : 2 young women reunite and rekindle their friendship after having said goodbye at their college graduation, six years earlier.

Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979) : Seven former college friends, along with a few new friends, gather for a weekend reunion at a summer house in New Hampshire to reminisce about the good old days, when they got arrested on the way to a protest in Washington, DC.

84 Charing Cross Road (1987) : True story of a transatlantic business correspondence about used books that developed into a close friendship.

We have many in France :

Le péril jeune (1994) : Ten years after their Upper Sixth, Bruno, Momo, Leon and Alain meet together in the waiting room of a maternity hospital. The father of the awaited baby is Tomasi, their best friend at that time, who died one month before due to an overdose. They remember their teenage, their laughs, their dreams, their stupid pranks… Through the pasts of the five main characters, a description of the French youth in the middle of the seventies.

Les petits mouchoirs (2010) : A near-fatal accident leaves one friend in the hospital while the rest go on their annual vacation. But their secrets and personal grief threaten to drive them apart.

Mes meilleurs copains (1989) : They are the best friends of the world. Five friends who shared everything: may 68, hippies years, the rock and their love for Bernadette. This Bernadette has left them to become a rock-star, and is back 15 years later for a weekend. Jean-Marie Poire describes with this movie the portrait of a generation with lots of humor served by excelent actors.

La quarantaine (1982)

 

Thanks for reading!

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“Clean Mud” : Game of Thrones against Come and See

One should not compare these things!

Battle of the Bastards is the S06E09 of Game of Thrones, 2016, full of Awards and watched by almost 8 millions people on HBO the first day. There are spoilers here so beware.

Come and See is 142 minutes 1985 Soviet “war drama” film about Nazi’s atrocities in Bielorussia.

One should not compare these! Therefore I do.

Drama, war, mud, enemies, and cruelty. In both films!

I don’t watch TV Series, but watched The GoT episode with a grin : actors are well hair styled, seem satisfied, the mud is pretty clean, and I’m pretty sure they have great dry warm underwear under their fur coats.

But with a smile, because I’m a guy and I loved 300 and Lord of the Rings and Gladiator, therefore I have fun like in front of a Video Game Trailer : wings of arrows, swords and flying blood, giants and other catapultings of balls of fire. Geronimo!

So : I watched this, afflicted by the obvious smugness of all these well fed actors, sorry to see Mr Snow falling in a trap exposing himself in the no man’s land, facepalming with the happy cavalry charge at the end – which saves the day (I waited the John Ford bugle call but they didn’t dare).

I noticed the esthetics efforts : views from the sky, slow motions, silhouettes, walls of shields, but I couldn’t stop imagining this battle led with real mud/dirt, good actors, some Bisleyic exaggerations, or showing how horrible is that kind of battle. If was like made for teens, right? I’m probably too old for this. Probably I forget it’s from a heroic fantasy book.

Oh, I didn’t talk about “Come and See”. I won’t, it’s too much. I just put a photograph.

Thanks for reading!