Movies : an in between modernity mess

There’s a funny dissonance I love to feel in movies : it’s when the modernity of a scenario, of dialogs, of directing is seen into what seems an “old form”.

It’s obvious – and very disturbing – when you watch Seven Samurai (1954) or Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). The sound is old, and it’s black and white vintage, but everything sweats modernity.

It’s as if it was “not OK”, not fitting, and one wonders how the audience could watch that at the time. You feel this with all Welles movies, but also Fellini’s.

But in the beginning of the sixties, you find movies which are between two worlds : Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962), Huston’s Night of the Iguana (1964), Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960), but also Lilith (1964) or Breathless (1960), Suddenly Last Summer (1959), The Misfits (1961), L’Eclisse (1962)…

All of them are black and white movies, and you begin to watch them accordingly (“Oh a good vintage classic movie!”). And you are FLOORED by the complexity or modernity of these…

Well, this article is about this “in between” mess. The structure seems to be : “looks like an old form, but modernity explodes into it”.

Where do you find that? In literature? Photography? Poetry?

What if you searched, out of Netflix, “Best films of the Sixties”, and watch them all, just for the pleasure of discovering forms, authors, resonances, happiness? Out of the flow…

Have a nice day!

7-lon573.jpg

 

 

Advertisements

Movies, Previews, Surprises

When you’re a movie lover, you know that good movie directors hate the “tests” producers organize with films.

They show the movie privately, in a theater, then the audience has to answer questionnaires.

According to the results, then they cut and alter the movie. That’s horrible, right?

It’s pretty rare that the director has the “Final Cut”…

But this week I’ve been a little surprised by this :

Sydney Pollack, in the bonuses of “The Way We Were”, explains that the movie had a problem after he made a preview. The balance is always hard to find, but here he says that it was a failure. Thus he simply cut a few scenes, like with an axe, and showed it to another room the day after. Big success.

I supposed that if he did this, it’s because he “felt” there was a problem – which came here from the balance between the love story and the political story.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070903/

Then I read, in Walter Murch‘s book “In the blink of an eye” (he’s a great film editor – Apocalypse Now), that he was not against film preveiws. I was VERY surprised, but he explains that one should not ask the audience anything after the preview, but day(s) after, in interviews (IRL or phone).

Here’s my tool :

When you have a bold, decided opinion about something “one SHOULD NOT do, ever”, it can be interesting (or at least a game for the mind) to hear people you respect having another opinion. If you listen, you’ll discover subtleties, knacks, and delicious exceptions. After all, there’s one risk : you could expand your knowledge, or at least add a facet to it…

Hmmm, what’s the next step?

Thanks for reading!

IMG_3438.jpg

Widescreen Black & White Movies

I don’t use Facebook to follow my cousin who had a great barbecue yesterday. I follow groups where people are fun or inspiring.

In a group about movies today I found a great question :

“Widescreen Black & White Movies?”

For a cinema lover it means something, because black & white movies are NOT widescreen. Silent movies and anything before 1940s are black and white and Cinemascope began in the 1950s.

Let’s make is simple : old movies are in 1.33 format, 4/3, the shape of old TVs.

We could study… recent films shot in 4/3, like on this page : https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/lists/10-great-modern-films-shot-43-academy-ratio – like :

ida-2013-007-field-covered-with-snow-nuns-statue.jpg

But I chose the other option for my article, Widescreen Movies (the modern format) shot in black & white.

This means something. The format is modern but the director chose “no color”. It’s often absolutely gorgeous – I don’t really know why.

What did we find?

Hud, Manhattan, Lola, Jules & Jim, La Dolce Vita, The Innocents, The Hidden Fortress, Andrei Rublev, L’Avventura

You can Google it to find pages like : http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2015/20-black-and-white-films-with-the-most-beautiful-widescreen-composition/

Lola-1960.jpg

Well, it’s a funny interesting way to explore cinema with your lover.

The structure/pattern here is cool :

Where else do we find this mix : something new (widescreen) with something old (black & white)? What does it bring?

Thanks for reading!

 

 

When the pleasure is in the comparison

ONE

I just watched Seven Samurai (Japan, black & white, 1954), then The Magnificent Seven (1960).

It’s a big pleasure watching both, but each time it’s very different. Kurosawa’s movie looks very odd, because of the culture, the language and the well known Japanese actors’ intensity. The US one is much more easy and comfortable, with stars (Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner…).

But there’s a “side-pleasure” : you compare. The stories the paces, the ends, the bad guys, the fights…

TWO

Traveling! Tourists have many ways of being tourists : in a group, alone, moving around and visiting, or staying in one city (choose Paris, OK?) and walk “going whichever way the wind blows” (we say “le nez au vent” – nose in the wind).

It’s beautiful or not, deceiving or marvelous, you take pictures or you chat with your spouse. But you have to admit :

The pleasure, again, is in the comparisons game.

THREE

There’s a game I love : learning another language. It’s absolutely full of delights. Culturally. Translating. Discovering idioms. Trying to find out where translated words don’t really fit, match the other language. Finding similar words… or traitors (a library (bibliothèque) is NOT a librairie (bookstore) in France…).

It is, constantly, a game of comparisons.

FOUR

I strongly think that a big part of our inner life is linked to the world with the concept of Analogy. We endlessly get informations with our senses (about places, culture, and people, everything we meet) and then we braincompute them with what-we-already-know with analogy.

Then, we compare. Then, we decide.

This decision can be : run away, explore, smile, talk, anything.

OUTRO

Where else does it happen to you? Where could you trigger a “game of comparisons”? How is it an enrichment? Where is the effort? What about memories? Analogy with them?

Thanks for reading!

IMG_0523.jpg

 

Continue reading

Something that people were never going to pay for is not a loss.

Awwwe “Netflix may be losing $192M per month from piracy”.

Yeah you know, people share passwords, etc.

I had the response to this in my head, before reading in the thread :

“Something that people were never going to pay for is not a loss”.

Well, this is something I do understand. Do you?

I’m not attracted to Netflix or other faucets. I love movies though, and I torrent them a lot. And then if it’s good : I buy.

I don’t like the idea of faucets, in culture. I have CDs for music, thousands of books, and I own… walls of Blu-rays and DVDs. I’m old school, I’m sorry!

There are exceptions (I bought the Blu-ray box of Lady Bird, Manchester by the Sea and Phantom Thread, just because I loved the people around and read gorgeous reviews everywhere), otherwise : I buy when I watched and know it’s good.

It makes sense, right?

 

Thus, what I downloaded and disliked I, indeed, trash & never buy. It’s piracy, if you want, but it’s absolutely not a “loss” for a company.

Netflix could police, and surveil, and limit the passwords sharing, I’m sure. They don’t and shouldn’t because these “thieves” could… like what they see, and sign up later…

And as we talk about “studies”, some many others always showed this : the more people download (out of official faucets), the more they buy culture. It’s about curiosity, right?

I loved Stranger Things a lot, and I wanted to buy both seasons in Blu-ray. Nope : they don’t exist! You can buy the soundtrack, and stupid Pop Figures, that’s all (except for the Target limited edition – only in the USA). I understand it’s some kind of pressure to subscribe to Netflix, but, well, I don’t like faucets, I don’t like pressure either.

Something that people were never going to pay for is not a loss. Something that people want to pay for and doesn’t exist on purpose IS a loss.

What kind?

 

Thanks for reading!

61B8gTOHITL._SY445_.jpg

From remaking “Suspiria”

Suspiria is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento. Today it’s a classic, grandiose and glossy. It’s also baroque in many ways : decors and colors are vibrant, the music is… not to be outdone.

Considered as a masterpiece, you have today to accept its… exaggerations. If your mind plays the game, it’s a very strange delight, full of great ideas.

When I heard about a remake I facepalmed, like many other movie lovers.

I’ll watch it soon but before that, I read interviews of other directors who reacted on the new Suspiria.

  1. One saying it was stupid to remake it because the first movie was such a milestone.
  2. Another one saying it was OK.
  3. The director, saying it made something totally different, with, for example, colors “à la Fassbinder” (the first Suspiria also happened in Germany).

Tilda Swinton, actress in the new movie, told something very smart (which made me write this article) :

As the story of the first Suspiria is very light (“An American newcomer to a German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a witches coven”), it can be used like an opera libretto.

I thought it was smart. I know dozens of “Manon Lescaut” or “La Bohème”, the Puccini opera, and each time it’s very interesting to see what they do with the characters, the decor…

What does Manon Lescaut want?

I don’t know I feel this is a good tool, but I need help. How can I formalize it?

  • “When you think remaking something is useless, but you have to find a good angle to realize it’s not”?
  • “When you have to think about something in a new way (borrowing from another field) to find a new interest in it”?
  • “Once you have a core, a spirit, you can weave things around, it’ll be interesting to notice the differences”?
  • “Working on decisions : let’s keep this from the original/let’s change that”?

Tell me?

What’s the point to remake something frame by frame (like they’ll do with The Lion King)?

“Remarkable Pivots” : What can a place do in a movie?

I found a book about this subject and you know me and my habit to read the table of contents…

What can a place do in a movie?

Yes, it’s a decor, a setting, a scenery. And also :

  1. A space to travel in.
  2. A welcome cell.
  3. A remarkable pivot.
  4. A refuge.
  5. A worksite.
  6. An unshakeable fortification.
  7. A temple. A forest. A waste ground.
  8. An aseptic abode.
  9. Underground…

A combination of many of them?

Voilà. My Structure/Tool here is this :

Take any subject : photography, poetry, blogging, teaching, marketing.

List elements. In a movie : story, actors, scenery, light, sound, music.

Select one element and focus on it, then extend. Give it a much bigger importance. The best importance. What do you find? What does it give and bring?

Teaching? Focus on the tables in your classroom. Poet? What paper will you use?

Have fun! I’m now digging in the history of cinema to find movies where the scenery is the star or a house a character….

CasaMalaparte_2208418k.jpg