Julie Andrews Appreciation

I have two daughters and Mary Poppins has been the perfect Christmas movie for years.

Of course I saw the Archetype in Mary, the Disturber :

  1. Mary Poppins & Teorema & My Uncle : Stories of Revealers
  2. Bifaceted Mary Poppins

 

There’s another happy family in holidays typical movie : The Sound of Music. She doesn’t fit in religion, then she takes care of a family of 7 children and a military father, bringing fantasy, fun, art and music and freedom in a ruled and disciplined world, making everything explode, like a free democrat happy elf in a “obey the law” tea party.

 

These two movies can make you think. Andrews represents arts and freedom and laughters, breathing life into rules and order, that’s right. But it’s not that simple : it’s not a Democrat wizard laughing in a GOP frowned white men (though it sometimes really looks like it – Von Trap is a soldier and Mr Banks works in… a bank) : Andrews is VERY English, almost aristocratic, and if she’s magic (Mary) or a free happy spirit (Maria), she breaks rules with a bit of order (cleaning rooms, learning songs). She refuses to obey the whistle, but she’s never a tramp. That’s interesting, like every bifaceted person.

Well, she saved both fathers, right? One from greed, the other from sadness…

 

More : I’ll go on in December watching other diamonds with Andrews : Darling Lili, Star, the absolutely crazy Thoroughly Modern Millie, the hilarious and bitter S.O.B. and Victor Victoria.

I’m amazed (and a bit in love) with this Archetype : crazy but capable of work, rules breaker, but in order to build something, socially very smart but a breaker of closed doors and forbidden things (like having tea, floating in the air, or climbing trees with children).

Climb trees and gather shells, silly!

Disobey and don’t break the law, but the stupid rules, yes!

Thanks Julie.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

PS : Watch Modern Millie, OK?

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Wes Anderson, Edouard Manet and modernity

You remember, I wrote articles about Manet and modernity, here :

In brief : there was a period in Art when artists really stopped hiding it’s a painting. For example, they were not afraid to show the brushstrokes anymore.

Valéry says : some works of Art want you to dream, others want you to THINK.

Today I read an article about Wes Anderson‘s movie Isle of Dogs, which is an animated film.

The author says that there are two types of animated movies :

  1. One tries to mimic natural movements, tries to make us forget what we see is the result of photographies in a row, a “reality effect”.
  2. The other one shows characters as objects or puppets, it brings the audience to the reality of… making. A little cloud of smoke does not hide it’s a little bowl of cotton.

This second “way” (which is Anderson’s way, of course) is exactly the way Manet paints (and after him, the impressionists)… and then…

Another poetry comes from that, you can almost see the animator’s hand. Why do we prefer “this” poetry?

Thanks for reading!

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Sense of Space in the movies

I read an interview of Brian de Palma, in a magazine, a special issue about crime/thriller movies.

De Palma explains that he loves to film crimes, mainly for two reasons :

  1. Each crime has a witness, and he’s interested in the process of showing a witness.
  2. It a great game of directing possibilities, building suspense or having fun with image storytelling.

In a way, it’s already the subject of an article : here, he’s not really interested in the bad guy’s mind or motivations. And the victim(s) : not really either…

Then he tells us about the stairs scene in The Untouchables. Something like : “Someone will get killed in a station, let’s have fun with a complex suspense scene with the big stairs, adding other people and a baby carriage”. De Palma tells that it’s complicated, with many people and points of views involved, therefore he had to “explain” the scene, the space, the stage, very carefully… to the audience.

And it was a funny way to play with the iconic carriage/stairs scene of Eisenstein’s Potemkine!

 

I have three names in my mind when we talk about the sense of space in the movies : John McTiernan (Die Hard), Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai) and Brian de Palma. They take care of us, spacely talking. It can be with a map, a way of moving the camera, light, but also the way people look at each other (the house in the forest, in the 13th warrior, is a great example).

When you’re aware of that, you have one more criterion in your toolbox when you judge a scene. For example, in the end of Alien 3, we don’t understand the alien trap at the end, it’s confusing.

Do you have other directors in mind? And in other areas, like photography or teaching, in museology or music, what would be the “sense of space”, the “I take care of the audience, I want people to have a map in head before and during action”?

 

The tool I extract here is :

If De Palma likes crime not for the crime but for the images possibilities it gives him…

If I often like Art “not mainly” for beauty, for the paintings, for the photographs or for the poems, but for the words the artist says about them…

In other fields, what could it be?

When you love something not for the “normal” reason, but for the “à côtés”, the side issues, the interesting words besides, the…

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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04

Logan, X-Men, Avengers & Levers

I love movies, I love De Palma & Kazan, I love Welles & Bergman, and I love these US Big Machines with Jedis and Superheroes too!

Yesterday I watched Logan, a Wolverine movie, and I was amazed by its… tone.

First, it’s been directed by James Mangold, who made the hilarious and perfect Knight & Day, the great Walk the Line, the stressful Identity, and more : this little jewel of Copland.

Good, very good director.

Logan is a surprise for Mainstream X-Men like movies lovers : it’s dark, complex, much more violent, risky, and full of great ideas.

It’s not as easy as “I broke the toys”, though Charles Xavier is old and Alzheimerized, though Logan is not “repairing himself” that much.

That movie sweats intelligence in every scene. The diner is perfectly played. The horses scene is delicate. The casting is marvelous (the albino, the little mutant girl).

 

It brings me to this pattern :

When you have big success with mainstream big things, like Star Wars, Avengers, how do you move forward?

 

One good thing is to pull out big show-offers and smart pants makers to entrust these big projects to… good directors, who made personal intelligent things before.

  • Give Logan to the man who made Cop Land.
  • Give Rogue One to Gareth Edwards who directed Monsters.
  • Give The Last Jedi to the man who directed Looper.

 

But one can see something happening : Levers Choice.

Marvel tried these :

  1. Reboot the thing, like they did twice with Spiderman. And why not?
  2. Get bigger. From Iron Man to the last Avengers with dozens of heroes…
  3. Butter up idiots & geeks with vulgarity and puns : Dead Pool (it worked!).
  4. Drive to complexity, more adult themes & concerns : Logan.

 

Well : it’ll be interesting to follow…

Thanks for reading!

 

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Signs of Bad Signs II : Movies, etc

One day I heard an interview of F. Luchini, a French actor, who explained that in the beginning of a love story, he gave a rendez-vous with his lover in Paris, in a street, in front of a theater, and when he saw her coming, she was wearing an ugly scarf, so ugly it became comme un caillou dans sa chaussure, like a stone in his shoe : for the rest of the day he couldn’t really focus, and in the end… he knew this relationship would be impossible.

I found it pretty rude – everybody makes mistakes (like wearing anything cheetah for women or like sandals & socks for men). But it was probably a good symbol for what happens – with more subtleties – in all beginnings.

In love stories : bad faith (“I’ve never said that!”), playing the victim, not really listening, lies, a will to change you, greed, constant gossips, wearthercocking, etc… It’s an interesting field to study – including our ways of being blind in front of it!

Signs of Bad Signs : our shades of narcissism

A few days ago I watched Mary and the Witch’s Flower, a Japanese animated movie, the first one from a new studio (founded by guys from Ghibli). I was pretty happy to watch it, and then… bad signs, in a row :

  • The first one is the script. Here you are with characters you don’t really care about, in a story you constantly want to sigh about.
  • The second one is : they stole everything they could from the Master (Miyazaki) : a redhead character (Ponyo), a girl/witch with a broom and a cat (Kiki), a way to watch nature, a weird old principal (Chihiro), etc. Add the “school for wizards” and a mark in her hands (not on her forehead, haha), and you sigh more and more.
  • The third one is very small, and it’s been the worse : useless pressing dialog. For example : In the night, Mary is in her room. She hears a strange noise outside. She turns her head towards the window, and says “What’s that strange noise?”. PFFFF sorry if I roll my eyes but not sorry. Miyazaki would have never allowed that. Show, don’t tell, silly!

Bad signs are signs you have to stop the movie you’re watching. It’s your instinct and your experience talking to you. Therefore I did stop the movie.

And then all the questions about bad signs :

  • Can we sort them in categories?
  • Is it unfair? Can we be wrong?
  • After a first bad sign do we switch on our alert probes? To check & detect more?
  • Can we be lured? On purpose? Bad signs as manipulation?
  • Do we disguise “it’s to difficult for me” into bad signs?
  • What is it “to insist despite of bad signs”?
  • When does our brain stay blind?
  • Bad signs in a love affair, in fandom, in business, in a job interview?
  • Resistance to change?
  • Detection : instinct or intelligence?
  • What if you’re prisoner with bad signs around?
  • Something bad… but no bad signs at all. What the?

Hmmm… are there real, unfailing, solid bad signs? Like, well, sandals & socks?

OK, THAT is impossible, right?

Thanks for reading!

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Jazz your creativity (the cinematographer’s example)

I’m watching a GREAT documentary about cinematographers, named “Cinematographer Style” (it’s there : https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0847474/ and it’s 7.1 on IMDB, which is not bad at all if you know what it means).

110 of the world’s top cinematographers discuss the art of how and why films look the way they do.

What impresses me is that the director trusted the WORDS of these cinematographers (yes, directors of photography, the guys responsible of the image in movie making) so much that he never shows extracts of movies. You just have these geniuses talking about what they do.

And they’re clever, they’re smart, they’re THINKERS!

Something emerges of this :

There’s a dance between :

  1. They are skilled and they have ideas and a vision and they exactly know what to do.
  2. They adapt, they watch “the moment”, what the city gives, what the actors give, what the sun or the clouds give. They are opened and they dance with the necessities and what happens.

I also love these guys because they lecture us the splendidest way, and they’re always dancing with two sides of reality :

  1. They are artists but they are technicians
  2. They use natural light and artificial light
  3. They have a strong personality but they have to follow the director
  4. Thinkers but practical

Well, that’s all. Watch it if you find it and have fun : apply their words to your field. Learn from them. And if you’re interested, watch the films they worked on!

It made me happy, because they are generous thinkers…

Thanks for reading!

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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.