American Cinema & Paths for Energy

Hello everyone. I’m reading a J.-B. Thoret book about American Cinema in the 1970s, where he uses a structure, an “interpretative framework” I will extract here for you. Could be useful elsewhere, right?

A little physics first :

Action needs energy, and obviously there are 3 cases :

  1. Perfect symbiosis : the use of the whole disposable energy allows the action to be fulfilled.
  2. More energy than possible action (or no possible action available), gives explosions or violence, uncontrolled bursts, auto-destruction.
  3. Not enough energy : loss, frustration, unfulfillment.

Then we can watch American movies with this idea in mind…

But there are questions already! Where does this “energy” come from? The history of the USA, with violence (Indian wars, Civil war, Vietnam war) and unlimited spaces to discover in the West – giving the energy a way to be “used”? The Freudian “sexual” primal energy?

Let’s find branches – strategies of expenditure… – in movies :

  • After the frontier, when the “go west” comes to an end (the whole territory is mapped), the energy has to go on moving – the birth of road movies (Easy Rider)- or has to be burned on place – the birth of horror movies.
  • The “splendid wilderness” becomes dangerous and full of rednecks and recluses (Easy Rider, Deliverance, Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
  • Too much energy becomes toxic : violence. The explosion is near (the beginning of Bonnie & Clyde, Carrie, Taxi Driver).

If the energy is spent…

  1. In France, in Pierrot le Fou, a character repeats : “What can I do? I don’t know what to do…”. Tired. Qu’est-ce que j’peux faire, j’sais pas quoi faire ?
  2. In America, she could maybe say : “I don’t know what to do any more“. Exhaustion.

Well, this is very simplistic and chaotic, sorry. Just ideas to be thrown on a table.

What about this energy, again? In single persons or in crowds, society? Groups? What about religion, or terrorism? What happens when movie people become conscious of all this and play with it (Mad Max Fury Road, Kill Bill)?

What is the triad (energy action, too much energy, not enough energy) means in Arts? In painting, poetry, photography? What about love? How to link it to Nietzsche’s Will to Power ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_to_power ) ?

http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2014/20-best-new-hollywood-movies/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hollywood

Thanks for reading!

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“Visconti without neorealism is like Lang without expressionism and Eisenstein without formalism”

Visconti without neorealism is like Lang without expressionism and Eisenstein without formalism”.

Three movie directors, with labels, right?

  1. Neorealism is often sticked to “Italian” : “a film movement characterized by stories set amongst the poor and the working class, filmed on location, frequently using non-professional actors.”
  2. Expressionism? : “a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.”
  3. Formalism? “if actions and dialogue are important for filmic meaning, the filmic mode (camera angles, editing, cinematography) itself is just as responsible for meaning.”

 

Movies todays have swallowed and more or less digested all of these.

Labels, right? Stickers. They are always interesting. You can pick one and study the sources, the influences, the evolutions (in the director’s career/in history), the exaggerations, the failures too…

A pleasant exercise is to find the other directors one put in the box (who are formalists, after Eisenstein? Hitchcock and De Palma? And today?).

Another one is to find the other words linked to it. Formalism gives : audience manipulation, for example.

You can also determine where is formalism applied. Montage? Filming? Story’s structure?

 

How is this useful? For the pleasure of analysis and sorting? Or to apply it elsewhere? Poetry? Photography?

What about my article’s title? What is Visconti without Neo-Realism? An evolution? A loss? A change?

 

In the end, what about us? What about you? If you create something, what’s the label? Why is it irritating? Or not?

Thanks for reading!

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The Mastroianni/Mitchum State

Robert Mitchum (1917-1997) and Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) were two actors. Both are known for their state of mind, which are different and similar at the same time.

They don’t give a tinker’s damn

Where? Well, it spouts from all the texts, books, articles and interviews about them :

  1. The characters they impersonate often seem… floating, or watching, rarely “intense”. See Mitchum in Ryan’s Daughter.
  2. In their relationships with directors. Fellini, for example, adored Mastroianni because he was not the “I have another question” type. He just followed. He did what he was told to do. Like a clay ball.
  3. In their work. They never seemed to work a lot. But they were ready though. Mitchum is known for partying and drinking all night, then appearing on the set in the morning almost… defeated, then giving a splendid acting work in front of the camera.
  4. In their lives.

 

This “I’m not really here” state is hard to name. Aloof sounds a bit snob, right? And indeed I don’t think it’s really a decision.

Here we also touch the Paradox of the Actor : “Do great actors experience the emotions they are displaying?”.

What are the limits of Actor’s Studio‘s methods? Mitchum was much less pulling faces than De Niro in their respective role of the bad guy in the two different versions of Cape Fear (1962 and 1991) – and Mitchum is said to be much more terrifying.

 

Is it a state of floating? Of being a “watcher”? Of being cool? Clever? Indifferent? Polite? A genius? A zen master like “I observe but I don’t judge”?

Is it a wisdom, an elegance of life, a modern, Chekhovian way of knowing that all is NOT that important, and we’ll die pretty soon, and let’s stand up cool, nothing big deal?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Intention of Effect Kills Effect

Chekhov, Fellini and Sisyphus’ lesson : “Slide, mortals, don’t bear down”

Hopper / Antonioni / Chekhov : Effects of Reality

Roland Barthes explained the “Effect of Reality” as a way to establish literary texts as realistic.

He said that some descriptions, in novels, have no other reason than to make us feel it’s a real place.

“…in one of his novels Flaubert describes the room of his main character and mentions a pyramid of boxes and cases standing under a barometer. These kinds of details are called notations by Barthes; he contrasts them with the main outline of the story, which he labels predictive, probably because on this level we can make certain predictions about the development of the story.”

F. R. Ankersmit

 

  1. We find this “tool” in some Antonioni’s movies, L’Avventura or L’Eclisse for example. A scene lasts a little to much. The camera shows something (a gaze, a street) without “real” reason. No other reason than this : suddenly you “feel” as if you touched reality, getting out of the-dream-of-watching-a-movie.
  2. We find this “tool” in Hopper’s paintings. For me, it’s his main talent, asset. We watch : some people are here, just “being” – they wait or think, who knows? These paintings stop you, wondering what these people do, if they’re bored…
  3. We find this “tool” in Chekhov’s short stories. His descriptions are not here just to “paint the scenery”, but (and very shortly/effectively) make us feel something. So much that I remember plenty of places of these books!

Of course, it’s used in many other art pieces and form.

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I think this is linked to our idea of boredom. In Antonioni we often watch someone doing nothing – breathing, watching something, thinking. It breaks the usual “flow of events” we often see in movies. Or we see a conversation leading to nowhere. Blank seconds. We see people dealing with boredom. And maybe we are hurt, of surprised, or… bored a bit. And it’s an effect of reality, right?

Sometimes it’s just “a place shown”, like in Hopper‘s work. The light on a wall suddenly makes you “feel” the place. You can almost hear the little wind, or the street, the sea. It’s as if your brain suddenly touched the reality he wanted you to feel.

 

What will we do with this? Why and how does it work? Why is it… good? What about photography? One purpose of it could be to “make us touch” reality, instead of amazing us? What do you think?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Hurt & Beguiled (by a masterpiece)

The Godfather movies (Coppola) or 8 1/2 (Fellini), Proust or Faulkner, Brückner’s 9th or Puccini, some Picasso or Manet’s paintings, some photographs, a poem…

There are many things we can feel in front of Art, from grief to enthusiasm, by way of curiosity or puzzlement.

(I had to check dictionaries to find the differences between puzzled, confused, or bewildered – it led me to… “beguiled”, which helps me here…)

A good movie or music makes you happy or entertains you. It triggers emotions. Good!

But some masterpieces hurt you, because they install in you a whole living pack of energies. Ideas, but also a big need to achieve something, to move, to act. You are… beguiled!

Suddenly you stand up and you have to do something. You got an understanding, a rush. You have a urgent need to know more about the author, or the piece of work which just floored you. It hurts!

You want to tell everybody about it, then you’re more hurt, because many people you know wouldn’t understand any of it, probably. Then you dream to lecture them, to explain!

It’s an enrichment, but also a great source of energy, which can supply you ideas and needs of informations or creativity – for months.

It happened to me, with many Chekhov’s texts, David Lean’s movies, Manet’s paintings, Eggleston’s pictures, with Visconti’s The Leopard, with Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander, with Wyatt’s Rock Bottom, etc…

This pattern is one of the sources of this blog.

What do you think? What are yours?

Thanks for reading!

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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!

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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!

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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 :

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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/

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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!

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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!

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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….

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Organic Storytelling?

Interviews between two movie directors are the best. It gets higher and it’s more interesting and complex, of course : pros are talking.

There’s an interview of Jeff Nichols (Shelter, Mud) by Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, The Age of Innocence), where they explain that they are both criticized because their movies “lack of intrigue”. In a way, like in the movies of the 70s, a more mature era…

It’s true that most movies are strongly driven by a scenario. Everything is well explained and you feel you hand held by the makers, who WANT you to think this and that, adding music where you have to cry, etc…

Nichols and Scorsese both use the same language : the narrative energy must be there of course, but it’s obtained by asking questions and answering them along the scenes, by the editing, the light, events, and their order. The movie moves forward without constantly telling you IT-IS-A-STORY. Nope : there are characters, and events (like in real life, right?) and hidden structures – of course.

The audience doesn’t “feel the author”. Their intelligence is active, and it can blossom in many ways. It gives a rhythm, a more organic one, a more unique way of unfolding the movie.

 

In French, we call Organic Farming : “L’agriculture Bio” – from biological.

The word “Organic” is interesting. It means :

  1. Without chemical (for food)
  2. Living organisms
  3. Unified (an organic whole)
  4. Flowing, natural (an organic development)

 

 

Therefore it’s a structure I love. We could call “Organic Storytelling”, in a movie, in an article, a book, a novel, a way of making things grow and evolve without the chemical (but effective, too) processes of tricks and pushes and manipulation.

 

There’s a good example in sex and pleasure : every evolved adult knows that if you can bring and orgasm to your partner (man or woman) in many ways, you can separate these two paths :

  1. In the appropriate moment, stimulations and proper movements brings your lover a good orgasm. It’s as if you were pulling a bucket of pleasure with a string, from the top of the well…
  2. And there’s this other way, where you partner gets so aroused that he/she becomes a sphere of electricity : anything can bring her/him to explosion. It’s as if the bucket of pleasure were levitating up in the well, delicately guided by you and your string, from the top of the well…

What’s the best?

 

 

Intention of effect kills effect, says the wise man, and I agree with the wise man.

With this “organic building” structure, what would be photography, painting, poetry, blogging, teaching? Do your audience really need to know what you want them to feel? Is it a good question? Hmmm need a conversation, I know…

Vocabulary as seeds : what is control here? What are propositions?

 

Thanks for reading!

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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.