Saturday, 29 August 2009


-Does anyone agree with me that Tarantino makes the same film as Joseph Goebbels?

-The only good image of the film is that of Shosanna's face being projected on the smoke of the burning theater, the screen having already been destroyed by the flames.

-Coincidentally, one of the most beautiful images of Assayas's Demonlover is Connie Nielsen being shown the proof, on a mini-DV camera, that she did indeed kill another woman. A true foray into the means of projection (cringe) in the modern world. Assayas seems to believe, and kudos to him, that digital cinema can still testify, that digital images are still worth something as images, though they are in ever greater danger of being hijacked for disembodied exploitation of suffering. Tarantino doesn't even need digital: what he did to nitrate we are now doing to Poland.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Novels and Film

Spurred by an interview in which Chris Marker recommended reading Bioy Casares's The Invention of Morel to understand cinema, I'd done that and tremendously enjoyed it at the beginning of this year. The theme of the exteriorisation of memory was of course straight up Marker's street, but of course he had a point, and the book can be a useful tool in thinking about cinema, especially (I find) it's documentary aspects: what it keeps for posterity, as a whole set of gestures, attitudes, practices that are not only filmic but historical as well (to use an obvious example, why Feuillade has become so important again recently).
I'm wondering if Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller might not end up having the same effect. The way it playfully approaches readership, authorship, the construction of narrative as something the audiences does, I think deserves to be extended to film. It might make some very good cross-reading with the Rosenbaum-Durgnat-Ehrenstein roundtable, for example.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Un monde qui s'organise en récit...

Few films I know make theirs the famous Mitry quote to as much of an extent as Miguel Gomes's Our Beloved Month of August. For the first half, only snapshots of a world, with its local heroes (who jump off bridges for money), its pop tunes, and only the faintest hints of montage devices (a song about childhood dreams playing to a firemen's truck driving by, just after a close-up of a child drawing said fireman's truck). The act of filming is acknowledged but, as will soon become obvious, not with any intention of deconstructing anything... Rather with the always patient expectancy of a narrative being born, an event described, in a scene about a third of the way through, as an almost religious miracle in the hands of the sound man (who, as the hilarious ending establishes, is symbolically to be thanked for the beauty and coherence of the integration of songs as thematic and emotional counterpoints to the narrative).
And when the film that Gomes was supposed to be filming in the first half of the narrative comes on, it is indeed a miracle: all the disparate elements that composed the first half as documentary are reconfigured as fiction, given a place that brings new meaning to the new scene and puts the initial appearance in a new light. I hope I get a chance to see this again soon. This is probably one of those films that unfolds endlessly to give you, in a modest and non-ostentatious way, humanity.

Things to look into:
Links between this and key films about narrative construction: The Wind Will Carry Us, Celine and Julie...
The use of pop songs is the best since Distant Voices, Still Lives.
And I can't remember a more beautiful first time scene in any film.