Last post of the decade.
From “La captive” (2000).
Last post of the decade.
From “La captive” (2000).
Perhaps this won’t mean much to those of you who aren’t, like yours truly, a dork for film criticism, but nevertheless: This morning the Village Voice’s J. Hoberman and the NY Times’ A.O. Scott weighed in on the latest film by Austrian director/stoic moralist Michael Haneke, the Palme d’Or-winning “The White Ribbon,” which is, as I mentioned yesterday, opening this afternoon at Manhattan’s Film Forum.
“The White Ribbon” is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, leading me to believe that it might make its way to Madison sometime within the next few months. I’m not hyping this film because of its Cannes-y credentials (those mean very little) or because I think Haneke is one of the most important artists currently working in the medium (I don’t); rather, my hope is that Madison audiences will get serious about demanding the opportunity to watch internationally renowned films on big silver screens in the capitol of the Badger State.
(Parenthetical P.S.: Hoberman is taking two months leave from writing for the Voice. Kind of a bummer. He’s one of my favorite writers and definitely a hero of mine as far as film critics are concerned. The next two months will give us ample opportunity to dig his reviews from the past decade, most of which can be accessed through Metacritic. It’s been a real pleasure devouring his work while researching my “favorite films of the 00s” list.)
From “Va savoir” (2001).
If you’re not too busy doing nothing today, might I suggest reading my reviews of “Up in the Air” and “Broken Embraces”, both of which are now accessible over at the Daily Cardinal’s website? What’s up with the larger font? I couldn’t tell ya. Anyway, I’m not BSing when I say that “Broken Embraces” was really an unexpected pleasure; if it’s playing in your area, wherever “your area” may be, jump on it.
It’s gotten to the point where it’s rather easy to hate on Almodóvar—like I said in the review, he’s responsible for some real trash, and I don’t mean that in the endearing, Warholian sense of “trash”—but “Broken Embraces” is quite an achievement. May 2010 be as strong as the end of 2009 was (with “The White Ribbon” opening at NY’s Film Forum on Wednesday, I’d say that things are looking pretty good so far).
Among the Xmas gifts that I begrudgingly accepted from my loving parents: Gilberto Perez’s The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium, which I’m ever-so-slowly churning through, though it’s hardly a seductively sticky read—and that’s A-OK by me. Here’s a taste of what Perez has to say about the aesthetics of cinematographic images (he nicely theorizes cinema as being both narrative and drama, in the same way that a photon is both particle and wave):
Neither [Siegfried] Kracauer nor the Lacanian takes proper cognizance of the screen as a space of representation. The images on the screen are neither a reproduction of reality nor an illusion of it: rather they are a construction, derived from reality but distinct from it, a parallel realm that may look recognizably like reality but that nobody can mistake for it. Their picture of reality may be convincing, but in the way fiction is convincing; we respond to the picture not as we would to reality but as we respond to the constructs of representation. The images on the screen are a representation of reality—an imitation or mimesis in the Aristotelian sense—as a novel or a play or a painting is a representation.
You may have noticed that when I’m preoccupied with other pursuits but still want to keep this blog current and flush with content, I resort to posting links to films on ye ol’ YouTube. Thus, I give you Guy Maddin’s masterpiece “The Heart of the World” (2000), a short film that, believe it or not, will figure into my forthcoming “favorites of the decade” list. I’d seriously love to know what UW-Madison’s resident über-expert on Russian cinema, Professor Vance Kepley, Jr., thinks of Maddin’s eccentric homage to Soviet montage. Enjoy.
If you’re in Madison right now and you’re addicted to cinema, you’re likely experiencing a vicious bout of withdrawal: the Orpheum is still playing “Antichrist” (which, if you haven’t seen by now, you probably never will), Sundance is still showing the same set it’s been showing for several weeks (not that it’d be less than a great decision to go see “Fantastic Mr. Fox” again), the Cinematheque and WUD Film are hibernating until late January (I’ll post a link to their schedules for the Spring semester as they become available), etc.
I wish I could say I feel your pain, but I totally don’t (and that’s not just because I watched all 4+ hours of Steven Soderbergh’s “Che” yesterday afternoon). Theaters in Princeton (my hometown and current whereabouts) are running plenty of good ones, one of which—Pedro Almodóvar’s “Broken Embraces”—may very well be the year’s best. My review of “Broken Embraces,” along with my review of “Up in the Air,” will be up on the Daily Cardinal’s website at some point within the week (presumably as soon as my editor puts down the eggnog and picks up the laptop), and I’ll post some sleek blue links to ’em seconds after their publication. Also, some other big things are on the way here at CineMadison. Sort of.
And if you’re a movie-starved Madisonian, treat yourself to a late Christmas present by signing up for the subscription plan at Four Star Video Heaven. It’s the gift that keeps giving and giving and giving and giving.
I haven’t done much if any writing these past couple days (soon to change), but I have been watching a great many movies. You require proof. Here’s a batch of stills from what is perhaps the most mesmerizing movie ever made about the making of movies, Pedro Costa’s “Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?” (2001):
Have you seen Robert Bresson’s “A Gentle Woman” (1969)? If all filmmaking—but especially Bresson’s—is essentially didactic, “A Gentle Woman” is the most effective and lucid lesson that Bresson ever taught. Its typicality is its brilliance. With the probable exception of Godard, no one in the history of cinema taught by example as convincingly as did Bresson.
Thus, I give you a series of stills from “A Gentle Woman”:
From Bresson’s Notes on the Cinematographer:
If an image, looked at by itself, expresses something sharply, if it involves an interpretation, it will not be transformed on contact with other images. The other images have no power over it, and it will have no power over the other images. Neither action, nor reaction. It is definitive and unusable in the cinematographer’s system. (A system does not regulate everything. It is a bait for something.)