From Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven” (1978).
Archive for May, 2010
This week’s issue of the A.V. Club contains an interview with Harmony Korine that I think is worth a look if you’re at all interested in film aesthetics in the digital age. Korine’s latest, “Trash Humpers,” hasn’t made it to Madison yet, though I really hope it will (here’s J. Hoberman’s review of the film/video). There are many, many things that can be said of Korine’s provocateur posturing, but one thing you can’t say is that he fails to get critics and casual filmgoers alike talking about the existential essence of cinema and its many mediums. In the interview Korine describes the experience of being asked to explain “Trash Humpers”:
I’ve always got questions like that with all the films I make. I never feel like there’s any one point to the film, to anything, to any of the movies I’ve made. This one, it’s everything and nothing. […] It’s a collection of moments. Maybe it’s not even a real movie in the traditional sense. Maybe it’s something else. It’s its own thing. […] Everything has to have some kind of a point for people to breathe easy. What’s the point of life? I have no clue, but sometimes there are things that just attract us and pull us in a certain way.
If only the critics who panned “Film Socialisme” for its lack of an easily discerned or coherent message had Korine’s attitude about art.
Korine also comments on contemporary cinematic technology:
I always get sick of these conversations where people are so obsessed with pixels, with high definition, and even with technology in general. I find it just dull and heartless. And so I wanted to use only the worst machines. [Korine shot “Trash Humpers” on a thoroughly antiquated VHS camcorder and edited it with two VCRs.] I wanted to make only the crudest images. It wasn’t necessarily a reaction, but it was just something that felt like it needed to be done.
For whatever reason, this remark reminds me of a conversation I recently had with Madison photographer and former Daily Cardinal photo editor Christopher Guess about HD digital cameras that can shoot in 1080p (the Kodak Zi8 is my current weapon of choice). Sure, the 1080p image is comprised of a ton of pixels and often looks great on HD TVs, but is this image anymore loaded with interesting sensuous details than the images produced by older cameras like those used by Korine in “Trash Humpers”? Hardly.
Just thought y’all might like to know that Robert Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” (1922), a seemingly unavoidable and persistent point of reference in most discussions of film history, will be on TCM tonight at 7. “Nanook” will be followed by Kent Mackenzie’s “The Exiles” (1961) at 8:15. “The Exiles” screened at the Cinematheque during the ’08-’09 school year, if I’m not mistaken. It’s a stumbling, drunken, magnetic slab of verité, one that has often been compared to Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep” (1977). I tend to disagree with the sentiment behind the comparison of “The Exiles” with “Killer of Sheep,” but, then again, I’ve only seen “The Exiles” once; perhaps I’m just blind to something in it or about it that others see every time they watch either of those two remarkable films. Either way, a pair of solid (and, at 65 and 73 minutes long, concise) movies on TCM tonight.
Quite a schedule TCM’s got lined up for this afternoon and evening. First, a quartet of B-westerns starring John Wayne (this is already underway so forgive me if I decline to provide titles and times), leading up to the Duke’s breakthrough role in John Ford’s “Stagecoach” (1939), which will be on at 5. (If you can’t wait until then or if you anticipate getting stuck in traffic on your way home from work, you might want to rent or otherwise procure Criterion’s new “Stagecoach” two-disc set, which is now available at Four Star Video Heaven. All signs point to it being seriously great.)
Following “Stagecoach” at 7 is Fred Zinneman’s “From Here to Eternity” (1953), which I’ve never seen but you probably have. The synopsis on TCM’s website makes the film sound kinda bloated, overly star-powered and facilely sentimental—but again, I haven’t seen it.
What I’d be more inclined to watch is Ford’s “They Were Expendable” (1945), starring Wayne alongside Robert Montgomery and Donna Reed (who’s also in “From Here to Eternity”). “They Were Expendable” begins at 9:15. I’m sure it’ll be all kinds of macho, patriotic and poetic.
Two Ford films in such a short span of time is hardly anything to be mad at.
From Jafar Panahi’s “The Circle” (2000). Panahi, as you might already know, was freed yesterday from the Iranian prison in which he was being held; it took a 9-day hunger strike and $200,000 in bail to win Panahi’s freedom.
I just stopped by the Cinematheque’s website to see whether they’ve announced their summer schedule yet (they haven’t) and discovered this: The ‘theque is looking for a new Director of Programming. Information about the job and how to apply for it can be found in a pdf here.
If I were to stumble upon such an opportunity, say, a decade from now, I’d be all over it. Alas, the “at least 3 years of programming experience” and “experience writing successful grants and managing budgets” requirements disqualify me in a big way.
So if you think you’re up to the task and you’re dying to line up at least one more phenomenal retrospective for me to catch before I leave town, you should definitely throw your name in the hat.
Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” won the Palme d’or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” (check Daniel Kasman’s review out) won the Palme d’or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. “The White Ribbon” opened at Madison’s Sundance Cinemas in March, playing there for a few weeks before enjoying a shortish run at the Orpheum. “Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives” will open here… never would be my best guess. Write a letter to your favorite state-level politician. Below is the film’s trailer. Dig it.
To whom it may interest: Tonight at 11 TCM will be showing King Vidor’s “The Big Parade” (1925), which I’ve never seen but which looks to be worth at least a gander, that is, if its Wikipedia article is any indication. TCM’s got an especially strong week ahead of it so expect regular notices from yours truly. Until then, it seems to me that it’d be in our collective best-interest to get outside and take advantage of this deliriously good weather.