Thursday, April 28, 2005

Short Takes on a Few Directors

- Vittorio De Seta. MoMA retrospective in February. If his other films are as good as Bandits of Orgosolo and Almost a Man ... this will be a momentous "discovery" for American (or at least New York) cinephiles. Mark my words.

- Richard Fleischer. Only a little bit into my research and I've already got 1500 words on him (for the Film Journal's upcoming feature). The preliminary verbosity mostly comes from a discussion of auteur politics and theories that I'm trying to get a definitive opinion on.

- Chris Marker. He's not Ozu or Ford, so I don't think I can claim him as my "favorite" filmmaker ever. But it's quite possible that he's the most important one. I'll be writing a paper on his work this weekend. Something on the economy and discourse of images (hey, you in the back, don't roll your eyes!), and I haven't decided for sure if I want to most deeply examine his work on cinema (Vertigo in Sans soleil; Tarkovsky; Medvedkin) or his work on political events (Grin Without a Cat). More on that soon, probably.

- Tunde Kelani. Is Agogo Eewo (at BAM in a few weeks) worthwhile? Apparently it's a sequel (to a film I definitely have not seen).

- Rogério Sganzerla. I may get to finally see a film of his soon. Will definitely report back on that, if and when it works out.


Jaime said...

I thought you didn't like Marker's ARSENEVITCH?

ZC said...

I wasn't a huge fan when I first saw it at the Tarkovsky retrospective a few years ago. (I don't remember actively disliking it though.) When revisiting it in a class I liked it much more, perhaps because I was more comfortable with its very modest parameters.

Jaime said...


Check out the Marker installation at MoMA! I'm not sure how I feel about it right now, but it's definitely a Marker work, more in line with REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS TO COME (in its study of images during and following the Great War) than SANS SOLEIL and artist-specific docs like ARSENEVITCH, others.

It seems to be about things breaking apart. Images that are destroyed and cast in amber at the same time: he uses digital effects to "render" vintage photographs that are probably from the WWI era (but may not be) just as his friend in SANS SOLEIL tweaks televisual images of warfare with his "Zone" machine. Also the bank of monitors emphasizes divisions throughout the duration of the video loop (approx. 19 minutes), and one of the key visual motifs, aside from the photos and from bits of TS Elliot's THE HOLLOW MEN, is the enlargement of word parts and small words; "-ing," "re-," "not," "fin-," you get the idea. Its subject seems to be not so much the images of WWI and the images evoked by Elliot but the act of "acting upon history" with words and images.

Anyway, if you *do* end up focusing on SANS SOLEIL, or whatever you do, please see the installation because I want you to look out for the VERTIGO in-joke. Which may not really be a joke: it has to do with the scene where Scottie sees Madeleine in the museum, sitting on a bench, considering a painting with the patience of a film viewer, or someone watching installation video loop. Towards the end of the loop - I wish I could remember the name of the installation - there's a shot of the back of a woman's head, her hair done up like Madeleine's, and the angle is practically identical to the shot in VERTIGO from Scottie's POV. What's alarming is that, at that very moment, after you've deciphered the photo as being a VERTIGO reference (as it has the same charcoal color and texture as the rest of the stills), you realize that you've been linked both with Madeleine-watcher and Scottie-watcher...and what does this have to do with TS Elliot and World War I? I don't know yet, but it's got possibilities!

(And I still have to get you those tapes. E-mail me and tell me if you're still in NYC or not.)

I wonder what Chris Marker is thinking about these days - an eighty-three year-old man must think about death from time to time, and, born in 1921, and having started as a quasi-Nouvelle Vague bosom buddy with Resnais, Varda and others, he's recently made three or more thoughtful considerations either of WWI or afterwards.