Cinema/Reality 1: Ici et Ailleurs (Jean-Luc Godard/ Anne-Marie Miéville, 1970)

Posted in Anne-Marie Miéville, Cinema/Reality, Ici et Allieurs, Jean-Luc Godard on July 1, 2013 by anubhavbist

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Palestinian revolutionaries are caught on film discussing the uncertainties of resisting Israeli forces in an upcoming battle for Jean- Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s documentary Jusqu’à la Victoire (Until Victory). However neither Godard or Gorin knew what the revolutionaries were actually saying as the filmmakers didn’t know the language. At the end of the day, their words didn’t matter; it was the image they really wanted.

Much of the images Godard wanted for Jusqu’à la Victoire, which had been commissioned by Al Fatah, had already been written done before he even landed in the Middle East. Both he and Gorin had the project already outlined, with story boards, abstract scenarios, and various texts to use throughout the film (ranging from Palestinian poetry to political slogans) already written down in a spiral notebook. Godard’s commitment to his notes often created difficulties during the shoot, from his unwillingness to film spontaneous moments to constant misunderstandings when trying to get Palestinian soldiers to perform some of his texts and scenarios for the camera. But the filmmakers had an agenda and weren’t all that interested in straying from their original plan. Sadly none of this would matter as the Palestinian revolutionaries’ uncertainties became a reality in the form of the Black September massacres. With the film 2/3 complete, the political climate in the Middle East had become more heated than either director could have imagined. Most of the Palestinians Godard and Gorin had filmed and spoken to three months prior were killed. The grim reality helped put an end to Jusqu’à la Victoire and profoundly change Godard’s outlook during his brief revolutionary period of filmmaking. All of this would be evident four years later, when he completed his essay film, Ici et Ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere).

Godard would resurrect much of the unused documentary footage, however he made sure this project would be nothing like Jusqu’à la Victoire. Godard was left feeling very uncomfortable with the footage of Jusqu’à la Victoire especially after having it accurately translated. After finally discovering what the Palestinian revolutionaries were really saying, Godard was motivated to make something new with the leftover footage. Working this time with Anne-Marie Miéville, on what would be their first major collaboration through their newly formed production company Sonimage, they set out to create a film about “filming history” rather than just a film about Palestine. The idea was to take a more critical look at the way the political issues were being covered by not only the media, but also by Godard in his last few films. What remained of Jusqu’à la Victoire served as a key point of reference in Ici et Ailleurs, constantly reminding the viewer, and probably Godard himself, of the how the issues can easily be missed. Rather than using the footage shown in the Ici et Ailleurs to serve as an honest documentation of what went on while Godard and Gorin were in Palestine, Godard and Miéville chose to acknowledge and expose the manipulations and reconstructions behind the images. By the last act of the film, the viewers are finally introduced to the Palestinian revolutionaries from the image above with a dialogue between Godard and Miéville playing over them. Miéville translates their conversation while an Godard’s noticeably shaken and saddened voice can only express the disappointment of the reality behind it:

Godard

“I remember when we shot this. It was three months before the September massacres. It was in June 1970, and in three months, the whole little group will be dead. What’s tragic, in fact, is that…here, they’re talking about their own death. But nobody said that.”

Miéville

“No, because it was up to you to say it. And the tragic thing is, you didn’t”

If Jusqu’à la Victoire was, above all else, a failure to capture reality, Ici et Ailleurs is Godard’s attempt to find reality from that failure. Here may be the most honest and straightforward representation of this. Throughout much of Ici et Ailleurs, Godard speaks about the trouble of an image‘s sound being “too loud” that it “drowns reality.” In other words, any semblance of truth the image may have carried was lost in the overall political or ideological framework of the film. This of course speaks not only for Jusqu’à la Victoire, but any of the abstract agit-prop films made by the Dziga Vertov Group. As this particular footage, all off which appears to be one long uninterrupted static take, plays, it is absent of any conclusion drawn from the filmmakers. Instead, they engage in finding a proper conclusion. Godard can only reflect on the tragic circumstances that fill the four year gap between Jusqu’à la Victoire and Ici et Ailleurs, and consequently the lives of those Palestinian revolutionaries.  However for Miéville, it’s the course of action not taken. By this point of the film it’s clear her voice has established itself as the more dominant of the two, making it all the more important for her response to Godard is as scathing as it is. If documenting history is given as much weight as the history itself, it makes sense that the auteur is held responsible when ignoring the reality behind the images that are filmed. The result is a truly profound moment because Godard accepts that responsibility.

Top Ten of 2012

Posted in Top 10 with tags , on January 19, 2013 by anubhavbist

While compiling my list of personal top ten, I came to a realization that many cinephiles did when putting together their list: 2012 was a pretty disappointing year for film. To me, it was a year marred by overhyped blockbusters, a frustratingly unoriginal output from the “indie” scene, a weaker than usual crop of Oscar bait, and finally, and most disappointingly, not enough noteworthy art house films. To make things a little more difficult, I had to disqualify a lot of great films I saw this year because they weren’t 2012 world releases. This included William Friedkin’s best film in decades, Killer Joe; Terrence Davies’s deft adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play, The Deep Blue Sea; and probably the hardest to omit, Richard Linklater’s masterfully crafted black comedy, Bernie. Each were technically 2011 films, and if I were to redo my top 10 from last year, they would all make it.

But as disappointing as the year has been as a whole, I still saw my share of really good films from 2012. But before we begin, I decided to add an eleventh spot:

11. The Work of Paul Clipson (US)

Another Void (Paul Clipson)

Avant Garde filmmaker Paul Clipson had such a great year that I felt it would be doing a great disservice not mentioning his works (many of which can watched on his vimeo page: http://vimeo.com/user2911089/videos). A few highlights include: his beautifully composed city symphony Absteigend, his collaboration with musician Alex Cobb Ladscape Dissolves, and the epic super 8 collage Another Void (described as “Orpheus meets the bird with the crystal plumage,” though I couldn’t help be reminded more of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey). The only reason this failed to crack my top ten was because it wasn’t honoring everything Clipson had done this year and not one particular cinematic work. Nevertheless, I encourage anyone to check out his work vimeo or, if you have a 16mm projector, rent his work from Canyoncinema.com.

Now, lets go to the top ten:

10. ParaNorman – dir. Chris Butler/Sam Fell (US)

ParaNorman (Chris Butler/Sam Fell)

This was easily the most pleasant surprise of 2012 and one I feel should have garnered more attention. Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell have crafted a horror inspired animated film that also serves as a fantastic story about intolerance. Laika Inc, the animators behind the excellent Coraline from 2009, provide the stop motion animation while the always great Jon Brion provides one of the best scores this year. Overall this was a solid year for animation: Wreck-It Ralph showed that Disney doesn’t always need Pixar’s help to create a good 3D animated film and The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare may have been the best thing series has done since Season 9. However, ParaNorman takes the cake.

9. Holy Motors – dir. Leos Carax (France/Germany)

Holy Motors (Leos Carax)

Carax’s returns to filmmaking after over decade since his last feature, Pola X, with arguably his finest film. An elegy of sorts to an older era of studio filmmaking, Carax’s film follows Monsieur Oscar, an actor working in a futuristic Paris, spends the day being driven around in a limousine and working nine jobs, which are basically nine performances. While the movie’s ending didn’t work for me as well as it did for others, Holy Motors still contains some of the most mesmerizing cinematic moments I’d seen all year, including a phenomenal green screen segment and two of the best musical sequences in years. It also doesn’t hurt to have Denis Lavant giving the best male performance of the year.

8. Thursday till Sunday/De jueves a domingo – dir. Dominga Sotomayor Castillo (Chile/Netherlands)

Thursday till Sunday (Dominga Sotomayor Castillo)

Dominga Sotomayor Castillo’s film contains some of the most intelligent filmmaking from a first time filmmaker I’ve seen in some time. This subtle and beautifully crafted road film shows the collapse of a marriage through the eyes of their 10 year old daughter. I believe Castillo has established herself as a talent to watch out for and hopefully many will think the same when this film is released some time this year.

7. The Master – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson (US)

The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Rarely has a great film frustrated me as much as Paul Thomas Anderson’s ambitious post-war drama, The Master. While the film doesn’t flow as well as his previous works, it’s still the most interesting film I’ve seen all year from an American director. Freddie Quell’s odyssey from war veteran with PSTD working as a department store photographer to being a high ranking member of Lancaster Dodd’s scientology like cult, The Wave, is nothing if not fascinating. The film only got better in hindsight, when a plethora of weak hollywood films were unloaded in December.

6. differently, Molussia/autrement, la Molussie – dir. Nicolas Rey (France)

differently, Molussia (Nicolas Rey)

Adapted from a book by German philosopher Gunther Anders, Rey’s film consists of 9 16mm film reels, projected in no specified order, documenting a fictional totalitarian country called Molussia. Rey plays with the relationship of image and sound, presenting Molussia’s ordinary landscapes and working day routines while unseen prisoners of the fascist state communicate through the film’s narration. The film is an exciting experimentation on cinematic narrative and one I hope will be screening again this year.

5. Amour – dir. Michael Haneke (France/Austria/Germany)

Amour (Michael Haneke)

Since the beginning of the 21st century, few filmmakers have been as consistently thought provoking as the great Austrian auteur, Michael Haneke. His newest film and the winner of the 2012 Palme D’or is no exception. This almost voyeuristic look into the lives of a couple in their eighties, and the tragic circumstances that befalls one of them, is a masterfully crafted work of cinema that will surely test a viewer emotionally. Some online bloggers have gone as far as to say it belongs in the torture porn genre. It’s emotionally grinding for sure, but it’s also Haneke’s most gentle and affectionate as well. The love between the main characters, played brilliantly by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, help provide the film’s humanity.

4. Dream and Silence/Sueño y silencio – dir. Jaime Rosales (Spain/France)

Dream and Silence (Jaime Rosales)

One of the few cinematic treasure I was able to stumble upon in 2012, Jaime Rosales’s new film is a powerful portrait of grief and loss. However this family drama will surely divide it’s audience: The narrative is rather fragmented, with many isolated scenes working together to make up of collage of moments in a life rather than a flowing story, and the very raw power of the film may leave the viewer emotionally drained (though in the exact opposite way of Haneke’s Amour). Rosales also takes a unique stylistic (or non-stylistic) approach to capture a certain authenticity: Every thing was shot in one take, with much of the dialogue being improvised. Even the way Rosales handles the biggest moment of the film may be a little controversial (though I found it brilliant). Again I don’t want to give too much away. Hopefully when, or if, it gets to the states, cinephiles will give it a chance.

3. Barbara – dir. Christian Petzold (Germany)

Barbara (Christian Petzold)

Few directors working today can create an atmosphere better than Christian Petzold. His talent was evident in his entry of 2011’s wonderful film series Dreileben (which he did with filmmakers Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler) and even more so in 2012 with his newest film, Barbara. It’s a wonderful film  set in East Germany in 1980 about a female doctor released from incarceration, trying to find a way to escape to the West. Petzold is able to create the right amount of suspense and paranoia to keep the viewer on the edge of his seat while also providing an excellent character study and moral drama. Not once does the film resort to cliches or force manipulating cues to milk emotions from it’s viewers. It’s an all around phenomenal example of intelligent narrative filmmaking.

2. On Death Row – dir. Werner  Herzog (US)

On Death Row (Werner Herzog)

Werner Herzog’s mini-series may be my favorite documentary of his from this century. Four episodes, each about a different murder case: Hank Skinner, James Barnes, two of the Texas Seven (Joseph Garcia and George Rivas), and Linda Carty. On Death Row could be seen as a complimentary piece to his 2011 documentary, Into the Abyss, but I believe this series is far and above the superior work of cinema. Herzog doesn’t attempt to make an anti-death penalty propaganda documentary (though he makes his stance on capital punishment clear before each episode), but instead creates intimate narratives, each with captivating interviews. This is a masterpiece, plain and simple.

1. Cosmopolis – dir. David Cronenberg (Canada/France/Portugal/Italy)

Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)

There was no film I watched more times in 2012 than David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. After my first viewing, I didn’t know what to make of it. I loved the style, but had trouble sinking my teeth into the substance. Then after a second screening I appreciated it more, finding myself enjoying the hyperreal DeLillo dialogue. Then after a few more viewings, I had no trouble saying it: David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis was the best film of 2012. Adapted from Don DeLillo’s novel about Billionaire Eric Packer’s odyssey for a hair cut in New York City, Cronenberg’s film finds a nice balance between the Cronenberg of the old and new. All of his favorite themes are here, from the fixation of the body (Packer’s obsession with his “asymmetrical prostate”) to technology becoming an extension to oneself (Packer and his limousine), yet Cronenberg’s execution echos his more recent restrained and mise-en-scene heavy films, like Spider and A Dangerous Method. But what I respected most about this film was the fact that it stayed with me after my initial viewing like an unreachable itch. It made me want to re-watch to get a fuller understanding of the work. Thats something very few films did this year.

Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg) pic 2

Introducing….Beyond the Genius of the Sea!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2012 by anubhavbist

Hi everybody! I apologize for the long stretch of inactivity on the blog, but I promise I’ll be back with more film essay, especially as Winter approaches. But while I get back to a normal writing schedule again, I have a new a blog up called “Beyond the Genius of the Sea.” It’s a blog dedicated to my random thoughts on art (not only limited to film).

The link to my first post is below:

http://anubhavbist.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/bosch-on-film/

Please check it out and leave a comment!

Frampton arriving to Blu-ray

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2012 by anubhavbist

One of the great talents from the structual film movement of the 60s as well as the one of the finest avant-garde filmmakers ever will have his work be in the Criterion Collection and on Blu-ray! Being released as A Hollis Frampton Journey, the collection includes his magnum opus Zorns Lemma, as well as piece from his works Magellan and Hapax Legomena, including his masterpiece (nostalgia). Sadly a few essential works, but I can’t complain. Criterion already have Brakhage to their catalog so the addition Frampton will be  second member of the vastly overlooked American New Wave in their collection. Hopefully this will be the begin a trend of important avant-garde filmmakers getting the high quality treatment ( films from Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, Maya Deren, Kurt Kren, James Benning, etc.)

For more interest in this great filmmakers works, go to the link below:

http://www.ubu.com/film/frampton.html

Top Ten of 2011

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 by anubhavbist

While I can’t say 2011 was a banner year for cinema, especially considering how phenomenal of a year 2010 was, I will admit I saw a decent amount of great films and enough interesting films to round out a pretty good top ten list. During the start of the year I wasn’t too pleased with any of the new films the year had to offer but was happy to see some of my favorite films from 2010 get US theatrical releases. The second half was a little better but only because I had all of December to focus on finding and watching good films. Once I sorted through the many duds, I actually found myself having to make tough decisions on which films weren’t gonna be in my final ten. Sadly these were the ones that failed to make the cut:

The Future – dir. Miranda July (United States/Germany)

This was a film that got it’s share of criticism, much of which I didn’t understand. Sure there are moments where the film may feel cloying at some points with it’s quirkiness (a talking cat, new age hipster lifestyle, stopping time) and the character do often come off as narcissistic, but the film, and July, are aware of all this and even agrees. The film’s strengths are in the ways it’s able to shift from quirkiness to sadness. Though it may look like just another cheap Wes Anderson rip-off with mumblecore sensibilities, The Future is actually able to balance it’s whimsy with a genuine feeling of heartbreak. Richard Brody compared Miranda July with Marguerite Duras when he wrote about the film (he even listed it number 1 for the year). It’s an interesting comparison and worth noting that July is no afraid to bring a very literary aspect to work or let it go into darker and more psychological areas.

Kill List – dir. Ben Wheatley (UK)

Audacious isn’t a strong enough word to describe this film. Wheatley’s Kill List may be the hands down most interesting film I’ve saw in 2011. This isn’t to say its a particular good film, but it’s one that is nevertheless thought provoking. Combining aspects of occult horror and gritty kitchen sink drama to a story about two hit-men, Wheatley turns what could have been another routine exploitation film into a fascinating and violent allegory for Post-Blair England. This is a chilling film and one that I suspect to be a cult hit in a few years.

The Innkeepers – dir. Ti West (US)

Ti West is the most exciting filmmaker working in the horror genre today and his follow up to his cult hit House of the Devil proves it. Doing his own version of the haunted house story, taking place during the final days of The Yankee Pedlar Inn where the employees take on the persona of “ghost catchers,” West once again shows that the importance of a good horror film relies more on atmosphere than on nonsensical violence. Its my pick for the year’s best horror film and one I’m afraid may be get overlooked.Be sure it doesn’t.

Crazy Horse – dir. Frederick Wiseman (France/US)

It’s pretty incredible to think Wismen has been working since the 60s. While I believe Crazy Horse may not rank among his greatest works, its still a worth watching. Using his verité style, Wiseman chronicles the legendary Parisian cabaret club,Crazy Horse. The film does run a little too long but the dance routines are pretty spectacular and beautifully shot.

Okay now for the the ten:

10. The Kid with a Bike/Le gamin au vélo – dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne (Belgium/France)

The Dardenne brothers’ portrait of a disillusioned youth struggling after being abandoned by his father is an achievement that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Structured like a fairy tale but filmed in their usual gritty documentary style, the film is able to present it’s narrative that avoids sentimentality and cynicism. I’ve seen few films this year that are able to deliver as many emotional sequences, especially the final 20 minutes. The brothers also get one of the years best performances from young Thomas Doret.

9. A Dangerous Method – dir. David Cronenberg (UK/Germany/Canada/Switzerland/France)

It took two viewings for me to fully appreciate and understand the depth of Cronenberg’s newest film. Arguably the greatest genre director ever, Cronenberg takes on Masterpiece Theater/historical film, but in the usual Cronenberg fashion, ignores the genre’s usual trappings.stead his film’s drama alternates from intense debates of philosophy, psychology and dreams, all while hinting at the era’s prejudices and class differences (as well the eventual horrors to come from them). Following the triangle relationship between Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein, Cronenberg explores the birth of psychoanalysis. Understated and deeply personal, I imagine this is the film Cronenberg has been waiting his life to make and I’m glad hes the one to do it. In other hands, the film could either have been just another boring historical piece or one that was too interested in scandalous nature of the story.

8. Dreileben – dir. Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf, Christoph Hochhäusler (Germany)

I’m a little surprised that this ambitious film project didn’t get the attention it deserved, but then again maybe I shouldn’t be. The Berlin School has kinda gone unnoticed in the west but hopefully that will change, especially when you consider projects like Dreileben. Consisting of three films (Beats Being Dead/Etwas Besseres als den Tod; Don’t Follow Me Around/Komm mir nicht nach; One Minute of Darkness/Eine Minute Dunkel) by three of Germany’s most acclaimed filmmakers, the series presents three inter-locking stories tackling one terrifying incident with each director taking different angles. Its an interesting experimentation on narrative and is successful because each film stand alone representing different aesthetics and director trademarks. I’m not sure when or if this will reach the states but make sure to catch it hen it does.

7. Carnage – dir. Roman Polanski (France/Germany/Poland/Spain)

I’ve heard and understand the criticisms for Polanski’s Carnage and yet I don’t mind them. I wont go as far as putting this film above the Ghost Writer, the director’s incredible political thriller from 2010, but it does have an incredible charm reminiscent to his older work. Setting everything in an apartment, reminding us of the director’s accomplished Apartment trilogy as well as his 2010 house arrest, the film showcases the director’s greatest talents as well as those of his four stars. Telling the story of two New York couples meeting about a fight that took place between their two boys, we are shown the facades of each character slowly crack revealing their true natures. I can admit this probably isn’t as good as many of the director’s greatest achievements (I’d probably put this at the level of Death and the Maiden) but a minor Polanski is still better than 90% of what I saw this year.

6. Pina/Pina – Tanzt, tanzt sonst sind wir verloren – dir. Wim Wenders (Germany/France/UK)

Has anyone else been wondering what happened to Wim Wenders? The quality of work has dropped off substantially since the 80s and, unlike Werner Herzog (the only other active New German Cinema filmmaker) has had trouble staying relevant. I’m not sure where his newest film, Pina, stands among his best films yet but I can say it’s the first time I’ve actually been excited about a Wim Wenders film in a really long time. Wenders’ tribute to German dancer, choreographer and teacher Pina Bausch is equal parts documentary, musical and avant garde experimentation. Its a truly joyous work and Wenders follows the trend with recent film-making greats like Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and Ken Jacobs to bring an artistic eye to 3D technology.

5. A Separation/Jodaeiye Nader az Simin – dir. Asghar Farhadi (Iran)

Winner of the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, A Separation is easily the foreign film favorite this year ad for good reason. Its intelligently written, its well acted (Peyman Moaadi is fantastic as is the child actresses), and represents some of the strongest film direction in 2011. Descried by Farhadi as “a detective story without detectives,” he makes us the witnesses in a dilemma that has no right answers. There is a mystery in the story but what is emphasized are the characters and the problems in Iranian society. It works very similarly in the way that Nicolas Ray presents the crime in his 1950s masterpiece In a Lonely Place. And like that great film, A Separation is a truly emotionally draining. It’s also one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

4. The Miners’ Hymns – dir. Bill Morrison (US/UK)

Bill Morrison may be one of the ten best American filmmakers working today and The Miners’ Hymns is proof of this. Using found-footage images of the mining communities of Northeast England, Morrison’s film spans decades, it’s at once a celebration and elegy to coal-mining culture in the city of Durham. Accompanied by a haunting score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Miners’ Hymns is a wonderful cinematic experience.

3. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia/Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da – dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey/Bosnia/Herzegovina)

This existential search for a dead body is one of the finest films I’ve seen this young century. Director Ceylan proves that he may be the heir apparent to Michelangelo Antonioni and his deconstruction of a police procedural provides more mysteries than it actually solves. This is a film that was made for multiple viewings and I plan to write a longer review later this month.

2. The Turin Horse/A torinói ló – dir. Bela Tarr (Hungary/France/Germany/Switzerland/US)

Bela Tarr’s swan song is his best film since his epic Sátántangó. In a year where many filmmakers filmed their own versios of the end of the world, Tarr’s apocalypse, or anti-genesis, trumps all. Following the final seven days of a father and daughter (and their horse), Tarr and his frequent collaborators, novelist László Krasznahorkai and partner Ágnes Hranitzky, create one of the most tragic portraits of a Godless world. The direction is pitch perfect, with one of the most haunting final shots ever. Few final films truly sum up a director’s career. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, Joris Ivens’ A Tale of the Wind, and Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire were able to achieve this. You can add The Turin Horse to that list.

1. Tree of Life – dir. Terrence Malick (US)

Yes another end of the year list topped by Malick’s epic metaphysical and polarizing masterpiece. Comparisons to Kubrick’s 2001 are inescapable but really the greatness of Malick’s film is the coming of age story inside the grandiose art house experimentation. While I love the Malick’s version of the big bang, maybe the greatest cinematic interpretation of it since Brakhage’s Dog Star Man, the human story is the real draw. Hunter McCracken and Brad Pitt give two of the best performances of the year as the son and father. This ambitious project, one that has been years in the making, may be the greatest film Malick has ever made. Knowing hat, Tree of Life is nothing if not the movie of the year.

Outer and Inner Space

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2011 by anubhavbist

Outer and Inner Space – dir. Andy Warhol (1965; US)

Both prophetic and original, Andy Warhol’s cinematic deconstruction of his most iconic superstar’s portrait remains one of the seminal, if not underappreciated, masterpieces of the 20th century. The work is presented as a double-screen installation where two projectors screen two 16mm film reels of Edie Sedgwick being interviewed next to a large television monitor playing a pre-recorded videotape of her in another interview. In many ways it’s an extension of Warhol’s famous 2D multi-image portraitures. Warhol offers us four Sedgwicks total, two captured on video and two captured on film. Outer and Inner Space represents not only one of the first examples of video art, but also one of the first works to effectively combine video and film formats.

Throughout the piece Warhol flattens the image so we see the face of Sedgwick’s “live” self, positioned in front of us, next to her “televised” self, sitting three-quarter profile facing left, so that both appear together to be the same size. This arrangement creates an effective visual illusion that would work seamlessly if it weren’t for the noticeable television flicker and occasional noise that temporarily distorts Sedgwick’s “televised” profile. Yet this evident difference between Sedgwicks is what makes Warhol’s piece so fascinating, as both are framed as opposites in conflict with one another. The “televised” Sedgwick, filmed with high quality Norelco video cameras, illuminates from the screen but rarely reveals any emotions; her image is that of a statuesque beauty. Compare that with the “live” Sedgwick, elegantly photographed on 16mm with distinct shadows cast on her face, showing as much character as possible when she speaks; moments of her laughing, making animated gestures and taking a drag from her cigarette help bring her to life in front of us. This visual juxtaposition plays perfectly into Warhol’s continuing artistic study on media and celebrity facades.

But while we do get to see Sedgwick at her most playful, it’s impossible not to take in consideration what would take place only six years after the completion of the piece; Sedgwick’s death at the age of 28. Much had been documented of the Sedgwick’s socialite status and deeply troubled past, dubbed affectionately as the “poor little rich girl,” to her eventually fallout with Warhol and subsequent troubles with drug abuse. This makes the ending of Outer and Inner Space all the more tragic. Watching Sedgwick continue her interview while the image of her “televised” self slowly deteriorates to static before finally disappearing all together, serves as a sad yet perfect illustration of what would be Sedgwick’s eventual downfall after her departure from the factory.

Oscar in Review

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2011 by anubhavbist

Last year I decided to take some interest in Oscar coverage mainly because  I had seen all the films nominated and a good number of the nominated films were in my top 25 including the number one spot (the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece A Serious Man). Sadly this year, only one film was good enough to include in my top ten (Pixar’s fabulous Toy Story 3) but it wasn’t high enough to make me care to cover the whole show. But there was still enough in me to actually watch the event. So I’ll began with what I thought was bothersome about the night:

The Hosts:

While I think James Franco and Anne Hathaway are fine at acting, I don’t think they had the necessary comedic chops to actually make the jokes work. It started with the lazy opening sequence that basically just edited together scenes from the nominated films in a “humorous” way rather than actually making an enjoyable parody. The jokes were far too conservative especially compared to the edgy and brilliant work done by Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes. However James Franco’s facial expressions did make me chuckle only to sigh, remembering that the fact Franco accepting hosting duties might as well be the Academy (and him) saying out loud that hes not gonna win. To bad because he gave a good performance.

Memoriam:

While I enjoyed the Lena Horne section but, as a film enthusiast, I would have saved Dennis Hopper and Arthur Penn for last. Both were instrumental in the arrival of New Hollywood and one could argue that they were responsible for the two most important films to jump-start the movement (Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider). Again I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but it would have been a stronger way to go. Also where was Corey Haim?

Director:

One change which I though was just downright stupid was lacing the the Best Director spot before the Best Actor and Actress. I will not accept this. The Director should always be before Best Picture because the Director is the highest on the food chain; they are the artists of the piece (I’m sure this will be disputed by some but I stand by my opinion). Its disrespectful to the director and I hope to see it changed for next year.

Godard:

I was already disgusted by the change of having the honorary Oscar presentation taken place outside of the ceremony but I had a full year to get over it. While I was excited that they wrote their wrong of finally giving Jean-Luc Godard the Oscar he deserves, it was a little deflating to see clips from the Governor’s Ball. It was even worst to not even see a picture when they showed the three other participants on stage. Well anyways he didn’t have a comment to spare for the Academy either.

Winners:

I didn’t think the King’s Speech was actually gonna win the top spot going in, but the Oscars did a terrible job hiding their decision during the ceremony (especially the final movie montage with the monologue from the film playing over it). I guess I didn’t have much to yell about with the film taking the top spot even though I thought Toy Story 3 was by far the best film of the ten with the Social Network being the runner up. I still thought it was disrespectful to have that montage playing and all the other signs of Academy love for the King’s Speech.

Fincher:

I remember back in 2000 when Gladiator took home all the top prizes outside of the director’s spot. While I despise Gladiator as a film and believe it to be one of the worst winners ever, I felt it was even worse to see Ridley lose. If you’re already going to award the cruddy film all the big award, why not just give Ridley Scott a Best Director Oscar? Did Steven Soderbergh do such a brilliant job directing Traffic that he needed to get the Oscar over Scott that year? If I remember correctly it was Ang Lee who got the most praise for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by the critics. Hell I thought Stephen Daldry did the best job of the five (or four because Soderbergh was nominated twice for some reason). But no, Ridley lost yet another chance at an Oscar because the Academy believed that Soderbergh deserved the trophy more for some reason or another. Now I know how the Academy works and I know they aren’t above giving a great director (or anyone at that matter) an award as a sort of life time achievement for a film that is obviously not his/her best work. Ridely Scott might not be considered a great filmmaker in some people’s eyes (if anyone reads this blog or knows me knows that I’m not one of them) but I believe he has made enough great films to at least be worth a phony Oscar; And if you don’t want him to award him that then give it to a director that’s worthy of the award. I personally felt this was the case for David Fincher this year. The Social Network was not a bad film at all and in no way deserves to be compared to the tragedy that was Gladiator (I cant say the same for his Oscar winning Curious Case of Benjamin Button), but it was in no way as good as the filmmaker’s other works. I hold his work from the nineties like Se7en and Fight Club (which was in my top ten of the Allan Fish’s nineties poll) at such high regard and believe Zodiac to be one of the greatest films ever and easily the best serial killer film since M. His last two nominations really don’t exemplify the director’s best work but if I was to see Fincher win an Oscar I would have rather liked to have seen it with The Social Network. Seeing Tom Hooper win instead brought up the same feeling that I felt in 2000 and has made me feel that Fincher is in the same boat as Ridley Scott; A director that will most likely never get an Oscar.

Now that all that’s all taken care of, its time to talk about the good of the night:

Sorkin:

Aaron Sorkin wrote one of the wittiest and best structured scripts of the last ten years and deserved the win. Sometimes its just nice seeing someone writing dialogue that is actually smart and no one does it better than Sorkin. Its the sharp writing that made A Few Good Men and The American President memorable and that made the West Wing one of my favorite shows. With the Social Network, Sorkin was able to work with a director far more talented than Rob Reiner and produce a film that was one of the strongest American films of the past year. It was also great to seeing him give a wonderful speech that was, really, the highlight of the night for me.

well that’s gonna be it for my Oscar rant for the year. Please comment!