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This group is dedicated to discussing film as art from an auteurist perspective. The index to these files of posts can be found at http://www.fredcamper.com/afilmby/ The purpose of these files is to make our posts more accessible, for downloading and reading and to search engines.

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1401


From: Fred Camper
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 0:16am
Subject: Re: Re: Black and white Scope & While the City Sleeps
 
Back in those film society days in Cambridge that I've posted about
before, rental catalogues typically offered anamorphic prints of 'Scope
films as well as flat (usually masked) prints. Typically we would try to
get the anamorphic print, even though 16mm 'Scope had more than a few
problems, on the theory that the existence of an anamorphic print meant
it was a 'Scope film. So when Tim Hunter wanted to show "While the City
Sleeps," he got the 'Scope print, and that's how I first saw it. Then a
few years later he interviewed Lang and asked about his use of 'Scope in
"While the City Sleeps." Lang looked at Tim like he didn't know what he
was talking about, and insisted that the film was not in 'Scope, and Tim
looked into it and found the info about SuperScope, a process that I
think got applied to the film without Lang knowing about it. Only later
did I see the film correctly. So the people who ran the show in France
that Patrick saw knew what they were doing. I'm no expert in SuperScope,
but the page Jess posted a link to looks right.

This is just another proof of my oft-repeated maxim: when you see the
film with the filmmaker there and he says, "That was a good print
projected well," then you can have some hope that you've seen it.
Everything else is a branch of performance art.

- Fred
 
1402


From: George Robinson
Date: Thu Aug 21, 2003 11:17pm
Subject: Re: Re: Black and white Scope
 
That wasn't extraneous space.
That was James Craig.

g

Alas, where is human nature so
weak as in a bookstore?
-Henry Ward Beecher
----- Original Message -----
From: jess_l_amortell
To: a_film_by@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2003 6:39 PM
Subject: [a_film_by] Re: Black and white Scope


--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "George Robinson" wrote:
> Advise and Consent
> The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (Preminger seems to have had a real affinity for this combination)

Also the framing sequences of Bonjour Tristesse.


> While the City Sleeps (a personal favorite of mine; it was shot in "Superscope" a process I know nothing about, and I've seen it projected "flat" with no apparent loss -- can anyone enlighten me?)

RKO's SuperScope was 2:1, taken from a standard frame. (There's an explanation -- whose accuracy someone else will have to vouch for -- at http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/wingss2.htm .) I've also seen the Lang at Academy ratio with what seemed like slightly extraneous space above & below.




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1403


From: Joseph Kaufman
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 0:31am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
>As for the Lang, I've seen it in France at 1.33--I can't imagine a
>Scope frame being cropped from that. But Siegel's INVASION OF THE
>BODY SNATCHERS, another I forgot, is also either Techniscope or
>Superscope, and is always shown wide.
>
>PWC

I've heard that Siegel intended BODY SNATCHERS to be projected at
1.85, the SuperScope cropping being imposed on the film after the
fact.

One great (to my mind) b&w scope film no one seems to have mentioned
yet is LA DOLCE VITA.

Val Guest was quite adept at b&w scope, as in THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN.
--

- Joe Kaufman

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
1404


From:
Date: Thu Aug 21, 2003 8:26pm
Subject: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Vincent Lo Brutto writes:
I always feel the committment to state that these directors did not work on
their own - they had a vision, a story to tell but the contribution of the
production designers, cinematographers, music, sound, editors and other
craftspeople is enormous. Historically many critics like to downplay this contribution
as window dressing but the fact is they helped to form and create the vision
and were responsible for impacting on the narratives that have been disected for
so many decades now.

This is profoundly true!
We need to be studying all of these people, including scriptwriters, costume
designers and choreographers. Many are major artists in their own right.
Have tried to do this some in my web site articles. Pledge to do it more
systematically in the future!
This does not mean that directors are not artists. It means that film is a
very rich medium. A good film is hugely complicated and vast. There is plenty of
room for directors, cinematographers, writers, costume designers all to make
valuable creative achievements in their own spheres.
Mike Grost
1405


From: George Robinson
Date: Thu Aug 21, 2003 11:19pm
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
I saw The Innocents at a press screening for the widescreen series at the Walter Reade and I can't say I share your enthusiasm. I found it ponderous and academic, and Kerr is wildly miscast, both too old for the part and too sturdy for the character.

g

Alas, where is human nature so
weak as in a bookstore?
-Henry Ward Beecher
----- Original Message -----
From: ptonguette@a...
To: a_film_by@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2003 5:45 PM
Subject: Re: [a_film_by] Black and white Scope


"In Harm's Way" is another great one from Preminger. I also think of Jack
Clayton's "The Innocents" in addition to others already named. I think
Clayton's a pretty underrated guy anyway, so I take any opportunity to mention him.

Peter

http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html

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1406


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:15am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
Couldn't agree less Mr.Robinson. "The Innocents" is a
marvelous film , Kerr's sexual hysteria as subtly
effective as it was in "Black Narcissus." And the shot
of the ghost in the afternoon is incredibly lovely and
terrifying.

Has "The Haunting" been mentioned?

And another vote for "La Dolce Vita" -- less a film
for me than an actual event in my life.

--- George Robinson wrote:


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1407


From: Joseph Kaufman
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:26am
Subject: Re: Scope
 
>L'avventura (and other Antonioni)

Not to be too fussy, but this one is 1.85. (I just checked the DVD
to be sure.) Not to take anything away from "the beauty of its
images."

My recollection is that for scope Antonioni we have to go to
ZABRISKIE POINT, which of course is in color. (Perhaps there's a
short in one of the omnibus films I'm forgetting about.)
--

- Joe Kaufman

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
1408


From: Tristan
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:34am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
Kurosawa's High and Low, Hidden Fortress, and Red Beard.

It's nice to see someone else loves Suzuki's Branded to Kill.
1409


From: heyrocker
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:14am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
I know it might not go over so well within this particular community, but I am an enormous fan of Wilder's ONE, TWO, THREE. I was also going to mention RED BEARD, which I love, but I see Tristan beat me to it.

Speaking of Tristan, don't feel bad. I've only seen 10 of the films on Mike's list, and I'm three times your age. You've got PLENTY of time.
1410


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:20am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
> The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell

This one is in color. - Dan
1411


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:30am
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
> I watched Jean Negulesco's wonderful Humoresque last night

I love this film.

> and the
> great Oscar Levant had a speech which, although it was specifically
> addressing musicians, seems to me to define what auteurism is all
> about: "The whole point to me about an artist is the sound he
> makes. A personal sound. It's his own sound like no one else in the
> whole world . . . That's what's communicated between an artist and
> his audience. That's what you call personality. If he's got that,
> nothing else matters very much. If he doesn't, he might as well
> quit."

It occurred to me recently that maybe auteurism isn't really about
directors - that maybe the only distinguishing characteristic of
auteurists is that we want to treat movies as the work of an artist and
not as the product of a collective endeavor. It's not as if there are
any major critical groups who claim that the writer is the big cheese,
or the actor, or the hairdresser. Basically, the only two camps are the
auteurists and the "film is a collective art form" crew. If you're into
art-by-artists, we're the only game in town. - Dan
1412


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:51am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
"Le Lit de La Vierge" by Phillipe Garrel (1969)

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:
> > The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
>
> This one is in color. - Dan
>
>
>


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1413


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:53am
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
"It occurred to me recently that maybe auteurism isn't
really about
directors - that maybe the only distinguishing
characteristic of
auteurists is that we want to treat movies as the work
of an artist and
not as the product of a collective endeavor. "

BINGO!

Sometimes the auteur is the director.

Sometimes it's the scriptwriter (Prevert, Axelrod)

But most of the time it's the actor (Bette Davis, Joan
Crawford, Bogart, Cagney et. al.
--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


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1414


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:06am
Subject: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Dan, then David:
> "It occurred to me recently that maybe auteurism isn't
> really about
> directors - that maybe the only distinguishing
> characteristic of
> auteurists is that we want to treat movies as the work
> of an artist and
> not as the product of a collective endeavor. "
>
> BINGO!
>
> Sometimes the auteur is the director.
>
> Sometimes it's the scriptwriter (Prevert, Axelrod)
>
> But most of the time it's the actor (Bette Davis, Joan
> Crawford, Bogart, Cagney et. al.

I can't put myself in this camp - I don't like expressions like, "So-
and-so is the real auteur of this film." Auteurism isn't about art-
by-artists as far as I'm concerned: it's about liking the things in
cinema that are brought out by those we label auteurs -- and it's
usually the directors.

--Zach
1415


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:20am
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
> I can't put myself in this camp - I don't like expressions like, "So-
> and-so is the real auteur of this film." Auteurism isn't about art-
> by-artists as far as I'm concerned: it's about liking the things in
> cinema that are brought out by those we label auteurs -- and it's
> usually the directors.

Well, I'm a director-oriented kind of guy, and I too don't like to use
the word "auteur" outside of a directorial context. But I'm speculating
that there's a certain temperament that simply wants to look at a work
of art as a window to an artist. I'm one of those, more or less - the
idea of art without an artist rubs me the wrong way. For people like
this, the language of auteurism will probably sound pretty appealing,
even before there is a commitment to the idea of direction. - Dan
1416


From: Fred Camper
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:19am
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Well, I just disagree with a lot of what's been posted lately, or
perhaps I just have different tastes. To say a scriptwriter or an actor
is the "auteur" is fine, and I've seen poorly directed films with great
performances, but I've never seen a film in which a real aesthetic
experience, a genuine vision, was offered by anyone other than the director.

Auteurism should not be a way to make movie-fandom respectable; it
should be a tool for illuminating, and deepening, one's viewing experience.

Also, I don't have the bias in favor of Hollywood films that some have
expressed. It's fine with me if someone finds even inexpressive,
indifferently directed films Hollywood entertaining, as long as he or
she doesn't object to the fact that I like to play chess. But there are
good reasons why avant-garde filmmakers have objected to the
manipulativeness of Hollywood cinema, for example, even if their
objections greatly oversimplify and elide the key distinction between
the aesthetic manipulations of Hitchcock and the inaesthetic ones of,
oh, Alan Smithee. The generic Hollywood film offers a particular kind of
experience, with an implied (dare I say it) ideology, that is no better
than any other.

If anything, I prefer a bad avant-garde film to an entertaining but
inexpressive and poorly directed Hollywood film. Of course, this
preference will depend on just how bad, and what kind of bad, the
avant-garde film is. But with an avant-garde film one is often given a
challenging viewing experience, rather than escapist involvement in the
story, characters, and actors.

To return to some related statements earlier, I think there are lots of
differences between Brakhage and Hawks, and they surely would have hated
each other's films (well, I know that Brakhage didn't consider Hawks an
artist at all), but I think a truly unbiased view of film would not hold
a preference for any type of filmmaking, whether it be Hollywood
narrative, Bulgarian musical, a Chinese opera movie, a Canadian lyrical
film, Egyptian medical training film, or a Polish structural film -- or
a home movie, instructional film, ethnographic film, documenty. It's all
cinema, and no one mode should be considered superior to another, at
least not by a viewer trying to be as open as possible.

Of course, we all *do* have preferences. I prefer chess to checkers.

- Fred
1417


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 0:28am
Subject: Art in unlikely places, Dan's reviews
 
In a message dated 8/21/03 2:44:51 PM, sallitt@p... writes:

>And yet, even among ourselves, there's absolutely
>no consensus about which directors should be spotted and which
>overlooked.

And yet I think there is something like a consenus that these acts of
spotting and overlooking are important and should be going on all the time. I
certainly have my own set of tastes, prejudices, and biases, but I really try to be
as open as possible to everything I see - at least to the extent that I'm sure
not gonna dismiss something if it comes out of Hollywood, to respond to
Mike's post. The varying degrees of support I've seen auteurists give the
despised, utterly disreputable "Gigli" has just confirmed my long-held belief that
most auteurists feel this way too. Of course, as Dan says, that isn't to say
that anyone agrees that "Gigli" is a film which deserves to be picked up by the
auteurist mantle; it's just that we all agree, I think, that it's completely
plausible for auteurists to do so. History teaches us that this is a wise way
to proceed; there's art to be found in even the most unlikely places. And
sometimes - as in, say, Hitchcock - it's right on top, yet still not taken
seriously by the majority.

It's one of the glories, I think, of being an autuerist that you can feel
secure in preferring Fuller to Bergman or Donen to Rivette or, in my case,
placing McG's "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" on a list beside Kiarostami's "Ten."


Dan: Not sure why this just occurred to me, but have you ever thought of
placing some more of your L.A. Reader reviews on your personal site? I know that
I'd love to read your in-depth takes on any number of films released during
your tenure there.

Peter

http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html
1418


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 0:32am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
In a message dated 8/21/03 9:17:58 PM, cellar47@y... writes:

>Couldn't agree less Mr.Robinson. "The Innocents" is a
>marvelous film , Kerr's sexual hysteria as subtly
>effective as it was in "Black Narcissus." And the shot
>of the ghost in the afternoon is incredibly lovely and
>terrifying.

Glad to hear you agree, David. Neat bit of trivia: "The Innocents" and
"Lola" were released the same year, 1961. In terms of B&W 'Scope, they're as good
as any films listed thus far, in my opinion.

Straying from the topic at hand, the other great Clayton for me is "The Great
Gatsby." It's neither B&W nor, I believe, 'Scope, but makes amazing use of
compressed space via long lenses and zooms. Truthfully, I haven't read too
many of the initial wave of bad reviews, but I have the feeling that it's another
one of those infamous 'bombs' where very few mainstream critics make any
effort to read it in terms of a directorial personality. It's a sad trend when
the director is an auteur. As I believe Jonathan has written, how many
reviewers looked at "Ishtar" as "an Elaine May film"?

Peter

http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html
1419


From: jrosenbaum2002
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:34am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
First, a correction: The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell is in color.
(If you don't believe me, look it up in Maltin.)

Other great black and white Scope films:

40 Guns

The Hustler

Most of the major films of Yasuzo Masumura--including A Wife
Confesses, Red Angel (due out on DVD from Fantoma fairly soon), The
False Student, Yakuza Soldier, and many others. And Seijin Suzuki
also did quite a few.

La Paresse (Godard) (This is the only black and white Scope film by
Godard that I can think of.)








--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "George Robinson"
wrote:
> I've got a few more -- and you're right, this is fascinating stuff.
>
> Advise and Consent
> The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (Preminger seems to have had a
real affinity for this combination)
>
> While the City Sleeps (a personal favorite of mine; it was shot
in "Superscope" a process I know nothing about, and I've seen it
projected "flat" with no apparent loss -- can anyone enlighten me?)
>
> There are many Japanese B&W scope films; I wonder if the possible
explanation for this is that the anamorphic frame resembles the
scroll painting's aspect ratio and therefore is less of a cultural
oddity for a Japanese visual artist than it seemed to be for
Americans. (Remember how much Lang, Ford, Hawks and others complained
about the long, narrow image. I believe it was Ford who said it was
nothing like Western mural painting and he just couldn't compose for
it.)
>
> George Robinson
>
>
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
1420


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:47am
Subject: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Dan:
> Well, I'm a director-oriented kind of guy, and I too don't like to
use
> the word "auteur" outside of a directorial context. But I'm
speculating
> that there's a certain temperament that simply wants to look at a
work
> of art as a window to an artist. I'm one of those, more or less -
the
> idea of art without an artist rubs me the wrong way. For people
like
> this, the language of auteurism will probably sound pretty
appealing,
> even before there is a commitment to the idea of direction.

This is possible. It's not that I disagree about the nature of
trying to locate art's source within the individual: it's that I'm
not satisfied with the particular process of this locating that
you're suggesting. Most films are collective endeavors, and for a
long time since my induction into the auteurist ranks I've been
uneasy with ascribing a film to an author - I think it's a tempting
but crude reduction of the multiple (often contradictory)
sensibilities that go into making most films. I think that
auteurists statements often get made that deal with these non-
directorial sensibilities in ways I don't accept.

I think we should conceptualize a film as a long series of threads
(sensibilities put into action) and the director's line is in there:
sometimes quite overtly present, sometimes not, but for a professed
auteurist there is something that registers this through-line as the
nervous system of the film. It isn't "in charge" so much as it is
the organizing thread which the others touch -- and, around which, a
great film will ideally braid a complex and interesting pattern. A
non-auteurist might see the directorial through-line, pay attention
to it, and come up with genuinely fascinating things to say about it:
but generally s/he won't posit it as a nervous system of sorts (or
they won't unless the director's thread is too big to be ignored: a
Kubrick or a Bresson). To me this is the difference between
auteurists and non-auteurists and how we want to position the role(s)
of director and auteur in cinema.

--Zach
1421


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:50am
Subject: Scope b&w erratum, Negulesco
 
1. My mistake - Bologna, which I couldn't attend, sent me their
catalogue, and it was a plain old 'Scope series. Here are som b&w's:

The Big Trail (quibbles, anyone?), Bitter Victory and The Hustler
were shown at Bologna - I don't have the LACMA list. My recollection
is that there was lots of these - aren't Verboten, Screaming Mimi,
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Superscope, of course), The Fortune Cookie
and The Cavern wide-screen? I'm going by my recollections, because I
don't have a reference book on this. (Is there one?) I would think
there are at least some b&w scifi/horror films from the 50s
in 'Scope, including some of Corman's. None of the Jack Arnold
scifiers was, but The Tattered Dress, one of his best films, was
b&w 'Scope, in the great Zugsmith/Universal tradition.

Anyone have any thoughts on why this format is so great?

2. There's a character named Negulesco in Objective, Burma.
1422


From: Fred Camper
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:01am
Subject: Re: Scope b&w erratum, Negulesco
 
I don't think Verboten! or "The Cavern" are in 'Scope. (The phrase
"widescreen": sometimes used to refer to 1.85:1. But I've seen 35mm
prints of these two and they were not anamorphic or otherwise widescreen.

hotlove666 wrote:

>I don't have a reference book on this. (Is there one?)
>
Widescreen Cinema, by John Belton. It's got lists. I don't have my copy
available at the moment.

- Fred
1423


From: filipefurtado
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:21am
Subject: Re: Black and white Scope
 
Truthfully, I haven't read too
> many of the initial wave of bad reviews, but I have the feel
ing that it's another
> one of those infamous 'bombs' where very few mainstream crit
ics make any
> effort to read it in terms of a directorial personality. It
's a sad trend when
> the director is an auteur. As I believe Jonathan has writte
n, how many
> reviewers looked at "Ishtar" as "an Elaine May film"?
>


The only reference I have is from Damien's Inside Oscar, but
the studio was pushing heavy The Great Gatsby, and It didn't
seen like the expectations were low. I didn't like it and I
can't see much personality behind it, not that I can see much
personality in any Clayton film.

Anyway, I'm big fan of Ishtar.


Filipe

> Peter
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1424


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:33am
Subject: The Auteur Theory
 
Zach,

Those threads aren't as independent as you say. To take an obvious
example, Hitchcock controlled the contributions of others to his
films. Sometimes he would use strict methods; sometimes he would use
loose ones (the "maybe we'll get a Vermeer" story I told a couple of
weeks ago). But he was the author, and other people's contributions
were subordinate to his aims.

Then there's the guy who isn't Hitchcock - Walsh at Warners, say. I
just did a short article on Objective, Burma, during which I was able
to squeesze in maybe 30 minutes of note taking on the shooting script
at the Herrick, and I can testify that:

1) All speeches about why we fight in the shooting script were cut.
2) So was a moment where a GI reacts sadistically to the deaths of
Japanese soldiers - it's all business, with an occasional smile of
satisfaction from Flynn.
3) In the script someone asks Flynn what he'd like to be doing right
now, and he says, "I guess I'd like to see what's happening in
Europe." In the film he says, "I dunno...football game I guess."
Which means he's not psychotic (!) and tells us all we need to know
about why he's a leader of men - he probably quarterbacked his
college team.
4) Flynn went on strike in August (if you believe Higham) because all
his dialogue was giving orders, so a speech was written for his
hilltop moment, when they get there and there's nothing, and everyone
wants to give up. Beautiful speech, ending with him ordering them to
dig in - "It can always be your grave." In the film, after a brief,
colorless exhortation, he picks up a shovel and starts digging, and
they follow.
5) He is in constant movement, with no reflection. There's a
conventional "button" at the end of the script once they're on the
glider, where he and George Tobias start telling each other what they
thought of each other back on the hilltop. In the film he herds
everyone on, looks back wistfully at the jungle where his 39 dead
comrades were left, and gets on board. Next shot: a plane swoops
down, hooks the glider, and we watch it fly off. The End.
6) The big scene, when Lt. Sidney Jacobs, tortured almost to death by
the Japanese, begs Flynn's character to kill him and then dies -
Henry Hull's reporter launches into an hysterical tirade about wiping
people who would do such a thing off the face of the Earth.
(Hiroshima was 7 months away. Schickel rightly condemns the speech,
which bothered liberal reviewers at the time, in his book on war
films, but misses the mise en scene.) First of all, the screenwriters
intended Jacobs, Flynn's right-hand man, to be Jewish and to "look
it," so as to make a secondary allusion to the Holocaust, which was
widely known about in Hollywood for a year before this film started
shooting. (Shickel also missed this and makes a vague point about
this horrible speech being written by two future mebers of the Ten -
hey, we can't read all the scripts.) Someone (I assume Walsh) cast a
WASP unknown (I don't think the studio would have imposed him), so
Hull's speech falls entirely on the Japanese; but Walsh also shot
unscripted closeups of three soldiers reacting to the speech,
beginning with the very Oriental features of Captain Li, a member of
the Chinese Army who has been fighting side by side with the
commandos - that's who we see immediately after the tirade, and it's
not in the script.

I wouldn't be surprised if the fact that James Wong Howe shot OB had
something to do with that admirable anti-racist touch - Howe was born
in Canton. (God knows, Walsh had plenty to make up for after The
Bowery!!) And Howe's contribution to the film was very important,
even though RW in his memoir credits his regular dp Sid Hickox with a
fine job on this film (!). Howe also shot The Yellow Ticket, The
Strawberry Blonde and Pursued - no accident. A slow-working
perfectionist, he was given 6 months to shoot this, Walsh's first
outdoor film since Big Trail, and it's gorgeously three-dimensional
and full of little marvels of lighting (much of it "natural" -
"natural" with all sorts of body English). But the set-ups are what's
amazing - the film is constantly, subtly inventive in those choices,
and I don't think Howe was making many of them. I think Walsh was
totally inspired by being outdoors again, and he made damn sure he
had the best dp available to work with, and he went way over budget
and schedule to load every rift with (invisible) ore.

So there's your studio director, and I promise you, Zach, if every
one of those threads (including "where are my speeches" Flynn, who is
great in OB!) did its own thing with no veto/change/choice power at
the top - and a very strong person exercising it - Objective, Burma
would be a hash.

I even did an article on Arnold's The Space Children, just to see
what a director with VERY limited maneuverability does (half the
budget he was used to at Universal), and again, if you follow the
other threads and look at the points where the director intervened
and changed something, or just made a personal choice about how to
shoot it (there was a second unit for exteriors, but when Magic Time
came it was always Arnold with the first unit taking advantage of
it), you see why it's such a poetic little film. (That and things
like his direction of the kids, for which he completely ignored the
Paramount production schedule and shot in sequence - otherwise, he
couldn't have gotten what he got out of such young children.) That's
what the auteur theory is about, and looking at the other threads so
far has never made me doubt it - quite the contrary.
1425


From: David Westling
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:34am
Subject: Re: Back to "Genre" and "Realism"
 
Fred Camper:

> But there are
> good reasons why avant-garde filmmakers have objected to the
> manipulativeness of Hollywood cinema, for example, even if their
> objections greatly oversimplify and elide the key distinction between
> the aesthetic manipulations of Hitchcock and the inaesthetic ones of,
> oh, Alan Smithee. The generic Hollywood film offers a particular kind of
> experience, with an implied (dare I say it) ideology, that is no  better
> than any other.

I find Hitchcock very irritating at such moments as you describe, and it may
well be a hallmark of the "Hollywood" cinema (although one could, if one
were a bit reckless, use "bourgeois" for this term instead). I'm not so
sure there is a truly significant difference between Hitchcock's and a
lesser director's inclinations in this vein. America in particular is
absolutely hooked on straight narrative, in cinema and elsewhere, but for
some observers this seeming limitation opens doors that look out on realms
other than the "artistic". Like when Jean Arthur chastises Charles Boyer
for taking "French leave" in Borzage's _History is Made at Night_. After
all, a film made in 1937 is a window onto another world that has vanished.

> (...) with an avant-garde film one is often given a
> challenging viewing experience, rather than escapist involvement in the
> story, characters, and actors.

With avant-garde cinema what one is really looking for is a way to expand
one's already existing world in a way that conventional film doesn't have
the power to do, and it's the functional opposite to what typically happens
in a "conventional" film, where the concern for providing a familiar, even
reassuring, framework comes to the fore. Conventional narrative structure
is one of the elements in this sort of framework. One can be narrative and
avant-garde, or even the converse. But the avant-garde in cinema is still
tethered to forms that treat the narrative with suspicion. There are valid
historical reasons for this. In general, avant-garde cinema is more
concerned with the subjective experience, having its historical roots bound
up with the rise of artistic modernism, and conventional cinema is typically
more concerned with depicting "objective" reality.

> (...) I think a truly unbiased view of film would not hold
> a preference for any type of filmmaking, whether it be Hollywood
> narrative, Bulgarian musical, a Chinese opera movie, a Canadian lyrical
> film, Egyptian medical training film, or a Polish structural film -- or
> a home movie, instructional film, ethnographic film, documenty. It's all
> cinema, and no one mode should be considered superior to another, at
> least not by a viewer trying to be as open as possible.
>
> Of course, we all *do* have preferences. I prefer chess to checkers.

It makes me uneasy to see you being so multicultural. It's so hard to
generalize, a good Bulgarian musical would beat the pants off a bad
avant-garde film, I'd guess. Let a hundred flowers bloom, by all means--but
can we really afford to leave behind the idea that some things are better
than others? It's more than mere personal preferences. But I admit it's an
extremely hard argument to substantiate, to assert that some things are
better than others in a way that transcends one's subjective appraisal. But
I'm with Gaston Bachelard, who in 1935 maintained that "A psychical
revolution has surely just occurred in this century; human reason has just
weighed anchor; the spiritual voyage has begun and consciousness has left
the shores of immediate reality." Maybe a little overly abstract, but fair
enough, and a lot depends on whether or not he was right. Ultimately all
one can depend on to chart a course is one's inarticulate intuitions.
Esotericism has no words to express itself.

David Westling
1426


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:39am
Subject: B&W, Sc
 
China Gate?
1427


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:30am
Subject: Re: Art in unlikely places, Dan's reviews
 
> Dan: Not sure why this just occurred to me, but have you ever thought of
> placing some more of your L.A. Reader reviews on your personal site? I know that
> I'd love to read your in-depth takes on any number of films released during
> your tenure there.

Thanks for the interest. Someday I'll get around to scanning some of
them. Not everything I wrote back then pleases me now, of course. - Dan
1428


From: jess_l_amortell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:11am
Subject: Re: Scope b&w erratum, Negulesco
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Fred Camper wrote:
> I don't think Verboten! or "The Cavern" are in 'Scope.


Screaming Mimi, in my experience, isn't, either. But I don't think Kiss Me Stupid, Key Witness (Karlson), or (a one-time favorite) Sundays & Cybele have been mentioned (although this may be straying too far from undisputed masterworks). The split-screen Chelsea Girls probably doesn't count, but Ken Jacobs has done some work with flopped, double-screen train footage that seems to become a single Rohrschach-like image.

Re: Court Martial of Billy Mitchell. Maltin, the IMDb (which even specifies "WarnerColor"), and an Amazon VHS listing indeed say it's in color, but it was B&W at the Film Forum's Preminger retro ten years ago, or whenever that was. And that, if memory serves, was a 35mm print. What's the story? Can I get a refund?

I saw countless films at nabes and revival houses projected so wide that I always thought they were Scope, and am still discovering they weren't.
1429


From: jrosenbaum2002
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:19am
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
I think Peter Wollen said it all when he argued, in effect, that
auteurism is a reading strategy, not necessarily (or invariably) a
writing strategy. Carringer tends to get a little confused about this
when he argues that Citizen Kane was a collaborative film--something
I've got on my mind because I just did a guest lecture on the film
tonight for a Mike Wilmington course called "Visions of America".
It's true that Kane wouldn't be the same without Toland or
Mankiewicz, but that doesn't take you too far in analyzing how and
why it works the way it does. And Kael made even more of a hash of it
by calling it just another newspaper comedy, which had the effect of
turning it from an independent film into a Hollywood film--the way
most people see it today, for better and for worse.

--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "hotlove666"
wrote:
> Zach,
>
> Those threads aren't as independent as you say. To take an obvious
> example, Hitchcock controlled the contributions of others to his
> films. Sometimes he would use strict methods; sometimes he would
use
> loose ones (the "maybe we'll get a Vermeer" story I told a couple
of
> weeks ago). But he was the author, and other people's contributions
> were subordinate to his aims.
>
> Then there's the guy who isn't Hitchcock - Walsh at Warners, say. I
> just did a short article on Objective, Burma, during which I was
able
> to squeesze in maybe 30 minutes of note taking on the shooting
script
> at the Herrick, and I can testify that:
>
> 1) All speeches about why we fight in the shooting script were cut.
> 2) So was a moment where a GI reacts sadistically to the deaths of
> Japanese soldiers - it's all business, with an occasional smile of
> satisfaction from Flynn.
> 3) In the script someone asks Flynn what he'd like to be doing
right
> now, and he says, "I guess I'd like to see what's happening in
> Europe." In the film he says, "I dunno...football game I guess."
> Which means he's not psychotic (!) and tells us all we need to know
> about why he's a leader of men - he probably quarterbacked his
> college team.
> 4) Flynn went on strike in August (if you believe Higham) because
all
> his dialogue was giving orders, so a speech was written for his
> hilltop moment, when they get there and there's nothing, and
everyone
> wants to give up. Beautiful speech, ending with him ordering them
to
> dig in - "It can always be your grave." In the film, after a brief,
> colorless exhortation, he picks up a shovel and starts digging, and
> they follow.
> 5) He is in constant movement, with no reflection. There's a
> conventional "button" at the end of the script once they're on the
> glider, where he and George Tobias start telling each other what
they
> thought of each other back on the hilltop. In the film he herds
> everyone on, looks back wistfully at the jungle where his 39 dead
> comrades were left, and gets on board. Next shot: a plane swoops
> down, hooks the glider, and we watch it fly off. The End.
> 6) The big scene, when Lt. Sidney Jacobs, tortured almost to death
by
> the Japanese, begs Flynn's character to kill him and then dies -
> Henry Hull's reporter launches into an hysterical tirade about
wiping
> people who would do such a thing off the face of the Earth.
> (Hiroshima was 7 months away. Schickel rightly condemns the speech,
> which bothered liberal reviewers at the time, in his book on war
> films, but misses the mise en scene.) First of all, the
screenwriters
> intended Jacobs, Flynn's right-hand man, to be Jewish and to "look
> it," so as to make a secondary allusion to the Holocaust, which was
> widely known about in Hollywood for a year before this film started
> shooting. (Shickel also missed this and makes a vague point about
> this horrible speech being written by two future mebers of the Ten -

> hey, we can't read all the scripts.) Someone (I assume Walsh) cast
a
> WASP unknown (I don't think the studio would have imposed him), so
> Hull's speech falls entirely on the Japanese; but Walsh also shot
> unscripted closeups of three soldiers reacting to the speech,
> beginning with the very Oriental features of Captain Li, a member
of
> the Chinese Army who has been fighting side by side with the
> commandos - that's who we see immediately after the tirade, and
it's
> not in the script.
>
> I wouldn't be surprised if the fact that James Wong Howe shot OB
had
> something to do with that admirable anti-racist touch - Howe was
born
> in Canton. (God knows, Walsh had plenty to make up for after The
> Bowery!!) And Howe's contribution to the film was very important,
> even though RW in his memoir credits his regular dp Sid Hickox with
a
> fine job on this film (!). Howe also shot The Yellow Ticket, The
> Strawberry Blonde and Pursued - no accident. A slow-working
> perfectionist, he was given 6 months to shoot this, Walsh's first
> outdoor film since Big Trail, and it's gorgeously three-dimensional
> and full of little marvels of lighting (much of it "natural" -
> "natural" with all sorts of body English). But the set-ups are
what's
> amazing - the film is constantly, subtly inventive in those
choices,
> and I don't think Howe was making many of them. I think Walsh was
> totally inspired by being outdoors again, and he made damn sure he
> had the best dp available to work with, and he went way over budget
> and schedule to load every rift with (invisible) ore.
>
> So there's your studio director, and I promise you, Zach, if every
> one of those threads (including "where are my speeches" Flynn, who
is
> great in OB!) did its own thing with no veto/change/choice power at
> the top - and a very strong person exercising it - Objective, Burma
> would be a hash.
>
> I even did an article on Arnold's The Space Children, just to see
> what a director with VERY limited maneuverability does (half the
> budget he was used to at Universal), and again, if you follow the
> other threads and look at the points where the director intervened
> and changed something, or just made a personal choice about how to
> shoot it (there was a second unit for exteriors, but when Magic
Time
> came it was always Arnold with the first unit taking advantage of
> it), you see why it's such a poetic little film. (That and things
> like his direction of the kids, for which he completely ignored the
> Paramount production schedule and shot in sequence - otherwise, he
> couldn't have gotten what he got out of such young children.)
That's
> what the auteur theory is about, and looking at the other threads
so
> far has never made me doubt it - quite the contrary.
1430


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:41am
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
I think Peter Wollen said it all when he argued, in effect, that
auteurism is a reading strategy, not necessarily (or invariably) a
writing strategy.

Jonathan, could you elaborate on this distinction, or refer me to
where Wollen said it? I don't understand the point.
1431


From: Joseph Kaufman
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:00am
Subject: Re: Scope b&w erratum, Negulesco
 
Bill wrote:

>I would think
>there are at least some b&w scifi/horror films from the 50s
>in 'Scope, including some of Corman's.

Except for I, MOBSTER, I think the Corman ones were either SuperScope
(sometimes as "Superama") or "Vitarama," which I think was simply
1.85. He began using real scope in earnest with the Poe films.

In any event there were many b&w scope SF and horror films from the
1950s, including Roy Del Ruth's THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE, Terence
Fisher's THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY and Val Guest's aforementioned THE
ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN.

> None of the Jack Arnold
>scifiers was, but The Tattered Dress, one of his best films, was
>b&w 'Scope, in the great Zugsmith/Universal tradition.

Also of course HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL.

As for a general reference WIDESCREEN MOVIES by Carr and Hayes has
some notorious inaccuracies, but it does have helpful lists of films
by widescreen format.

>Anyone have any thoughts on why this format is so great?

People say b&w is more abstract than color -- so abstraction on a
wide canvas, with the attendant possibilities for myth and
emotionalism? I love the combination of b&w, scope and stereo sound,
not uncommon in the 1950s, for instance in movies like COMPULSION.
--

- Joe Kaufman

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
1432


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:15am
Subject: Costume Designers as Auteurs
 
Auteur has two meanings.
1) It can describe anyone on a film who shows consistent and creative
personal artistry.
2) Or it can suggest that the person is the author of the entire viewing
experience.
Many costume designers are auteurs in sense 1). They are very inventive, do
beautiful work that is personal and genuinely artistic.
But few are auteurs in the sense 2) - we rarely say, "boy, Adrian's costumes
were the main force behind the storytelling in the Wizard of Oz".
But we do say Adrian is a genuine artist, in the sense of 1) above. His work
with the Munchkins' costumes and other denizens of Oz is wonderfully inventive.
I think the same is true of production designers and cinematographers. They
have personal styles and do genuinely artistic work. But they are not usually
the authors of the complete viewing experience.
Probably few people other than directors are strategically placed to be type
2) auteurs, in narrative fictional cinema.
A costume designer like Walter Plunkett should definitely be considered as a
sense 1) auteur. His work is highly personal and imaginative. Just about
everyone who sees a film like The Prisoner of Zenda (1952) finds his work
jaw-dropping. His imagination can also be seen at its peak in the costumes for the
black-and-white ball in An American in Paris (1951). This is the sequence, just
before the big ballet, where everyone shows up in costumes that are in mixtures
of black and white. The costumes worn by Gene Kelly and Georges Guetary seem
close in style to those in Zenda and other Plunkett historical films
If Plunkett outdid himself with the costumes here, it was director Vincente
Minnelli who arranged these costumes into compositions and camera movements. It
was Minnelli who made the complex compositions that turn this into one of the
great "sensory overload" experiences in the cinema.
One also suspects that Minnelli sometimes fed Plunkett ideas for some
specific costumes. The two probably worked in close collaboration preparing this
sequence.
1433


From: Yoel Meranda
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:19am
Subject: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
Peter,

I totally agree with your main point in the post #1417.

I was just very surprised to see that you put Charlie's Angels on the
same list with Kiarostami's Ten.
Ten was one of the three best "new" films I have seen this year along
with Amos Gitai's Kedma and Dardenne Brothers' Le Fils (The Son).

I went to Charlie's Angels, turned on my esthetics-antenna for the
first five minutes, and then decided to turn it off so that I can at
least enjoy it for its entertainment value, which was why I went to
see it in the first place.
Do you really think there is an art in Charlie's Angels or do you
just put films that entertain you on the same list with films that
give you esthetic pleasures?

I know that there is something sublime about Lucy Liu's body but I
read too many posts of yours to assume that this is why you like the
film.

Yoel
1434


From: jaketwilson
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:33am
Subject: Videogames, Sokurov, Carpenter
 
> > Gans is a fellow critic, and
> > they also enjoy talking to him about new things like video games,
> > which he's heavily into, as they are. (PS - I'm not, but when I
> > interviewed Carpenter for the videogame issue, I learned that he
> > is. He loves Grand Theft Auto.)

A friend of mine divides Carpenter's films into 'home games' (Assault
on Precinct 13, The Thing, Prince of Darkness) and 'away games' (most
of the others, especially the two Escape movies and Big Trouble In
Little China). Much as some novels are written to be made into films,
there are definitely moments when Carpenter seems to have one eye on
a possible video game adaptation -- when Roddy Piper drops down the
manhole in They Live it's very like progressing to another level of a
traditional 'third person' shoot-em-up. (This isn't so 'new,' by the
way -- that movie was made nearly 20 years ago!)

> By the way, since I forgot to mention RUSSIAN ARK, the ultimate
> attempt at a cinematic time machine, a few posts back, I might as
> well throw out that the film also seems not unrelated to a
videogame
> a la Grand Theft Auto, albeit a malfunctioning version--that is,
> navigating a character in continuous real time without any edits.

Russian Ark also reminded me of some of those 3D IMAX 'ride' films,
where the simulated penetration of space becomes an end in itself.
'Experimentation' bound up with technology makes strange bedfellows --
could this be a clue about why Peter likes Charlie's Angels?

> But time doesn't work in Sokurov the way it would in a video game,
> and the camera (despite its technical mastery) or the Stranger are
> never able to integrate into something that can actually take
control
> of the game (history).

Not sure I quite grasp this. Do you mean that time is ultimately
under our control in a video game, since we can always go back to the
start and try again for a 'successful' narrative? Whereas RUSSIAN ARK
seems to enact an ambiguous 'cutting free' from history via the lack
of a reverse shot -- as in a dream, we move continuously from one
space and time to another, but the transitions quickly fall out of
memory since there can be no looking back*. At least till the DVD
version...

JTW
1435


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:18am
Subject: Circles in Walsh, Lang
 
Bill Krohn's post on Walsh and Objective Burma is great!
Wish there were detailed studies such as this on all Walsh films.

I also wholeheartedly agree with Fred Camper that Walsh and Hawks are great
artists.
Trying to describe Walsh's visual style in words is hard.
But one thing noticed about Walsh's films:
They are full of circles.
Example: at the end of White Heat (1949), the men all crowd into an empty
tanker. The tanker is modified cylindrical. It gives Walsh a chance to break out
into endless circular arcs in his compositions.
The use of circles in Walsh runs from his early surviving features, such as
Regeneration (1915), through many other films in his career.
It is documented in some detail in the Walsh article on my web site.
Other directors used circles, notably Fritz Lang. A paragraph from my web
article on Lang:
Many of the sets in Metropolis (1926) involve a Lang trademark, "circles
within rectangles". The huge clock like dials in the factory are one set of
circles. The father's office has a semi-circular desk, a circular window, and a huge
circular clock on the wall, all within the rectilinear confines of the room.
The Seven Deadly Sins are arranged in a circular arc. The false Maria emerges
from a giant circular box during her night club dance, a box that somewhat
resembles that of a Faberge egg. All of this circular imagery is sinister. It
anticipates the sinister circles in Ministry of Fear (1943), such as the cake,
the clock face, the astrology chart and the seance table. In both films, making
such objects circular really makes them stand out to the viewer. They become
vivid and unforgettable, even years after people have seen the films.

Walsh also uses circular objects in his films. But they tend to be pleasant,
happy objects, not sinister ones, as in Lang. (Think of the circular plate of
spaghetti in The Roaring Twenties, a favorite image from that film.) Both
directors use circular objects to make them "stand out" on screen and grab the
viewer's attention.
But Walsh's use of circles goes far beyond objects.
Circular masking devices are regularly employed in Regeneration.
Walsh frequently arranges groups of people into circles:
The kids dancing around the heroine in concentric rings in Regeneration.
The vast concentric circular crowds in Heaven in The Horn Blows at Midnight.

There is a persistent theme in Walsh of "circular containers for men":
The tankers which contain the men in White Heat.
The rocket ship in which Jack Benny hides in The Horn Blows at Midnight.
Circular bandstands for orchestras in other Walsh films.

Even when Walsh is not using circles, he tends to create large scale
"abstract geometric worlds" for his characters.
The geometric patterns formed by the power lines in Manpower.
The treasury building in The Roaring Twenties and all its huge trapezoids.

All of this is a bit of what we mean when we say Walsh has a "personal visual
style".
It is just a drop in the bucket - there is surely much, much more to be said
about Walsh's style.
The other great half of the Walsh style is his astonishing use of landscape,
in masterpieces like "The Naked and the Dead".
So far, it has been much harder to get concrete analytic ideas to express
this landscape style.
Mike Grost

PS "Loading every rift with ore" is from John Keats' letters, expressing his
goals as a poet! Bill Krohn's references to Wordsworth and other romantic
writers here really help!
1436


From: jaketwilson
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 9:51am
Subject: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
"Yoel Meranda" wrote:

> Do you really think there is an art in Charlie's Angels or do you
> just put films that entertain you on the same list with films that
> give you esthetic pleasures?

Dunno if Peter would agree, but I vote for abolishing this
distinction. Pleasure is pleasure, and high-mindedness has nothing
to do with it.

I liked Ten and I quite liked the first Charlie's Angels, but not as
much as Mission Impossible 2.

> I know that there is something sublime about Lucy Liu's body but I
> read too many posts of yours to assume that this is why you like
the film.

Let's not be coy. Anyone who says that sexual attraction is 100%
distinct from artistic appreciation is lying, particularly when it
comes to Hollywood. More to the point, I seem to remember Fred
writing somewhere about how a skilled director can make us attracted
to all kinds of performers who might not interest us outside the
cinema.

JTW
1437


From: George Robinson
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:22am
Subject: Putting things into perspective
 
It may be heretical to say it, but there are things more important than
film. This thought came to me after reading an excellent piece in today's
Guardian that puts the whole film and festival biz back into something like
proper perspective:
http://film.guardian.co.uk/festivals/news/0,11667,1026503,00.html

George Robinson
1438


From: Yoel Meranda
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 11:01am
Subject: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
Jake,

You wrote: "Dunno if Peter would agree, but I vote for abolishing
this distinction. Pleasure is pleasure, and high-mindedness has
nothing to do with it."

No, Pleasure is "not" pleasure, not according to my experiences. I
have discovered about five years ago that esthetic pleasure is a much
more valuable experience than any other kind of pleasure that I know
of. It's maybe because it "takes you out of yourself" like Fred says,
maybe because it "repeats the rhythms in your body" like Brakhage
writes, or maybe because it "brings out the truth about us" like I
wrote in my post #949 where I tried to explain Ionesco's thoughts.

I also like entertainment, of course. I love watching Seinfeld,
Simpsons or Indiana Jones. People behind these are geniuses and I
respect them a lot in many ways but I would prefer one good minute of
Chuck Jones, or Bresson, or Hitchcock to all of these combined.

Obviously, I don't mean that art cannot be entertaining. Watching
Chuck Jones shorts in film was "also" one of the most entertaining
experiences of my life and I could say the same for Blake Edwards'
great film The Party. And I know that entertainment is one of the
reasons why they work so well. However, I would have never written an
email to my friend with "Chuck Jones is better than sex" as the
subject line if Jones wasn't doing something beyond that.

I definitely agree that a director has the ability to make the
actress or the actor more attractive. And it definitely is a
talent McG (the director of Charlie's Angels) has. There are also
many directors out there who can frighten me very successfully. But
these don't mean much to me if they aren't used for a higher
purpose.

You "vote for abolishing this distinction" and I actually
vote for
making the distinctions clearer so that "the noise" (using a
term a
friend used once) doesn't get in the way.

Yoel
1439


From: Patrick Ciccone
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 11:41am
Subject: Re: Videogames, Sokurov
 
Me, then Jake--
>
> > But time doesn't work in Sokurov the way it would in a video game,
> > and the camera (despite its technical mastery) or the Stranger are
> > never able to integrate into something that can actually take
> control
> > of the game (history).
>
> Not sure I quite grasp this. Do you mean that time is ultimately
> under our control in a video game, since we can always go back to the
> start and try again for a 'successful' narrative? Whereas RUSSIAN ARK
> seems to enact an ambiguous 'cutting free' from history via the lack
> of a reverse shot -- as in a dream, we move continuously from one
> space and time to another, but the transitions quickly fall out of
> memory since there can be no looking back*. At least till the DVD
> version...

That's a good interpretation, but I'm not quite sure if I've quite
been unable to unlock the metaphysics of the film--the film may also
be arguing the opposite. This is a chunk of what I wrote about it
last fall, which seems just as speculative:

>The physical achievement of the film is staggering but the
metaphysical achievement is even more so: Russian Ark is a powerful,
if ultimately ambiguous, statement on the relationship of the past to
the present. Even though the film was shot in the exact span of time
that it plays on screen, it is anything but an exploration of real
time. Starting in the 18th century, the film takes a
semi-chronological journey through the next three centuries, often
skipping backward and eliding most of the Soviet period. The cut--at
its most basic level the fusing of two pieces of film, of two pieces
of time together--has been the most basic means of controlling time in
cinema, but it simply does not exist here. Instead, various historical
eras blend and merge in the same space, suggesting the eternal
presence of the past and its simultaneous oblivion in our memory. At
one point, the camera explores one of the Hermitage's paintings,
blocked off by a pane of glass. Sokurov comments: "eternal people live
and go on living." Time is an irreversible arrow, but is recovery of
time (that is, memory) irreversible as well? Tentatively, I think the
film's answer is no. History lives in its own malleable space, unlike
the static paintings which the camera frames and reframes. However,
the camera makes the painting's oils glisten in the 21st-century
light: is their liquid appearance only an illusion?



PWC
1440


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 0:56pm
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
Bill:
> Those threads aren't as independent as you say.

I didn't say they were independent. This is why I pointed out that
the director's thread is theoretically the organizing nervous system
for the other threads. Nothing in your (very informative and
detailed) post contradicted my thoughts on how films work and how to
view them -- my concern is the desire among some auteurists to decide
to attribute a film to one real auteur, as if the desire for finding
a singular, platonic creator were more important than the desire to
find one empirical creator and following his or her work within the
film.

--Zach
1441


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:07pm
Subject: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
Yoel:
> No, Pleasure is "not" pleasure, not according to my experiences. I
> have discovered about five years ago that esthetic pleasure is a
much
> more valuable experience than any other kind of pleasure that I
know
> of. It's maybe because it "takes you out of yourself" like Fred
says,
> maybe because it "repeats the rhythms in your body" like Brakhage
> writes, or maybe because it "brings out the truth about us" like I
> wrote in my post #949 where I tried to explain Ionesco's thoughts.

Doesn't sexual pleasure do all these things? Is it therefore an
aesthetic pleasure?

--Zach
1442


From: Fred Camper
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:21pm
Subject: Re: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
Zach Campbell wrote

>Doesn't sexual pleasure do all these things? Is it therefore an
>aesthetic pleasure?
>
>
Well, at least "for me," it doesn't involve the same degree of the
perception of an, um, external form organized with an intellectual
component. (Others may feel differently about the human body, whether
their own or their lover's, of course). Ezra Pound's definition of an
image as "an intellectual and emotional complex caught in an instant of
time" has always seemed pretty useful to me, and I don't think Pound
thought of boinking, which he reportedly did his fair share of, as an
image, though some of his thoughts on other subjects were pretty bad and
are best left unreported here.

- Fred
1443


From: Yoel Meranda
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:56pm
Subject: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
Zach,

You wrote: "Doesn't sexual pleasure do all these things? Is it
therefore an aesthetic pleasure?"

Well I didn't say that "Taking you out of yourself", "Repeating the
rhythms in your body", "Bringing out the truth about us" are either
satisfactory or necessary conditions for aesthetic pleasure.
I was hoping that "maybe"s I was using would clarify that I do not
claim to know what exactly creates aesthetic pleasures. Those were
just some of the reasonable theories I have heard. It might be all of
them or none of them. I will definitely let you know if I ever come
up with a "unified theory of arts". Until then, I prefer sticking to
Tag Gallagher's idea of defining aesthetics individually for each
artist.

What I can tell you for sure though, is that there is a great
pleasure I experience from time to time that I have to separate from
others, and the best naming seems to be "aesthetic pleasure".

I agree that sex is an activity that has all the components above in
some ways but that doesn't necessarily make it the same.

Yoel
1444


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:31pm
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
> I think we should conceptualize a film as a long series of threads
> (sensibilities put into action) and the director's line is in there:
> sometimes quite overtly present, sometimes not, but for a professed
> auteurist there is something that registers this through-line as the
> nervous system of the film. It isn't "in charge" so much as it is
> the organizing thread which the others touch -- and, around which, a
> great film will ideally braid a complex and interesting pattern.

But isn't this just a subtle way of talking about authorship? I don't
know any auteurists (well, maybe a few) who are so blunt that they are
oblivious to the contributions of anyone but the director. In fact, it
seems to me that most of the auteurists I know are pretty good about
switching over to writers, cinematographers, etc. and contemplating
their contributions or career arcs. Even though my tastes are very
director-pegged, I like to let my mind wander around the grid of a movie
and organize it from different angles, some of them not author-related.

When I started the discussion, I was basically ruminating that there is
really no other thriving school of author study in cinema. There is no
pack of Corliss-ites out there lavishing this much attention and love on
the writer, and the "acteurist" crowd, to borrow Charles Francois'
phrase, has largely steered clear of intellectual forums. Which is
interesting, because sometimes we seem to feel that we have to fight a
war for the director, but in fact no one is fighting against us in that
war. The real war seems to be for or against the creator theory of art.
There seems to be a de facto consensus that the director is the only
plausible candidate for the role of God in the film's artistic universe,
but there is no consensus at all about whether that role should be
occupied, needs to be occupied. - Dan
1445


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:33pm
Subject: Re: Re: Grease 2
 
> Next, need to see Can't Stop the Music.

By the way, Mike, don't expect too much similarity between CAN'T STOP
THE MUSIC and GREASE 2. As Eric mentioned, the former is more chunky
and broad, whereas GREASE 2 is much more deft. I lumped them together
for reasons other than artistic similarity. - Dan
1446


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:52pm
Subject: Calling Austrailia and Brazil
 
Australia and Brazil seem to be well represented here, so I hope no one
minds if I ask for advice on some of the films from those countries that
will be at the Toronto Film Festival in a few weeks.

I already received some comments from Jake about Sue Brooks' JAPANESE
STORY, which sounds as if it's worth a look. Here are some of the other
Australian films at the fest:

DANNY DECKCHAIR
Jeff Balsmeyer

IN THE CUT
Jane Campion

ALEXANDRA'S PROJECT
Rolf de Heer
(I'm interested in de Heer, but the subject matter sounds unappealing to me)

MOLLY & MOBARAK
Tom Zubrycki

UNDEAD
Peter and Michael Spierig

Brazil has its own section at Toronto this year:

BUS 174
José Padilha

CARANDIRU
Hector Babenco
(Not a guy I usually keep up with.)

GOD IS BRAZILIAN
Carlos Diegues
(After liking BYE BYE BRASIL, I ran across a streak of Diegues films
that I didn't care for.)

THE MAN OF THE YEAR
José Henrique Fonseca

MARGARETTE'S FEAST
Renato Falcão

THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD
Vicente Amorim

THE STORYTELLERS
Eliane Caffé

Thanks! - Dan
1447


From: vincent lobrutto
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:04pm
Subject: Towards a definition of the pleasure principle
 
The intent of the Classical Hollywood Studio System was to entertain the masses. Their preception of offering pleasure largely included; male and female beauty, comedy, music, action, a distinction between good guys and bad guys, happy endings, and a celebration of the American Way and the judeo/christian ethic. The goal was to get them in the seats by entertaining the great unwashed. The old saw, "If you want to send a message - go to Western Union" was maintained - thankfully the mavericks got one through one way or another. During the era of cinematic enlightenment beginning let's say in the 1960s, cineastes developed the concept of the Guilty Pleasure - films they knew did not meet their artistic, aesthetic and narrative standards but gave them personal pleasure. For me these include Houdini, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Plan 9 From Outer Space and Son of Kong. In another catagory, let's call it sex, drugs, and rock & roll I would include Beneath the Valley of the
Ultravixexns, Rock & Roll High School, The Trip, Psych-Out, and The Lickerish Quartet. But pleasure is a complex experience not interchangable from individual to individual as the moguls hoped. There is intellectual pleasure The Draughtsman's Contract, Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, Duet for Cannibals. There are aesthetic pleasures in experimental works, Michael Snow's Wavelength, and Back and Forth, Dog Star Man, Quick Billy, Zorns Lemma. Aesthetic pleasure in narrative films such as The WIld Bunch and 2001 (a non-narrative narrative film). There is the pleasure derived from occupying verbotten space, Baise-Moi, Irreversible, Pi, Requiem For A Dream, Salo, A Clockwork Orange. There is fun pleasure Charlie's Angels, Speed, The Posiedon Adventure - the pleasure of seeing through another filmmaker's eyes, L'avventura, 8 1/2, Punch Drunk Love. Comfort food pleasure for movie freaks, The House of 1000 Corpses, most anything directed by Bogdanovich, The Projectionist. I have a
weakness for pretentious, arty films, difficult films, excessive and obsessional films. The pleasure principle is private - not to be confused with objective film history. The pleasure can come from watching a revolutionary like John Cassavetes destry our beloved movie conventions like backlight, continuity and traditional storytelling. Today the suits manufacture pleasure by putting tested elements together that are guaranteed to sell like Hip Hop Meets Shop Till You Drop Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans in Marci X but they deliver a dull joy, There is the shared pleasure of crowd pleasers like The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life, Gone With The Wind. There are cultist pleasures for the few, Two Lane Blacktop, The Hired Hand, The Last Movie, Streets of Fire. The pandora's box of pleasure was opened long ago - it can be defined in two principal ways - pleasure constructed to please most - to speak to the universality of escapism and the desire to be entertained. The other, a darker,
very personal one that communicates with the viewer's subconsious or primal needs like gazing at Lucy Liu's body or Tom Cruise's in Cocktail. Pleasure should not be judged but enjoyed or respected - for one man's pleasure is another's agony.

Vinny LoBrutto


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1448


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:30pm
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
>"The real war seems to be for or against the creator
theory of art.
There seems to be a de facto consensus that the
director is the only
plausible candidate for the role of God in the film's
artistic universe,
but there is no consensus at all about whether that
role should be
occupied, needs to be occupied."

Precisely.

Art is hung up on theocracy. The artistis viewed as
the mime of God -- creating the world on his own.

This is idiotic.

Raoul Walsh doesn't "create" everything he puts on the
screen.

Most directors are traffic cops -- like Curtiz. The
better ones far more than that. I find precious few
genuine auteurs: Hitchcock, Fellini, Godard for sure.
Everyone else is up for grabs.

The fetish o themtic repetition/"consistency" ignores
the work of far more talented directors with a less
obvious "signature."

Consider Charles Walters. Frankly I consider him to be
a far better director of musicals than Minnelli. In
fact as he stage all the dance numbers in "Meet Me in
St. Louis," Garland's number in "Ziegfeld Follies" and
did the retakes on "Gigi" (including "The Night They
Invented Champagne") when Freed didn't like the
dailies, he' arguably more competent than Minnelli.

Jacques Rivette agrees with me, BTW.
--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


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1449


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:35pm
Subject: To Zach
 
Got it.
1450


From: jrosenbaum2002
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:40pm
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
Signs and Meaning in the Cinema (any edition, but the most recent--
which reprints Wollen's old New Left Review auteurist pieces--is the
best), chapter on the auteur theory (with particular attention given
to Hawks and Ford).

I'm not sure if this is precisely what Wollen says, but my sense of
it is that auteurism makes sense as a way of reading films, but this
is something quite separate from a consideration of how they get made.





--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "hotlove666"
wrote:
> I think Peter Wollen said it all when he argued, in effect, that
> auteurism is a reading strategy, not necessarily (or invariably) a
> writing strategy.
>
> Jonathan, could you elaborate on this distinction, or refer me to
> where Wollen said it? I don't understand the point.
1451


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:55pm
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
> The fetish o themtic repetition/"consistency" ignores
> the work of far more talented directors with a less
> obvious "signature."
>
> Consider Charles Walters. Frankly I consider him to be
> a far better director of musicals than Minnelli. In
> fact as he stage all the dance numbers in "Meet Me in
> St. Louis," Garland's number in "Ziegfeld Follies" and
> did the retakes on "Gigi" (including "The Night They
> Invented Champagne") when Freed didn't like the
> dailies, he' arguably more competent than Minnelli.
>
> Jacques Rivette agrees with me, BTW.

Rivette is a Walters fan, or Rivette doesn't believe in director worship?

I'm more committed to the importance of the director than it sounds as
if you are, but I agree that the repetition/consistency thing is only
mildly interesting, and has been a dead end for auteurists.

And I agree with you about Charles Walters! His filmography is full of
fine work, from classic musicals like GOOD NEWS and EASTER PARADE to
knowing 50s comedy-dramas like ASK ANY GIRL and TWO LOVES. Minnelli is
a bit of a blind spot for me: I do like some of his films, and I love a
few, but I think I'd take Walters' oeuvre to a desert island with me
before Minnelli's.

Walters tends to accentuate the reflexivity of the musical - admittedly
a pretty reflexive genre in the first place, but Walters pushes the form
toward a cheerful direct interaction with the audience. There's a tiny
bit of Hawks in the way that his players tip off the audience to the
fiction, and he also likes to play up the direct-address aspect of
musical numbers. Even when he's doing drama, he gives the impression of
being a happy, cheery person, keeping a smiling perspective on the
emotional distress of his characters.

Besides the films I named, I also like SUMMER STOCK, LILLI, DANGEROUS
WHEN WET, THE TENDER TRAP, and PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES. - Dan
1452


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:59pm
Subject: Walsh
 
Keep meaning to comment more on Damien Bona's superb post 1340. He writes on Walsh:
The character nuances, the
superb use of landscape as a such a defining force that it
practically becomes a character in and of itself, the psychological
depth and the sheer exuberance and ribald camaraderie

What a terrific one sentence summary of Walsh's accomplishments!

Walsh does not have to create everything on his films to be an auteur. He merely has to create enough to be a personal artist. We know he has not done the costumes or cinematography. But if he makes an artistic contribution, cannot we celebrate that contribution?

Other things noticeable about Walsh that are not "literary":
Bing Crosby sings his "Beautiful Girl" number (in Going Hollywood) in his hotel room, surrounded by sound recording men trailing him with microphones. We see their equipment in detail, and the ability of the mike to be mobile around the entire hotel suite. This scene shows Walsh's fondness for high tech sound equipment, something that will show up again with the tracking devices in White Heat. One also recalls the record player in Sadie Thompson, the early 1920's radio set in The Roaring Twenties, the long-distance telephone calls in They Drive by Night, the radio broadcast and control booth in The Horn Blows at Midnight, the loudspeakers at the end of The Enforcer, the radio in Objective Burma and The Naked and the Dead, and the walkie talkies in Marines, Lets Go.

Walsh likes to split crowds up into two subgroups, each streaming in their own direction, either parallel or opposite to each other. One sees this in the funeral section that opens Regeneration (1915), and in the boat scenes in the middle of the film. One also sees it in the staging of the title musical number of Going Hollywood (1933). Walsh's contribution here is made cloudier - the scene was choreographed by Albertina Rausch, a prolific and talented MGM choreographer of the 1930's.
Mike Grost
Manager
Walsh for Pantheon Campaign
1453


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:05pm
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Walters can also be seen on screen dancing with
Garland in the "Broadway Rhyhm" finale of "Presenting
Lily Mars" (which Minnelli directed uncredited) and in
the "Embaceable You" number in "Girl Crazy."

TCM recently unearthed an early musical short Walters
directed callewd "Spreading the Jam." It's an obvious
inspiration for "Haut/Bas/Fragile"

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


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1454


From: vincent lobrutto
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:07pm
Subject: Re: "Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Bravo David! Well said:

Most film directors are traffic cops - they don't harnass the aestethic and narrative tools available and are not responsible for deep collaborations with camera, editing, design, sound etc. For me Walsh, Hawks and Minelli are good directors for various reasons having to do with the material they choose or were given, the actors and crew they worked with and personal contributions. A genuine auteur for me is someone with a total vision of the film concerning the narrative and how the aesthetics of the film crafts will illustrate, interpret and express those themes, characters, ideas, stories etc. Hitchcock, Fellini and Godard were able to accomplish this whether one "likes" their films or not. I would add Welles and Kubrick to this list. The traffic cop directors are good film directors but in my view should not be elevated to the highest standards of the medium - that should be reserved for the conscious artists who understand that film is more than story and character, that
narrative is delivered by color, sound, editing, cinematography and the myriad crafts available to every filmmaker.

Vinny LoBrutto




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1455


From: vincent lobrutto
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 4:05pm
Subject: Re: "Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Bravo David! Well said:

Most film directors are traffic cops - they don't harnass the aestethic and narrative tools available and are not responsible for deep collaborations with camera, editing, design, sound etc. For me Walsh, Hawks and Minelli are good directors for various reasons having to do with the material they choose or were given, the actors and crew they worked with and personal contributions. A genuine auteur for me is someone with a total vision of the film concerning the narrative and how the aesthetics of the film crafts will illustrate, interpret and express those themes, characters, ideas, stories etc. Hitchcock, Fellini and Godard were able to accomplish this whether one "likes" their films or not. I would add Welles and Kubrick to this list. The traffic cop directors are good film directors but in my view should not be elevated to the highest standards of the medium - that should be reserved for the conscious artists who understand that film is more than story and character, that
narrative is delivered by color, sound, editing, cinematography and the myriad crafts available to every filmmaker.

Vinny LoBrutto


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1456


From: vincent lobrutto
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:50pm
Subject: Re: Back to "Genre" and :Realism"
 
Bravo David! - Well said,

There are only a handfull of genuine auteurs - I like your traffic cop metaphor - attributing creation is a sticky issue and for me it must take in the collaborators and how the director uses his pallette of camera, editing, design, sound etc. A good traffic cop director is a good director but should not be elevated to the highest level of the medium. For me an auteur harnesses the power of every aspect of the medium and is able to direct and collaborate with the properties, and the people who work with him to produce a consistent vision of substance. One can get into semantics but great filmmakers are able to fuse the tools and aesthetics cinematic medium with a story they are trying to tell. In my view Walsh, Hawks, Minnelli were not as involved with all those elements as say Hitchock, Fellini, and Godard as you mention - I would add, Welles and Kubrick.

Vinny LoBrutto


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1457


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:14pm
Subject: Walters, Minnelli
 
I love Charles Walters, too! He was a great choreographer. The Skip to My Lou number in Meet Me in St Louis and the Varsity Drag in Good News are high points of musical film history. The beautiful geometric patterns of the Varsity Drag and its joy of living are just delightful. It also has a rich sense of color. All the women are in pastel dresses, and the men in black and white tuxedos. Walters takes full advantage of this in the geometric patterns he creates.
As a director, Walters is a bit more minor (except for the music numbers in his films). But Easter Parade, The Glass Slipper and The unsinkable Molly Brown are all accomplishments.

Minnelli
Minnelli is not a choreographer. Everyone agrees that the dance numbers in his films are staged by major talents such as Walters, Eugene Loring and Gene Kelly. No one is trying to cheat these men of their credit.
Minnelli is mainly an extraordinary visual stylist. His command of color, composition and camera movement is simply astonishing. He has other virtues, too: an ability to direct crowds of extras so that each conveys his own little human drama, an insight into gender issues, a feel for people who are outside of society and/or creative artists, an ability to present cultural traditions such as ballet or painting so that a mass audience can understand and appreciate it. But mainly, he is this great, great visual stylist. I think Minnelli is a great filmmaker.
Many people's love of Minnelli has been deepened by the letterboxed prints TCM has been showing this year. February 28, 2003 was the centenary of Minnelli's birth.
Mike Grost
(Doing the Varsity Drag in Michigan)
1458


From: vincent lobrutto
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:38pm
Subject: Sorry for the repeats guys!
 
Sorry for the multi-messages - my computer was acting slow and I thought the message wasn't going through, my apologies to all!

Vinny LoBrutto


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1459


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:43pm
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
If that's what Wollen meant, I've been barking up the wrong tree
for the last 5 yrs trying to validate auteurism by studying the
process of production. Maybe he meant: "It's a way of reading
films developed by people who were perfectly aware that the
director doesn't always write the scripts."
1460


From: David Westling
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:05pm
Subject: Re: His Kind of Woman
 
George Robinson:

> This is the first time I've seen Fleischer's name linked to this film. I'm
> curious where  you found that information. Not that I doubt you; on the
> contrary, it's a lot better than the average John Farrow film and while
> Fleischer isn't exactly Sam Fuller, he's a lot better than Farrow.

I have to confess the source is IMDb. I've contacted the person who wrote
the article for them and I haven't yet received a reply. I'm continuing to
research this.

David Westling
1461


From: Ruy Gardnier
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:25pm
Subject: Re: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
once upon a long ago there were some guys who said that Frank Tashlin was a
much better director to look at then, say, William Wyler and John Huston.
Not for entertainment pleasure, but for art, for knowing how to manage
certain "dispositifs" (i don't know an equivalent in english, sorry) and
turning old formulae into new and adventurus terrain.
In the same way, I don't seem to acknoledge more respect for Amos Gitai or
the brothers Dardenne than for McG. In fact, I like Charlie's Angels: Full
Throttle more than both Kedma and The Son. For some reasons: Kippur, for
instance, is a much better film by Gitai; but, most of all, I think Kedma
mildly builds itself with recognized and institutionalized auteurist
repertoir (the completely unnecessary length of some "plans sequence", like
the one on the boat) and a taste for mournful solemnity that I do not share.
My take on him is that he profits from the seriousness and untouchability of
his themes (the building of the israelian people) to make spectacular
aesthetics over his themes (he overdramatizes, that's my point, cf. "Eden").
But I don't think he's an uninteresting moviemaker. He knows what he does,
only what he does isn't specially new or daring. Far from genius. For the
Dardenne Bros., I think "Le Fils" doesn't add much to "Rosetta" and "La
Promesse", the other two by them I was able to see. I care for them as
moviemakers, their films really make me get out of the screening room with a
strong feeling, but when one thinks of it, it's the same film over and over.

As for McG's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, it is not an easy film to
like. The film doesn't only flirt with bad taste; it marries it completely.
As it marries speed, space and time incongruity, gender exploitation, quotes
scorsese, e. e. cummings, bob dylan and mc hammer. It pushes the boundaries
of Hollywood action movies not like John Woo (making them better-to-watch,
more violent and edited ones), but by speeding and making everything
unlikely. My take is that McG is the closes an american director can get
from Tsui Hark.

Ruy
----- Original Message -----
From: "Fred Camper"
To:
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 10:21 AM
Subject: Re: [a_film_by] Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten


>
>
> Zach Campbell wrote
>
> >Doesn't sexual pleasure do all these things? Is it therefore an
> >aesthetic pleasure?
> >
> >
> Well, at least "for me," it doesn't involve the same degree of the
> perception of an, um, external form organized with an intellectual
> component. (Others may feel differently about the human body, whether
> their own or their lover's, of course). Ezra Pound's definition of an
> image as "an intellectual and emotional complex caught in an instant of
> time" has always seemed pretty useful to me, and I don't think Pound
> thought of boinking, which he reportedly did his fair share of, as an
> image, though some of his thoughts on other subjects were pretty bad and
> are best left unreported here.
>
> - Fred
>
>
>
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> a_film_by-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
>
>
>
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
>
>
1462


From: jess_l_amortell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 7:32pm
Subject: Re: His Kind of Woman
 
> > This is the first time I've seen Fleischer's name linked to this film. =
I'm
> > curious where  you found that information. Not that I doubt you; on the=

> > contrary, it's a lot better than the average John Farrow film and while=

> > Fleischer isn't exactly Sam Fuller, he's a lot better than Farrow.
>
> I have to confess the source is IMDb. I've contacted the person who wrot=
e
> the article for them and I haven't yet received a reply. I'm continuing =
to
> research this.


The Fleischer filmography in Jean-Pierre Coursodon's article in Coursodon/S=
auvage "American Directors" (1983) includes a listing for HIS KIND OF WOMAN =
under "Uncredited." (There's no explanation.)
1463


From: Joseph Kaufman
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 7:56pm
Subject: Re: His Kind of Woman
 
Jess wrote:

>The Fleischer filmography in Jean-Pierre Coursodon's article in Coursodon/S=
>auvage "American Directors" (1983) includes a listing for HIS KIND OF WOMAN =
>under "Uncredited." (There's no explanation.)

Fleisher re-shot the ending. There's considerable detail about it in
his autobiography JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY.
--

- Joe Kaufman

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
1464


From: Ruy Gardnier
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:31pm
Subject: Re: Calling Austrailia and Brazil
 
> BUS 174
> José Padilha
> CARANDIRU
> Hector Babenco
These two movies raise important social issues in Brazil, but I'm not sure
I'd like them if I was a foreigner. Carandiru in particular has very strong
moments, but the film doesn't breathe much, is too much constructed.

> GOD IS BRAZILIAN
> Carlos Diegues
> (After liking BYE BYE BRASIL, I ran across a streak of Diegues films
> that I didn't care for.)
I'd skip this one completely

> THE MAN OF THE YEAR
> José Henrique Fonseca
Haven't seen it since it opened right after I had my knee's ligament
reconstructed (I'm in fact beginning to walk right now), but everyone whose
taste I care for said it sucks hard.

> MARGARETTE'S FEAST
> Renato Falcão
> THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD
> Vicente Amorim
> THE STORYTELLERS
> Eliane Caffé
Haven't seen they since they didn't open yet in Brazil, but I'd only bet in
Eliane Caffé.
1465


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 7:54pm
Subject: Re: Re: His Kind of Woman
 
He was probably brought in to shoot re-takes. Hughes
kept ordering the film to shot over and over again.

--- jess_l_amortell wrote:


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1466


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 9:38pm
Subject: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
Yoel:
> Well I didn't say that "Taking you out of yourself", "Repeating the
> rhythms in your body", "Bringing out the truth about us" are either
> satisfactory or necessary conditions for aesthetic pleasure.
> I was hoping that "maybe"s I was using would clarify that I do not
> claim to know what exactly creates aesthetic pleasures. Those were
> just some of the reasonable theories I have heard. It might be all
of
> them or none of them.

That's cool - I was trying to push at the limits of your suggested
definitions, and try to get us to see it from a different
perspective. Perhaps delineating between sexual and aesthetic
pleasure is something we should dive into. I have the feeling that
we won't build a concensus, though - you and Fred have written things
that don't represent my thoughts and feelings on the topic.

--Zach
1467


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:07pm
Subject: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Dan:
> But isn't this just a subtle way of talking about authorship?

I had hoped it would be an overt way of talking about authorship ...
hmm. (I'm usually typing these messages on the fly, and am thinking
now that I'm not articulating myself as best I can.) The search for
one true auteur of a film doesn't appeal to me, for several reasons.
(I can go into them upon request, but for the sake of space I'll
refrain here.)

Ultimately, for instance, I wouldn't care whose film CITIZEN
KANE "really" is, because I think the 'problem' is a meaningless
construct. I guess one way of putting it might be that I'm
interested in a director's "work" rather than his or her "films" --
because there are enough worthwhile directors without power (and
enough dismissable ones with it) for me to think that dropping
ownership and control from the forefront of auteurism is a useful
strategy. We can see, and Bill will no doubt be able to provide the
facts, that a director like Hitchcock imprinted himself indelibly on
the creation of his projects. I think a point like this has more to
do with Hitchcock (or whatever individual director in question) than
it does with auteurism per se.

> I don't
> know any auteurists (well, maybe a few) who are so blunt that they
are
> oblivious to the contributions of anyone but the director. In
fact, it
> seems to me that most of the auteurists I know are pretty good
about
> switching over to writers, cinematographers, etc. and contemplating
> their contributions or career arcs.

You're absolutely right, and initially I think I put in a clause to
my post that claimed as much (but took it out because I hoped this
would be self-evident).

--Zach
1468


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:12pm
Subject: Walters
 
Dan:
> Besides the films I named, I also like SUMMER STOCK, LILLI,
DANGEROUS
> WHEN WET, THE TENDER TRAP, and PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES.

THE TENDER TRAP is an astonishing film, and one that I'd like
eventually write on ...

--Zach
1469


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:24pm
Subject: Pre-1865 Westerns?
 
All -

I'm intrigued by this passage from Jim Kitses' "Authorship and Genre: Notes
on the Western": "Of course westward expansion was to continue for over a
century, the frontier throughout that period a constantly shifting belt of
settlement. However, Hollywood's West has typically been, from about 1865 to 1890, a
brief final instant in the process."

So my probably obvious question is: are there any Westerns (or non-Westerns)
that deal with westward expansion in the first half of 19th century America?

Best,

Kevin John


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
1470


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:24pm
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
> Ultimately, for instance, I wouldn't care whose film CITIZEN
> KANE "really" is, because I think the 'problem' is a meaningless
> construct.

I don't see a point in trying to wrest a project away from some of its
contributors either. The example I like to give is that NOTORIOUS is
100% Hitchcock and 100% Ben Hecht. But that doesn't mean I don't care
deeply about NOTORIOUS as an expression of Hitchcock. The fact that
this is only one way of looking at the film doesn't make it less
important to me.

> because there are enough worthwhile directors without power (and
> enough dismissable ones with it) for me to think that dropping
> ownership and control from the forefront of auteurism is a useful
> strategy.

The complication here is that directing is power, and nothing else.
It's not as if the director actually does any particular job on a set -
actors, writers, cinematographers all perform an actual task, but the
director is only important to the extent that he or she can persuade or
force others to do their work his or her way. So a director's interest
to us is dependent on their having at least some power. - Dan
1471


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 6:26pm
Subject: Re: Charlie's Angels vs. Ten
 
In a message dated 8/22/03 4:20:44 AM, y-meranda@n... writes:

>I was just very surprised to see that you put Charlie's Angels on the
>same list with Kiarostami's Ten.

Well, I should in all honesty say that I think "Ten" is the greater film of
the two (and "The Son" better than both of them). My major point (and one
which I think we agree on) was that I wouldn't scoff if someone I respected placed
"Charlie's Angels" (or name your film) above or alongside those two films.

>Do you really think there is an art in Charlie's Angels or do you
>just put films that entertain you on the same list with films that
>give you esthetic pleasures?

Hmm... well, I certainly try not to. I mean, I wouldn't be opposed to
placing, oh, a Marx Brothers movie I enjoyed on a favorite films list, but I'd feel
the need to qualify it: I'm having a good time, but responding primarily to
the performances, not any sophisticated formal qualities. I cherish the
pleasures I derive from films which offer the latter so much that I feel obligated to
kind of keep that group of films - which would include things like "Chimes at
Midnight," "Hatari!," "Make Way For Tomorrow," "Rope," "Some Came Running,"
and on and on - pure.

Consequently, I imagine that my experience of "Charlie's Angels: Full
Throttle" is rather different than most people's because I was, so far as I could
tell, almost completely responding to its attitudes and its mise en scene, both
of which I take to be rather sophisticated: its female power stances (and the
overall casualness of its construction and execution) very much reminded me of
Hawks and I felt the way McG 'conformed' space to the Angels (i.e., allowing
them to literally dodge bullets) tied in with its overall sensibility. Is it
art or not... I don't know. But I felt there was more going on in the formal
department - way more - than your average Hollywood movie.

>I know that there is something sublime about Lucy Liu's body but I
>read too many posts of yours to assume that this is why you like the
>film.

Plus, my favorite Angel is Cameron Diaz...

Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful response, Yoel.

Peter

http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html
1472


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:29pm
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
Bill:
> If that's what Wollen meant, I've been barking up the wrong tree
> for the last 5 yrs trying to validate auteurism by studying the
> process of production. Maybe he meant: "It's a way of reading
> films developed by people who were perfectly aware that the
> director doesn't always write the scripts."

I should have read this before I posted my last auteurism message - I
think you've hit upon a very important issue with the distinction
between production and reading. (I should have figured it out
sooner, as Wollen is one of my favorite writers on auteurism and
authorship.) I'm in the "reading" camp.

Which isn't to say that I don't value the sort of work that you've
been doing, by studying production: this is absolutely essential
research and analysis and I genuinely believe it's one of the most
important elements of film scholarship. I suppose I would instead
see it, though, as validating individual auteurs more than validating
auteurism as a whole.

--Zach
1473


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:35pm
Subject: Re: Pre-1865 Westerns?
 
> So my probably obvious question is: are there any Westerns (or non-
Westerns)
> that deal with westward expansion in the first half of 19th century
America?

I can't think of any off the top of my head, per se, but one reason
why the Western might be so predominantly post-Civil War is that the
historical cowboy didn't exist but for a generation or so. If you
don't have cowboys, you probably don't have the lawmen, bandits,
prostitutes, bounty hunters, and school marms who inhabit the Western
towns the cowboys pass through. Prior to the westward expansion of
the cowboy, you've got fewer settlements and fewer archetypes around
which to base your narrative. The untamed West and the tamed West
seem to provide fewer stories than the taming of the West. Etc.

--Zach, in a relative posting frenzy this evening.
1474


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:38pm
Subject: Re: Walters
 
His use of Celeste Holm in this film is especially
interesting in relation to the way he uses her and
Sinatra in "High Society" -- a HUMUNGOUS hit in its
day and rather neglected now.

--- Zach Campbell wrote:
> Dan:
> > Besides the films I named, I also like SUMMER
> STOCK, LILLI,
> DANGEROUS
> > WHEN WET, THE TENDER TRAP, and PLEASE DON'T EAT
> THE DAISIES.
>
> THE TENDER TRAP is an astonishing film, and one that
> I'd like
> eventually write on ...
>
> --Zach
>
>


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1475


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 10:44pm
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
You're absolutely right about "point of view."
There's a considerable difference between a skillful
director of other people's material, and even a
skillful writer-director like Wilder and an All-Caps
AUTEUR like Fellini, Hitchcock and Godard. The auteur
is always "in front" of whatever it is he or she
happens to be "saying" with a particular project.

We got to Hitchcock/Fellini/Godard to SEE
Hitchcock/Fellini/Godard. Not at all the same as
seeing a Wilder film or even a Prston Sturges (though
he comes close.)

Welles is in a sense a borderline case. His
Shakespeare films are about Shakespeare. "Touch of
Evil" relates to both "Kane" and "Ambersons" but
obscurely. And "F For Fake" (which I think is his
finest work) has as its subject the problematic nature
of authorship in art.

--- Zach Campbell wrote:


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1476


From: Damien Bona
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 11:07pm
Subject: Re: Pre-1865 Westerns?
 
There are the films that dealt with Texas independence, such as Vincent Sherman's Lone Star, George Nicholls, Jr.'s Man of Conquest (a purported bio of Sam Houston) and John Wayne's The Alamo.

The California Gold Rush of 1848 was the subject of James Cruze's Sutter's Gold and, I assume, Curtiz's Gold Is Where You Find It.

Ford's Drums Along The Mohawk feels like a western, but it takes place in upstate New York in Colonial times, as do the various versions of Last of the Mohicans.

The two versions of The Buccaneer (DeMille and Anthony Quinn) take place during the War of 1812.

Anyway, those are just a few off the top of my head -- I'm sure there are many, many more.
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1477


From: George Robinson
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 11:07pm
Subject: Re: Pre-1865 Westerns?
 
Oh there are plenty. It depends on how you define the genre, though. Is Drums Along the Mohawk a western?

To stick to the relatively indisputable ones, I would offer all the Alamo/Texas Republic films (The Alamo, several films about Sam Houston); any mountain man films (Jeremiah Johnson is the first one that comes to mind); The Far Horizons (Heston and Fred MacMurray as Lewis and Clark, with Donna Reed as Sacajawea!!!), Across the Wide Missouri; any Fenimore Cooper adaptation.

That's just off the top of my head.

George Robinson

Alas, where is human nature so
weak as in a bookstore?
-Henry Ward Beecher
----- Original Message -----
From: LiLiPUT1@a...
To: a_film_by@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 6:24 PM
Subject: [a_film_by] Pre-1865 Westerns?


All -

I'm intrigued by this passage from Jim Kitses' "Authorship and Genre: Notes
on the Western": "Of course westward expansion was to continue for over a
century, the frontier throughout that period a constantly shifting belt of
settlement. However, Hollywood's West has typically been, from about 1865 to 1890, a
brief final instant in the process."

So my probably obvious question is: are there any Westerns (or non-Westerns)
that deal with westward expansion in the first half of 19th century America?

Best,

Kevin John


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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1478


From: George Robinson
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 11:13pm
Subject: Re: Pre-1865 Westerns?
 
Damien's mention of the Calif. Gold Rush (didn't that star Gray Davis?) reminds me of a bunch of Nazi-era westerns centering on that period -- there was a Sutter film and another called Water for Canitoga; I'm not sure about the Karl May films but they may also be pre-1865 for whatever that's worth.

Also, isn't Skin Game (Paul Bogart) pre-1865?

George

Alas, where is human nature so
weak as in a bookstore?
-Henry Ward Beecher
----- Original Message -----
From: Damien Bona
To: a_film_by@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 7:07 PM
Subject: Re: [a_film_by] Pre-1865 Westerns?


There are the films that dealt with Texas independence, such as Vincent Sherman's Lone Star, George Nicholls, Jr.'s Man of Conquest (a purported bio of Sam Houston) and John Wayne's The Alamo.

The California Gold Rush of 1848 was the subject of James Cruze's Sutter's Gold and, I assume, Curtiz's Gold Is Where You Find It.

Ford's Drums Along The Mohawk feels like a western, but it takes place in upstate New York in Colonial times, as do the various versions of Last of the Mohicans.

The two versions of The Buccaneer (DeMille and Anthony Quinn) take place during the War of 1812.

Anyway, those are just a few off the top of my head -- I'm sure there are many, many more.
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1479


From:
Date: Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:30pm
Subject: Pre-1865 Westerns?
 
Fess Parker was a big TV star in the 50's and the 60's, with TV shows about
early frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.
Every little boy in America had a coonskin cap, which he made popular.
Daniel Boone had a sidekick on the show, played by Ed Ames.
Ames once demonstrated his frontier skill of hatchet-throwing on the Johnny
Carson show, with unexpected results. Carson frequently showed this clip.
Ken Burns recent PBS documentary about Lewis and Clark was also pretty
impressive.
Mike Grost
(who can still sing "Daniel Boone was a man! Yes, a big man!")
1480


From: jaketwilson
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 0:36am
Subject: Re: Calling Austrailia and Brazil
 
Dan,

I suspect IN THE CUT is premiering at Toronto -- would be interested
to hear what it's like myself. If second-hand reports are of
interest, I've heard bad things about DANNY DECKCHAIR and goodish
things about UNDEAD. No word on MOLLY & MOBARAK, but the Tom Zubrycki
films I've seen are pretty conventional fly-on-the-wall 'social
problem' documentaries.

For me the only De Heer film that succeeds overall is THE TRACKER,
but if you've liked his work in the past ALEXANDRA'S PROJECT is
definitely worth a look. If you're interested, my long review (with
spoilers) is at

www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/03/26/alexandras_project.html

JTW
1481


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 1:39am
Subject: Re: Pre-1865 Westerns? -- one by Luis Trenker
 
George Robinson wrote:

>Damien's mention of the Calif. Gold Rush (didn't that star Gray Davis?) reminds me of a bunch of Nazi-era westerns centering on that period -- there was a Sutter film
>
The Nazi-era "Sutter film," "Der Kaiser von Kalifornien," or "The
Emperor of California," directed by Luis Trenker, is really great.
Particularly wonderful, notwithstanding the use of hokey
front-projection, is a moment near the opening when an angel appears to
tell Sutter about the American West and the space of the film completely
opens up from the cramped European city it had been set in: a European
dream of America that one of two European youths I've known still have,
to see the vast expanse of the West.

I guess by defintion, set in California and pre-1965, it's a pre-1965
"Western," but it's not too helpful to me to think of it in relationship
to those Hollywood films we call "westerns."

- Fred
1482


From: Dave Garrett
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:05am
Subject: Re: Scope b&w erratum, Negulesco
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Joseph Kaufman wrote:

> As for a general reference WIDESCREEN MOVIES by Carr and Hayes has
> some notorious inaccuracies, but it does have helpful lists of films
> by widescreen format.

You've probably seen this before, but there's a very lengthy list of errata to Carr and Hayes at http://www.film-tech.com/tips/wsmc.html -
there's also a downloadable version (rich text format) available at http://members.aol.com/filmteknik/wide.html , along with several suggested "corrections to the corrections".

I think the definitive reference on the subject has yet to be published, but Belton's book comes close. The lists in Carr and Hayes are certainly tempting, but I'm hesitant to cite information from them without corroboration from another source.

Someone mentioned Ichikawa's ENJO at the beginning of the thread - his KUROI JUNIN NO ONNA (TEN DARK WOMEN) is another worthy example of B&W 'Scope. The new 35mm prints that were struck for the Cinematheque Ontario's travelling Ichikawa retro were gorgeous.

Dave
1483


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:11am
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
I'd like to register my disagreement with a bunch of things that have
been said here. We don't have to argue about these disagreements, and
I'm close to not having time to keep up with our group's pace at this
point, but anyway.

I *really* hope that the discussions of auteurism here don't degenerate
into the tired old "the director didn't control everything therefore he
couldn't be an auteur" stuff. This is not what auteurism means at all,
at least in my view, and Zach has a past post or two which I can't
immediately find in which he talks about the director as organizer.
There's a pretty long thread in auteurist criticism that identifies a
tension between the director and his material, or perhaps between the
director and various constraints, as a frequent source of creativity.
This is not to say that sometimes directors made bad films with
hopelessly unsuited material or hopelessly impossible producers -- but
some good films have emerged from such situations too.

I confess to not having read Bill's book, though I hope to, but it
strikes me that, seconding Zach, research into production history is
invaluable. Early drafts of poems are useful too -- one can see what the
poet has changed, and learn something about the way he thinks. But I
don't think that discovering that a director did or did not control
something means he was or was not an "auteur" (whatever that might be).
John Cage didn't control a lot of things in his chance music, but the
best of it is not only recognizably his, it's great. I would hope that
enough things in the last century of art have established that maximum
artistic control does not always equal maximum artistic quality.

Another important and related point: if research uncovers the fact that
some incredibly moving aspect of a film was not, in fact, the result of
a directorial decision, that doesn't mean that its power and meaning
doesn't come from the director. A film is a whole organism. The director
as primarily controller of that organism's design can give meaning even
to parts that he does not necessarily control. This doesn't always
happen to every, or even most, parts outside of directorial control, but
it can happen. Art, and especially filmmaking art, is full of happy
coincidences, and there are no simple formulas for deciding any of this.
What really counts is the viewing experience, the viewing experience of
an informed and focused viewer taking the film as seriously as possible
and thinking about it in the context of a director's other works. Oh,
you can think about it in the context of the scriptwriter's or
cinematographer's other works too; it's just my claim that for a great
director that line of thinking won't get you all that far.

I read with some shock David Ehrenstein's and Vinny's short lists of the
only real auteurs. As subjective as taste is said to be, it is, as far
as I'm concerned, just about indisputable that Welles and Ford, Ray and
Vidor, Walsh and Fuller, Dreyer and Bresson, Mizoguchi and Rossellini,
are great artists in any meaningful sense of the term. Their work is
recognizably theirs; it is profoundly expressive and deeply moving; its
style and theme are intertwined, it has a "transpersonal" feel that
suggests to me that anyone could "get it." I don't say this out of any
worship of the director as a god, but out of my long film viewing
experience. I've never been that fascinated with directors personally --
I think I mentioned before that the only Hollywood director I'd ever
really wanted to meet was Sirk.

The existence of avant-garde films by Ray and Vidor made in near-total
freedom late in their lives that, in my view, bear a deep stylistic
relationship to their Hollywood films is one of many pieces of evidence
for my position.

Perhaps David and Vinny meant to only talk about Hollywood, but if so
that form of discourse about "auteurs" seems itself to me to be short
sighted, just as I find generalizations about film art that do not take
"avant-garde" or "experimental" cinema into account to be generally
short-sighted. As far as I'm concerned, the many important differences
between Ford and Brakhage are less important than this similarity: both
make films that express a genuine vision of the world that is rendered
ecstatically beautiful through the use of form. And the fact that
Brakhage's films aren't "entertaining" in the Hollywood sense keeps
many, including many auteurists, from appreciating them, is for me a
great argument against mixing up entertainment and art.

Indeed, I'm with Yoel 1,000 per cent on maintaining a distinction
between "art" and "entertainment." That doesn't mean that I don't find a
middle ground too -- I'm a big defender of "Glenn or Glenda," but I'm
not sure I'd defend it in completely high art terms, though it sure as
hell isn't very "entertaining" in the sense that most people seem to
mean it. But I am capable of being entertained by getting involved on an
escapist level with a film's story, characters, and even rhythms, and as
far as I'm concerned that experience has nothing to do with being seized
by another's aesthetic vision.

I had a friend in college, someone to whom I owe a big debt because he
introduced me to the music of Anton von Webern, who used to argue that
you could rate everything according to how much pleasure it gave you. He
was a big fan of the early James Bond films. His list of pleasures, in
order of preference, was something like 1. From Russia With Love 2. The
Art of Vision 3. A good steak dinner 4. Webern. We had many arguments
about this. It seems to me that the distinctions are so important
because the experiences are so different. And I'd say the same about
sex, even though I occasionally use sexual metaphors in trying to get at
aesthetic pleasure.

- Fred
1484


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:31am
Subject: Re: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
>"As subjective as taste is said to be, it is, as far
as I'm concerned, just about indisputable that Welles
and Ford, Ray and
Vidor, Walsh and Fuller, Dreyer and Bresson, Mizoguchi
and Rossellini,
are great artists in any meaningful sense of the term.
Their work is
recognizably theirs; it is profoundly expressive and
deeply moving; its
style and theme are intertwined, it has a
"transpersonal" feel that
suggests to me that anyone could "get it." I don't say
this out of any
worship of the director as a god, but out of my long
film viewing
experience. "

I would agree, with the exception of Walsh. But the
point I was arguing had to do with a specific KIND of
auteur -- not to label anyone that falls outside said
category as "minor."

In my considered opinion Patrice Chereau is the
greatest director of all-time (not just in film, but
theater and opera as well), but he's not an auteur in
the way that Hitchcock is.

Much in the same way, Fred, I'm sure you'd find it
strange to talk about Brahkage as the "director" of
his films in the same way as Ray or Sirk.



--- Fred Camper wrote:


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1485


From: vincent lobrutto
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:56am
Subject: Re: Back to "genre" and "realism"
 
Hey Fred,

Have no fear about this group. You and Peter and company have assembled a wonderful range of voices who are serious about film art - this is most important! In my short stay here so far I have enjoyed these discussions immensely because of the passion and diversity of views and insights. We won't allow the discussion to fall into those tired old arguments but to keep up a lively debate and to contribute to all of our film educations. I was simply reacting to some comments about Walsh that seemed to be placing him in the company of others. I agree with most of what you said. The cinema is the cinema - filmmakers are filmmakers whether they are Hollywood, indies, mavericks, international, avant-garde, experimental, documentarians, etc. All films should be studied and should have passionate advocates. My list of great filmmakers extends well beyond the names in that post. I would like to see the discussion grow beyond the "usual suspects" I see that happening already. Along with the
tired old director didn't control everything bit is the tired discussions about Walsh, Wellman, Hawks, and other "chestnuts" I would encourage discussion that rediscover the old and discovers the new. I don't think the issue is necessarily control but accepting that most films are collaborations and the nature of the collaboration is, in my view critical to understanding the work of a director. For example examining the filmographies of say, cinematographers Conrad Hall, Gordon Willis, Vittorio Storaro, editors, Dede Allen, Walter Murch, Jerry Greenberg and production designers Richard Sylbert, Mel Bourne and Patrizia Von Brandenstein will point one on the path of understanding that they are partly responsible for aspects of a film that are often attributed soley to the director. To end on a embracing note (I'm going on vacation so I look forward to rejoining you guys later) my list would also include, Straub, Cronenberg, Fassbinder, Anger, Brakhage, Spike Lee, Cassavetes,
Peckinpah, Altman, Herzog, Helman, Warhol, the Maysles brothers, Fred Wiseman, John Waters, all the directors you mentioned and more than I have time to list (or you guys have time to read).

Keep the faith,

Vinny LoBrutto


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1486


From: hotlove666
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 5:26am
Subject: "I Believe..." (Dick Haymes, St. Benny the Dip)
 
For those who just arrived, let me just sum up what I've been saying
and in some cases hearing since this group started, to really fan the
flames:

1. I believe that the director is the auteur of a film.

2. Tautologically, I believe that the vast majority of Hollywood
directors are auteurs - the Joseph Pevneys as well as the Orson Welles
(es).

3. I believe that (1) and (2) can be gleaned from seeing lots of
films by the same directors, and from studying the production process
with these issues in mind.

(4. Aside: I'll read a life of Edith Head if it's by a brilliant
historian like David Chierichetti, but basically I'm interested in
directors, and will use such writings, and any primary documents, and
any oral history I or others might do with great craftsmen like
Robert Boyle or Conrad Hall, as research for what interests me: the
art of film as defined in (1).)

5. I believe that film history is moving out of the oral history
phase (just about all the oldtimers is dead, and the new generation
will pour its hearts and souls, if they exist, into DVDs).

6. I believe that film history is moving into a phase where
production documents, used selectively until now, will become the
much more important to what is written about film, hopefully in
conjunction with good critical ideas, like (1). By the way, Dudley
Andrews thinks so, too. He's having his students at Yale read script
reports and production reports.

7. I believe that the good studies of this kind will produce a wealth
of new CRITICAL insights into films we all thought we knew inside out.

(8. As an aside, I believe that all this is highly ironic, because
production documents as such are being phased out, or seriously
whittled down, by the computer revolution. Writing remains, to quote
an old proverb; e-mails don't. But e-mails can be hacked by
outsiders, and that's going to produce some interesting shit. On the
plus side, eventually, when I'm dead, all the written documents
researchers need access to will be on CD-Roms or otherwise available
electronically to all, and not just those of us lucky enough to live
near an archive. Everything I looked at for my chapter on The Birds
is on a CD-Rom now, thanks to the labors of Michael Friend and Steve
Mamber. Only a monumental bureaucratic snafu by someone else has kept
it from being made available already. Grrr. And to conclude the
aside, after seeing the script [supervisor's] reports for Universal
and Warner films at USC, I can't imagine why they aren't being used
in production courses. You can literally look over the shoulder of a
great or good or bad Hollywood director while he directs a film! What
an opportunity for a directing student! Ditto for the script files,
for both directing and screenwriting students! Joe McBride is
recommending Hitchcock at Work [plug] to his screenwriting students -
watching Hitchcock shape a script (the famous First Question in
Truffaut/Hitchcock) is learning from the Master - how much better to
go to the actual drafts at the Herrick or USC or UCLA, or wherever
else they become available! End of digession)

9. I believe based on my sketchy initial research that an approach
via production history validates not particular auteurs - my mind,
heart, soul and senses did that long ago - but auteurism as a theory,
still an embattled one, for historical reasons that would be very
interesting to examine - we have done a bit of that already.

10. Finally, I believe that studying production puts the emphasis
back where it should be in auteurism, which in French is a politique,
not a theory, because by studying the history of Hollywood as a war
between the auteurs and the studios (whose "genius" I acknowledge,
but with BIG RESERVATIONS), we'll be better armed for the day-to-day
combats in which front-line critics should be engaged, while Ivory
Tower theorists and historians are busy nailing down the Big Picture -
painted, for a change, from the point of view of the Indians instead
of the Cowboys.

Addendum: I think Walsh belongs in the Pantheon. Always have, ever
since the MOMA retrospective. John Hughes thought so, too.
1487


From: Damien Bona
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 6:52am
Subject: Re: Costume Designers as Auteurs
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, MG4273@a... wrote:
> Auteur has two meanings.
> 1) It can describe anyone on a film who shows consistent and
creative
> personal artistry.
>

I have to say I've never heard "auteur" described this way. I think
you're describing an artist in his or her particular cinematic field,
rather than an auteur.


> But we do say Adrian is a genuine artist, in the sense of 1) above.
His work
> with the Munchkins' costumes and other denizens of Oz is
wonderfully inventive.

The costumes in The Wizard of Oz are absolutely wonderful, but I
would argue that they are atypical of Adrian's work, as his specialty
was elaborate society gowns (in films like Dinner At Eight, The Merry
Wisow and The Last Of Mrs, Cheyney and designs). Thus. the Wizard of
Oz vis a vis Adrian flies in the face of one of the tenets of
auteurism which is personal style/consistency. And to be honest,
even though I've seen Adrian displays both at the Metropolitan Museum
and the L.A. County, I donn't know if I'd be able to differentiate
between an Adrian and an Orry-Kelly frock from some Kay Francis
vehicle.


> A costume designer like Walter Plunkett should definitely be
considered as a
> sense 1) auteur. His work is highly personal and imaginative. Just
about
> everyone who sees a film like The Prisoner of Zenda (1952) finds
his work
> jaw-dropping.

Again, I think Walter Plunkett was a very talented craftsman -- his
work on Gone With The Wind is perfect -- but I would say that he was
a collaborative craftsman, not an auteur. And, Mike, other than the
fact that one was at Metro, the other at Fox, could you tell the
difference between a Plunkett design and a Charles Le Maire? I know
I couldn't.
1488


From:
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:53am
Subject: Re: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
In a message dated 8/21/03 11:22:04 PM, jrosenbaum2002@y... writes:

>It's true that Kane wouldn't be the same without Toland or
>Mankiewicz, but that doesn't take you too far in analyzing how and
>why it works the way it does.

Yes. Actually, in my younger, more contentious days, I'd argue on behalf of
auteurism by citing the subsequent directorial career of "Kane" editor Robert
Wise. I mean, Wise made some nice films, but it was always clear to me that
the editorial brilliance of "Kane" (and what remains of Welles' "Ambersons")
did not belong to the man who made "The Sound of Music."

But let's take a more problematic example: the distinctive cinematography of
Gordon Willis. The guy's got a definite style, a whole set of innovations to
his name, and on and on. Yet "The Godfather," "Annie Hall," and "All the
President's Men" feel like three completely different films in every important
way. To my thinking, this supports - tremendously so - the concept of the
director as the prime mover, the final filter through which the talents and
contributions of others - however distinctive - must go through.

A word or two on pleasure: for me, the most formally audacious, challenging,
moving, and complex films are almost always the ones I >want< to spend my time
with. It's not a chore to watch "The Immortal Story" or "My Son John" or
"Dog Star Man" or "Barry Lyndon"; it's exhilarating. Conversely, when I watch
most movies geared to be "entertaining," I'm bored to tears. I think I've
actually gotten spoiled over the years on the pleasure I get from great films.
Once you've seen the final camera move in "Some Came Running" - and the sea of
emotional responses it evokes - it's hard to get too worked up about some
maudlin, formless piece of cinema, however emotionally involving it is on a
character and story level.

Peter

http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html
1489


From: jaketwilson
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 10:01am
Subject: Auteur Theory, Charlie's Angels
 
Interesting defenses of Charlie's Angels from Ruy and Peter, though I
find Tashlin a more persuasive reference point than Hawks. Both these
posts raise a larger question -– how far can auteurists locate value
in the `post-cinema' landscape of contemporary blockbuster Hollywood,
as typified by McG, David Fincher, Baz Luhrmann, The Matrix, Michael
Bay, Jackass: The Movie? Seems to me traditional critical approaches
just don't work with a lot of this stuff – which is also hard to
separate from the various things happening on TV, or at least MTV.

I continue to feel that splitting art from entertainment is one of
those binary oppositions that block rather than assist inquiry. It
may be true that `latent form is master of obvious form' (Heraclitus)
but I have trouble with the notion that such `entertainment' staples
as witty dialogue, narrative suspense, and star glamour are `noise'
to be mentally edited out if we want to grasp the true Platonic
nature of a movie's achievement. Rather, such attractions form part
of that achievement, but they only `work' in the first place to the
extent that they're integrated into a persuasive total structure.

Auteurist example: my impression is a lot of the funniest lines in Dr
Strangelove were written by Terry Southern. But jokes become much
funnier in the context of character, and `character' in movies
depends on actors, and our perception of actors changes depending how
they're framed and lit, and -- well, you get the point. A successful
film is more than the sum of its parts, but is, nonetheless, the sum
of its parts. Which is why, as Bill says, we can value the
contributions of a team of creative workers but still give ultimate
credit to the director.

No offense to anyone here, but my feeling is auteurists only stand to
alienate everyone else further if they keep insisting that their
special, esoteric pleasures have nothing to do with those experienced
by so-called ordinary people. Part of the basis for any sort of
discussion is the assumption that our experiences do have things in
common even when our vocabularies differ. As Fred just wrote, it
ought to be possible for anybody to `get' what's special about
Welles, Hawks, Rossellini, et al -– even if we can't see as much, or
describe our experiences as lucidly, as the best critics do.

By the way, Yoel, I love The Simpsons, and I bet people will still be
watching it in a hundred years. Do you insist that it's not art
because it's driven mainly by script and performance, or because it's
only loosely guided by a single controlling vision, or what?
Obviously the technical quality of the animation pales in comparison
to what was possible at Warners, but on the other hand the voice
actors strike me as superior to Mel Blanc.

JTW
1490


From: jaketwilson
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 10:39am
Subject: sex vs art
 
"Zach Campbell" wrote:

> Perhaps delineating between sexual and aesthetic
> pleasure is something we should dive into.

Art isn't sex (surprise) but on a basic level surely responding to
art involves a libidinal investment, as Freud would say.

I tried to argue a while back that porn and art are incompatible
because porn distracts us from what we're doing (watching a film) by
making us think about what we're not doing (having sex). I'm pretty
sure Bazin makes this point somewhere -- he claims that nudity in
movies is problematic because it draws undue attention to the 'real'
attractions of the performer rather than integrating these
attractions within a work of art. Interestingly this runs directly
counter to his more famous ideas about cinema's ability to
capture 'reality' independent of artifice.

Anyway, maybe this helps explain why Hawks, Vidor, Lubitsch,
Sternberg etc are masters of eroticism, but the modern Hollywood sex
scene ranks with the most tedious cliches of cinema?

JTW
1491


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 1:23pm
Subject: Re: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
>I mean, Wise made some nice films, but it was always
clear to me that
the editorial brilliance of "Kane" (and what remains
of Welles' "Ambersons")
did not belong to the man who made "The Sound of
Music."

No, but it DOES belong to the man who made "The
Haunting," "The Set-Up" amd "Odds Against Tomorrow."

>"Once you've seen the final camera move in "Some Came
Running" - and the sea of emotional responses it
evokes - it's hard to get too worked up about some
maudlin, formless piece of cinema, however
emotionally involving it is on a character and story
level."

True, save for the fact that maudlin,formless cinema
NEVER has an emotionally involving character or story
level.

--- ptonguette@a... wrote:


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1492


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 1:26pm
Subject: Re: Re: Costume Designers as Auteurs
 
"And, Mike, other than the
fact that one was at Metro, the other at Fox, could
you tell the
difference between a Plunkett design and a Charles Le
Maire? I know
I couldn't."

Having co-curated the "Hollywood and History" show at
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1987, I could.




--- Damien Bona wrote:
> --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, MG4273@a... wrote:


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1493


From:
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 9:47am
Subject: Clarification
 
Some things in my previous posts need clarification.
1) I agree with Dan Sallitt, that auteurists tend to have some of the most
sympathetic responses to cinematographers, choreographers, designers and other
creative people who work on film. And his reason is correct: it is because
auteurists see film as art, and these people are artists.
My posts praising costume designers et al, were based a deep reverence for
film as art, and a humble desire to lovingly understand its artistic greatness.
If people want to use cinematographers, etc, as a gambit to minimize
directors, or attack the concept of film as art, they can "include me out" (as Sam
Goldwyn put it).
2) Fred Camper is correct about the greatness of the great film directors.
His post summarizes these people's great achievement as artists.
Fred Camper is also profoundly right about the integral connection between
experimental filmmakers and the rest of film history.
My posts to a_film_by have repeatedly expressed deep enthusiasm, love and
admiration for the great film creators of the experimental tradition: Clair,
Cocteau, Watson and Webber, Fischinger, Maya Deren, Grant, Whitney, Brakhage,
Belson, Rice, Anger, Harrington, Baillie, Nelson, Paradjanov, Jack Smith, Jordan,
Sharits, Emshwiller, Mekas and many others.
3) Bill Krohn is right about the importance of studying production history.
His book Hitchcock at Work (2000) shows Hitchcock in full creative flight at
work on his pictures. His research gives the lie to textbooks that depict
filmmaking from 1915-1970 as made up of willing studio slaves grinding out formula
pictures at studio dictates. Instead, it allows one to see filmmakers as
creative artists, and peer into their minds as they do their work.
4) I agree that the kinds of pleasure one get from filmmakers is often
different from pleasure achieved from writers. It is worthwhile to make as many
meaningful distinctions as possible. Especially if one wants to discuss film with
other people, and exchange ideas.
I love mystery fiction. Mystery fiction is a form of storytelling based on
plot. The great mystery writers, Poe, Doyle, Christie, Carr, Ellery Queen,
Dashiell Hammett, Futrelle, are great masters of plot construction. I believe that
their imaginative plots are a great artistic achievement. I welcome mystery
films (and TV shows), and get intense satisfaction from seeing films with
superbly constructed mystery plots. This satisfaction seems artistic, IMHO. But: it
is a very different kind of art from the magnificent visual creativity of a
Welles, a Rossellini, a Brakhage, a Ford or a Mizoguchi.
Of course, in some films, we get both: Hitchcock, Lang, Joseph H. Lewis,
Preminger and many other directors of mystery films. Not surprisingly, I love film
noir. By the way, in interviews Stan Brahage has expressed his great
enthusiasm for film noir while growing up.
5) Finally, my plea for people to be open minded, and look for artistic merit
in all sorts of films, was botched and inadequate. It is one thing to suggest
that one should look for art in both Hollywood and so-called art films. This
seems correct. But it should be completed by saying that one should ultimately
try to find genuine art. This was NOT a plea for low brow junk, or suggesting
all films are equal. If I recommended Grease 2, it was because I thought
there was genuine merit in the film's comedy and dancing. And I do love its joyful
spirit.
Mike Grost
1494


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 4:14pm
Subject: Re: Re: The Auteur Theory & Minnelli's Some Came Running
 
Well, thanks to Vinny and David for clarifying. I haven't found much to
disagree with in the posts here since my last, except for individual
taste differences. And I endorse just about everything Mike Grost
writes, not just the parts where he agrees with me!

Peter:

"Once you've seen the final camera move in 'Some Came Running' - and the
sea of emotional responses it evokes - it's hard to get too worked up
about some maudlin, formless piece of cinema, however emotionally
involving it is on a character and story level."

Of course I agree with this, but there's more. The form of the whole of
"Some Came Running," the way that characters are related to backgrounds,
the kinds of spaces the compositions and camera movements create,
articulates a particular kind of relationship of people to things, and
of people to each other, that involves cycles of entrapment and
repetition. (Spoilers coming.) Dave's final scene in Gwen's bedroom,
with its symmetrical arrangement of lamps, "rhymes" in an important way
with its visual opposite, the carnival. The line from Dave's story that
we hear him read to Gunny, the last line, about a character running in
place and realizing there was nothing for him to do but start over, is
in some ways a synecdoche not only for the film's plot but for its
style. Though Minnelli is not as extreme as Sirk, there's something of
his youthful career as a designer of store display windows in Chicago in
his work, in the presence that the facades on the town's main street
have, and in the various interiors. It's as if every part of the frame,
every bookcase and lamp in the background, were impressing itself upon
the characters in a particular kind of way, spinning a sort of web. The
relationships between parts of the frame, including characters, has a
quality of interconnectedness. And thus the suggestions of freedom in
the last two scenes, via color and composition and camera movement, are
so striking -- freedoms of different kinds too, of evil unleashed
passion in the second to last scene and of a more adult vision of
freedom in the last.

The point is that for me the images form a visual system that expresses
a particular way of seeing things, and that I think can stand alongside
a great painting or a great piece of classical music. It is a system
that asks questions such as, "What qualities characterize relationships
between people, or between people and objects?"

Now, I *also* get pleasure from another aspect of the film, certain
lines of witty and cynical dialogue that certainly support the film's
theme. These are things I mostly didn't notice on the first or second
viewing, and I know from talking to other people that not everyone
notices them right away either. There's the wonderful moment at the club
where Professor French declares that "it's not immediately apparent,"
but Dave is an extremely "sensitive" young man, and his brother's bitchy
wife, not understanding the professor's "artistic" use of "sensitive,"
says of her husband, "Oh, Frank's like that too, terribly sensitive," or
something close to that, meaning that Frank gets angry with her often,
or something similar. The Professor, not understanding the
misunderstanding, ends the scene by studying Frank quizzically for signs
of "sensitivity." It's all over in a couple of seconds.

Then there's the wonderful moment when Ginny is waiting outside of
Gwen's classroom to see her for the big scene in which Ginny offers to
give Dave up "if you're gonna marry him" but not "if it's just one of
them things." She's doing her makeup and ignoring Gwen's speech about
the lives of great authors, but when Gwen uses the word "promiscuity,"
Ginny pauses for a minute, as if that's the only word she understood.

Finally, and best of all, after Dave proposes to Ginny, Bama comes in,
and Ginny tells him he'll never guess in a million years that they're
going to be married. Bama, totally unconcerned, says, "Oh, that's nice,"
without changing his tone at all. Dave, understanding what has happened
in a way that Frank's wife and Professor French had not, says, "No,
Bama, we really are." And only then does Bama get upset and explain that
if Dave marries that "pig" he's lost himself a friend. What Dave knew,
of course, was that Bama had assumed that he'd falsely promised marriage
to Ginny, or was planning some sham marriage, presumably in order to get
sex, or more sex (it's never clear to me what we're supposed to
understand about what happened on "that trip," though Gwen assumes it
was sex). There's the further implication that such promises are
considered normal among people of Dave and Bama's social strata. We know
they understand each other from their first meeting in the restaurant,
and the way they look at each other and how they talk. In his
autobiography, Minnelli says he did provide Sinatra and Martin a
motivation other than their paycheck -- he told them to imagine they
were former prostitutes who had married well and meet by chance in the
Beverly Hills Hotel and "know" each other, of something like that.

Now, I love these moments, and they support what's good about the film.
Take them and other script cleverness out, and the script becomes a lot
blander, and the film a little bit less good. Here's where I probably
differ with many others, though. How much less good would the film be?
It would go from +78 to +77. (I've long had my own not very seriously
applied rating scale, before I discovered another critic who uses it;
the difference is that mine goes from +100 to -100, because viewing many
films is a much worse experience for me than, say, staring at the
sidewalk, or looking at randomly shot and randomly edited footage. But I
certainly also think that linear ratings are a serious problem.)
Similarly, imagine a film directed by an uninteresting director from the
same script. Would the lines interest me? Not very much. I probably
wouldn't have seen the film enough times to notice all of them anyway.
My point is that while the script may color the film in various ways,
its central achievement is in its visual form, and for me it's that form
that makes the rest interesting. I just don't respond that much to the
entertainment values of plot, script, and acting on their own. I realize
that most people, and many or perhaps most auteurists, don't see things
that way. Fine. That's one thing our group can be for: to discuss and
debate these differences. But while I think anyone can see that form, I
don't in fact think that most viewers do, or at least, I don't think
most viewers appreciate it. If they did, then Borzage's "Disputed
Passage" would have outgrossed "Gone With the Wind."

- Fred
1495


From: Ruy Gardnier
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 4:13pm
Subject: Re: Auteur Theory, Charlie's Angels
 
didn't see Jackass or Human Nature, but I haven't got much interest in
Fincher, Jonze, Michael Bay, Paul Thomas Anderson or Darren Aronofsky (even
if the last two are considered more "auteurs", I say they belong to this new
regime of forces... it's just they want more than the others to be new
Scorseses, Altmans, Coens or Lynchs).
the best of this TV/MTV influence happens best in videoclip and experimental
pieces than in feature films. I really enjoy the work of Chris Cunningham
for the Aphex Twin and Björk clips
I have some care for Baz Luhrmann and the Wachowskis, though I don't really
like their films.
I think the only one to keep up and know how to deal with this continuous
flux of post-post-modern images & organizing (?) it into a somewhat coherent
(even in its incoherence) artform is McG.
I don't know if that's a clear thing to see, but if you watch a Rob Cohen
film and right after you see just two or three minutes of Full Throttle I
think you'll get it.
I have written a review on Charlie's Angels, but it's in portuguese...
Ruy
----- Original Message -----
From: "jaketwilson"
To:
Sent: Saturday, August 23, 2003 7:01 AM
Subject: [a_film_by] Auteur Theory, Charlie's Angels


> Interesting defenses of Charlie's Angels from Ruy and Peter, though I
> find Tashlin a more persuasive reference point than Hawks. Both these
> posts raise a larger question -- how far can auteurists locate value
> in the `post-cinema' landscape of contemporary blockbuster Hollywood,
> as typified by McG, David Fincher, Baz Luhrmann, The Matrix, Michael
> Bay, Jackass: The Movie? Seems to me traditional critical approaches
> just don't work with a lot of this stuff - which is also hard to
> separate from the various things happening on TV, or at least MTV.
>
> I continue to feel that splitting art from entertainment is one of
> those binary oppositions that block rather than assist inquiry. It
> may be true that `latent form is master of obvious form' (Heraclitus)
> but I have trouble with the notion that such `entertainment' staples
> as witty dialogue, narrative suspense, and star glamour are `noise'
> to be mentally edited out if we want to grasp the true Platonic
> nature of a movie's achievement. Rather, such attractions form part
> of that achievement, but they only `work' in the first place to the
> extent that they're integrated into a persuasive total structure.
>
> Auteurist example: my impression is a lot of the funniest lines in Dr
> Strangelove were written by Terry Southern. But jokes become much
> funnier in the context of character, and `character' in movies
> depends on actors, and our perception of actors changes depending how
> they're framed and lit, and -- well, you get the point. A successful
> film is more than the sum of its parts, but is, nonetheless, the sum
> of its parts. Which is why, as Bill says, we can value the
> contributions of a team of creative workers but still give ultimate
> credit to the director.
>
> No offense to anyone here, but my feeling is auteurists only stand to
> alienate everyone else further if they keep insisting that their
> special, esoteric pleasures have nothing to do with those experienced
> by so-called ordinary people. Part of the basis for any sort of
> discussion is the assumption that our experiences do have things in
> common even when our vocabularies differ. As Fred just wrote, it
> ought to be possible for anybody to `get' what's special about
> Welles, Hawks, Rossellini, et al -- even if we can't see as much, or
> describe our experiences as lucidly, as the best critics do.
>
> By the way, Yoel, I love The Simpsons, and I bet people will still be
> watching it in a hundred years. Do you insist that it's not art
> because it's driven mainly by script and performance, or because it's
> only loosely guided by a single controlling vision, or what?
> Obviously the technical quality of the animation pales in comparison
> to what was possible at Warners, but on the other hand the voice
> actors strike me as superior to Mel Blanc.
>
> JTW
>
>
>
>
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>
1496


From: jaketwilson
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 9:49pm
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory & Minnelli's Some Came Running
 
Reading Fred's detailed and illuminating comments on Some Came
Running, I concede it's likely that the average spectator or the
average critic remains oblivious to many aspects of Minnelli's
artistry, particularly on a first viewing. I don't think this state
of affairs is necessarily a problem -- it's supposed to be a defining
quality of great art that however often we go back to it we discover
something new.

A couple of supplementary, not so original points on film and
narrative:

1) While 'visual form' is crucial, to get the full measure of many
filmmakers it's necessary to think about sound as well.

2) One important way sound works in cinema is to make us more aware
of offscreen space as `present' in a given shot. But this means
asking us to interpret perceptible sights and sounds as components of
a larger unseen world; in other words, to participate in the
construction of a fiction. This is one reason `form'
and `storytelling' are so deeply intertwined in narrative cinema.

3) Acting and mise-en-scène are two sides of the same coin.
To `perform' in cinema means to perform physical actions within a
given space – this is equally true of Keaton, Cagney, Garbo or one of
Bresson's `models'. There's a natural but misleading tendency to
equate the theoretical distinction between style and content with the
practical distinction between camerawork and acting, presumably
because we imagine the latter two as occurring respectively `inside'
and `outside' the film's own universe. But this itself is a spatial
metaphor!

JTW
1497


From: Damien Bona
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 9:48pm
Subject: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, ptonguette@a... wrote:
>
> But let's take a more problematic example: the distinctive
cinematography of
> Gordon Willis. The guy's got a definite style, a whole set of
innovations to
> his name, and on and on. Yet "The Godfather," "Annie Hall," and
"All the
> President's Men" feel like three completely different films in every
important
> way. To my thinking, this supports - tremendously so - the concept
of the
> director as the prime mover, the final filter through which the
talents and
> contributions of others - however distinctive - must go through.

This is true of screenwriters, as well, even ones with strong
personalities. Peter Stone was a gifted writer of light
entertainments, whose salient attributes were clever dialogue and
quirky characterizations. Yet, 1776 (directed by Peter H. Hunt)
doesn't feel at all like Skin Game (Paul Bogart) – and we're not
talking particularly dynamic directors there. Even though they are
both suspense films taking place in New York, The Taking Of Pelham 123
(Joseph Sargent) is not much like Mirage (Edward Dmytryk). In fact
the only two Peter Stone movies that seem to share the same universe
are Charade and Arabesque, both of which were directed by Stanley
Donen.

Of course, if a domineering scripter teams up with a docile, insipid
director, that writer will be the primary voice of a movie. Thus,
Marty (Delbert Mann), The Hospital (Arthur Hiller) and Network (Sidney
Lumet) are Paddy Chayefsky films (and each is close to unwatchable in
my opinion). But then Paddy ran into a force of nature, Ken Russell,
who finally turned a Chayefsky script into something good and
memorable in Altered States – and not recognizable as Chayefsky's.
Chayefsky was so incensed that he took his name off the picture.

Such Neil Simon films as Barefoot In The Park, The Odd Couple (both
Gene Saks) and The Out Of Towners (Arthur Hiller) are a writer's
vehicles. The Heartbreak Kid, on the other hand, is very much Elaine
May's picture. This despite the fact that Simon had a contract clause
preventing so much as the change of a comma in his script. Through
her direction of the actors and their line readings, as well as the
particular look of the film, she made The Heartbreak Kid her own.


> A word or two on pleasure: for me, the most formally audacious,
challenging,
> moving, and complex films are almost always the ones I >want< to
spend my time
> with.

Nicely put, Peter. I think back to the statement – and I think it may
have originated with Stuart Byron in his exasperation with mainstream
critics in the 50s and 60s who seemed to believe that European art
films were inherently more worthwhile than Hollywood product: "There
aren't art films and non-art films. There are only good films and bad
films." And any good film is a joy to watch, whether it's an Andre
De Toth western dismissed by reviewers in its original release or a
more overtly rigorous work such as Tarkovsky's Nostalghia.

The most enjoyable time I've had at the movies this year was watching
Peter Watkins's 6-hour long La Commune, but I also had a great time at
A Mighty Wind, a light film that is filled with as much truth as the
Watkins. On the other hand, I find the thought of actually sitting
through Bad Boys 2 simply not within the realm of possibility – I
simply couldn't subject myself to such torture. And during Mission
Impossible 2, I ended up contemplating the drapes covering the
auditorium at the Loew's 42nd Street E-Walk, as it was much more
compelling than what was up on the screen.
1498


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 10:25pm
Subject: Re: Re: The Auteur Theory & Minnelli's Some Came Running
 
And in regard to sound, "Some Came Running" wouldn't
be half the film that it is without the contribution
of the greatest living film composer href="http://ehrensteinland.com/htmls/bride/g001/b_elmerbernstein.shtml"
target="_blank">Elmer Bernstein


--- jaketwilson wrote:


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1499


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 10:29pm
Subject: Re: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
The Heartbreak Kid, on the other hand, is
> very much Elaine
> May's picture. This despite the fact that Simon had
> a contract clause
> preventing so much as the change of a comma in his
> script. Through
> her direction of the actors and their line readings,
> as well as the
> particular look of the film, she made The Heartbreak
> Kid her own.

Quite true. And that's because she found through
Grodin
and her daughter a way of evoking the dynamic of her
routines with Mike Nichols.

By contrast"Mikey and Nicky" -- a much more personal
film in that it was based on something that happened
to her ownn family, is very much a collaboration with
Cassavetes.
--- Damien Bona wrote:
> --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, ptonguette@a...


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1500


From: Damien Bona
Date: Sat Aug 23, 2003 11:46pm
Subject: Re: Re: The Auteur Theory
 
David Ehrenstein wrote:
>No, but it DOES belong to the man who made "The
>Haunting," "The Set-Up" amd "Odds Against Tomorrow."


I'm afraid that if this is the best you can do in Wise's defense, then you'vr proven Peter's point.

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