Regarding Bela Tarr: I haven't seen any of his films other than The Turin Horse and The Man From Nowhere, (t...more(Film, fiction, for want of a better term)
Regarding Bela Tarr: I haven't seen any of his films other than The Turin Horse and The Man From Nowhere, (the former 3 times in theater, the latter once), if only because I can't deal, after my entirely overwhelming experience with The Turin Horse, with the idea of watching them on home video. As such, while I'm aware of occasional minutiae that overlaps here, I'm missing primary sources other than The Turin Horse. Nor have I read any of the novels the films are inspired by. With that said--
Damnation is very interesting. Formally, and by that I mean the form that it takes, I find it absolutely fantastic. Collecting tableau, linearly, of various "characters" (or, perhaps, symbols) from a town undergoing an apocalyptic affliction, brought upon by a book (which, of course, brings to mind both Mallarmé's great book as well as Jabès entire project), a darkness, a rain, a melancholy.
As such, it is easy and engaging to get lost in the scuffles, occasionally recalled via images from the films, heavy black and white, silence, long shots, a darkness--an omnipresent darkness. (less)
This short book by Bay Area filmmaker Dorskey is somewhat of a revered object by some--and after seeing a screening series of his work (which is astou...moreThis short book by Bay Area filmmaker Dorskey is somewhat of a revered object by some--and after seeing a screening series of his work (which is astounding) and hearing him talk--Dorsky is honestly one of the most articulate and engrossing speakers on experimental films I've EVER encountered--I was excited to read this too. And, I should say, it is good, but it lacks any definiteness that his talks had, that other books on film I've read have. I should clarify: the central thesis throughout the book, the idea of letting film work on you, the affect washing over, in development of a devotional cinema is precisely what I am interested in Cinema, and the extrapolation of this feeling is great, the problem comes when Dorsky articulates an example--whereas in Cinema and Sensation, examples of affect via specific techniques is describes fully & linkedly, in Dorsky's book the examples are casual and never quite sit as true--Dorsky's devotion is far more subjective, which of course is fine and not really a surprise, but the fact that I was simultaneously reading a book that managed to sort of objectively articulate these ideas I'm obsessed with (which is, I would say, a lot hard to do since affect is, by definition, subjective), made it lose some of its power. I'd still, of course, recommend it, as it's a lovely book to read.(less)
Short, aphoristic fragments that guide Bresson’s film making. Scribbed down as “notes to self,” reading them in whole is astonishing & inspiring,...moreShort, aphoristic fragments that guide Bresson’s film making. Scribbed down as “notes to self,” reading them in whole is astonishing & inspiring, a totality of a brilliant filmmaker. I agree with almost everything he told himself to remember.(less)
Gave up because, despite what apparently every reviewing on the internet would have you think, the writing is horrible. There's virtually no integrati...moreGave up because, despite what apparently every reviewing on the internet would have you think, the writing is horrible. There's virtually no integration between the autobiographical narrative and the elements of the film, it's just one following another with a vague sense of "oh this is like this thing in this movie." Granted, this commentary is based on the first five chapters. It's nice to learn about some of the films, but information comes mostly by way of plot synopsis (which is also about all that's thrown in in the chapter), little criticism or any sort of probing. Disappointing, especially when the idea of the book is so fantastic.(less)
This is absolutely essential. The first two sections perfectly articulate everything I want out of cinema, drawing both on Artaud’s idea of a “third c...moreThis is absolutely essential. The first two sections perfectly articulate everything I want out of cinema, drawing both on Artaud’s idea of a “third cinema” and Bataille’s notion of the formless, constructing a language of cinematic affect, how a text (in this case, a film) can draw the viewer in & inspire a response not via empathy, but rather directly, approaching a sort of degree zero of experience–something that I am after in all forms of art, but that I think things OTHER than the written word & the moving image are generally better at–narrative often makes it hard for us to approach the text using any other method than the protagonist as cipher, but this book really demonstrates that it’s possible otherwise. Final section, drawing more on Deleuze’s film theory, is still interesting, but seems less necessary & urgent.
on pg 87 ("Feeling alienation")... I've been praising this shit for 2 years and I still haven't finished it haha
"Haptic images can give the impression of seeing for the first time, gradually discovering what is in the image rather than coming to the image already knowing what it is. Several such works represent the point of view of a disoriented traveler unsure how to read the world in which he finds himself. (Marks 2000: 178)" (3)
"I would contend that Denis’ film demonstrates how shock and ‘excess’ – the ‘orgiastic bloodletting’ – need not be a system and an end in themselves (as in genre movies) nor merely one aspect of a pre-existing discursive strategy (as in traditional art movies). Here, horror operates as a gateway; it grows in the interstices, creating connections between the plane of sensation and that of interpretation. It is in the gratuitous or ‘surplus’ nature of the vision, in its beholding of the forces of chaos, and in the way it engages us emotionally as well as aesthetically with the irrational and unacceptable, that the critical edge lies (Bataille 1988: 106). In fact, I would suggest that, even in this context of ‘extreme’ cinema, Deleuze’s description of the journey from the action-image regime to that of the time-image has an indisputable resonance:
In the old realism or on the model of the action-image, objects and settings already had a reality of their own, but it was a functional reality, strictly determined by the demands of the situation, even if these demands were as much poetic as dramatic . . . [on the contrary, when] objects and settings [milieux] take on an autonomous material reality . . . the situation is not extended directly into action: it is no longer sensorymotor, as in realism, but primarily optical and of sound, invested by the senses, before action takes shape in it, and uses or confronts its elements . . . between the reality of the setting and that of the action, it is no longer a motor extension which is established, but rather a dreamlike connection through the intermediary of the liberated sense organs. (Deleuze 1989: 4)
"By focusing on inanimate objects and empty spaces, the photography creates a void in the middle of the image, pulling, as in the effect of décadrage, the gaze towards the edges of the frame, where chaos might be lurking. The systematic decentring of the human figure enhances the barrenness of the sets, and the horror filters in as if to fill the emptiness (Bonitzer 2001: 126; Beugnet 2004b: 169 and 172)." (44)
"In works like Trouble Every Day, Sombre, La Vie nouvelle or Demonlover, the violence is maybe better grasped in terms such as those used by Bataille to describe what he calls the ‘part maudite’ – the ‘accursed share’ (Bataille  1988). The brutality of the vision presented by these works is not made ‘better’ with explanations and justifications; even if it offers a context, evokes the roots of a certain violence, it is a horror that denies the kind of functional-moral use that customarily befalls it in mainstream narratives. Hence, within the melancholy that imbues the world of Denis’ film, the horror is simply the irreducible echo of the inexcusable suffering that takes place in our reality, the manifestation of that which remains in ‘excess’ of historical and moral reasoning." (46)
"What needs to be considered, then, are ways of addressing the unfamiliar visions embodied in certain films without disconnecting them from the work on the materiality of the image: that is, from an approach to filmmaking where the moving image is not merely, to paraphrase Joyard’s comment, ‘in the service of a discourse, but a discourse in itself ’ – and an embodied one at that." (59)
"There are two ways of moving beyond figuration (that is, beyond the illustrative as well as the narrative): it means either moving towards the abstract form or the Figure. This path of the Figure, Cézanne gave it a simple name: sensation. The Figure is the sensitive form related to sensation. (Deleuze  2002: 39, translation mine)" (64)
"If we can talk of classical representation, it is as part of the conquest of an optical space, where vision is more distant and never frontal: form and ground do not belong to the same plane any more; the planes have become distinct and their depth is traversed by a perspective that connects background and foreground . . . the outline ceases to be a common limit on a shared plane to become the form’s own delineation, establishing the primacy of the foreground . . . Art can then become figurative, yet we can see that this was not what art was initially and that figuration is but a consequence. (Deleuze  2002: 118, translation mine)" (65)
"Beyond the needs of narrative clarity, the cinema of sensation thus plays on the material qualities of the medium to construct a space that encourages a relation of intimacy or proximity with the object of the gaze, privileging primary identification with the film as event, rather than identification with characters caught in plot developments. The effect is an unsettling of the conventional vision-knowledge-mastery paradigm, in favour of a relation where the spectator may surrender, at least partly, a sense of visual control for the possibility of a sensuous encounter with the film – where the subject affectively yields into its object. It comes as no surprise that horror cinema should make great use of haptic images; there is something both appealing and potentially threatening in the way haptic perception undermines the strategies of distanciation at work in conventional optical perception. In the most radical instances (as we will see when we consider certain uses of the close-up, for example) the shift from optical vision to de-subjectified perception operates a strange, unsettling effect of reversal, where the subject appears caught in the field of vision of the object, as if the gaze originated in the inanimate." (68)
"The image is no longer given as a reflection, discourse, or the currency of whatever absolute value; it works to invest immanence, using every type of sensation, drive and affect. To make a film means . . . confronting the sheer terror of the death drive, or the still more immense and bottomless terror of the unconscious, of total opacity. (Brenez 2003)" (70)
"In cinema, ‘scientific knowledge’ translates as the organisation of a film as a system of representation; mostly, we are expected to comprehend it as such – an already encoded narrative space – ‘by-passing’ or playing down, as it were, the sensuous experience of film watching (or, as in action and horror genre films, praising the special effects for their ‘realistic’ feel), subsuming it to the logic and coherence of the scenario and the realism of the representation and characterisation. Yet, cinema’s synaesthetic power of evocation turns the viewing of certain films into primarily affective, multi-sensory experiences. To engage with such works arguably allows the viewer to transform into what Sobchack describes as a ‘cinesthetic subject’: a spectator who can experience a film not merely as an exercise in the mastery of a representational system, but as the triggering of a ‘pre-logical non-hierarchical unity of the sensorium’ (Sobchack 2004: 69)." (74)
"In conventional film language, fragmented images of the body tend to be used to objectify a character (sexually) or to stress a gesture that is crucial to the progression of the plot. But in Vendredi soir, this fragmentation, often dictated by the configuration of the space, participates essentially in the progressive invocation of the bodies. The camera tends to focus on unexpected details. In close-up, it follows the outline of a neck, the shape of a thigh under a tight skirt, the movement of a mass of hair in front of a fan. In turn, the fragment becomes a sensory extension, the close-up a focalisation on a particular sensation. The rough texture of the hotel room’s carpeted floor is evoked by the contrast with Laure’s bare feet which she rubs against it; the shyness and impatience of the first embrace, like the contrast between cold air and warm skin, are encapsulated in the images of hands slipping under the thick layers of winter clothes (Beugnet 2004b: 192)." (81)(less)
While Gary Indiana's book on Salo ended up taking an unfortunate spill into excessive plot-description, Leutrat's account here is all reading the film...moreWhile Gary Indiana's book on Salo ended up taking an unfortunate spill into excessive plot-description, Leutrat's account here is all reading the film itself. Perhaps this is because Last Year at Marienbad's plot could be summed up briefly in a sentence (for the film resists being reducible to its plot), or I guess it could just be a French approach to film criticism versus that of an American-- lots of theory here which I loved, and also a more detailed account of Resnais "vs" Robbe-Grillet in terms of the finished film itself. I'd like to read more film criticism like this I think.(less)
"Spielberg and the nexus of film-making connected to him are everything I dislike: the cinema of mechanical manipulation, replete with fake emotions,...more"Spielberg and the nexus of film-making connected to him are everything I dislike: the cinema of mechanical manipulation, replete with fake emotions, cheap sentiments, endless calculation, imperial ambition. Jaws, soon followed by the vapid Star Wars, then the faecal Close Encounters of the Third Kind, sounded the death knell of Hollywood auteurism. (The coup de grace, vide Biskind, came a few years later, with the gargantuan failure of Cimino's Heaven's Gate.) Jaws and its icky spawn returned American film-making to a purely industrial process: no more arty exercises in existentialism, no more Brechtian effects, no more obstrusive stylistic tics. The Spielbergian idea was to snuggle up to the money, and turn out the kind of movies the studios loved. The target audience of Spielberg and Lucas was the adolescent American male and his swarming testosterone. The ideal pitch was a 'high concept' running exactly one sentence." (23)
The first half of this or so, where it's more Indiana talking via both autobiographically & on larger issues surrounding the film, film in general, and Pasolini, is fantastic. However, once Indiana begins specifically addressing the film it does get bogged down in too much plot-description, although I understand, I suppose, the necessity within this approach.(less)
Kinski is kind of god, I think, he is fucking untouchable, I love him, I think he is perhaps the greatest actor who ever lived. I hate Herzog, and Kin...moreKinski is kind of god, I think, he is fucking untouchable, I love him, I think he is perhaps the greatest actor who ever lived. I hate Herzog, and Kinski did too, I think I want to trust Kinski more than Herzog because Kinski could feel while Herzog was basically a macho jerk, I don't even care if this book is filled with lies, they are beautiful lies, they are the lies of a live that is, and was, and can. Kinski hates all the films he stars in, yet often it is he who makes the films star in memory. (less)
I grabbed this from I-L-L in the interest of the late Sharits interview. Overall it's a nice catalog; I had never heard of Fisher or Chernick, but thi...moreI grabbed this from I-L-L in the interest of the late Sharits interview. Overall it's a nice catalog; I had never heard of Fisher or Chernick, but this catalog hints that their art is fairly interesting, though perhaps oddly naive in consideration right next to Sharits (though that might be a personal bias). Sharits, as usual, comes off as immensely bright and involved in his work, and 3rd Degree sounds like a fascinating piece. His discussion of sound cues (the manipulated rattlesnake hiss, placing the speakers on the ground) is inspiring, and it's fascinating that he expresses interest in computer as a tool to automate his structural explorations.(less)
Krauss's essay is excellent, which is no surprise, in it's scope and insistence upon placing Shartits's films within a larger context, yet also insist...moreKrauss's essay is excellent, which is no surprise, in it's scope and insistence upon placing Shartits's films within a larger context, yet also insisting upon looking at how they work on their own terms.
Even more interesting to me, at least, is the interview with Sharits. The more I read, the more I am interested in hearing what he has to say.(less)
I made a bootleg of this. I am a photo-copier God.
What I liked about this monograph is how suspicious the author is about many of Sharits'...moreI made a bootleg of this. I am a photo-copier God.
What I liked about this monograph is how suspicious the author is about many of Sharits's statements-- Liebman insists on basically calling "bullshit" on enough stuff, but re-reading within the ideas of Harold Bloom's "anxiety of influence." What this does, of course, is let Liebman focus on Sharits and his work through the head of Sharits himself, and it's actually a really interesting approach to the work, which found me at least 100 times more interested in it than I was formerly.(less)
I love Duras, but really, for being a sort of cine-roman thing, this one sort of fails to deliver. Resnais's film is so image based, and while the ima...moreI love Duras, but really, for being a sort of cine-roman thing, this one sort of fails to deliver. Resnais's film is so image based, and while the images are hinted at, it's actually the collaborative efforts that make the film so wonderful. Where both INDIA SONG and DESTROY, SHE SAID work as books in an amazing way, this one feels too light, too fragmented, and not in a holy way that Duras's work often feels.(less)
The thing I like best about Cinema Sewer is that it somehow makes me manage to forget any sort of analytic obsession I have with film and, however bri...moreThe thing I like best about Cinema Sewer is that it somehow makes me manage to forget any sort of analytic obsession I have with film and, however briefly, exist in the pleasure zone of initially discovering exploitation and euro-horror, bad action movies and plotted hardcore porn. Bougie's writing is so filled with pleasure that it rubs off on the reader, and it makes everything sound like a really good idea. In terms of an experience, it is really pleasurable to read, really fun. The re-titled Asian movies in translation had me rolling on the ground the same way the list of worst porn titles ever from the first volume did. I came away knowing more that I wouldn't have otherwise too, which is awesome.(less)