Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Waging war for cinema
Jean-Luc Godard's 1959 article heralding the new wave. Still shy of his first feature as director, but supremely confident, he sounds like he's been asked to play a bugle on the battlefield before the fighting starts, which he does loudly and without mercy. Everyone should sound this charged up by their work...
“The Face of the French Cinema Has Changed”
BY JEAN-LUC GODARD
Fifty years ago today . . .
Godard wrote this New Wave battle cry for the April 22, 1959, issue of the French journal Arts, on the news of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows being selected to represent France at the Cannes Film Festival (thanks to the machinations of French culture minister and New Wave champion André Malraux). The year before, Truffaut had been barred from
As soon as the screening was over, the lights came up in the tiny auditorium. There was silence for a few moments. Then Philippe Erlanger, representing the
What matters is that for the first time a young film has been officially designated by the powers that be to reveal the true face of the French cinema to the entire world. And what one can say of Truffaut could equally well be said of Alain Resnais, of Claude Chabrol if Les cousins had been chosen to represent
The face of the French cinema has changed.
Malraux made no mistake. The author of La monnaie de l’absolu could hardly help recognizing that tiny inner flame, that reflection of intransigence, shining in the eyes of Truffaut’s Antoine as he sports a man’s hat to steal a typewriter in a sleeping Paris; for it is the same as that which glittered twenty years ago on Tchen’s dagger on the first page of La condition humaine.
The director of L’espoir was better placed than anybody to know what this reflection meant: the principal form of talent in the cinema today is to accord more importance to what is in front of the camera than to the camera itself, to answer first of all the question why, in order to then be able to answer the question how. Content, in other words, precedes form and conditions it. If the former is false, the latter will logically be false too: it will be awkward.
In attacking over the last five years in these columns the false technique of Gilles Grangier, Ralph Habib, Yves Allégret, Claude Autant-Lara, Pierre Chenal, Jean Stelli, Jean Delannoy, André Hunebelle, Julien Duvivier, Maurice Labro, Yves Ciampi, Marcel Carné, Michel Boisrond, Raoul André, Louis Daquin, André Berthomieu, Henri Decoin, Jean Laviron, Yves Robert, Edmond Gréville, Robert Darène . . . what we were getting at was simply this: your camera movements are ugly because your subjects are bad, your casts act badly because your dialogue is worthless; in a word, you don’t know how to create cinema because you no longer even know what it is.
And we have more right than anyone to say this. Because if your name is emblazoned like a star’s outside the cinemas on the Champs-Élysées, if people now talk about a Henri Verneuil film or a Christian-Jaque just as they talk about a Griffith, Vigo, or Preminger, it is thanks to us.
To those of us who on this paper, in Cahiers du cinéma, Positif, or Cinéma 59, no matter where, on the back page of Figaro littéraire or France-observateur, in the prose of Lettres françaises and sometimes even the schoolgirl stuff of L’express, those of us who waged, in homage to Louis Delluc, Roger Leenhardt, and André Bazin, the battle for the film auteur.
We won the day in having it acknowledged in principle that a film by Hitchcock, for example, is as important as a book by
We cannot forgive you for never having filmed girls as we love them, boys as we see them every day, parents as we despise or admire them, children as they astonish us or leave us indifferent; in other words, things as they are. Today, victory is ours. It is our films that will go to
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Verve's Urban Hymns: A sort-of review
A lucid dream. Not some drugged out room filled with negativity. A simple fix. Pop the pill, forget about the rest. Let Dr. Robert worry. Butterfly with tangerine wings, caught in the strobe lights, chrysalis confused. Chase it down. In your lucid dream.
“We are the rolling people. Don’t know why”
Life is not simple. There are easy ways to arrive at this conclusion. The object of your affection could return the favour with a little less enthusiasm that you would have liked. Like that movie. You could hate your job. Like that song. You could make so many compromises that your every move is shadowed with self-doubt. Like that year.
Knowing that someone you love is going to die, and that the drugs will not help this time.
Realising that its not possible to walk through life and avoid bumping into people.
Experiencing that feeling of release. Two guitars, bass, drums. Epiphany...and then poof. It’s gone. True pain captured, sold to a world starving for something real, only to find that they ate it, found it bitter, spit it out.
"Richard, towering over the rest of the bobbing crowd, looked around wildly. This was a signal for whoever of us weren’t wasted to go to him. Talk to him, reassure him he wasn’t through the looking glass, that there was no giant butterfly in the loo, no rabbit with a machine gun at the door. Today was bad though, he just sat down in the middle of the club floor. My feelings have been betrayed, he kept yelling out. I was born a little damaged, look what they made. Cold-blooded as it sounds, I knew that would end up in a song.
Later, that evening we took a ride home in Simon’s beat-up Chevy. Richard kept putting his head through the window and yelling at the passers-by. We had one serious scare. We stopped for cigarettes, and everyone except Rich left the car for a few minutes. When we got back, he was missing. A few minutes later, we heard a noise above our heads. It was him, sitting up on the roof, saying ‘Bow down’ again and again. We freaked, raced up, persuaded him to come down. He didn’t protest much, seemed more numb that anything else. Was jumping on his mind that day? I don’t think so. Suicide wasn’t his thing..."
The fact is that I don’t know shit about what I’m saying. I only know sound and the worlds inherent. But that’s not enough. I don’t know uppers. Downers. X. LSD. Coke. Shrooms. Hash. I know not of these worlds, and it informs the fact that I am attempting to write about them. But I still try. I need to hear some sounds that recognise the pain in me, even if I can’t relate to the pain in them.
But there will always be that gap, because I cannot put myself through any of it. There’s too much at stake. But if I were to feel tempted, the only reason I would not do it would be because I don’t have the guts. This will always trouble me.