sexta-feira, 30 de dezembro de 2005

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Frontière chinoise

TPS Cinétoile, 21 heures.

par Louis SKORECKI

Je ne suis pas sûr que le vrai Jacques Aumont, le polytechnicien des universités, aime Ford : trop énigmatique, trop contradictoire, trop muet. Le faux Aumont, le mien, c'est autre chose. Ce professeur itinérant, qui tient David sous son emprise (le pire, c'est que David y prend du plaisir), éprouve pour Ford une passion exclusive. Quand il parle du dernier Ford, Seven Women (il ne dit jamais Frontière chinoise, il a les titres français en horreur), quand il le compare au dernier Mizoguchi, la Rue de la honte, les yeux de David brillent d'excitation. Il revient du lycée le regard hagard. Il n'est plus de ce monde. Je n'aime pas ça. Tu as fumé ? je lui demande. Tu sais que je déteste ça. David se frotte les yeux, il ne répond pas. Il peut rester des heures sans parler. Quand il sort de sa léthargie, il me demande ce que je pense de Frontière chinoise. Je lui dis qu'un film de 1966, il faut le regarder avec suspicion. Il faut toujours se méfier des chefs-d'oeuvre de postcinéma. Si seulement monsieur Daniel avait été là, il lui raconterait Ford. Il a joué dans plusieurs de ses films, il le connaissait bien.

Dès qu'on prononce son nom, monsieur Daniel arrive. Vous parliez de Frontière chinoise ? dit-il, comme s'il avait écouté le début de notre conversation. C'est le moins fordien de tous les Ford. Il lui manque cette attention maniaque aux détails qui fait la chaleur documentaire de ses meilleurs films. C'est quoi un film fordien ? demande David. Celui qui préfère l'extraordinaire du quotidien au dépaysement ou à l'exotisme, répond monsieur Daniel. Ford est le cinéaste de l'Amérique ordinaire, pas celui de l'exploit et des paillettes, conclut-il. David raconte comment Aumont présente Seven Women, un grand mélo féminin. Tout ce que Ford détestait, lâche monsieur Daniel. David se tait. Moi aussi.

quinta-feira, 29 de dezembro de 2005

La parola come mezzo di comunicazione e di espressione sembra essere in decadenza o per lo meno in una fase di transizione che potrebbe anche preludere ad una riduzione definitiva del suo predominio; e l'immagine (televisione, cinema, fumetti, pubblicità ecc. ecc.) è in auge. Così abbiamo un numero crescente di scrittori o possibili scrittori che abbandonano la infida letteratura per il cinema; nonché scuole letterarie, come per esempio l'Ecole du regard francese, che si studiano di applicare nella letteratura i procedimenti cinematografici. Naturale quindi che Robbe-Grillet giri un film e che qui da noi Pasolini, nonostante il successo dei suoi romanzi, lasci la pagina per lo schermo.

Ma il caso di Bernardo Bertolucci è forse il più probante. Non si tratta infatti di una scoperta tardiva come nel caso di Pasolini bensì di un esordio ossia di una preferenza del tutto spontanea e nativa. Bertolucci che è poeta e sa che cosa può la parola, esordisce tuttavia come regista, mentre vent'anni fa avrebbe esordito come romanziere. Perché questo? Evidentemente perché egli ha sentito che la parola ancora valida e insostituibile nella poesia, non lo è altrettanto nella narrativa.

Finora il cinema aveva rubato al romanzo i territori ormai sfruttati del romanzo d'azione, di avventure, di intrigo; ma non pareva che potesse rivaleggiare con la narrativa nel campo dell'introspezione psicologica. Ora i film di alcuni giovani registi e, da ultimo, questo Dopo la rivoluzione (sic) di Bernardo Bertolucci ci fanno capire che anche per simili difficili e sottili argomenti, il romanzo domani potrebbe essere soppiantato dal cinema.

Bertolucci ha fatto chiaramente un film che è il romanzo che egli avrebbe scritto se avesse esordito vent'anni fa. Ci sono in Dopo la rivoluzione tutti i caratteri di un romanzo di educazione sentimentale: l'autobiografismo, il tentativo di inserimento di un caso personale nella Storia, il trasferimento dissociato ed estroverso dei propri sentimenti in altrettanti personaggi, l'identificazione dell'autore con l'eroe, l'idea di una durata che, al contrario di quanto avviene di solito nel cinema, non sia limitata al presente.

Dopo la rivoluzione, come dice il titolo vuol descrivere il riflusso e la stagnazione che seguono i grandi sommovimenti delle rivoluzioni. Bertolucci è parmigiano, Stendhal è, o almeno pare, sempre attuale a Parma: non è stato, dunque, difficile al nostro regista operare una contaminazione tra la rivoluzione dell'89 (libertaria, demoniaca e individualista) e la rivoluzione comunista (restauratrice dello Stato, collettivista e portata a risolvere i problemi della giustizia piuttosto che quelli della libertà); e tra i personaggi della Chartreuse de Parme e i propri. Così abbiamo Fabrizio, ossia Fabrizio del Dongo, giovane borghese con sentimenti e idee di sinistra, il quale sente sbollire e raffreddarsi nel proprio animo l'ardore rivoluzionario; e la bella e giovane ma nevrotica zia Gina, ossia Gina Sanseverino, di cui egli diventa per poco tempo l'amante, la quale, con la sua nevrastenia, si incarica di dare il colpo di grazia alla già vacillante fede politica del nipote. Ad un certo punto, Gina se ne va, torna a Milano dai suoi dottori psicanalisti, e Fabrizio, del tutto rassegnato e deluso ormai, sposa una bella e insipida fanciulla di nobile famiglia, rientrando così definitivamente in quella stessa società che nella sua adolescenza egli aveva sognato di distruggere.

Bernardo Bertolucci ha fatto un film coraggioso. Non diciamo coraggioso dal punto di vista ideologico o di contenuto; bensì dal punto di vista artistico. Avrebbe potuto come tanti servirsi del cinema come di un mezzo di evasione; se ne è servito invece come di un mezzo di conoscenza e di espressione strettamente personale. Il cinema mira più spesso a darci una descrizione del mondo che una descrizione di chi lo fa. Bertolucci, attraverso Dopo la rivoluzione, ha voluto darci una descrizione di se stesso. Donde le molte qualità del film, già presenti nel film a episodi precedente, qualità propriamente poetiche ossia di resa insieme precisa ed estrosa di particolari non indispensabili alla economia del racconto oppure anche di approccio non soltanto psicologico ai personaggi; e al tempo stesso alcuni difetti tra i quali, principale, quello di ripetere il già detto come chi non è mai abbastanza sicuro di essersi espresso con sufficiente chiarezza ed efficacia. Anche un certo abuso della parola che, secondo noi, al cinema andrebbe limitata allo stretto necessario, deriva da questo timore di non essere riuscito a spiegarsi completamente. Ma ogni volta che il regista, come nelle sequenze finali dell'opera e del matrimonio, riesce a dominare il dissidio tra la sua ispirazione e il mezzo espressivo di cui si serve, allora il suo tormentato ondeggiare tra cinema e letteratura si risolve e si fonde felicemente in immagini.

Tra gli interpreti, una menzione particolare merita soprattutto Adriana Asti che è Gina, la nevrotica zia milanese. Essa ha saputo darci un personaggio originale e senza convenzionalità tipiche, tutto giocato sulle mutevoli espressioni di una fisionomia oltremodo sensibile. Accanto a lei, va ricordato Francesco Barilli che è un efficace anche se un po’ troppo debole Fabrizio.

Per prima cosa dobbiamo correggere una svista in cui siamo incorsi nell'ultimo numero dell' “Espresso” occupandoci del film di Bernardo Bertolucci. Il titolo del film: Prima della rivoluzione e non Dopo la rivoluzione, come abbiamo erroneamente scritto. Siccome le sviste hanno sempre un motivo, magari inconscio, vogliamo spiegare perché ci siamo sbagliati. Il titolo di Bertolucci allude alla nota frase di Tayllerand: “Chi non ha conosciuto la vita prima della rivoluzione, non può sapere che cosa sia la dolcezza di vivere”. Ma a questo titolo, fa contrasto la falsariga della Chartreuse de Parme sulla quale il regista ha ricalcato la sua vicenda. Infatti: nel romanzo stendhaliano, come nel film, ci è descritto invece lo stato d'animo di “dopo” la rivoluzione, stato d'animo depresso e lontano da qualsiasi gioia di vivere. La contraddizione ironicamente intenzionale tra il titolo e contenuto del film ci ha indotti nell'errore.

Alberto Moravia, "L'Espresso", 18 e 25/10/1964

La Troisième Génération

CinéCinéma Auteur, 0 h 05.

par Louis SKORECKI

Depuis une semaine, Caroline veut qu'on l'appelle Carlotta. Elle dit avoir trouvé la tombe de Carlotta Valdès au Père-Lachaise, sous un saule pleureur. C'est qui, Carlotta Valdès ?, demande David. Kim Novak dans Vertigo, répond sèchement Caroline. Pas Caroline, dit Caroline, Carlotta. Comme ceux qui éditent les Fassbinder en DVD ?, demande David. Non, dit Caroline... pardon Carlotta, comme ceux qui les ressortent au cinéma avant d'en faire des DVD. Des DVD aussi beaux que toi, dit David. Carlotta rougit un peu. Je lui demande quel est son Fassbinder préféré. Il y en a tant, répond-elle, mais je crois que c'est la Troisième Génération, qui fait partie du superbe coffret Carlotta. Tu sais que c'était le Fassbinder préféré de Biette ?, dit David. Comment tu sais ça ?, demande Caroline... pardon Carlotta. C'est monsieur Edouard qui me l'a dit, répond David.

Dès qu'on prononce son nom, à croire qu'il a des espions dans la maison, monsieur Edouard déboule au quart de tour. Vous parliez de Biette ?, demande-t-il. C'est ça, répond David. Vous m'avez bien raconté que Biette aimait beaucoup la Troisième Génération ? Il l'adorait, vous voulez dire, répond monsieur Edouard. Il ne préférait pas Pasolini ? demande Caroline... pardon Carlotta. Pas du tout, répond monsieur Edouard ; il n'était pas fou de Pasolini, il l'admirait comme écrivain, essayiste, poète, pas comme cinéaste. C'était Toto qu'il adorait. Ah bon, dit David, c'est curieux. Il a travaillé avec Pasolini, continue monsieur Edouard, mais ça ne veut pas dire qu'il était pasolinien. Je crois même que sa sensibilité était plus fassbindérienne. Ah bon, dit David, je n'en savais rien. Biette était discret, répond monsieur Edouard ; Fassbinder, c'était comme Welles pour lui, le Welles de Falstaff évidemment. L'humanité ?, demande Carlotta. C'est ça, répond monsieur Edouard.

quarta-feira, 28 de dezembro de 2005

Des cosmonautes en apesanteur

Serge Daney, Libération, 16 novembre 1983

Une histoire simple qui n'affiche pas sa simplicité. Des personnages compliqués, mal dans leur peau, rivés ensemble, seuls. Alliances impossibles, fuite en avant, gravité. A nos amours est plus que le meilleur Pialat, son plus beau film depuis L'Enfance nue (1968), c'est le film à partir duquel il sera ridicule (et même obscène) de parler de Pialat comme du grand méconnu du cinéma français. A cause de l'ampleur du geste (Pialat-peintre), de la liberté de ton (Pialat-dialoguiste), de l'allégresse dans le nihilisme (Pialat-musicien), toutes choses qui font que s'il fallait lui trouver un ancêtre, ce serait du côté de Renoir. Rien moins.

Les films qui ne sont qu'un film de plus, nous les comparons à d'autres films qui leur ressemblent et c'est sans remords exagéré que nous distribuons bons ou mauvais points : on reste dans le cinéma. Les films qui, comme A nos amours, sont des films en plus, ceux que personne ne peut faire à la place de leur auteur (et la place est toujours intenable), ceux qui résultent d'une lutte avec le matériau-cinéma, il faut très vite inventer les métaphores hors cinéma, dont nous avons besoin pour les décrire. Et Pialat, cette fois, nous le verrons sous l'angle de la dépression, de la perturbation, des hautes et des basses pressions. Bref de la météo.

« Quelquefois, écrit un météorologue, la dépression atteint un chiffre si bas qu'elle fait ventouse, soulevant en spirales l'eau de la mer, le sable des continents, tandis que le vent de l'anticyclone qu'elle a attiré autour d'elle tourne avec une telle violence qu'il enlève le toit des maisons et fauche les arbres. »

Retenez bien ces mots : « dépression », « ventouse », « spirale », « violence », « maison » : nous sommes chez Pialat, pris dans le mouvement qu'il imprime à ses films. (…)

Un cyclone (car c'est ce dont parlait le météorologiste) est un mouvement tournant. Comme tout cinéaste un peu conséquent, Pialat n'invente pas seulement des personnages et des péripéties (ce serait mesquin), il invente l'espace autour d'eux, entre eux. Invisible, incertain mais très réel. Dans l'espace d'A nos amours, perturbé s'il en fut, les personnages, accélérés comme des particules, tournent les uns autour des autres et perdent le Nord. Ils sont comme des cosmonautes en apesanteur qui, quand bien même ils ne peuvent plus se supporter, ne pourraient plus jamais se le dire en face. Un rien les déporte, un rien les fait revenir. Ils se cognent avant de se parler, ils se séparent toujours trop tôt. Et cela, c'est la vie selon Pialat : ratage et griserie. (…).

Le cyclone est dans la langue aussi. Il y a des courants d'air froid dans la façon dont Pialat-acteur dit son texte. La voix est douce, le regard se désolidarise de la voix, la bouche fait une troisième chose qui est de dire des mots durs, faits pour blesser et qui blessent. Tout bascule en cours de phrase et les efforts pour « rattraper le coup » ne font que l'aggraver. C'est cela aussi qui est unique et bouleversant dans A nos amours, qui oblige à prendre les mots un à un, à les peser. Eux aussi sont pris dans l'espace perturbé du langage et de la communication. (…)

Enfin, le cyclone a un œil. Une « éclaircie circulaire », une zone exagérément calme, tellement déprimée qu'elle ressemble à ce qu'elle n'est pas : la paix. En météo, cela dure entre une demi-heure et une heure. En cinéma-Pialat, il s'agit de quelques secondes, d'un répit au cœur de la tourmente. D'une paix inespérée. Et comme l'œil du cyclone, lui aussi, se déplace, il n'est jamais là où on l'attendait et toujours ailleurs : au milieu d'une phrase, d'une scène, d'un regard. Habiter l'œil du cyclone, c'est la façon dont Pialat essaie de garder le contrôle d'un film où, par ailleurs, il n'a pas craint de s'exposer en personne. Entrer dans cet œil, c'est ce qui nous reste à faire.

Une Aventure de Billy Le Kid a.k.a. A Girl is a Gun, di Luc Moullet

Une Aventure de Billy Le Kid
Scansati, Trinità...

lunedì 30 agosto 2004
di Nicola T. Ramponi

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
An Astounding Appendix of Adventure on How William Henry Bonney, better known as the legendary Billy The Kid, Found Richness and Misery in this Hard life lesson: A Girl is a Gun!
All this in a Dyme novel of Lust and glamorous Violence by tremendous Texas-tales teller Luc Lamour!
(tratto da "Purple Pulp Phiction" n 241).

Strano oggetto non facilmente identificabile, questo Une Aventure de Billy Le Kid. Parto di una mente altrettanto sfuggente e discretamente poliedrica, quella del Cahier, poi regista (naturalmente!) e attore comico, poi Professore alla Sorbonne nouvelle, Luc Moullet.

Qui in Italia ben poco si era visto della sua produzione cinematografica prima del Festival di Genova 2004, e lo si conosceva tutt’al più per la sua encomiabile attività di critico e saggista ("La Politique des Acteurs", 1993, Edition Cahiers du Cinéma, ne è un buon esempio). Il suddetto Billy Le Kid, poi, non ha mai visto un’uscita al cinema nemmeno nella natia Francia, ed è probabilmente più conosciuto in America latina, ma soprattutto in Messico, col titolo alternativo Inglese A Girl is a Gun. Da cosa nascono le mie perplessità su questa bizzarria Post-Nouvelle Vague del 1971? Il fatto è che il ripensare alla sua visione rende difficile collocarla in un territorio filmico facilmente riconoscibile. È una parodia? Sicuramente la riconoscerebbe come tale Genette che, nella letteratura Europea classica, individua per la parodia un campo ben ristretto e delimitato: è parodistico l’applicare il più letteralmente possibile uno specifico testo "nobile" ad una azione "bassa", assai diversa dall’azione nel testo originario ma che tuttavia presenti delle analogie sufficienti a permettere l’operazione. E questo procedimento, in Une aventure de Billy Le Kid avviene in molte delle scene clou: appena iniziato il film Billy, interpretato da un Jean Pierre Léaud "che non fa nulla per sembrare americano" (dice acutamente Oreste De Fornari), dopo aver assaltato una diligenza e aver massacrato i passeggeri si ritrova a dover finire l’ultimo di essi, in fuga ma ancora vicino. Ecco allora l’infallibile pistolero estrarre la sua "Widow Maker" –bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, etc, e mancare ripetutamente il fuggitivo da distanza quasi nulla. Eppure, se lo strano lavoro di Moullet è una parodia, non lo è del Western che stava finendo di impazzare in tutto il mondo in quel periodo: non è parodistico, per intenderci, riguardo agli stilemi dello spaghetti western, e non lo è certamente di un grandissimo western all’italiana d’oltreoceano come il Pat Garret e Billy The Kid di Peckinpah (anche perché il film di Peckinpah è del 1973…). Questo è Billy Le Kid, e in questa minuscola particella sta il nocciolo della questione e delle differenze. Sottoscrivo completamente l’affermazione, sempre di De Fornari, che questo film "assomiglia…alle recensioni francesi dei film americani", dei grandi e piccoli western della Hollywood della Golden e Silver age. Forse il miglior modo per accostarsi al film è proprio questo, che però è anche il più banale: Il Frame è la nouvelle vague, con il suo stile, il suo modus operandi, i suoi tic (lo straniamento dello spettatore e dei personaggi, il gusto per l’assurdo, l’improvvisazione ed il pastiche, ma soprattutto il gioco con i codici del cinema di genere.). Eppure, proprio guardato con questi occhi il film mostra tutti i suoi limiti, soprattutto paragonato alle opere dei mentori di Moullet, Truffaut e Godard. Allora meglio riportarlo nell’alveo del film di genere, della parodia? O meglio considerarlo un film manierista, come lo furono, per Serge Daney, le opere di Leone? Bisogna premettere, però, che per Daney manierismo non è una categoria sminuente o tanto meno insultante: "Cos’è un grande manierista? È qualcuno che lavora pazientemente ad una certa anamorfosi e che conosce intimamente l’immagine, il viso, da cui è partito…". E, stiamone pur certi, il modello di partenza Moullet lo conosceva benissimo. Eppure, spesso, in Une Aventure de Billy Le Kid si arriva ad una deformazione così estesa da raggiungere l’irriconoscibile, e il risultato è più vicino a un Trinità (o meglio a Provvidenza, più slapstick comedy ancora…) la cui sceneggiatura sia stata rivista da Tati, che a qualunque cosa abbia mai azzardato Leone.

Le perplessità rimangono, e temo che non verranno risolte ad una (alquanto improbabile) seconda, terza, quarta…visione. Comunque un film consigliato, proprio per la sua irriducibilità, per l’umorismo di Moullet (che però, a mio parere, risulta più azzeccato per il cortometraggio…) e per le stupefacenti ambientazioni, un sud della Francia (vicino ad Avignone, pare…) di colori pastosi e di deserti surreali (e in questo apparentabile ad un altro western sui generis, il simbolico El Topo di Jodorowski), ma non improbabili come badlands per banditi in fuga. Forse la ricorsività della trama lo rende un po’ noioso, ma il finale non è telegrafato e le gag a volte sono deliziose. Menzione speciale per Moullet stesso, indiano due volte: la prima nel film, come comparsa, la seconda col distributore per il sud America, che chissà cosa credeva di comprare…

P.S.:
Desidero pagare tutti i debiti acquisiti con l’importante (but flawed…) testo di Roy Menarini "La parodia nel cinema italiano", edizioni Hybris, consigliandone vivamente la lettura. Senza di esso, niente parte interessante della recensione…

terça-feira, 27 de dezembro de 2005

Daisy Kenyon

Cinécinéma Classic, 22 h 15.

par Louis SKORECKI

Tu vois que tu t'inquiétais pour rien, dit Caroline, monsieur Edouard a changé. C'est un autre, on ne le reconnaît plus. Il est calme, joyeux, a-t-elle ajouté. Je n'ai rien répondu, j'ai juste pensé qu'il était un peu exalté. Rien de grave, a dit Caroline comme si elle lisait dans mes pensées, ça lui passera. On était tous les deux devant le Classik, ce grand cinéma de banlieue qui fait dancing le week-end, on faisait la queue pour revoir Daisy Kenyon, ce Preminger que monsieur Edouard aimait tant. On se posait des questions. Sur le film, sur Preminger, sur les acteurs. Caroline n'était pas fan de Dana Andrews et elle ne supportait pas Joan Crawford ; moi, c'était la photo de Leon Shamroy qui ne me plaisait pas. David, mon petit-neveu, avait étudié le film avec Jacques Aumont, il en était fou. Si seulement monsieur Edouard avait été là, il nous aurait tous mis d'accord.

Dès qu'on prononce son nom, monsieur Edouard déboule au quart de tour. Comme toujours, il sait déjà de quoi on parle. A croire qu'il a des espions dans la maison. Je ne veux pas m'engueuler avec vous, dit calmement monsieur Edouard, vous savez que j'ai ça en horreur (non, on ne sait pas), mais vous n'y êtes pas. D'abord, vous oubliez un troisième personnage, le rival en amour de Dana Andrews, joué de manière très énigmatique par Henry Fonda. C'est vrai, dit-on tous les deux en même temps, on l'avait zappé. Non, répond monsieur Edouard, c'est lui-même qui passe son temps à se zapper, à s'auto-effacer du paysage. Je me rappelle à ce moment-là que Fonda était aussi très étrange dans Tempête à Washington, un beau Preminger oublié. Je vais pour en parler à monsieur Edouard quand il m'arrête en souriant. Tu penses à Tempête à Washington, c'est ça ? Non, je lui dis, je pense juste que David et Sébastien vont être super-contents. Et Aumont alors ?, demande Caroline. Lui ? Il va pisser de joie, je dis. On rit.

(A suivre)

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Daisy Kenyon (2)
Cinécinema Classic, 14h15

par Louis SKORECKI

Tu t'inquiétais pour rien, dit Caroline, monsieur Edouard a changé. C'est un autre, on ne le reconnaît plus, a-t-elle ajouté. Je n'ai rien répondu, j'ai juste pensé qu'il était un peu exalté. Rien de grave, a dit Caroline comme si elle lisait dans mes pensées, ça lui passera. On était devant le Classik, ce grand cinéma de banlieue qui fait dancing le week-end, on venait de revoir Daisy Kenyon, ce Preminger que monsieur Edouard aimait tant. On se posait des questions. Sur le film, sur Preminger, sur les acteurs. Caroline n'était pas fan de Dana Andrews, elle ne supportait pas Joan Crawford. Moi c'était la photo de Leon Shamroy que je trouvais fadasse. C'est un peu gris, non ?, je demande à Caroline. Elle ne répond pas. Si seulement monsieur Edouard avait été là, il nous aurait mis d'accord.

Dès qu'on prononce son nom, il déboule au quart de tour. Il sait déjà de quoi on parle. A croire qu'il a un espion sous mon bureau. Vous oubliez un troisième personnage, dit-il, le rival amoureux de Dana Andrews, joué par l'étrange Henry Fonda. C'est vrai, on l'avait zappé. Pas du tout, dit monsieur Edouard avec une sorte de sérénité que je ne lui connais pas, c'est lui-même qui passe son temps à s'auto-effacer. Il se zappe lui-même, vous comprenez ? On reste sans voix. Rappelez-vous combien Henry Fonda était indécidable dans Tempête à Washington, dit encore monsieur Edouard, comme pour nous mettre sur une piste. Ce n'est pas pareil, dit Caroline, Tempête à Washington est un film politique, opaque, oppressant. Et Daisy Kenyon, alors ?, demande monsieur Edouard. C'est quand même moins onirique, moins fantastique, dit Caroline. Tu crois ?, demande monsieur Edouard, c'est juste un fantastique moins social, plus passionnel. Et la photo de Shamroy ?, je demande timidement. Royale, répond monsieur Edouard. Je regarde mes pieds. Ils sont toujours là. (A suivre)

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Daisy Kenyon (3)
CinéCinéma Classic, 17 h 15.

Monsieur Edouard a changé, tu t'inquiètes pour rien, a dit Caroline. Je n'ai pas répondu, j'ai juste pensé qu'il était un peu exalté. Rien de grave, a-t-elle dit, ça lui passera. On sortait du Classik, ce grand cinéma de banlieue qui fait dancing le week-end, on venait de revoir Daisy Kenyon, un Preminger mal fichu que monsieur Edouard aimait beaucoup. Caroline et moi, on ne savait pas quoi en penser. Elle n'aimait pas Dana Andrews (on voit qu'il boit trop, tu ne trouves pas ?) et elle détestait Joan Crawford (elle fait toujours plus vieille que son âge). Moi c'était la photo de Leon Shamroy que je trouvais grise (elle fait sale, non ?). Mais c'est vrai que Daisy Kenyon, disait Caroline, a une sorte de mystère indéfinissable. Si seulement monsieur Edouard était là, il nous mettrait d'accord.

Dès qu'on prononce son nom, monsieur Edouard déboule au quart de tour. Il sait de quoi on parle, comme s'il avait un espion dans les parages. Vous oubliez Henry Fonda, dit-il. C'est vrai qu'on l'avait zappé, celui-là. Pas du tout, dit monsieur Edouard, c'est Fonda qui passe son temps à s'autozapper. On reste bouche bée. Fonda est un acteur étrange, finit par dire Caroline, c'est un acteur déplacé. Il n'est jamais là où l'on croit, toujours un peu trop jeune, un peu trop vieux. C'est vrai, dit monsieur Edouard, Fonda est toujours dans l'excès, il est toujours trop. L'entropie ? je demande. Non, répond monsieur Edouard, ça a à voir avec la musique. La musique ? demande Caroline. Fonda chante ses dialogues, dit monsieur Edouard, vous n'entendez pas ? Non, on n'entend rien. Dans Daisy Kenyon, il chante sur la musique de David Raksin, dit monsieur Edouard. Comme Gene Tierney sur la mélodie que Raksin a composée pour Laura ? demande Caroline. A ce moment-là, c'est curieux, j'ai entendu une chanson.

sexta-feira, 23 de dezembro de 2005

La rupture no Eurochannel, Mizoguchi no TC Cult e Police do Pialat na TV5. Horários e datas é só checar na programação que consta nos sites desses canais.



Merry Chasemas

L'Homme qui tua Liberty Valance

TPS Ciné Club, 0 h 30.

par Louis SKORECKI

David n'en pouvait plus. Jacques Aumont, son professeur itinérant, le tenait sous son emprise. Le pire, c'est qu'il aimait ça. Aumont est sans pareil sur Walsh et Ford, me disait-il, il les aime tellement qu'on les voit briller. Ils brillent comment ? je demande. Comme des astres au firmament du cinématographe, répond David. Je n'aime pas ça, il a les yeux brillants, écarquillés. Tu as fumé ? je lui demande, tu sais que je n'aime pas ça. David se frotte les yeux, il ne répond pas. Il peut rester silencieux des heures, il sait que ça m'énerve. Quand il sort enfin de sa léthargie, il me demande ce que je pense de l'Homme qui tua Liberty Valance. Tu sais que je ne suis pas fou des derniers Ford, je réponds, Ford ne les aimait pas beaucoup lui-même, d'ailleurs. Comment tu sais ça ? me demande David, incrédule. Si seulement monsieur Daniel était là, il lui expliquerait, il a très bien connu Ford et Walsh, il sait tout ça par coeur.

Dès qu'on prononce son nom, monsieur Daniel arrive au quart de tour. Vous parliez des derniers Ford, c'est ça ? demande-t-il, comme s'il avait entendu le début de la conversation. Il ne les aimait pas, vous savez. David n'en revient pas. Comment savez-vous que Ford n'aimait pas ses derniers films ? demande-t-il. Je suis là pour détruire les idées reçues, répond monsieur Daniel, Ford était un ami, vous savez. La douceur sucrée de sa voix nous hypnotise, on est sous le charme. Je regarde David, il regarde ses pieds. Quand il sort enfin de sa léthargie, il demande à monsieur Daniel ce qu'il pense de l'Homme qui tua Liberty Valance. Du mal, répond monsieur Daniel. C'est un navet, c'est tout. On reste sans voix. Comment ose-t-il ? Regardez John Wayne et James Stewart, dit-il enfin, ils sont grimés comme des femmes, vous aimez ça, vous ? On reste sans voix.

quinta-feira, 22 de dezembro de 2005

Zurlini, From the Back

What’s left of films once they make the transfer from that first small screen: memory? Films like Valerio Zurlini’s Cronaca Familiare (1962), where there is already one character evoking the memory of another, his brother, who has disappeared? And where this conjures up the image of a woman - his mother - whom he has never known? For me, what ‘was left’ of this film which (so loudly and painfully) already asked the question ‘who will be left to try and tell the little that is left of a life’ was only the most olfactory memory (the overpowering smell of faded flowers) of certain funeral shots.

In a flop or a banal film there often remain one or two scenes that stand out as successful and persist in the memory. In a real film like Cronaca Familiare there might very well only remain one or two images. But these images don’t stay in the memory because they would be the ‘best moments’ in a forgettable pre half-forgotten film; they remain because they are like screen memories that stand guard around the personal secrets of a film loved almost in secret. Because, as Frederic (Federico-Mastroianni) could say: you have to protect yourself, after all.

A man waits for the telphone call that will bring him news of his brother’s death. The walls are yellow and oozing moisture (we’re in Naples), the receiver black, the booth peeling. Facing us, the red-eyed, voiceless man waits for the thing to be said, at the other end of the line. But at the moment when it is, as if to discourage the camera ‘closing in’ on him, Mastroianni turns his back and this back takes up the the whole screen. And this back becomes a screen memory; what would be the film’s cipher if the film were a strongbox.

Is this an effect of style intended (obligingly) to signify embarassment? You might think so if it were not that in the following scene a tearful Mastroianni is followed at length (by the camera and the music) through the deserted, insalubrious and never more beautiful streets of Naples. Zurlini does not shun the ‘grand aria’ of suffering, he makes do with showing things twice over: one face on (for the scene) once back-turned (for the camera). He is probably one of the last directors never to have stopped wavering between the aesthetic of the secret and the aesthetic of display, and the very particular music of his film insists, convincingly, that there was no third term for him.

The film tells a love story between two men who are brothers reunited too late in life. The scene where Laurent (Lorenzo-Perrin) takes refuge with his elder brother, who is by now tubercular and virtually down and out, and where with him we see the classic little room of the solitary, is a great cinematic moment (or, at any rate, the scene so cruelly missing from standard gay schlock). The older brother pretends to be working and the younger to be sleeping. Turned now towards the wall and now towards his brother, as if each line of dialogue compelled him to invent a new way of settling. Now, a bed is the very place where turning your back on the other is impossible, because a back speaks volumes.

Cronaca Familiare is a film where love is born from the need felt by the one who faces up to things for the one who has his back to the wall, and vice versa. It is a film about weakness, a subject rarer than would appear. Seen again on television, it gives a valuable insight into a moment in cinema (a few years after Pickpocket or L’Avventura) when it was still possible to tell stories whose characters progress through life, albeit retreating, in other words ‘back-turned’. And for whoever progresses in this way, the only escape routes are those rushing headlong away from the unknown future or the half-glimpsed present towards the retro-vision of the past.

The tele-vision of a film like this also makes us acutely aware of the fact that in the media generally backs have disappeared. ‘Turning your back to the camera’ is more than a discourtesy: it’s a crime. Just as television has accustomed us to a world where ‘artificial daylight’ has reduced the role of shadow, it makes us used to bodies without backs, reduced to the idiotic frontality of a recto without any verso. Synthesized images pirouette with such gay abandon only because they have no reverse. In the cinema everything could turn into a face; in the media everything is a face already. The result of course is that the look is no more, and when one Sunday evening we come across Mastroianni and Perrin, it isn’t just their capacity to weep face on that knocks us out, but the turned back power to envisage the worst.

Serge Daney

6 December 1988

quarta-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2005



Eu também quero uma cópia de I Love Melvin.

Bem... como já disse Chabrol, "É necessário que a besta morra... e o homem também".

O que é uma "M.J.C."?

Cahiers du Cinéma

Sommaire

No. 245-246, avril-mai-juin 1973



Les luttes dans la conjoncture, p. 5

Groupe 1 : l'animation culturelle
Problémes d'une stratégie de l'animation, p. 15
Bilan du travail dans une M.J.C., p. 19
Les status d'une M.J.C., p. 22
D'abord enquêter, 2, p. 26

Groupe 5 : cinéma militant
Vive le cinéma, arme de propagande communiste, p. 31

Critiques des films
Au nom du Père, Viol en première page, p. 43
Etat de siège, p. 49
Français, si vous saviez, p. 54

Pour l'unité des marxistes-léninistes
(une lettre de Cinéthique et notre réponse), p. 63

Critique des positions du "Mouvement de Juin 71"
L'avant-garde d'elle-même, p. 68
La politique du "Mouvement", p. 76

A propos de la démission de Pierre Baudry, p. 88

Soutien au mouvement ouvrier et populaire espagnol ! p. 94
A propos des tâches spécifiques, p. 95
Annexé aux textes du Groupe 1 :
statuts-type d'une M.J.C., p. 96

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Rédaction : Jacques Aumont, Pascal Bonitzer, Jean-Louis Comolli, Serge Daney, Pascal Kané, Jean Narboni, Jean-Pierre Oudart, Philippe Pakradouni, Sylvie Pierre, Serge Toubiana. Administration : Jacques Aumont, Claude Bourdin.

terça-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2005

segunda-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2005

Infidèlement infidèle

Selon la très belle analyse de Jacques Lourcelles, ces Miserabili de Riccardo Freda, progressent «comme une forêt de destins en marche», et constituent en cela la version la plus fidèle de l’œuvre de Victor Hugo, en dépit des « trahisons» évidentes, notamment lors delà seconde époque. A force de plans rapprochés et de légères contre plongées, Freda dispose ses personnages, avec Jean Valjean, à la fois au centre et sans cesse en situation de face à face. Souvent un décor, tel le destin implacable, attend le personnage, ainsi que le remarque encore Lourcelles. Cette théâtralité quasi excessive, gomme tout psychologisme, laissant le spectateur un peu plus libre de son jugement, voire carrément extirpé du mélodrame. Ainsi, Javert n’est pas un infâme salaud de flic, mais un homme qui veut accomplir sa tache, donc sa destiné jusqu’au bout, c'est-à-dire jusqu’à l’échec. Valjean n’est pas qu’un simple redresseur de tort ou un réparateur de mauvaise fortune, mais un être scandaleux qui, parce qu’il veut (re)faire le bien, se trouve condamné à mentir en permanence et à dissimuler sa vraie identité. Un révolutionnaire. A la différence, de Mgr Myriel ou sœur Simplice, qui, eux, n’ont menti qu’une seule fois dans leur vie. Hugolien, sublimement Hugolien.

Têtes brûlées
CinéCinéma Classic, 17 Heures.

par Louis SKORECKI

Tu t'inquiètes pour rien, avait dit Caroline, monsieur Edouard a beaucoup changé, il est doux comme un agneau maintenant. Juste un peu exalté, avait-elle ajouté, mais rien de grave, ça lui passera. Tu sais qu'il me manque, je dis, même s'il me fait toujours un peu peur. Sa précision cinéphile me serait d'un grand secours sur Walsh. Tu me mènes en bateau, Louis, dit Caroline, Walsh, c'est ta spécialité. Tu as même écrit un livre sur lui, non?Je ne suis plus sûr de moi ces temps-ci, je dis. David, mon petit-neveu, doit rendre un devoir sur Têtes brûlées, et, là, je sèche. Depuis quand oblige-t-on un élève à étudier un Walsh de 1929, demande Caroline, un Walsh à peine parlant? Il a Jacques Aumont comme prof invité, je dis, et comme Aumont ne jure que par le muet en ce moment, ils y passent tous. Si seulement monsieur Edouard était là, il lui raconterait Walsh mieux que moi.

A peine a-t-on prononcé son nom que monsieur Edouard se pointe au quart de tour. Le plus étrange, c'est qu'il sait déjà de quoi on parle. A croire qu'il a un espion dans la maison. The Cock-Eyed World, dit-il, excusez-moi mais je préfère le titre original, ce n'est pas n'importe quel Walsh. Il n'a rien de muet, d'abord, il parle autant qu'un Capra. Et c'est plus original que Big Trail que Walsh tourne quelques mois plus tard. Mieux que Big Trail ? dit Caroline, c'est impossible, c'est un film d'une beauté sidérale, même John Wayne (dont c'est le premier film, je te signale) a le charme sidéral d'une Garbo. On sait tout ça, répond monsieur Edouard avec un calme inquiétant, mais ce que tu ne sais pas, c'est que les personnages de Cock-Eyed World sont empruntés à What Price Glory, un Walsh muet adapté d'une pièce de Maxwell Anderson (dont Ford fera un remake trente ans plus tard). Walsh a tellement aimé ses personnages qu'il les a repris en 1931 dans Women of All Nations. C'est David qui va être content, je dis, et Jacques Aumont encore plus.

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L'Esclave libre
TPS Cinétoile, 21 heures.

par Louis SKORECKI

Tu t'inquiètes pour rien, dit Caroline. Monsieur Edouard a changé. Il est doux comme un agneau maintenant. Juste un peu exalté, mais rien de grave, ça lui passera. Tu sais qu'il me manque, je réponds, même s'il me fait toujours un peu peur. C'est surtout son infernale précision qui me serait d'un grand secours sur Walsh. Caroline part de son rire le plus cristallin. Tu te fous de moi, Louis, me lance-t-elle, Walsh, c'est ta spécialité. Tu as même écrit un livre sur lui. Oui, je dis, mais je ne suis plus sûr de moi ces temps-ci. David, mon neveu, est sous l'emprise de Jacques Aumont depuis qu'il l'a comme prof invité, et comme Aumont ne jure que par Walsh (il dit que c'est le Shakespeare du cinéma), tous ses films y passent. David doit rendre un devoir sur l'Esclave libre, c'est tout juste si je me le rappelle. Si seulement monsieur Edouard...

A peine ai-je prononcé son nom qu'il se pointe au quart de tour. Le plus étrange, c'est que monsieur Edouard sait déjà de quoi je parle. A croire qu'il a des espions sous mon bureau. L'Esclave libre, dit-il, ce n'est pas n'importe quel Walsh. C'est là où le désir passe le mieux. Quand Clark Gable achète Yvonne de Carlo, c'est juste pour tirer un coup. Mais il y met le temps, il y met les manières, c'est un gentleman. Même Gary Cooper dans Distant Drums n'est pas aussi bien. Mieux que Cooper dans Distant Drums ?, dit Caroline, c'est impossible, c'est un film d'une beauté renversante, c'est là que Gary Cooper est le plus stevensonien. Si tu veux mon avis, conclut-elle, Cooper est aussi mystérieux que Garbo. Ta passion pour Gary Cooper te perdra, ma chérie, répond monsieur Edouard. Et de toute façon, je parlais d'amour, pas de passion. C'est quoi, la différence ?, demande Caroline. Il n'est pas épris d'elle, dit calmement monsieur Edouard, il bande pour elle. Caroline a rougi, j'en suis sûr.

http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/Reviews/A-D/blindman.html
http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/Reviews/A-D/bird_with_the_crystal_bu.html




sábado, 17 de dezembro de 2005

No Eurochannel

Les biches
Capsule by Dave Kehr
From the Chicago Reader

Claude Chabrol's humor and irony aren't much in evidence in this 1968 work, his first "art film" after five years of genre work. The title (less racy in translation--"The Does") refers to Stephane Audran and Jacqueline Sassard, two women living out an enigmatic relationship in the south of France. Sex enters with the appearance of Jean-Louis Trintignant, who can't decide which of the women he wants. Slow, silent, and rather arid, yet enlivened by Chabrol's stylistic precision and Jean Rabier's fading pastel photography.

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This Man Must Die
Capsule by Don Druker
From the Chicago Reader

Claude Chabrol's 1969 adaptation of Nicholas Blake's thriller The Beast Must Die. Michel Duchaussoy and Jean Yanne star in a tale of a father obsessed with discovering and murdering the hit-and-run killer of his son. One of Chabrol's most affecting, and chilling, studies of middle-class guilt and the parameters of retribution. Not to be missed.

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La femme infidele
Capsule by Dave Kehr
From the Chicago Reader

Claude Chabrol's richly ironic 1968 melodrama, in which it is shown that nothing revitalizes a dried-up marriage quite like murder. Not the least of the ironies is that the point is made sincerely and responsibly: when the film's smug, tubby hero kills his wife's lover, he genuinely becomes a richer, worthier individual. The observation of bourgeois life (as practiced in France, where it was perfected) is so sharp and funny that the film often feels like satire, yet its fundamental seriousness emerges in a magnificent last act, and an unforgettable last shot. With Michel Bouquet, Stephane Audran, and Maurice Ronet.

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Le boucher
Capsule by Dave Kehr
From the Chicago Reader

One of the best of Claude Chabrol's attempts to recapture the effects of a Hitchcock thriller in an antithetical context of naturalistic performances and closely observed social detail (1971). Jean Yanne is the village butcher with a sinister secret, and Stephane Audran is the schoolteacher who loves him.

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La rupture
Capsule by Dave Kehr
From the Chicago Reader

One of the key films of the 70s, La rupture is Claude Chabrol's most audacious experiment with narrative form--a modernist reworking of the melodrama (1970). Stephane Audran is innocence unprotected, a wife and mother whose husband has gone mad under LSD, and who now has to suffer a bizarre plot spun by her father-in-law to recover custody of her child. The "rupture" of the title belongs to the narrative, which begins with clear black/white, good/evil distinctions and then gradually self-destructs, breaking down into increasingly elliptical and imponderable fragments. Highly recommended.

Daney

"After Bazin, Bazinism continued, but more on the right, with different theories of fascination. Rohmer made no impression on me because he was pontificating and I could make no sense of it. But Mourlet’s text (Sur un art ignore) influenced me as much as Debord’s book (The Society of the Spectacle) did later, and probably for cognate reasons, despite opposed ideologies."

---

"But of course it was Douchet who got me writing. He didn’t just teach me about fidelity to auteurs (and fidelity tout court) but also what was to be gained from watching a film in its detail, at the risk of interpretative madness. In retrospect, given the dullness of current criticism, that madness no longer seems something to worry about."

quinta-feira, 15 de dezembro de 2005

Ho Po-wing disait toujours : "Si on repartait à zéro". Sur cette phrase en voix-off débute Happy Together. Effectivement, Ho Po-wing (Leslie Cheung), l'un des protagonistes principaux, réitère ce voeu à chaque fois que le couple homo turbulent qu'il forme avec Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung) traverse une nouvelle crise.

Lorsqu'aprés une vingtaine de minutes de film, Fai accepte d'essayer une fois encore de tout recommencer, c'est le film lui même qui repart à zéro, passant subitement du noir et blanc à la couleur. Repartir à zéro, c'est vouloir tout changer mais pour mieux continuer, donc refuser que quelque chose s'achève. Et l'inachèvement est un peu la clé de voûte du système de Wong Kar-Wai.

Happy Together raconte une histoire à laquelle personne ne veut inscrire le mot fin, qu'aucun coup de gueule ou coup sur la gueule ne parvient à achever. Avec, en arrière plan, sur un mode mineur, une histoire seconde au mouvement inverse, celle qui n'arrive pas à prendre forme entre Fai et son jeune compagnon de travail, Chang. Celle-là n'est faite que de frustrations et de rendez-vous reportés, comme ce message audio à n'écouter qu'après, très loin, ne révèlant que quelques sanglots mal étouffés.

Fai et Po-wing bénéficient d'une vrai densité psychologique et peu de films montrent de façon aussi forte l'intimité physique d'un couple. Il ne s'agit pas seulement de sexe mais vraiment d'intimité, soit la parfaite connaissance du corps de l'autre, devenant comme une partie de soi. Le film multiplie les rituels intimes : les amants ne cessent de se soigner, de se laver, de se préparer à manger, de fumer les bouts de clopes que l'autre a laissés. Mais aussi de se taper dessus dans un même mouvement de proximité physique.

Même si les rapports de forces basculent sans cesse, l'histoire de couple piétine et rejoue à l'envie les mêmes motifs de possessivité hystérique et de ressentiments inentamables. Malgré tout, ce piétinement finit par mener à la ruture, qu'on pensait pourtant hors d'atteinte.

Quelque chose d'imperceptible, de non localisable, se produit qui transforme Fai. A la fin du film, il n'est plus un simple jouet balloté dans des flux de temps qui le dépassent. Quant à Po-wing, son voeu s'est exaucé mais de façon triste et cruelle. Esseulé, il revient hanter l'ancien domicile conjugal et pleure au milieu des décombres de sa liaison passée. Derrière lui, comme une méchante ironie du sort, le réveil passe de 23.59 à 00.00. Il voulait repartir zéro et se retouve simplement au point zéro, complétement nul, zéro pointé.

A ce réseau temporel s'associent des réseaux d'espace non moins complexes allant de l'absolument fermé (les quatre murs claustrophobiques de la chambre) à l'infiniment grand (la planète entière de Ushuaïa à Taïpei via Hong-Kong). Dans ce film qui débute sur des gros plans de passeports recevant leur visa, il est beaucoup question de flux migratoires (peut-être en lien avec l'imminence inquiètante de la rétrocéssiond e Hong-kong, le film faisant discréyement allusin à l'catualité politique de son tournage avec la mort de Deng Xiao-ping). de nombreux plans sont utilisés à plusieurs reprises repris d'une séquence à l'autre, comme cette image énigmatique des chutes d'Igazu que le film nous montre une première fois alors que les personnages n'ont pu les atteindre et qui revient plus tard, cette fois du point de vu de Fai. la laison avec Chang n'engage que des problèmes d'espace et ils peuvent facilement se régler : Fai et Chang ne cessent de se rater aux quatre coins de la planète (l'un revient à Buenos Aires quand l'autre lt chercht à Taïpei) mais, à la fin, ils savent qu'ils parviendront à se retrouver.

Jean-Marc Lalanne (Cahiers du cinéma n°519, décembre 1997)

Pat Garrett et Billy le Kid

Cinécinéma classic, 13 h 45.

par Louis SKORECKI

Monsieur Edouard n'aime pas Dylan. Il déteste le culte des morts, comme il dit. Mais Dylan n'est pas mort, s'étonne Caroline. M'en fous, répond-il, je ne veux pas ressembler à ces tarés de dylaniens du troisième âge. Ils sont tellement mal habillés, en plus. Depuis qu'il a revu Pat Garrett et Billy le Kid, il est remonté. Je n'aime pas Dylan, répète-t-il en fulminant, mais la doublette Peckinpah-Dylan, c'est trop pour moi. Moi aussi, je déteste Peckinpah, mais je n'ose pas lui dire. Caroline est la seule à ne pas s'en laisser compter. Vous exagérez, monsieur Edouard, finit-elle par dire, les premiers Peckinpah sont superbes, Coups de feu dans la sierra par exemple est d'un classicisme parfait. Un classicisme à la mords-moi-le-noeud, lâche monsieur Edouard. On l'a quand même considéré comme l'héritier de Ford, je dis timidement, regrettant immédiatement mes paroles. Trop tard. Les cinéphiles n'ont pas été dupes, hurle monsieur Edouard, ils ont tout de suite pigé que Peckinpah, c'était du sous-cinéma, du sous-Ford. Le Tang, ce n'est quand même de l'orange, dit-il, en s'approchant dangereusement de moi.

Le silence qui suit dure une éternité. J'ai l'impression de m'être absenté du monde. La voix de monsieur Edouard me fait atterrir brutalement dans le désert du réel. Peckinpah, c'est un zoomeur fou, crie monsieur Edouard, un Leone américain, un point c'est tout. Vous n'êtes pas d'accord, Caroline? Le sol se dérobe sous mes pieds. Que va-t-elle dire? J'aime beaucoup Pat Garrett et Billy le Kid, finit-elle par dire en détachant chaque syllabe, c'est un film très classique, très fordien, même si c'est un Peckinpah tardif. C'en est trop pour monsieur Edouard. Il tourne les talons et part sans dire un mot.

(A suivre)

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Pat Garrett et Billy le Kid (2)
TCM, 19 Heures.

par Louis SKORECKI

Monsieur Edouard déteste Dylan. Je ne veux pas ressembler à ces dylaniens abrutis, dit-il souvent, ils sont vraiment mal habillés. Moi, j'adore Pat Garrett et Billy le Kid mais je n'ouvre pas la bouche de peur qu'il ne me tombe dessus. Tu t'inquiètes pour rien, dit Jacques, monsieur Edouard a changé. Il est juste un peu exalté, dit Caroline comme pour se rassurer. Ça ne lui ressemble pas, ajoute-t-elle en fronçant les sourcils, je l'aimais mieux de mauvaise humeur. Mais non, insiste Jacques, il va bien, il est heureux de la vie, c'est tout. Dès qu'on prononce son nom, c'est étrange, monsieur Edouard arrive au quart de tour. Pat Garrett et Billy le Kid est un film à part, lance-t-il à la cantonade, il ne ressemble ni à Dylan, ni à Peckinpah. Knockin' on Heaven's Door, par exemple, c'est un hymne, une prière. Mais il en a écrit d'autres, des prières, je réponds. I Shall Be Released est une prière pour être délivré du monde, et surtout pas pour sortir de prison, comme le croient ceux qui baragouinent l'anglais.

Dans Pat Garrett, répond monsieur Edouard, c'est encore mieux, c'est un homme qui frappe aux portes du paradis. C'est ce que tu aimes ?, je demande. Quand Dylan fait du Ford, je sais le reconnaître, répond-il. Et Peckinpah ?, je demande. Il est sobre pour une fois, ce n'est déjà pas mal, répond-il. Tu aimes Dylan ?, demande Caroline, incrédule. Oui, répond monsieur Edouard, mais seulement quand il zone dans les cantinas. L'Amérique, c'est le Texas, rien devant, rien derrière, la frontière mexicaine toute proche, les chansons de Townes Van Zandt, de Guy Clark. Et surtout celles de Terry Allen, je dis. Monsieur Edouard sourit, on est sur la même longueur d'onde. Sans Juarez, le premier Terry Allen, conclut-il, la musique de Dylan pour Pat Garrett n'existerait pas. Il a copié, alors ?, je dis. Oui, répond monsieur Edouard. Il a encore raison.

Ludwig (Luchino Visconti)

An uncut version of Ludwig on Paris screens. We will never see an end to the guided tour of this unclassifiable monument. Neither to Ludwig, about which everything is known. Nor to Visconti, who remains, whatever might be said, a director as little known as he is famous.

First condition: a German version two hours ten minutes long (by all accounts a real slaughter). Second condition: an English version three hours long (it’s this half measure that came out in France; ten years ago now). Third condition: an Italian version four hours and five minutes long (released today). Viscontians, one more go if you want to take the tour of this Ludwig, in the disarrayed condition it is, always changing language, lineaments and length without ever ceasing to be your favourite monument. The long version, a ‘work of mercy’ for which we have to thank Ruggiero Mastroianni (the most famous Italian editor) and Suso Cecchi d’Amico (one of the most famous Italian screenwriters), is without doubt more ‘in line with the original’. Except that the original version of a film that is already so original (to put it in a nutshell, a monster) doesn’t mean all that much. In her - sadly, bad - hagiobiography of Visconti, Monica Sterling alludes to half a dozen scenes which the maker of Senso must have fully intended to cut. Among them was a private performance of Tristan, the death of Wagner, the reaction of Elisabeth ‘Sissi’ of Austria to the news of her cousin’s death: ‘They’ve killed him! Traitors! Murderers!’ she exclaimed.

Nothing stops us from imagining all the additional pictures which Visconti could easily have inserted into his Chinese box fresco. Nothing stops us from suspecting the truth: that in Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886), Visconti the man (1907-1976) had found his perfect ‘subject’, Visconti the painter his fondest motif, Visconti the committed artist his favourite anti-hero. Had the result been a short, a two-part film or a twelve or seventy-two-hour-long soap opera, the effect would have been the same. This film is infinite like the infinite patience of the man who, having made you his guest, honours you with hospitality and is your guide in his (great) small world. We shall always visit Ludwig for nth time. All we had seen to begin with were the ceremonial rooms, there suddenly encountering a coronation filmed as if in a kitchen. Then we discovered the key to the keep where the master of the house has his childhood memories. Sooner or later, we’ll come across sealed up doors, forbidden apartments, sauna vapours in a Wagnerian grotto, a stud farm in a corner of this baroque garden, a farm boys’ bordello filmed as if in a palace. We shall never be surprised. We’ve got our minds made up (about Visconti).

Domesticity, promiscuity, prostitution are the key words of the Visconti universe. It’s not so much love he has made films about, as that every desire is filmed as sexual (in its essence) and as economic transaction (in its form). Remember Romy Schneider, the wife who sells herself to her husband in Il Lavoro, an admirable, though short, film. Visconti is not is much a witness to class struggle as an entomologist with an unimpeded view of promiscuity between classes. And yet, if we forget for a moment the painful clichés about the contradiction of the engagé aesthete or the queer Marxist prince, if we wonder what a Visconti film ‘is like’ (as old Sam would say), we come up against one of the most hermetic styles in the history of the cinema. With the effect of a stationary monument, with the tedium of guided tours, with the feeling of not counting for much in this spectacle which unseeingly tolerates us.

For there are directors who demonstrate and directors who show. They are seldom the same. Visconti has long had a weakness for demonstration (in The Damned for instance). Not for showing. Which is what, I dare say, makes him a monster. For when all’s said and done, the cinema is ‘giving in order to get’. Except that the manner of giving is sometimes more important than what is given. When the Visconti camera frames , de-frames and re-frames, zooms, de-zooms and re-zooms, when it crosses the space of the scene like a thick pencil line (you can almost see the arrow, like in a Velickovic painting), hacking through the extras who trample across the shot in full harness, it is not the eye of the master who sees for us, or we who see thanks to him; it is not even the gaze that moves back to judge (you never judge with Visconti, you make do with condemnation, silently and without appeal); it isn’t a matter of vision, it’s a hand. Yes, a hand. The hand of the painter who has the whole painting in his head already and is (furiously) touching up a detail or (hastily) layering a coat of extra colour across a slow-moving scene. The hand of the master of the house who takes advantage of the guided tour to dust his collectors’ items in passing, as if he were discovering them along with us, as if he didn’t know, as if he knew no longer. Always courtesy, always the hand. It is to the painter’s hand that we owe Senso (but then Visconti was, as they say, more engagé with History). It is to the proprietor’s hand that we owe this disarrayed Ludwig. For that’s the oddest thing; Visconti isn’t the inventor of his world (its auteur) more its proprietor. He doesn’t express this world (that would be in distinctly petit-bourgeois bad taste), he takes us round it (that’s the minimum courtesy). He lets us see it, he doesn’t show it.

Paradoxically, in this orgy of sumptuous sets, and costumes to turn Louella Interim pale with envy and real live castles, there isn’t an ounce of fetishism. Oddly, in this story of kingly extravagance, there isn’t a milligram of surprise, nor any room for suspense. And yet this monster-film is no stone cold alter or disused cathedral (as in Syberberg’s version). You only have to know how to look at it and, for that, to move a little to the side in relation to the unshifting picture and the hand at work drawing. What do you see in the end? Redrawing the ineluctable decline of the king of Bavaria, Visconti opts for no romantic treatment (Ludwig alone, patron and builder) but for a decidedly clinical approach.

Each scene in the film always plays out the same little scenario: a character ‘of sound mind’ converses with the mad king, demanding something of him, and each time the king yields. He yields to everyone about everything (except to the expensive tart payed to deflower him). To the ambitious Von Holnstein (Umberto Orsini) who asks him to give up his throne; to Durkheim, the noble spirit (Helmut Griem) who reminds him of his kingly duties, to Cosima von Bulow (Silvana Mangano) who asks him to settle Wagner’s debts; to the minister who proves to him that Wagner is an adventurer, to father Hoffman (Gert Fröbe), who dissuades him from ceasing to be a virgin king, and above all to his cousin Elisabeth (Romy Schneider, more Sissi than ever) who asks him not to love her. To all of them, he yields; the rest he pays (the travelling player, the valet-lover, etc).

This is where Visconti catches us out. Either you choose to look at only Ludwig in the image, or else you look at the gallery of ‘others’. It’s hard to do both. It is a comic situation, a cruel comedy, worthy of Molière: the master is raving, for sure, but the representatives of ‘good sense’ are hardly any better. There’s an Orgon in Ludwig and a Tartuffe in Wagner. So much so that when we look at the others, what we see is painful: not just their toadying faces or their hypocritical demeanour, but also the slack indulgence of those who have realised that, in any case, given the king’s autistic exaltation, there’s no need to bother. What we then see, by anamorphosis, is pure obscenity. On both sides.

Serge Daney

6 July 1983

segunda-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2005

Changing Direction

Jean Renoir, the Boss: The Direction of Actors

Directed by
Jacques Rivette

With
Jean Renoir and Michel Simon

Rating
* * * *
Masterpiece

Jacques Rivette's documentary of a conversation between director Jean Renoir and actor Michel Simon heralded a radical shift in his style.

By Jonathan Rosenbaum

In 1966 Jacques Rivette made a three-part TV documentary titled Jean Renoir, the Boss, and its 90-minute centerpiece has rarely been seen since. "A Portrait of Michel Simon by Jean Renoir, or A Portrait of Jean Renoir by Michel Simon, or The Direction of Actors: Dialogue," screening on DVD this week at Alliance Francaise, is a missing link that's key to understanding Rivette's work. It's a raw record of the after-dinner talk between one of the world's greatest directors and his greatest actor, both in their early 70s, punctuated by clips from the five films they worked on together -- Tire-au-Flanc (1928), On Purge Bébé (1931), La Chienne (1931), Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932), and Tosca (1941). It also includes occasional remarks by Rivette, the documentary's producers (Janine Bazin and Andre S. Labarthe), and the stills photographer (the distinguished Henri Cartier-Bresson). The joy Renoir and Simon clearly share at being reunited is complemented by Rivette's determination to exclude nothing, so that the "direction of actors" applies to him as much as to his two principals, each of whom can be said to be directing the other. For both Renoir and Rivette, direction requires a profound open-mindedness, alertness, and acceptance.

Don't think you know what this documentary is doing if you've seen only clips from it, such as those included on the DVD of Boudu recently released by Criterion, which treats Rivette's film as raw material to be plundered. The full version -- edited by the legendary Jean Eustache (The Mother and the Whore), a post-New Wave figure as uncompromising as Renoir and Rivette -- is as radical in its own way as Boudu.

Rivette made Jean Renoir, the Boss just before he transformed the style of his fiction features, and Renoir's influence is apparent in his newfound openness to actors' ideas. Paris Belongs to Us (1960) and The Nun (1966), Rivette's first two features, were both meticulously scripted in advance. But in L'Amour Fou (1968), Out 1 (1971), Out 1: Spectre (1972), and Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), improvisation and chance play a major role. L'Amour Fou intercuts rehearsals for a stage production of Racine's Andromache, shot by a real 16-millimeter documentary crew headed by Labarthe, and a fictional narrative in 35-millimeter about a growing rift between the play's real director (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) and his fictional wife (Bulle Ogier), an actress who starts to go mad after she leaves the production. Kalfon and Ogier helped develop their own characters, and in the two versions of Out 1 -- a 13-hour serial made for French TV that the network refused to show and a radically different 4-hour theatrical feature edited out of it -- all the actors were invited to help create their own characters and dialogue. (Rivette's role consisted largely of arranging meetings between the characters that fit the narrative framework he'd devised and determining how to shoot these encounters.) In Celine and Julie Go Boating -- lamentably, the only one of these films readily available in the U.S. -- he continued to use his main actors as screenwriters, hiring another writer to help organize their input.

Celine and Julie is a transgressive comedy, as is Boudu, a film in which Simon plays a carefree, amoral, anarchic tramp in Paris. He's saved from drowning then disastrously adopted by a liberal bourgeois bookseller, but eventually he, without regret, goes back to being a bum. Renoir and Simon fondly, even proudly, recall the shock waves Boudu produced when it first came out -- some Paris viewers even ripped out theater seats. When it finally opened in the U.S. in 1967 -- about two decades before Paul Mazursky did his toothless Hollywood remake, Down and Out in Beverly Hills -- many people still found it shocking. At the press screening in New York the New York Times's Bosley Crowther, the key American gatekeeper for art movies at the time, walked out in a huff before the end and went on to complain in his review that films of this kind gave foreign-movie distributors a bad name. This was during the height of the 60s counterculture, when battle lines tended to be clearly drawn, but it's not clear we're more tolerant today, especially given that the 13-hour Out 1, Rivette's greatest work, has yet to receive a single screening in the U.S. and that Criterion, the most serious DVD label handling art films, thought it was just fine to offer only snippets of his aesthetically radical documentary about Renoir.

Jean Renoir, the Boss was made during the richest period of Cineastes de Notre Temps, a remarkable long-running French TV series devoted to filmmakers. All the best programs in this series -- including ones devoted to John Cassavetes, Samuel Fuller, and Josef von Sternberg -- imitated the styles of the directors, and Rivette's program was no exception, suggesting the extraordinary freedom and generosity of Renoir. Curiously "The Direction of Actors," unlike the more conventional installments before and after it, wasn't broadcast on French TV at the time. I asked why when I was editing a small collection of Rivette's writings in English translation for the British Film Institute in the mid-70s and was told it was because Simon said things that were obscene or potentially libelous. Having finally seen the film, I find this explanation ridiculous. There's one slightly off-color joke/anecdote that's potentially libelous -- I won't repeat it here -- and it's told by Renoir, not Simon.

I suspect one reason French TV refused to show "The Direction of Actors" in the mid-60s is the same reason it refused to show Out 1 a few years later -- its style and attitude, especially its radical humanism. This film takes the position that anything a good actor says or does is automatically interesting -- the same position that helped create Boudu in 1932 and Out 1 in 1971. Whether or not one agrees with that position, it's a privilege to look through the eyes of someone who does.

John Ford For Ever

Received but debatable wisdom says that on television the close-up is king. If this were true, then there would be no hope on the small screen for the man who belched one day: ‘I don’t want to see nose hairs on a forty foot screen!’ In fact, John Ford wasn’t very fond of close-ups. Or, what comes down to the same thing, of expository scenes. He shot very fast and it only took him twenty-eight days to make She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. That was in 1949, he was then his own producer and he did exactly as he liked. Forty-one years later the film ‘passes’ perfectly from the big to the small screen (TFI). Elementary, you say? Not quite.

One day Gilles Deleuze reminded the youngsters at FEMIS that their work as directors would consist in producing ‘blocks of movement-duration’. Now if Ford’s blocks are so consistantly perfect, it’s because they respect the most elementary of the golden numbers: they last only the time it takes a practised eye to see everything they contain. The time to see everything there is to see in the precise duration and the precise movement of an eye as disciplined in the art of looking as one of Ford’s horsemen in the art of riding a horse.

This principle is so simple that it allowed Ford to complicate and refine, indeed embellish things, while always bestowing a sense of timeless classicism. It isn’t the action that produces duration, it’s the perception of an ideal spectator, a scout seeing from afar everything there is to see (but nothing more).

A fast contemplative, that’s Ford’s paradox. It’s impossible to watch his films with a baleful eye, because then you see nothing (except stories about sentimental soldier boys). The eye has to be quick because in any and every image of a Ford film there’s likely to be a split second’s pure contemplation before the action starts. On leaving a shack or a shot, you see red clouds above a cemetary, a horse left to its own devices in the right-hand corner of the picture, the swarming blue of the cavalry, the distraught faces of two women: these are things you have to see right at the start of the shot, for there will be no ‘second time’ (alas for sluggish eyes).

Ford is one of the great artists of the cinema. Not only because of the way he lights and composes his shots, but more fundamentally because he films so fast that he makes two films at once: a film to evoke time (drawing the narrative out, out of fear of ending) and another to save the moment (the moment of the landscape, two seconds before the action). He’s the one who takes pleasure in spectacle coming first. There’s also no point here in looking for characters who stand before a beautiful landscape and say: ‘Oh! How beautiful!’ It’s not up to the character to nudge the spectator about what they should see. That’s what would be immoral.

All the more so because the characters have enough to keep them busy holding off retirement and the close of the story’s events. It’s a theme that begins with She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and which will keep on returning. Ford’s characters (soldiers included) are only ever the stooges of their convictions, and these will tend less and less to lead towards promised lands, even if they outline the horse’s silhouettes against the background hues of moonlight or a blazing sky. Of course, you find this image in She Wore. This patrol-parade, moving from left to right, is collective and endless.

But there is another, more mysterious movement that comes from the depth of this shot. And which rises always at the centre of the frame. As if this director who had built everything on his refusal of the close-up and the expository scene, on occasion let something come close to his characters. This is how you encounter a close-up in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. You see Nathan Brittles-John Wayne-Raymond Loyer speaking to his wife, who had been dead a long time and buried right there, explaining to her that he has six days left before retirement and he hasn’t made any decisions. Then, on the grave, there falls the shadow of a woman. Of course it’s just a harmless young girl, but for those who have learned to see Ford as he should be seen, this brief moment is scary. It’s the past coming back through the centre of the frame, without warning, ‘a la Ford’. There’s no need to say that when a frame no longer has edges, but a heart, the small screen welcomes it with all the respect which is its due.

Serge Daney

18 November 1988

Le Théâtre des matières

Cinécinéma auteur, 18 heures.

par Louis SKORECKI

Tu t'inquiètes pour rien, dit Jacques, monsieur Edouard a changé. Tu verras, il est serein, communicatif. Il est juste un peu exalté, c'est tout, avait ajouté Caroline pour se rassurer elle-même. Il va bien, je t'assure, avait insisté Jacques. Il est heureux de la vie, voilà tout. Tu vois, je dis à Caroline, j'aimerais parler avec lui du premier Biette, le Théâtre des matières (je me rends compte que je parle tout bas, comme s'il pouvait m'entendre), mais j'ai peur qu'il me tombe dessus encore une fois, il a toujours détesté Biette, tu le sais bien. Mais Biette est mort, dit Jacques. Avec monsieur Edouard, répond Caroline, vous êtes bien placés pour le savoir, la mort n'y change rien, un ennemi reste un ennemi. Dès qu'on prononce son nom, monsieur Edouard se pointe au quart de tour. Le plus étrange, c'est qu'il sait déjà de quoi on parle.

Vous parlez de Biette, c'est ça ? On ne peut rien te cacher, dit Caroline, on disait que le Théâtre des matières était aussi beau qu'un Renoir. Le silence qui suit dure une éternité. Je regarde Jacques, il regarde ses pieds. Vous voulez savoir, dit finalement monsieur Edouard d'un drôle d'air que je ne lui connais pas, eh bien, je suis d'accord avec vous. Ce Biette-là, poursuit-il, sur le sentiment d'épaisseur, le sentiment de théâtre, le sentiment de matière, rappelle presque le dernier Ford, Frontière chinoise. Personne n'ose parler, on entendrait une mouche voler. D'ailleurs, en voilà une, elle tourne autour de monsieur Edouard comme s'il était le centre du monde. Caroline se décide la première, elle s'étonne qu'il compare Biette à son Ford préféré. Sonia Saviange dans le Théâtre des matières, dit rêveusement monsieur Edouard, c'est aussi beau que Machiko Kyo dans un Mizoguchi ; et Howard Vernon, c'est comme Cocteau dans un Tourneur qui serait produit par Val Lewton. Je siffle entre mes dents. Salut l'artiste.

---

Le Théâtre des matières (2)

CinéCinéma Auteur, 2 h 15.

Tu te fais du souci pour rien, avait dit Jacques, monsieur Edouard a changé, tu ne le reconnaîtrais pas. Encore un peu exalté, avait ajouté Caroline, mais c'est tout. Je leur dis que j'aimerais parler avec lui du premier Biette, le Théâtre des matières (je me rends compte que je parle tout bas, comme s'il pouvait m'entendre), mais j'ai peur qu'il me tombe dessus encore une fois, il a toujours détesté Biette. Mais Biette est mort, dit Jacques. Avec monsieur Edouard, répond Caroline, Louis est bien placé pour le savoir, la mort n'y change rien, un ennemi reste un ennemi. Dès qu'on prononce son nom, monsieur Edouard se pointe au quart de tour. Le plus curieux, c'est qu'il sait déjà de quoi on parle. A croire qu'il a un espion dans la maison.

Vous parlez de Biette, c'est ça ? On ne peut rien te cacher, dit Caroline, on disait que le Théâtre des matières était aussi beau qu'un Ford ou un Fassbinder. Le silence qui suit dure une éternité. Je regarde Jacques, il regarde ses pieds. Vous voulez savoir, dit enfin monsieur Edouard d'un drôle d'air que je ne lui connais pas, je suis d'accord avec vous. Ce sentiment de théâtre parlé, on ne le trouve que dans les plus beaux Ford, les plus beaux Fassbinder. Personne n'ose ouvrir la bouche. Caroline se décide la première, elle s'étonne que monsieur Edouard compare Biette à ses deux cinéastes préférés. Il prend un air rêveur que je ne lui connais pas et égrène des noms : Sonia Saviange, Machiko Kyo, Howard Vernon, Jean Cocteau. Biette a de l'allure, dit-il pensivement, il a l'élégance de Mizoguchi, de Tourneur, de Cocteau, mais c'est avant tout un musicien, il fait chanter ses acteurs. Comme Désormières ?, je demande. Non, répond monsieur Edouard, comme Dion. Le chanteur des Belmonts ?, demande Caroline. Oui, lâche monsieur Edouard, Biette est un rocker, un dandy, un voyageur.

---

Le Théâtre des matières (3)

Cinécinéma Auteur, 15 h 15.

par Louis SKORECKI

Vous parliez de Biette, c'est ça ?, avait dit monsieur Edouard. On ne peut rien te cacher, avait répondu Caroline. Louis disait que le Théâtre des matières était aussi beau que le plus beau Ford. Le silence qui suivit avait duré une éternité. Je n'osais pas ouvrir la bouche. Vous voulez savoir, avait fini par dire monsieur Edouard, je suis d'accord avec vous. Cette épaisseur sentimentale, ces effets de théâtre, de matière, on ne les trouve que dans les derniers Ford. Personne n'osait parler. Caroline s'était décidée la première, s'étonnant que monsieur Edouard compare Biette à Ford, son cinéaste préféré. Il avait dit que Biette avait de l'allure, de l'élégance, et qu'il était avant tout musicien. Regardez comme il fait chanter ses acteurs, avait-il dit. Comme un musicien classique ?, avait demandé Caroline. Non, avait dit monsieur Edouard, comme Dion. Dion ?, avait demandé Caroline, le chanteur de doo wop, le rocker ? Oui, avait lâché monsieur Edouard, Biette était un dandy, un voyageur.

Une semaine plus tard, on reparle de ça avec Caroline. Je me suis acheté entretemps une compilation Dion, je cherche à comprendre comment ce petit italien de 17 ans, jeune bandit du Bronx, leader de gangs et tout le tintouin, pouvait avoir un point commun avec Biette. Caroline avait écouté aussi. A Teenager in Love de Dion and The Belmonts, s'écria-t-elle, et tous ces succès des années 50, c'est tout le contraire de Biette, je ne sais pas où monsieur Edouard voulait en venir. Ce n'est qu'en réécoutant les paroles de The Wanderer, enregistré en 1961, sans les Belmonts, que j'ai fini par comprendre. C'est l'histoire d'un type qui erre de ville en ville, j'ai dit à Caroline, qui traverse la vie en sachant qu'il ne va nulle part, mais c'est chanté comme une ritournelle. C'est tout Biette, ça, a dit Caroline. Elle avait raison.


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The godfather

Coppola, Scorsese, Stone and Loach have all been influenced by Francesco Rosi. Michel Ciment pays homage to Italy's greatest living film director

Saturday December 3, 2005
The Guardian

Together with Michelangelo Antonioni, Francesco Rosi is arguably the greatest living Italian director. His 16 films, spanning more than four decades, represent a highly coherent body of work. His aim is to portray the world of politics from the broadest possible angle, which includes social and economic contexts. His influence in the field has been paramount, and practitioners of the genre, from Costa-Gavras and Gillo Pontecorvo to Oliver Stone and Ken Loach, have often acknowledged their debt without equalling his achievements. In fact, taken as a whole, his filmography tells the history of his country in the 20th century, from the first world war (Uomini Contro), fascism (Christ Stopped at Eboli), the liberation of Italy (Lucky Luciano), the return from the concentration camps (The Truce), banditry and the issue of Sicilian autonomy (Salvatore Giuliano), the oil market and the exploitation of the third world (The Mattei Affair), the confusion between private and public interests in local politics (Hands Over the City), terrorism and the threat to political stability (Illustrious Corpses) up to the drug trade (To Forget Palermo), which had already been dealt with for an earlier period in Lucky Luciano.

In many ways, Rosi is the heir of two very different artists who helped give birth to neorealism. From Luchino Visconti - whom Rosi was assistant to on La Terra Trema (1948), for which he sketched every shot, and Senso (1954), for which he directed the second unit battle scenes - he has inherited an interpretation of history and a sense of plastic composition without ever falling (as his master sometimes did) into the merely decorative. From Roberto Rossellini's films he learned a sense of immediacy, a close relationship to the contemporary world and a vivid feeling of reality. But though Rosi's films start from a documentary point of view, they are never documentary in approach. They rarely take place in the present but rather in a not too remote past, as if a certain distance were necessary to distinguish the superficial from the essential, to better illuminate the roots of a problem and analyse the chain of cause and effect.

His first two films, La Sfida (The Challenge, 1958) and I Magliari (The Outlaws, 1959), belong to the tradition of the American thriller with a social conscience as exemplified by Elia Kazan, John Huston or Jules Dassin. Later, as another example of cross-cultural influences, the Italian-American film-makers who gave a new impetus to their national cinema - such as Francis Coppola, a constant admirer of Rosi, and Martin Scorsese ("To me he is one of the great masters of contemporary cinema") - would draw inspiration from his films.

Whatever the quality of his early features, it was with Salvatore Giuliano (1962) that he found his own way, his real originality. This took the form of a critical realism, a realism both heightened and enlightened. "My method, which is a movement of the pendulum between reality and a reflection on reality, I really mastered while shooting in Sicily. The inhabitants of Montelepre wrote scenes for me which I could never have imagined. The fact of shooting in the village where Giuliano was born and lived, or where his mother and his family still lived, where everybody could control my work contained the enormous risk of plunging me into total despair. But at the same time, I wanted to be submitted to this control because I did not want to invent. The episodes, the settings are authentic. I cannot afford to invent if I decide to deal with historical facts, but on the other hand I must interpret this reality."

In spite of appearances, Salvatore Giuliani, The Mattei Affair and Lucky Luciano are not biographies. They use historical figures to better understand the fabric of Italian political life, to see what is under the surface, to encompass reality in all its contradictions. Rosi does not offer easy solutions but prefers to end his films with question marks. What leads him is a search for the truth. He attempts to corner the lies, to unveil the deceptions of a society that acts in the shadow. No wonder the mafia return again and again in his films, which allowed Norman Mailer to call Lucky Luciano "the finest movie yet made about the mafia". Most of his works deal with the ambition of politicians, the thirst for power, the control over society and its people - whether through war, organised crime or plain politics; themes all too rarely explored but which a Bertolt Brecht or a Fritz Lang had dealt with earlier.

Rosi's films have sometimes been referred to as cold. They are, in fact, bristling with sensuality and emotion, which he always keeps at bay. It is a mixture of passion and reason probably best explained by the contradictory influence of his childhood. He was born in Naples in 1922. This southern city was heavily influenced by the philosophy of the enlightenment and it is the birthplace of many lawyers. But it is also a highly emotional town, sensuous and superstitious. One finds in Rosi a balance between a very concrete, physical sense of reality and an abstract, cerebral attitude that allows him to analyse it. One also senses a dialectic between a powerful energy and an intellectual scepticism, what the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci has called "the optimism of the will and the pessimism of the mind".

In his films Rosi has gone back again and again to the south of Italy - this mezzogiorno that the Italians have called their Africa, stereotyped for its backwardness, poverty, violence and mysticism. However, under Rosi's eye the south has become a microcosm not only of Italy but of the world. It has often been said that violence gives birth to history; this has never been so much the case as in that part of the peninsula where the old must give way to the new, where underdevelopment and an agrarian society wait for access to the industrial era and the prosperity of the north.

Salvatore Giuliano takes place in Sicily, La Sfida and Hands Over the City in Naples, C'era una Volta (More Than a Miracle) in the country around it. Enrico Mattei, the industrialist who wanted to disrupt international oil policy for the benefit of Italy, dies in Sicily. The family in Three Brothers live in Apulia province, and the three sons return to the farm for the funeral of their mother and ponder over the contemporary ordeal of their country. In Christ Stopped at Eboli, Carlo Levi, the liberal painter from the north, is sent into political exile under the Mussolini regime to the small village of Lucania; his journey is the discovery of the poor, superstitious world of the south by a rational leftwing intellectual. The Italian-American politician of To Forget Palermo comes back to the native city of his ancestors to be shot dead by the mafia. And if Rosi leaves southern Italy it is to shoot in Spain (The Moment of Truth, Carmen) or in Latin America (Chronicle of a Death Foretold), not forgetting that his birthplace was for three centuries occupied by the kingdom of Spain, which left its indelible mark.

The insistent presence of death in Rosi's films should have warned the critics early on that a purely social and economic interpretation of them would be misleading. Vivir Desviviendose was the first title chosen for his film on bullfighting: "To live while unliving" in a body (human or social) covered with wounds through which life leaks out and loses itself. The Moment of Truth was the title finally adopted, and it applies to other films as well when the director's scalpel does the autopsy. Who is really responsible for the death of Salvatore Giuliano, of the inhabitants of the Via San Andrea buried in the collapse of their hastily built houses (Hands Over the City), of the lieutenants Ottolenghi and Sassu in Uomini Contro, or the oil tycoon Enrico Mattei in the plane crash near Bescape, or Lucky Luciano at the airport, or the judges, magistrates and the inspector Rogas, or those "illustrious corpses" with which Rosi's films are literally strewn? His precise and careful dissection of reality is linked to a sense of metaphysical anguish.

The themes orchestrated by Rosi are so potent and still in tune with our time that one sometimes overlooks his aesthetics. As the American critic Pauline Kael wrote: "Rosi has one of the greatest compositional senses in the history of movies." One cannot forget the massacre of the peasants in the valley, or the mother crying over the corpse of her son (Salvatore Giuliano), the bluish night lit by the explosions of the trench war (Uomini Contro), the beauty of modern architecture (The Mattei Affair), the visit to the crypt of the mummies (Illustrious Corpses), the sudden discovery of the village perched in the mountain (Christ Stopped at Eboli) or the murder of Carmen in the bullring. No artist seems further away from the Romantic sensibility than Rosi, yet the closing lines of Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (whose title aptly associates death with the Mediterranean) may have the last word on the director's work: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."

· Michel Ciment is editor-in-chief of the French cinema magazine Positif, and author of a monograph on the director, Le Dossier Rosi. Francesco Rosi Complete Retrospective is at Ciné Lumière at the Institut Français, London SW7, until December 8. Box office: 020-7073 1350.

domingo, 11 de dezembro de 2005


Comprado na --- edição espanhola. ----- ----- --- ---- --- - muito provavelmente a melhor coisa já escrita sobre Fassbinder. Yann Lardeau foi um dos melhores críticos dos Cahiers na última etapa da editoria do Daney (um dos melhores escritores ------ -- ------- sobre Cimino, Rouch e Pialat), entende --- ------- de cinema alemão dos anos 70 (--- -- ------ ------- - -------- -- ------ -- -----) e faz uma ou duas aproximações que devem ter deixado Straub e Syberberg ensandecidos...



Igualmente comprado, na edição dos Cahiers, mas devo confessar que ainda não criei coragem para ler. Deve exigir um conhecimento prévio de um sem-número de coisas e não quero meter os pés pelas mãos com este aqui.

The Death of Glauber Rocha

Inspired and irritating; the best known and probably the greatest Brazilian director was somewhat forgotten. Cinema novo, tropicalism, tricontinentalism - where are they now? Glauber Rocha himself forgot nothing.

The last time I saw Glauber Rocha was in the office at Cahiers du Cinema, near Bastille. I didn’t know him, but I’d seen his films ten years earlier. Nobody talks about him anymore, except to say that he had gone crazy or that he’d compromised himself with the Brazilian military regime. He had come to France for what was virtually a sneak screening of his latest film, a film he’d spent a lot of time, money and work on and which had left the Venice Festival-goers perplexed to say the least. It was called A Idade da Terra and was like nothing known to man. A torrential, hallucinatory film. A filmic flying saucer, no more, no less. Glauber was in Paris to try and get the film distributed, to renew old contacts and take his bearings. He talked a lot, he was probably raving: nothing of what he said was without significance.

At Cahiers we asked him whether he would write something or say something about Pasolini, whom he had known, and to whom we were devoting a special issue. He shut himself up in an office and, having no need of an interviewer, talked alone for two hours in front of a small tape recorder. Usually, we could hear his vehement tone of voice, the charm of his Brazilian accent in French, his bad-tempered and affectionate settling of scores with PPP, his post-mortem reproaches. It was already a dialogue of the dead. We didn’t see him again, for he went off to Portugal, where it seemed he was working on a film project. He has just died, on his return to Brazil, of complications from an illness we knew nothing about.

Of the great mischiefmakers of modern cinema, Glauber Rocha was perhaps the furthest from us. Firstly because from the seventies on, his reputation became distinctly bad: he had turned his coat, he had spoken in favour of the military regime of Geisel, then Figuereido, and the state cinema organisation, Embrafilme, had swallowed up a lot of money in that crazy film-fleuve of his, the flying saucer, A Idade da Terra. And then becuase, when it came down to it, he had always been far away, as far from us as Brazil can be. We had only come together because in those crazy times there was still something called ‘the history of the cinema’, which, before our very eyes, would weave the most paradoxical alliances. Glauber Rocha could discuss Eisenstein montage with Godard, say what made Faulkner a cinematographic writer, or why one should, paradoxically, regard Bunuel as a ‘tricontinental’ director. There seemed to be no differences between the guerillas who were leading the ‘new waves’ all over the world, on whatever shores they died. We were resisting; we were resisting Hollywood-Mosfilm, with a mixture of revolt and piety. We did not yet believe that America had conclusively won in the realm of sounds and images.

In 1963, Glauber Rocha and his friends (Diegues, Hirzman, Guerra, Dos Santos, Saraceni, etc.) had published a pamphlet: ‘A Critical Revision of Brazilian Cinema’. Born in Bahia in 1938, like everyone else in Latin America, he and his friends had made the most of a brief period of liberalisation, a breathing space, to try and change Brazilian cinema from the inside. Three films established his reputation: Black God White Devil (1963), Terra en transe (1966) and Antonio das Mortes (1968).

Western criticism , which is always curious about folklore and addicted to labelling, loved this new cinema, this cinema novo which Glauber symbolised. Knowing nothing of its old cinema, nor of Brazil at all, it loved it all the more. Then, as the military began to make a comeback (and what a comeback!), it forgot it. Returned to their contradictions, the cream of the aforesaid cinema novo faced the events that followed each in his own way: Glauber going into exile in 1971, Hirzsman clamming up, Ruy Guerra going off to Mozambique, only Diegues gradually becoming the Brazilian director. Glauber Rocha, the most patently brilliant of them all, will have the most erratic development. Two monster films which ought to be seen again today, Der Leone have sept cabecas (1969) and Cabecas Cortadas (1970), the failed project for a History of Brazil, an unsuccessful film in Italy (Claro), a gag appearance in Godard’s Vent d’est, a controversial short (Di Cavalcanti), and to wind up

He was brilliant but bothersome, a figure vaguely admired, feared or scorned in the Brazilian intellectual landscape, a public figure who was hard to manipulate, even for the military, whose merits he had noisily made much of (as a tactic?) but without it being clear how he could become their hostage or official film maker. Too crazy. So Glauber Rocha laid a lot of false trails, wore out a lot of friends, spouted a full complement of horrors. In Venice in 1980 he behaved very badly, insulting Louis Malle, whose Atlantic City had just been honoured. Everywhere he saw American imperialism, everywhere he saw the hand of Hollywood.

This was nothing new. In 1967 he stated - a banal enough idea at the time - ‘The tools are Hollywood’s just as others belong to the Pentagon. No film maker is free enough’. It was the era of the tri-continental dream: ‘For the tri-continental film-maker the moment of choice comes when the light strikes, I mean when the camera opens on the Thirld World, an occupied territory. In the street, in the desert, in the forest and the city, choice has to be made, and even though the material is neutral, the editing speaks. Speech which can be inprecise and vague, wild and irrational, but whose every resistance is significant.’ Watching A Idade da Terra fourteen years on, I told myself that Glauber hadn’t changed in this point. A film in the image of Brazil, ‘a verbose and loquacious, energetic, sterile and hysterical nation’ (still the words of G.R.).

In a film now devoid of trickery, where he was all alone with his lunacy, Glauber made us recall a forgotten dream, the dream of an other cinema, something other than what is ‘made in USA’. For there had been various times when this existed - this idea that film makers of every continent could assemble images differently, and offer the cinema something other than its bad televi-sation or its sinister museum-isation. A cinema of montage, of materiality and discrepancy, an opera-cinema to convert us from the American operetta. It had once existed.

As I re-read old interviews with Glauber in Cahiers, the image of the inflexible and suspect prophet, with which in the end he had merged, becomes dimmed. It’s true, more than anyone else he had been the petit-bourgeois artist which all orthodoxies throw up, the eternal sorcerer’s apprentice of politics, the faithless provocateur, etc. He was even the subject of Terre en transes, a brilliant masochistic film: which dictator will the poet serve? Yet what’s striking in these interviews is Glauber’s prodigious knowledge: his intimate acquaintance with movies (American ones included), the claiming of ‘Brazilian-ness’ and at the same time the idea that everywhere, beneath the garb of the official saints, are the idols of the subjugated. Behind which they sometimes rise up. Glauber’s films are westerns where cangaceiro killers, peasant mysticism and political manipulations create a single scenario. When it came to ‘folklore’ he had a lot to teach us. As someone with a Protestant upbringing, he was fascinated by Catholic rituals, finding African gods behind them, and behind Saint George deities named Oxosse or Ogun, behind the Church the Candomble.

A word of warning: for him there are no true or false gods, there are (as Deleuze and Guattari would say) ‘rhizome’ gods, there are images which slide one beneath the other, all of them true or all of them false. What counts is not the Earth but the Age. If the word culture has any meaning nowadays, where but in Brazil? A film maker turned into the flux of images, the languages of the whole world, who but Glauber? It’s rather like the way he reproached Pasolini at the Cahiers du cinema office: PPP was perverse when what was needed was subversiveness; worse still he dreamt of an Oedipus-Christ when what was needed was a black and naked Christ.

That it is Eisenstein to whom Glauber Rocha constantly refers is not to be wondered at. In the ruins of our cine-clubs today the director of Potemkin has become a remote and virtually incomprehensible glory. We forget that every film-maker starting out in that part of the world which is itself starting out (the part we call ‘Third’) meets him along the way. There’s nothing political about this. Eisenstein brings back the cabaret and the circus, transvestism and gay paranoia, a fondness for forms and their metamorphoses, for the great and the small, the macro and the micro. Encyclopaedic learning and the Samba danced in front of idols. To foster in things an impure, mongrel beauty. For Glauber there is no end to the dialogue with Eisenstein. ‘Even for Eisenstein, the project of aestheticizing the New World was the same as taking the word of God (and the interests of the conquistadors) to the Indians’ he says. In the age of video, zoom lenses and over-saturated sound, A Idade da Terra is to some extent an answer to S.M.E.; it’s the third part of Ivan the Terrible.

He disconcerted and invented, shocked and disappointed. He gave up nothing of his desire. Stubbornly, he never ceased asking a question which, I fear, has become obsolete: what sort of cinema might there be that owed nothing to the USA? It is maybe asking too much. But who will answer?

Serge Daney

24 August 1981

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