Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Essay Film - A Manifesto by Mark Cousins

In the last two years I have made three essay films – What is This Film Called Love?, A Story of Children and Film, and Here be Dragons. In the next year, I will make two more – I am Belfast and Stockholm My Love.

In making these, and watching many more – by Anand Patwardhan and Agnes Varda, for example – and after reading Philip Lopate’s book on the essay, I started to make a mental list of the elements of, and the principles behind, essay films. This list is a kind of manifesto.

A fiction film is a bubble. An essay film bursts it.

An essay film takes an idea for a walk.

Essay films are visual thinking.

Essay films reverse film production: the images come first, the script, last.

Filming an essay is gathering, like a carpenter gathers wood.

A fiction film is a car, an essay film is a bike; it can nip up an alleyway, you can feel the wind in its hair.

A road movie has outer movement, an essay film has inner movement.

An essay film is the opposite of fly on the wall.

An essay film can go anywhere, and should.

Two essay films should be made every year. Why? Because, after F for Fake, Orson Welles said this to Henry Jaglom during lunch at Ma Maison: “I could have made an essay film – two of ‘em a year, you see. On different subjects. Various variations of that form.”

Commentary is to the essay film, what dance is to the musical.

All essay films would be improved by a clip of Dietrich (see Marcel Ophuls).

An essay film cannot create the atmosphere of Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard;
A fiction film cannot explain that atmosphere.

Even Hollywood makes essay films – look at DW Griffith’s Intolerance.

Essay films are what Astruc dreamt of.

Digital had made Astruc’s dream come true.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lincoln Is Still the Best Thing Built By Ford [on Neil Young Journeys]

In the last three years the number of films made with or about (and occasionally by) Neil Young has mounted up to the extent that is difficult to remember which song was in which film. Parallel to an overdose of NY album releases - marked by two recent, and rather disappointing, Crazy Horse sessions - camera seems to love this Canadian singer/songwriter, still, at 66, a restless rocker in search of a Woodstock dream. Also, the age, 66, resembles the golden number American popular music and the cross country highway of freedom in anything from Nat King Cole to Dennis Hopper.

The aforementioned filmic portrayals are: in 2009 Young was given his entry to the American Masters series in Don't Be Denied. Unlike Bob Dylan film from the same program, which had Martin Scorsese’s name in the credit, Don't Be Denied was denied soon after its initial broadcast and went into oblivion. On the same year, Jonathan Demme filmed the electric storm of a NY tour in Trunk Show. In 2010 the electric solo album, Le Noise, with its murky, elegiac lyricism turned into a 40 minute-long YouTube video, shot in a beautiful L.A. mansion with a feeling of LSD all throughout the film. And now, Demme’s fourth film with NY (after Complex Sessions, 1994; Heart of Gold, 2006 and Trunk Show) seems in better shape and Younger than all the recent efforts.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

August Stairs

In descending order
Dracula (Tod Browning, 1931)
The Perfume of the Lady in Black (Francesco Barilli, 1974)
Capriccio all'Italiana (Mauro Bolognini, Mario Monicelli, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Steno, Pino Zac, Franco Rossi, 1968)
Célestine... bonne à tout faire (Jesús Franco, 1974)

Night Trains: BFI Mediatheque

photo: Ehsan Khoshbakht

اولين مقاله از بخش فعلاً متوقف شدۀ «قطارهاي شبانه» كه براي ماهنامه 24 دربارۀ فيلم ديدن در قرن بيست و يكم نوشتم. موضوع اين صفحه، گزارش‌ها و يادداشت‌هايي دربارۀ تدوام فرهنگ سينما در هزارۀ سوم و صور تازۀ آن است كه امكاناتِ بيشتري را در اختيار ما قرار داده. شرح مشاهدات از مكان‌ها و فضاها، فيلم ديدن‌ها و آدم‌هايي است كه كارشان فيلم ديدن و مشاهده كردن است. عنوان در واقع نقل قولي از فرانسوا تروفوست كه مي‌گويد «فيلم‌ها مثل قطارهايند، در شب.» اما از آن‌جا كه حالا مسافركش‌هاي خط هفت‌تير-بازار هم تروفو quote مي‌كنند به سختي بتوان آن را عنواني خلاقانه توصيف كرد.

مدياتِك: همۀ فيلم‌ها، همۀ مردم

راه‌هاي دسترسي سينمادوستان و محققان به فيلم‌ها تغييراتي باورنكردني كرده است كه بيشترش را مي‌توان در جهت خير و براي تسهيل رابطۀ ميان تماشاگر و دنياي سينما دانست. با آن‌كه عرضۀ فيلم‌ها به روي نوارهاي وي‌اچ‌اس و كمي بعد دي‌وي‌دي درهاي زيادي را براي بازبيني آثار سينمايي فراهم كرد، اما هم‌چنان عناوين ارئه شده محدود، و دسترسي به آن‌ها دشوار بود. درست است كه براي تماشاي فيلم‌هاي مشهور اورسن ولز هرگز مشكلي وجود نداشت، اما تصور كنيد براي ديدن داستان جاويد (1968)، فيلمي كه ولز براي تلويزيون فرانسه ساخت، تنها نسخۀ دي‌وي‌وي فيلم در ايتاليا منتشر شده بود، آن‌هم احتمالاً بدون زيرنويس انگليسي و تازه اگر كسي مي‌توانست نسخه‌اي از آن را تهيه كند بايد براي مشكل زبان، و در آن اوايل تفاوت بين region هاي مختلف دي‌وي‌وي‌ در دستگاه‌هاي مختلف مي‌كرد راه حلي پيدا مي‌كرد. حالا با اينترنت فيلم‌هاي بيشتري را مي‌توان ديد و وقت و پول كمتري را هدر داد، اما باز هم بسياري از فيلم‌ها در هيچ شكل رسمي و غيررسمي قابل رديابي نيستند. تصور كنيد كه شما به هر دليل براي نوشتن يك مقاله، يا از سر عشق به يك كارگردان يا يك موضوع خاص قصد ديدن مجموعه‌اي مشخص از فيلم‌ها را داريد. در اين حال چه بايد كرد؟