Wednesday 27 February 2013

Jonathan Rosenbaum @ 70

Jonathan Rosenbaum (image courtesy of TimeOut)

Jonathan Rosenbaum turned seventy today. To celebrate his birthday, while he is busy teaching a course on film criticism in Mexico City, I have three pieces to offer, or rather Jonathan has provided me with three invaluable pieces to share with my readers:




Still there is plenty of great tributes to Jonathan by my colleagues in Keyframe, including a video portrait by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and Kevin B. Lee, and few hours into the party, Kevin returns with his Critic as Performer: Jonathan Rosenbaum on Stage, on Screen.

and happy birthday JR!

Monday 25 February 2013

Abbas Kiarostami, Up Close

After forty years of making films and collecting a wide range of awards and golden statuettes, Abbas Kiarostami retains a unique innocence alongside his earned artistic sophistication. He reminds us of characteristics endangered in the contemporary Iranian cinematic landscape, where censorship prevents filmmakers from speaking their minds and government-approved, state-supported cinema produces the major box-office hits.

Here, Kiarostami—interviewed by Iranian film critic (and my teenage years’ film-watching companion) Nima Hassani-Nasab in Farsi in 2012 and translated by me as Kiarostami’s work gets a close-up with a Film Society of Lincoln Center retrospective and the opening of his latest, Like Someone in Love, in U.S. theaters next week—shows a face that cannot be easily seen in his English-language interviews. Heavily quoting Persian poets (though the resonances are, sadly, lost in the translation), and trusting the interviewer, the filmmaker takes off his dark glasses to reveal the eyes of a vulnerable, melancholic man who sees his life and the cinema itself not worthy of all the suffering he has been through.

The conversation covers many details of Kiarostami’s life and career, but mostly focuses on Shirin which is probably the only film in history of cinema in which all the female stars of one country have both appeared and have cried. The interview was conducted in Kiarostami’s north Tehran house, with tables loaded with printed papers of the Iranian maestro’s latest book: Night in the Classic & Modern Persian Poetry. The last two volumes of that controversial project were about the water and the fire in Persian poetry. Kiarostami’s own poetic art still lies in the sublime encounter of the mighty elements of this universe with tiny, funny details of ordinary life. And it’s as cinematically as fresh as the invention the wheel.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Phallic Domination in the 70s Hollywood

سلطه در هالیوودِ دهه هفتاد: در جستجوی آقای گودبار (1977)
زنانگي و مكافات
ان کاپلان
ترجمۀ كتايون يوسفي

همان‌طور که مالی هسکل و دیگران به درستی به آن اشاره کرده‌اند، از اواسط دهۀ 1960 و هم‌زمان با آغاز جنبش زنان دو دسته فیلم در سینمای تجاری آمریکا ظهور کرده و غالب شد. گروه اول برای طفره رفتن از مسائل مرتبط با تفاوت جنسیتی، زنان را کاملاً از فیلم حذف کرد (فیلم‌هایی که به buddy-buddy يا رفيقِ [مرد] جون‌جوني شناخته می‌شوند) و گروه دوم، وقتی که دیگر اجتناب از این مشکلات ممکن نبود، خشونت و تجاوز به زنان را نشان داد. زمینه ظهور این دسته دوم را فیلمی چید که با آنکه در زمان نمايشش، در 1960، متهم به نمایش غیر ضروریِ سادیسم شد، اکنون بسیار جلوتر از زمان خود تلقی می‌شود: تامِ چشم‌چران اثر مایکل پاول. این فیلم شاید بیش‌تر از هر فیلم دیگری تلاش نیروی مردسالاری برای خنثی کردن تهدیدِ وارد از جانب زن را می‌نمایاند؛ تلاشی که یا به شکل کنترل او توسط نیروی gaze بود (نمونه: كاميل اثر جرج کیوکر)؛ یا بت ساختن از او (نمونه: ونوس موطلايي اثر جوزف فون اشترنبرگ) و یا قتل او (نمونه: بانويي از شانگهاي اثر اورسن ولز).

Thursday 14 February 2013

Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris [Book Review]

يادداشتي بر كتاب «ژان پير ملويل: يك آمريكايي در پاريس» نوشتۀ ژينت ونساندو

نهنگِ سفيدِ ملويل

در 26 نوامبر 1987 خياباني در مركز شهر كوچك بلفور در شرق فرانسه داشت به نام ژان پير ملويل نام‌گذاري مي‌شد، شهري كه ملويل ريشه‌هايي خانوادگي در آن داشت، گرچه تمام عمرش به‌عنوان يك پاريسي از او ياد مي‌شد. شهردار كه مشغول پرده‌برداري از تابلوي تازه خيابان بود، در سخنراني‌اش، كه مي‌تواند درسي براي تمام شهرداران باشد، به شوخي گفت كه درستش اين بود ما خيابان خلوت و محزوني را در حومۀ شهر به ياد ملويل نام‌گذاري مي‌كرديم. حتي شهردارِ بلفور هم مي‌دانست كه سينماي ملويل از نظر مكان و فضا دقيقاً مترادف با چيست.
با وجود شهرت فراگير ملويل كه با توزيع گستردۀ دي‌وي‌دي فيلم‌هاي او و نمايش دوبارۀ چند فيلمش در اين سال‌ها به بالاترين حد خود از اوايل دهۀ 1970 رسيده، براي خواندن كتابي تحيلي بر آثار او (به زبان انگليسي) بايد سال‌هاي زيادي منتظر مي‌مانديم. خانم ژینت ونساندو، محقق سینمایی فرانسوی-بریتانیایی، نويسندۀ اين كتاب تازه و استثنايي، ژان پير ملويل: يك آمريكايي در پاريس، است.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Jazz In High Heels

To avoid any misunderstanding, this post is going to be about film music, but I would like to start the story from an "improper" point which is charged with some risque themes - this point is a shot.

The shot below, from the opening credit of Satan In High Heels (1962) takes us to one of the hilarious moments of the fetishist cinema, of course, if one doesn't consider the whole film-loving affair as a fetishist obsession. What this credit-shot suggests, no matter how ridiculous, is truly justified in the film which follows: In Satan In High Heels the role of furs, leathers and lingerie which suppose to cover the voluptuous strip dancers is more significant than the work of actors or the direction. 

Monday 4 February 2013

Film Ads In Iran#29: Nightcomers

The Nightcomers (1971) starring Marlon Brando and directed by Michael Winner, the English director who passed away last month, shown at the Tehran's uptown film theater Shahre Farang. Before the revolution (also after that), there was no organization for rating and certifying films in Iran (sure there was censor, but once films passed the censor, theaters had no obligation to follow any age restriction), but posters were using fake age limits as a sort of publicity. As this ad shows, the publicity campaign has used "no under-18 is allowed into the theater"  to arouse curiosity and draw more audience to the film, especially those of under eighteen! [click on the images to enlarge]

Friday 1 February 2013

Notes on Stop For Bud

In 1963, Jørgen Leth, a Danish filmmaker (who was also a poet, art critic, controversialist and Tour de France commentator  made a short, poetic and visually stunning film about the jazz pianist Bud Powell known as Stop For Bud.

The film, without showing much of Bud's piano playing, succeeds in achieving something that is hugely missing in jazz films of today: finding the right images (to the extent that filmmaker's visual vocabulary allows) to accompany the music, a constant translation from music to cinema and vice versa.