robertogreco + alfredhitchcock   5

What Is French Cinema Anyway?
"In his review of Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, Jonathan Romney, after pointing out the whiteness and bourgeois-ness of the film, describes it as mostly “a quintessentially Parisian film about French youth.” Being French myself, I tend to cringe at any description of a film as “quintessentially” Parisian. Nine times out of 10, what is actually captured is the essence of a microcosm that can only be subjective and incomplete.

American critics have a tendency to freeze French culture into a single image, but who could blame them? Mia Hansen-Løve’s films, for example, do tend to “sell” a certain idea of Frenchness. Then there’s Amélie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz. At its release in 2001, the film received much praise, but also a notoriously scathing review from Les Inrocks’ Serge Kaganski, who criticized the film’s reactionary ideology and passéiste view of Parisian life. Frédéric Bonnaud, Kaganski’s colleague at the magazine, sarcastically described the film as being “too French to be true.”

Although I agree that Amélie is not the best thing that happened to France or French cinema, I found it dishonest that it was this specific film that prompted such criticism, especially when it comes to the whiteness and latent racism of the film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is considered a mainstream filmmaker, while Mia Hansen-Løve is positioned as an independent auteur. The criticism held against Amélie, the fact that it reduces France to a postcard, enclosed and suffocating, could easily be applied to Hansen-Løve’s films, which also seem to evolve outside of French reality.

This summer, TIFF Cinematheque welcomes a retrospective of one of France’s most legendary New Wave filmmakers, Eric Rohmer. Dangerous Liaisons: The Films of Eric Rohmer includes screenings of classics such as My Night At Maud’s, A Summer’s Tale, Triple Agent and his last film, The Romance of Astrée and Celadon. Even though Rohmer died only in 2010, I feel like I’ve never occupied the same historical space as he did. Watching Rohmer’s movies is a peculiar cine-ethnographic experience. I might share a language and a nationality with the creatures on-screen, but they seem to come from another dimension. If not from France, where does Rohmer come from?"



"Rohmer’s themes — love, friendship, fidelity, and fate — are universal. However, it is his treatment of them, the way he delays the action and even neutralizes it, that distinguishes his films from American films on the same subjects. In both My Night At Maud’s and Chloé In The Afternoon, a man and a woman want to consummate their love. Yet, they spend the length of the film verbally playing cat-and-mouse, questioning the possibility and morality of the act itself. As spectators, we derive pleasure (or irritation) through the deployment of language, the precise dialogue and preciousness with which the actors pronounce the words. It is not a coincidence that one of Rohmer’s actors was the verbose Fabrice Luchini. The first scene of The Tree, The Mayor and The Mediatheque shows him teaching a grammar class to what seems like sixth graders. Asked whether he’d shoot a film in the U.S. (like his fellow Cahiers’ critic François Truffaut), Rohmer said that his love for French language was too much of an integral part of his aesthetic to consider it. His dialogues are not only pedagogical, but part of the acoustic of his films, of their musicality.

My current favourite Rohmer film is probably the late ‘80s girl buddy film Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, the closest to a teen movie Rohmer has ever filmed. (The girls are actually in college.) Following the titular Reinette and Mirabelle in their respective environments, the director showcases his talent in filming and revealing landscapes both urban and rural. Even though he was born in the province, Paris seemed to have been Rohmer’s main love, the place where most of his stories take place, as demonstrated in this video essay by Richard Misek.

What is an event in a Rohmer film? A man buying a green shirt in Chloe In The Afternoon. Reinette and Mirabelle, waiting for a blue night in the countryside. Drinking, reading a book. And always two individuals encountering each other, not knowing what their fate will be. Plots and storylines exist in the Rohmerian world, but they are digression-friendly."



"The influence of American cinema on Eric Rohmer was subtle, if not invisible. Of all the New Wave filmmakers, he’s the one that cannot be accused of being complacent with the American cinema’s aesthetic. His films were very French, even perpetuating and creating a fixed idea of Frenchness and French cinema. But what’s so French about the New Wave and more specifically, Eric Rohmer? What makes a French film, French?

Perhaps, the gratuitous nudity, the long conversations in cafes, beaches and bedrooms, Paris, older men desiring younger girls, the theatricality and artificiality of the conversations. The cinema of Éric Rohmer, at first glance, contains all the clichés associated with French cinema."



"Today’s French filmmakers inevitably make films with American images and stylistic tactics in mind. To borrow words from Dusan Makavjev, who was quoted in Thomas Elsaesser’s European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood, “to live in the twenty first century is learning to be American.” In the ‘90s when Éric Rohmer was delivering his “Tales of Four Seasons,” in which young ephebes were singing regional French folks songs, American cultural hegemony had established itself for good in France. No amount of European and ruthless French anti-Americanism and cultural protectionism had prevented American pop culture from flooding our theatres and television screens. The fear expressed in this quote recalls the fear of “Americanization” or “coca-colonisation” during the interwar period, which led to the creation of policies that would limit the number of American films on French screens. Authorities were anxious that the passive consumption of Hollywood products would lead to a kind of inner displacement, encouraging a concrete one, a betrayal of the nation, and the adoption of a lifestyle and the star-spangled flag."



"But not all contemporary French filmmakers are taking a flight from French reality. Abdellatif Kechiche, the director of the controversial Palme D’or-winning film Blue is the Warmest Color, is probably the most Rohmerian working filmmaker in France right now. Like Rohmer, Kechiche functions as a chronicler of contemporary French life with an attention for language and French youth in all its diversity. Young girls also have a central, constitutive place in Kechiche’s cinema. Blue is the Warmest Color contained all his obsessions. Running three hours long, it was a culmination of his filmmaking style with its succession of long scenes. We also find the eloquence and expressivity of Rohmerian characters, though with less sculpted direction in their performances. Kechichian encounters are more violent and crude, as the sex, fighting and eating shows us. But the highbrow, intellectual conversations on Klimt, Bob Marley and Sartre are there.

I definitely believe that the future of a specifically French cinema is in the hands of immigrants. We have the desire to not only reclaim specific spaces as ours, but to also depict the way we have been alienated from them. French cinema has merely started giving a place to characters who look and talk like us. Once the movies begin to fully register our existence, it will not need to look at America anymore, as our lives are as epic and special as the ones overseas. The real legacy of the French New Wave and Rohmer’s films is to have given us the tools to carve out a space in which we’ll be able to imagine our own cinematic manifestations. Meanwhile, we have the opportunity like they did with American cinema, to study their films so that we can create our own singular forms."
fantasylla  film  france  éricrohmer  miahansen-løve  cinema  future  culture  immigration  alienation  jean-pierrejeunet  sergekaganski  frédéricbonnaud  howardhawks  alfredhitchcock  dwgriffith  macksennett  frenchnewwave  dusanmakavjev  thomaselsaesser  abdellatifkechiche  fabricegobert  célinesciamma 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Wired 14.07: What Kind of Genius Are You?
"A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types – quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet."



"Which leads to the second gap. Consider the word genius. “Since the Renaissance, genius has been associated with virtuosos who are young.

The idea is that you’re born that way – it’s innate and it manifests itself very young,” Galenson says. But that leaves the vocabulary of human possibility incomplete. “Who’s to say that Virginia Woolf or Cézanne didn’t have an innate quality that simply had to be nourished for 40 or 50 years before it bloomed?” The world exalts the young turks – the Larrys and the Sergeys, the Picassos and the Samuelsons. And it should. We need those brash, certain, paradigm-busting youthful conceptualists. We should give them free rein to do bold work and avoid saddling them with rules and bureaucracy.

But we should also leave room for those of us who have, er, avoided peaking too early, whose most innovative days may lie ahead. Nobody would have heard of Jackson Pollock had he died at 31. But the same would be true had Pollock given up at 31. He didn’t. He kept at it. We need to look at that more halting, less certain fellow and perhaps not write him off too early, give him a chance to ride the upward curve of middle age.

Of course, not every unaccomplished 65-year-old is some undiscovered experimental innovator. This is a universal theory of creativity, not a Viagra for sagging baby boomer self-esteem. It’s no justification for laziness or procrastination or indifference. But it might bolster the resolve of the relentlessly curious, the constantly tinkering, the dedicated tortoises undaunted by the blur of the hares. Just ask David Galenson.

Conceptualists

Many geniuses peak early, creating their masterwork at a tender age ...

LITERATURE: The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Age 29

PAINTING: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
Pablo Picasso
Age 26

FILMMAKING: Citizen Kane
Orson Welles
Age 26

ARCHITECTURE: The Vietnam War Memorial
Maya Lin
Age 23

MUSIC: The Marriage of Figaro
Wolfgang Mozart
Age 30

Experimentalists

... while others bloom late, doing their best work after lifelong tinkering.

LITERATURE: Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
Age 50

PAINTING: Château Noir
Paul Cézanne
Age 64

FILMMAKING: Vertigo
Alfred Hitchcock
Age 59

ARCHITECTURE: Fallingwater
Frank Lloyd Wright
Age 70

MUSIC: Symphony No. 9
Ludwig van Beethoven
Age 54"
latebloomers  creativity  genius  via:litherland  danielpink  conceptualists  experimentation  experimentalists  persistence  fscottfitzgerald  jacksonpollock  pablopicasso  orsonwelles  mayalin  wolfgangmozart  marktwain  cézanne  alfredhitchcock  franklloydwright  beethoven  davidgaleson 
january 2014 by robertogreco
the lonely city - Olivia Laing
"I'm now starting work on my third book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. It will be published by Canongate in the UK and Picador in the US.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of strangers. And while The Lonely City will be a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, it will be centred on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that tiny, teeming island of gneiss and concrete and glass.

Like my previous two books, this will be a hybrid work of non-fiction, bringing together elements of cultural history, biography, travelogue and memoir. It’s a story about what it feels like to be lonely in a city, and about the complex connections that exist between loneliness, sexuality and art.

Among the residents of the lonely city, I'll be looking at Hopper and Hitchcock, Andy Warhol and Henry Darger, at David Wojnarowicz, Michael Jackson and Klaus Nomi. I'll be thinking about communication and sexuality, about apocalyptic cities, Aids and the art of the machine age.

The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It’s a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many – millions, say – of souls."
via:kio  books  loneliness  cities  urban  urbanism  strangers  olivialaing  experience  human  humans  michaeljackson  klausnomi  davidwojnarowicz  henrydarger  andywarhol  alfredhitchcock  edwardhopper  alone 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Auteur Myth | Wired Science | Wired.com
"…it’s also important to remember that nobody creates Vertigo or the iPad by themselves; even auteurs need the support of a vast system. When you look closely at auteurs, what you often find is that their real genius is for the the assembly of creative teams, trusting the right people with the right tasks at the right time. Sure, they make the final decisions, but they are choosing between alternatives created by others. When we frame auteurs as engaging in the opposite of collaboration, when we obsess over Hitchcock’s narrative flair but neglect Lehman’s script, or think about Jobs’ aesthetic but not Ive’s design (or the design of those working for Ives), we are indulging in a romantic vision of creativity that rarely exists. Even geniuses need a little help."
jonahlehrer  creativity  collaboration  alfredhitchcock  stevejobs  johngruber  design  film  decisionmaking  auteurs  howwework  constraints  support  making  business  teamwork  leadership  2011  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco

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