“I had never encountered so many people who knew about knowledge. I met few poets and fewer musicians. But everybody recited poems or whistled movements from Bach. I found this dull as if I had wandered into a land of parrots, and I spent many hours arguing with Germans about the significance of their culture.”
–Ben Hecht, on his experience in Berlin circa 1919-20, in “The Sickness Called Germany” (from The Ben Hecht Show )
BEGETS THIS (APPARENTLY):
We-can’t-wait-for-Michael-Corleone-to-send-his-soul-to-damnation … It-is,-rather,-a-film-for-those-who-enjoy-being-hit-across-the-face-just-to-feel-the-sting-and-know-they’re-alive … It-hurts-to-watch.-It-should … As-a-primal-gut-punch,-the-movie-can’t-be-called-anything-other-than-a-success.-It’s-disgusting,-but-just-try-looking-away.-You-can’t … It’s-for-post-pubescent-men-who-are-fascinated-by-hearing-and-seeing-teenage-girls-scream-horribly-as-they-are-mutilated-and-raped.-And-if-that’s-your-bag,-then-just-fucking-admit-it … For-once,-we-see-Jews-with-mistresses-as-well-as-devout-nuclear-families.-The-frankness-enlivens-an-otherwise-well-worn-exercise-in-barbarity-and-limited-salvation … Black’s-empathy-extends-to-men-not-courageous-enough-to-be-lovers … And-make-no-mistake:-Love—the-unabashed,-full-throated,-spelling-challenged-adoration-of-cinema—is-what’s-at-stake-here.-‘In-Glourious-Beast-turds’-is-surely-the-first-World-War-II-film-in-which-a-heroic-officer-is-a-former-film-critic … If-‘In-Glourious-Beast-turds’-wins-Best-Picture,-Chris-Stamm-and-I-will-drunkenly-embrace-strangers-in-the-streets … If-it-is-guilty-of-bloodlust,-at-least-it-has-something … There-are-those-who-will-accuse-me-of-philistinism-or-contrarian-provocation.-Please,-by-all-means,-see-‘Film-Socialisme’ … I-even-wonder-if-we-don’t-need-‘Enter-the-Void’’s-stale-New-Age-borrowings—it’s-like,-all-a-dream,-dude,-and-have-you-read-‘The-Tibetan-Book-of-the-Dead’? … There-are-still-people-left-alive-to-follow-their-loved-ones-into-death,-yet-I-did-not-want-this-horrible-story-to-end … George-A.-Romero,-one-of-the-least-subtle-filmmakers-of-our-time,-once-derided-“torture-porn”-for-“lacking-metaphor,”-which-is-tantamount-to-beating-your-dog-for-failing-at-calculus … Such-movies-are-fantasies-about-what-can-be-done-to-and-with-bodies.-They-are-nasty-and-mean-and-ugly.-They-should-be … If-I-haven’t-made-this-clear-by-now,-‘The-Limits-of-Control’-is-an-enormously-irritating-movie … But-who-goes-to-the-movies-to-think?-We-go-to-feel … In-essence,-‘2001’-is-Kubrick’s-sci-fi-vision-of-the-badly-curdled-romance-between-an-autistic-man-and-a-gay-computer.-You-can-watch-it-if-you-want,-and-feel-less-than-you-ever-did,-and-somehow-be-proud-of-yourself-for-that.-Have-fun.
FRESH MEAT: DIARY OF THE DEAD
FORTY YEARS ON, THE HORROR MAESTRO GETS BACK TO BASICS
WRITTEN BY ROBIN WOOD
George Romero’s Living Dead movies have been at once mesmerizing, tantalizing, and oddly frustrating. One always has the sense that, beneath the surface shock/horror level, they are making a statement about . . . what, exactly? What do the Living Dead represent? Our culture, what we used to think of as our civilization, human life itself in all its confusions and unsatisfactoriness? All of the above? When you try to pin it down, something always gets in the way, refuses to fit, resists the meanings we try to impose … Yet the more one reflects upon them the more one is struck by an inherent logic in the overall structure, a logic confirmed by the remarkable new film: the first four in the series cover and demolish, systematically, the central structures of what we still call our civilization, establishing Romero as the most radical of all horror directors.
By Gavin Smith
The director of The Limits of Control talks about going out on a limb. Plus: Kent Jones on a trance film for our times
The movie has the minimal structure and trappings of a thriller, but it requires a different kind of engagement from the viewer; there’s a different kind of contract being made with the viewer in this movie than in the traditional genre movie. You could compare it to certain Rivette films like Pont du Nord or Paris Belongs to Us.
Out 1 especially. Part of me wanted to make an action film with no action in it, whatever the hell that means. For me the plot, the resolution of the film, the action toward the end is not really of that much interest. It’s only metaphorical somehow.
It’s not cathartic.
No, and it’s not traditional in that it even says, “Revenge is useless,” so it’s not a revenge plot. This sounds very simplistic but to me it’s more about the trip and the kind of trance of the trip for the character than the ending being a kind of…
Yeah. It’s there as a kind of convention, you know? But it’s definitely metaphorical. It’s an accumulative approach in terms of the contract with the audience. It requires them to allow things to accumulate, and in a way, just be passive receptors of the trip he takes.
And the film is also a celebration of cinema in a way that the artifice of cinema is definitely referred to as a positive thing, as something I love. This is not a neo-neo-realism style of film; it’s fantastic in a certain way. I didn’t want to make a film that people had to analyze particularly while watching it. I really wanted to make a film that was kind of like a hallucinogenic in the way that, when you left after having seen it, I hope the audience will look at mundane details in a slightly different way. Maybe it’s only temporary, maybe for only 15 minutes, but I wanted to do something to… I don’t know, just trigger an appreciation for one’s subjective consciousness.
Film Socialisme is a movie in three movements, their relationship, particularly in terms of tempo and the statement and recapitulation of themes, corresponding more or less to classical sonata form: a fast-paced first movement, a slow second, and a third that is faster and shorter than the first.
This is the first feature-length movie that godard has made entirely on video. While he has often fashioned a dialectic with film and video, here the kinetic montage of the cruise ship section is created through abrupt juxtapositions (straight cuts, relatively little overlapping sound) of high- and low-tech digital. Four principal cameramen, Godard among them, are credited, and they seem to have wielded every variety of video camera from cell phone to state-of-the-art HD. The chaotically pulsing pixels and overly saturated, smeared colors of the low-tech images result in busy, garish near-abstractions, and when they collide with the high-tech images—hyperreal, flattened fields of fauve blues and yellows, bisected and trisected like lessons in geometry or, in the case of the overhead shots of the sea, filling the entire screen with eddies and waves of blues and whites—the visual drama is extraordinary. All is representation, but not all representation is equal. It is the breathtaking HD images that prove Godard as much a master colorist in digital media as he has been in celluloid.
Generous as the movie is with visual beauty, it is equally withholding of linguistic meaning … The fragmented text—which largely consists of non sequiturs, gnomic pronouncements, chains of associations broken off before they’ve barely begun—is spoken by about a dozen actors, posed in various parts of the ship, their voices often masked by the sounds of wind whistling across unshielded microphones, the cacophony of the passengers, and bursts of music. The actors present themselves less as characters than as familiar Godardian mouthpieces and archetypes: the war-criminal hunter, the Jewish banker, the young woman accompanying the powerful and much older man, the serious young African who says she doesn’t want to die until she sees Europe happy, and another serious young woman who says the same about Russia. Good luck to those last two … Indeed, the pair of parrots in the opening, pre-credit image—their iridescent feathers a hint of visual splendors to come—and the pair of cats, meowing in unison in a YouTube video that we see slightly later, communicate far better with each other and with us than do the humans. And yet, in a movie that went into production four years ago, Godard, ever the Cassandra, makes glancing references to the global financial meltdown, the economic crisis in Greece, the destruction of the waterways by deep-sea drilling, and more.
SO: Hmm … ???? Sigh! I guess we all, 585,000+ of “us” — what? — have to fuckin’ carry “you” people???