Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Le fond de l'air est rouge" (1977) de Chris Marker

Jim Hoberman writes: "Marker begins by evoking Battleship Potemkin, and although hardly agitprop, A Grin Without a Cat is in that tradition—a montage film with a mass hero. Unlike Eisenstein, however, Marker isn't out to invent historical truth so much as to look for it."

Starting a movie with images and reminiscences from another one... Potemkin was about a failed uprising, a lost battle in a larger struggle. It was a call to action. The purpose of Le fond de l'air is the same, and Marker is very quick to draw the parallel between the Russian soldiers marching and the cops with gas-masks in the late 60s. And similar to Eisenstein, the montage creates a purely intuitive politics of revolt beyond ideologies...

The cumulative effect of seeing millions of people (the "mass hero", as Hoberman calls it) from all over the world, caught in the violent moment or expressing thoughts... And Chris Marker, embracing his subjectivity, is one of them... Makes one more and more conscious of one's own moment.

What Le fond de l'air leaves me with is a sense of a timeless history, a world without arbitrary boundaries, and a sense of a non-decipherable cosmos.

Here is a short piece from Chris Marker's 3-hour masterpiece (It is one of the rare sublime uses of Bach's music in Cinema):

Click here to read something I wrote on Le fond de l'air est rouge in 2002. (It might contain a few factual mistakes.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Best of 2009 so far...

Here is my list of the best new films I've seen so far in 2009.

Both Two Lovers and Süt are wonderful discoveries... I'm planning to write a few words on them when I get a chance...

Hou Hsiao Hsien's "Millenium Mambo" (2001)

The following images are only from the first 25 minutes of Millenium Mambo. I'll try to write more on the film, but for now I would just like to say that there is nothing much greater than this in the history of art...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chris Marker on memory and filmmaking

First in French, then in English translation... taken from The still is from Le fond de l'air est rouge.

"Dans nos moments de rêverie mégalomaniaque, nous avons tendance à voir notre mémoire comme une espèce de livre d’Histoire: nous avons gagné et perdu des batailles, trouvé et perdu des empires. A tout le moins nous sommes les personnages d’un roman classique (’Quel roman que ma vie!”). Une approche plus modeste et peut-être plus fructueuse serati de considérer les fragments d’une mémoire en terms de géographie. Dans toute vie nous trouverions des continents, des îles, des déserts, des marais, des territoires surpeuplés et des terrae incognitae. De cette mémoire nous pourrions dessiner la carte, extraire des images avec plus de facilité (et de vérité) que des contes et légendes. Que le sujet de cette mémoire se trouve être un photographe et un cinéaste ne veut pas dire que sa mémoire est en soi plus intéressante que celle du monsieur qui passe (et encore moins de la dame), mais simplement qu’il a laissé, lui, des traces sur lesquelles on peut travailler, et des contours pour dresser ses cartes."

"In our moments of megalomaniacal daydreaming, we tend to view our memory as a kind of History Book: we have won and lost battles, found and lost whole empires. At the very least we are characters from a classic novel (’My life is such a novel!’). A more modest and perhaps more fruitful approach would be to consider the fragments of memory in terms of geography. In every life, we would find continents, islands, deserts, swamps, overpopulated territories and terrae incognitae. From this memory we can draw the map, extract images with more ease (and truth) than do stories and legends. That the subject of this memory is found to be a photographer or a filmmaker does not imply that his memory is more interesting than that of any passing gentleman (or moreover, than that of the lady), but simply that he has left traces with which one can work, and contours to help draw up the map."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Silent. Try to watch it on fullscreen.

The footage was shot on my Nokia 6151 on September 2007.

I reshot it off my computer screen with E65.

Edited on Quicktime, finished on January 2009.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

James Gray's "Two Lovers" (2008)

It's a very great movie! Such a pleasure to confront a relatively new director with such original sense of humour and a profound sense of light. There were moments my eyes could not follow the story cause the three-dimensional rhythms were too interesting...

Many thanks goes to Zach Campbell, who wrote in 2007: "I think James Gray may count as my favorite American filmmaker working in Hollywood right now". I like Michael Mann more, but James Gray isn't far below. You can read his post here, it's full of wonderful commentary on We Own the Night, which I haven't seen. Most of what Zach says is also true for Two Lovers.