Friday, May 29, 2009

Favorite videos on Vimeo

If you look around closely, Vimeo also offers some true art, works that are worth seeing, works that might change how you look around, and how you interpret images. I created a channel for such videos, called, appropriately, Yoel Meranda's favorite Vimeo videos. I'll add new entries to this as I encounter such videos...

I'll have to wait a bit more to make specific claims on individual videomakers, but I'll really enjoy going back again and again to these works.

I stongly suggest everyone to see Clint Enns' windshield baby gameboy movie, or Ted Sonnenschein's von Friedrichstrasse nach Ostkreuz, or Jared Brandle's Yawn, or Adam
Rokshar's CONNECTED, for example...

The image above is from Vimeo Bug by Le PôLe.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed of the channel by clicking here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Roberto Rossellini's "India: Matri Bhumi" (1959)

A rhythmic voyage of our psyche like no other...

A film about the individual, the civilisation, and the "communal multitude" with the animals, the plants, and cosmos, "the big mother".

It's a mirror of our primitive nature, our internal, biologic fears, and the rituals imposed on us by the society.

An ode to work, to symbiosis... The film viewer has never been so close to death, to the horrors of life...

India: Matri Bhumi is a celebration of human consciousness, of nature, the unpredictable, the unwritten future, the perpetual now, the moment...

We need artists such as Rossellini to remind us that creation is still in process...

Fred Camper cites India: Matri Bhumi among his three favorite films of all time, calling it "mystical" and "expansive".

I find his description of the earlier prints of the film very valuable since, unfortunately, all the existing prints have deteriorated (slightly or immensely, depending on where you draw your lines):
'About "India" prints: was the one that those who saw it found "serviceable" harsh and high contrast, sort of like Kodachrome printed onto Kodachrome? Because the film in 1970 had very gentle, very sensuous, very supple colors, which seemed crucial to its nature as a kind of inventory of the sensual pleasures of what virtual all tourists call an extremely colorful country. The prints I saw might seem OK to someone who hadn't seen the earlier print, in that the color at least wasn't tinted one way or the other. But the colors and surfaces lacked detail and texture.'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Howard Hawks' "Monkey Business" (1952)

In a post to a_film_by on August 2003, Tag Gallagher, talking about Howard Hawks, asked: "Is sanity truly a goal or even a desideratum in Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sky, Red River... ?"

And in another post, the same day:
"I'm not sure that people are trying to cling to sanity, but I suspect that sanity is an illusion in Hawks, and that biology rules all, and from a male point of view (Hawks's) that's the power of women. Sanity may be a possibility, but it's irrelevant ultimately."

I think these statements go to the very heart of Monkey Business, which I saw countless times by now.

Here is a dialogue from the film:
Barnaby: Hello, Griffith Park Zoo, Snake Department. Sssshhh!
Oliver Oxley: Hello? Hello? What is this?
Barnaby: What do you want?
Oliver Oxley: This is Mr Oxley.
Barnaby: I'll see if he's here.
Oliver Oxley: No, I said *this* is Oxley!
Barnaby: Who is?
Oliver Oxley: I am, speaking!
Barnaby: Oh, you're Mr. Speaking...
Oliver Oxley: This is Mr. Oxley speaking!
Barnaby: Oxley Speaking? Any relation to Oxley?
Oliver Oxley: Barnaby Fulton is that you?
Barnaby: Who's calling?
Oliver Oxley: I am, Barnaby!
Barnaby: Oh, no, you're not Barnaby. I am Barnaby! I ought to know who I am.
Oliver Oxley: This is Oxley speaking, Barnaby!
Barnaby: No, that's ridiculous! You can't be all three. Figure out which one you are and call me back!

Not only it is one of the funniest films ever made, it also has THE most romantic kiss scene ever (the first one, when they're staying home from the Everett Winston party).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Best of 2009...

Here, you can see my favorite new films seen on 2009.

The most striking discovery, with no doubt, is Philippe Grandrieux's Un Lac, which convinced me, by itself, that he is one of the few greatest filmmakers alive. It is truly sublime!
I plan to write more about it when I can...

Other film or video makers mentioned:
James Gray, Semih Kaplanoğlu, Manoel de Oliveira, Francois Ozon, Eytan Ipeker, John Maybury, Abbas Kiarostami, Bong Joon-ho, Jia Zhang Ke, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Özgür Özcan, Cevdet Erek, Luci­a Puenzo, Claude Chabrol, Ilan Duran Cohen, Bram Schouw...

I also updated my My Videos page to include a link to my Vimeo profile and a complete videography of my videos.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vincente Minnelli's "Lust for Life" (1956)

What drives things? An inner truth finds some reflection in Minnelli's harmonious compositions, and his rhythms.

In September 18, 1956, after the premiere of Lust for Life, Bosley Crowther wrote beautifully in New York Times, despite greatly sinning by not crediting Vincente Minnelli, THE ARTIST himself:

"... it is gratifying to see that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in the persons of producer John Houseman and a crew of superb technicians, has consciously made the flow of color and the interplay of compositions and hues the most forceful devices for conveying a motion picture comprehension of van Gogh.

In "Lust for Life," (...) color dominates the dramatization—the color of indoor sets and outdoor scenes, the color of beautifully reproduced van Gogh paintings, even the colors of a man's tempestuous moods. These pictorial color continuities, planned like a musical score, have more effect upon the senses than the playing of Kirk Douglas in the leading role."

First time I saw Lust for Life, I said to a friend of mine: "It's the portrait of an artist, by an even better one." I still don't disagree with this.

Just like Van Gogh, Minnelli is an expressionist... All artists are.

There is such grace, and powerful drama. It's the story of a man who can't be happy (or sane) because of some inner conflict he (or we) can't put into words. He can only put them in paintings, and I'm pretty sure Minnelli, in his own way, feels the same. Notice how dark Lust for Life is, especially at points there is no good reason in the plot to be dramatic, but the inner workings of the human psyche work beyond psychology, and beyond explanation.

Vincent says: "Sometimes I work on into the night, hardly conscious of myself anymore, and the pictures come to me as in a dream with a terrible lucidity." and somewhere else: "I work as a miner who knows he's facing disaster."

Is this Minnelli talking to us somehow?

The story of someone who committed suicide, who suffered all his life, and the title is: Lust for Life. I find this a simple proof of how Minnelli's vision goes beyond the common ways of seeing things. As stated twice in the film, death "happens in a bright daylight, the sun flooding everything and in a light of pure gold."

The best moment of Lust for Life, and perhaps one of the highest points in all Hollywood, comes at a very unexpected, seemingly unimportant moment. It's just a pan following Theo's wife, from the window to the door where she'll be greeting Vincent. The decor, the costumes, everything is the exact opposite of what's going on in Vincent's life. It's the antithesis of the whole movie, in some way, included in the movie. She looks at herself in the mirror for a second, to make sure she's perfectly beautiful. Yes she has happiness, but is it real?

Then the camera pans back, the characters move around, etc. It's a choreography of bodies and camera moves impossible to explain in words... The whole shot lasts 2 minutes 56 seconds.

Just like Tag Gallagher says, Lust of Life is a "super masterpiece".

You can read ALL OF Vincent Van Gogh's letters here.