Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jacques Rivette's "La Bande des quatre" (1988)

Not only a "double inconstance" ("double inconsistency") but infinite of them. "Il y a des choses derrière les choses" ("There are things behind things") in Jacques Rivette's La Bande des Quatre (English title: Gang of Four).

Consciously and wisely artificial, the line between acting and reality is never even drawn. There are no clear meanings, not a theme you can put your finger on, but a simple question such as "Coffee?" has such infinite weight that it can easily bring tears, tears coming from somewhere I didn't even know existed.

There is a sense of magic, of something supernatural, even though what we see is very realistic and rational... Is art, or existence itself, a sorcery?

Just as in theatre, in cinema, or in life, it's impossible to know where the truth, or the beauty, lies. But in La Bande des quatre the answer is given by Constance (first in original French, then my English translation):
"La démolition. C'est avec ça que vous avez à faire. Tout le temps. La démolition et le doute... C'est avec ça que vous devez construire, créer, inventer..."

"Demolition. That's what you have to do with. All the time. Demolition and doubt... It's with these that you have to build, create, invent..."

In Rivette's case, what results is a free cinema, liberating the mind, and the eyes, forcing the viewer (the participant) to understand a new way of composing the world, a whole new restructuring...

La Bande des quatre might easily be the most wonderfully acted film I've ever seen, each actress (or actor) constantly creating wonders, certainly helped by Rivette's free mind.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Some pictures of (and Tag Gallagher on) John Ford

Here is how Tag Gallagher begins his book on John Ford:
"John Ford's career — from 1914 to 1970 — spanned almost the entire history of the motion picture industry, and for most of that time he was recognized as America's finest moviemaker. His movies told good stories, had vivid characters, provoked thought, kindled down-home charms; and his own personality was apparent in them. His compositional eloquence made dialogue virtually unnecessary — scarcely for dearth of scripted richness, but because literary structure was only a single aspect of the intricate formal beauty and intelligence of his cinema.

It is this immense intelligence that critics have largely ignored. Ford's apologists laud his instincts and emotions, as though he were an artist unconsciously, unintentionally. His detractors decry his sentiment and slapstick, label him racist, militarist and reactionary, ignoring the subtleties between extremes, the double leveled discourses, the oeuvre’s obsessive plea for tolerance."

The images are from "home movies" on the DVD of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon