⁞ L’Hasard Photographique ⁞

hasard photographique_1Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_5Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_2Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_8Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_6Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_3Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_4Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_7Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

٠ “Either abolish your reverences or – yourselves!” ٠

The Turin Horse 3Patriarch-in-The-Turin-Horsestills from The Turin Horse, by Béla Tarr, 2011

Like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche presents the ‘coming generations’ with the ‘terrifying Either/Or: “Either abolish your reverences or — yourselves!”’

CREATIVE SUBLIMATION OF INSTINCT
INTELLECTUAL TOLERANCE
SELF-SUFFICIENCY
GENEROSITY
NOBILITY
HEROISM
COURAGE
VITALITY
TRADITION
SELF-CONTROL
FAITH IN ONESELF
LACK OF BAD CONSCIENCE
ABILITY TO ACCEPT CONTRADICTION

٠ Tim Hetherington’s quest for signs of humanity ٠

Untitled-1 copyThe Documentary Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, directed by Sebastian Junger, full str**ming here

٠ The animated femme fatale ٠

“The combination of film noir and cartoon intensifies this possibility for upset. By and large, the separate worlds and characters of these two genres are shown to coexist and eventually to learn from one another, but Jessica is a character caught in the interface between them. (Even her full name poses an existential problem: Jessica Rabbit describes a human Toon married to a rabbit.) Modeled after Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall in the 40s, as amplified and upholstered by the crazed sexual imaginations of Tex A very and Frank Tashlin (the latter worked in live action after a career in cartooning and animation, and in The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? made Jayne Mansfield into a live-action cartoon), Jessica is certainly more of a sex symbol in the movie than Eddie’s live-action girlfriend Dolores. Her voice is supplied, significantly, by an uncredited Kathleen Turner, underlining Jessica’s relation to Turner’s vamp roles in movies like Body Heat and Prizzi’s Honor-films that are themselves nostalgic pastiches, harking back respectively to styles of the 40s and 60s. Yet because Jessica is married to a rabbit Toon, and at the very least flirts with such live-action males as Marvin Acme and Eddie Valiant, hints of bestiality on the one hand (“I love you more than any woman has ever loved a rabbit”) and fetishism on the other are never far away. (“I’m not bad,” she professes to Eddie after literally blowing him a cartoon kiss, “I’m just drawn that way.”) Such perversity has always been a staple of cartoons-think of the polymorphous perversity of Disney-but Who Framed Roger Rabbit makes it a good deal more explicit and unsettling.”

excerpt from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by Robert Zemeckis. Review by: Jonathan Rosenbaum. Film Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 33-37


٠ on the quest for [visual] intimacy II ٠

JEAN-LUC GODARD: Le Petit Soldat (1963)

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excerpts from: Being Singular Plural, by Jean-Luc Nancy, Stanford University Press, 2000, pp.10-81:

“As a consequence, gaining access to the origin, entering into meaning, comes down to exposing oneself to this truth.

What this means is that we do not gain access to the origin: access is refused by the origin’s concealing itself in its multiplicity. We do not gain access; that is, we do not penetrate the origin; we do not identify with it. More precisely, we do not identify ourselves in it or as it, but with it, in a sense that must be elucidated here and is nothing other than the meaning of originary coexistence.

(…)

The “outside” of the origin is “inside” – in an inside more interior than the extreme interior, that is, more interior than the intimacy of the world and the intimacy that belongs to each “me.” If intimacy must be defined as the extremity of coincidence with oneself, then what exceeds intimacy in inferiority is the distancing of coincidence itself. It is a coexistence of the origin “in” itself, a coexistence of origins; it is no accident that we use the word “intimacy” to designate a relation between several people more often than a relation to oneself. Our being-with, as a being-many, is not at all accidental, and it is in no way the secondary and random dispersion of a primordial essence. It forms the proper and necessary status and consistency of originary alterity as such. The plurality of beings is at the foundation [fondment] of Being.
inside

In and of itself transcendent, the subject is born into its intimacy (“interior intimo neo”), and its intimacy wanders away from it in statu nascendi (“interfeces et urinam nascimur”). “To exist” is no longer “to be” (for itself, in itself), to-already-no-longer-be and to-not-yet-be, or even to-be-lacking, that is, to-be-in-debt-to-being. To exist is a matter of going into exile. The fact that the intimate, the absolutely proper, consists in the absolutely other is what alters the origin in itself, in a relation to itself that is “originarily plunged into mourning.” The other is in an originary relation to death and in a relation to originary death.

(…)

Proximity is the correlate of intimacy: it is the “nearest,” the “closest,” which is also to say “the most approximate” or “infinitely approximate” to me, but it is not me because it is withdrawn in itself, into the self in general. The proximity of the nearest is a minute, intimate distance and, therefore, an infinite distance whose resolution is in the Other. The nearest is that which is utterly removed, and this is why the relation to it presents itself as an imperative, as the imperative of a love, and (3) as a love that is “like the love of myself.” The love of self, here, is not egoism in the sense of preferring oneself over others (which would contradict the commandment); it is an egoism in the sense of privileging oneself, one’s own-self [le soi-propre], as a model, the imitation of which would provide the love of others. It is necessary to love one’s ownself in the other, but reciprocally, one’s own-self in me is the other of the ego. It is its hidden intimacy.

13

This is why it is a matter of “love”: this love is not some possible mode of relation; it designates relation itself at the heart of Being — in lieu of and in the place of Being — and designates this relation, of one to another, as the infinite relation of the same to the same as originarily other than itself. “Love” is the abyss of the self in itself; it is the “delectation” [“dilection”] or “taking care” of what originarily escapes or is lacking; it consists in taking care of this retreat and in this retreat. As a result, this love is “charity”: it is the consideration of the caritas, of the cost or the extreme, absolute, and, therefore, inestimable value of the other as other, that is, the other as the self-withdrawn-in-itself. This love speaks of the infinite cost of what is infinitely withdrawn: the incommensurability of the other. As a result, the commandment of this love lays out this incommensurability for what it is: access to the inaccessible. Yet, it is not sufficient to discredit such love as belonging to some intemperate idealism or religious hypocrisy. Rather, it is a matter of deconstructing the Christianity and sentimentality of an imperative the openly excessive and clearly exorbitant character of which must be read as a warning to us; I would even go so far as to say that it just is a warning to us. It is a matter of wondering about the “meaning” (or “desire”) of a thinking or culture that gives itself a foundation the very expression of which denotes impossibility, and of wondering how and to what extent the “madness” of this love could expose the incommensurability of the very constitution of the “self” and the “other,” of the “self” in the “other.”

٠ Varda’s feminist tableaux (l’une chante, l’autre pas) ٠

urllunechante_01L_UNE-CHANTE-L_AUTRE-PAS-copyright-CINE-TAMARIS-r270Feminist performance, the Engelian way

PAPA ENGELS

La double journée
pauvre maman
c’est bien épuisant
et c’est mal payé

Friedrich Engels l’avait dit
dans la famille aujourd’hui
l’homme est le bourgeois
et la femme est le prolétariat

Il avait raison
papa Engels
il avait raison
car à la maison
l’homme est le bourgeois
et la femme est le prolétariat

C’est papa le chef
pauvre maman
le seigneur du fief
le roi tout puissant

(…)

٠ Varda: Qu’est-ce qu’être femme? ٠

a-woman-a-pipe-a-pullCycles_gladiatornakedgirlwithdollyadposteratal

Each time I see a poster like that,
I think it’s absurd
to constantly see naked women.
It feels like I’m on the poster.
Each time a woman is undressed
to sell a product…
– It’s me they undress.
– Me they display.
– Me they despise.
– Me they desire.
– Me they criticize.
– Me they buy.
– Me they order by phone.
– Me they pay for by check or cash.
Me they offer
as fodder for men’s desire.

– Go on, keep complaining!
Soon we’ll no longer desire you.
How sorry you’ll be!

– I have enough love in me
to be desirable.
I don’t have to be an object.

At the risk of displeasing you
and cutting ties,
dear fathers, husbands, lovers,
bosses and buddies,
we women are taking charge
of our evolution.
And if you still need
women and love,
you will have to change
your habits and some of your tastes.
I am a woman.
Women must be reinvented.

– Then, love must be reinvented.
– We agree.

┐ Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt, “I hate Portugal” & “I hate Algarve” └


from 30th of May to the 6th of June, the complete film can be seen online here

“Palácios is a film about Portugal, and the line about hating Portugal and the Algarve is indicative of how part of that project was made. Gabriel wanted to make a film in Portugal, and was very interested in exploring cinema’s relation to nation, particularly as national myth machine (especially in the US, from Griffith’s Birth of a Nation to Bigelow’s Zero dark Thirty). Gabriel wanted to be quite direct, with blunt and broad statements about Portugal, such as “I hate Portugal”. Then Daniel wrote “I hate the Algarve” as a humorously specific response, transforming it into an absurd comment on Portugal, since the beach resorts the Algarve is known for are such a banal contrast to the history of violent oppression being discussed in the rest of the film.

(…)

This insincerity, this emptiness of expressive capacity, this refusal of psychology, relates to the main theme in our work. We are concerned with how idealism, morality, and politics are mostly subservient to private desires, and how even these private desires come from the social, economic, and cultural background of the characters. In our films, the characters are both unable to be sincerely political, sincerely expressive, or even pursue sincere desire. They move and talk as shadows of a prefabricated political melodrama. In the case of the tween protagonists of Palácios de Pena, we wanted to represent upper class coming of age youth in Lisbon, which is totally ignorant of the history of oppression they are inheriting, while unconsciously reproducing its symptoms. We wanted to see how Portugal’s history of government sanctioned xenophobia and sexual intolerance, spanning from the inquisition to fascism, would surface in Lisbon’s wealthy teen coterie.” by GA & DSº

┐ Object on Screen └

mtstill from Untamed Heart, 1993

II. Pleasure in Looking/Fascination with the Human Form
A. The cinema offers a number of possible pleasures. One is scopophilia. There are circumstances in which looking itself is a source of pleasure, just as, in the reverse formation, there is pleasure in being looked at. Originally. in his Three Essays on Sexuality, Freud isolated scopophilia as one of the component instincts of sexuality which exist as drives quite independently of the erotogenic zones. At this point he associated scopophilia with taking other people as objects, subjecting them to controlling and curious gaze. His particular examples center around the voyeuristic activities of children, their desire to see and make sure of the private and the forbidden (curiosity about other people’s genital and bodily functions, about the presence or absence of the penis and, retrospectively, about the primal scene). In this analysis scopophilia is essentially active. (Later, in Instincts and their Vicissitudes, Freud developed his theory of scopophilia further, attaching it initially to pre-genital auto-eroticism, after which the pleasure of the look is transferred to others by analogy. There is a close working here of the relationship between the active instinct and its further development in a narcissistic form.) Although the instinct is modified by other factors, in particular the constitution of the ego, it continues to exist as the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as object. At the extreme, it can become fixated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping Toms, whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching, in an active controlling sense, an objectified other.

At first glance, the cinema would seem to be remote from the undercover world of the surreptitious observation of an unknowing and unwilling victim. What is seen of the screen is so manifestly shown. But the mass of mainstream film, and the conventions within which it has consciously evolved, portray a hermetically sealed world which unwinds magically, indifferent to the presence of the audience, producing for them a sense of separation and playing on their voyeuristic phantasy. Moreover, the extreme contrast between the darkness in the auditorium (which also isolates the spectators from one another) and the brilliance of the shifting patterns of light and shade on the screen helps to promote the illusion of voyeuristic separation. Although the fiIm is really being shown, is there to be seen, conditions of screening and narrative conventions give the spectator an illusion of looking in on a private world. Among other things, the position of the spectators in the cinema is blatantIy one of repression of their exhibitionism and projection of the repressed desire on to the performer.

mjstill from La meglio gioventù, 2003

B. The cinema satisfies a primordial wish for pleasurable looking, but it also goes further, developing scopophilia in its narcissistic aspect. The conventions of mainstream film focus attention on the human form. Scale, space, stories are all anthropomorphic. Here, curiosity and the wish to look intermingle with a fascination with likeness and recognition: the human face, the human body, the relationship between the human form and its surroundings, the visible presence of the person in the world. Jacques Lacan has described how the moment when a child recognises its own image in the mirror is crucial for rhe constitution of the ego. Several aspects of this analysis are relevant here. The mirror phase occurs at a time when the child’s physical ambitions outstrip his motor capacity, with the result that his recognition of himself is joyous in that he imagines his mirror image to be more complete, more perfect than he experiences his own body. Recognition is thus overlaid with misrecognition: the image recognised is conceived as the reflected body of the self, but its misrecognition as superior projects this body outside itself as an ideal ego, the alienated subject. which, re-introjected as an ego ideal, gives rise to the future generation of identification with others. This mirror-moment predates language for the child.

Important for this article is the fact that it is an image that constitutes the matrix of the imaginary, of recognition/misrecognition and identification, and hence of the first articulation of the ‘I’ of subjectivity. This is a moment when an older fascination with looking (at the mother’s face, for an obvious example) collides with the initial inklings of self-awareness. Hence it is the birth of the long love affair/despair between image and self-image which has found such intensity of expression in film and such joyous recognition in the cinema audience. Ouite apart from the extraneous similarities between screen and mirror (the framing of the human form in its surroundings, for instance), the cinema has structures of fascination strong enough to allow temporary loss of ego while simultaneously reinforcing the ego. The sense of forgetting the world as the ego has subsequently come to perceive it (I forgot who I am and where I was) is nostagically reminiscent of that pre-subjective moment of image recognition. At the same time the cinema has distinguished itself in the production of ego ideals as expressed in particular in the star system, the stars centering both screen presence and screen story as they act out a complex process of likeness and difference (the glamorous impersonates the ordinary).

C. Sections II. A and B have set out two contradictory aspects of the pleasurable structures of looking in the conventional cinematic situation. The first, scopophilic, arises from pleasure in using another person as an object of sexual stimulation through sight. The second, developed through narcissism and the constitution of the ego, comes from identification with the image seen. Thus, in film terms, one implies a separation of the erotic identity of the subject from the object on the screen (active scopophilia), the other demands identification of the ego with the object on the screen through the spectator’s fascination with and recognition of his like. The first is a function of the sexual instincts, the second of ego libido. This dichotomy was crucial for Freud. Although he saw the two as interacting and overlaying each other, the tension between instinctual drives and self-preservation continues to be a dramatic polarisation in terms of pleasure. Both are formative structures, mechanisms not meaning. In themselves they have no signification, they have to be attached to an idealisation. Both pursue aims in indifference to perceptual reality, creating the imagised, eroticised concept of the world that forms the perception of the subject and makes a mockery of empirical objectivity. During its history, the cinema seems to have evolved a particularization of reality in which this contradiction between libido and ego has found a beautifully complementary phantasy world. In reality the phantasy world of the screen is subject to the law which produces it. Sexual instincts and identification processes have a meaning within the symbolic order which articulates desire. Desire, born with language, allows the possibility of transcending the instinctual and the imaginary, but its point of reference continually returns to the traumatic moment of irs birth: the castration complex. Hence the look, pleasurable in form, can be threatening in content, and it is woman as representation/image that crystallises this paradox.

excerpt of Laura Mulvey‘s seminal article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema“, originally published in Screen 16.3 Autumn 1975 pp. 6-18

┐ Jacques Audiard’s obsession with human resilience └

Jacques Audiard’s “trilogy”, very worth watching: De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone), 2012, De battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped), 2005 and Sur mes lèvres (Read my Lips), 2001



┐ Bertolucci and The Sculptural Moment └

If in doubt about cinema being as much of an art form as drawing, painting and sculpture are, just watch Bertolucci’s art trilogy “Stealing Beauty”, “Besieged” and “The Dreamers” (1996, 1998 and 2003) and see how harmoniously all art forms join in to become One.



┐ Eric Rondepierre └

couplepassant© Eric Rondepierre, Couple, passant, 1996-98

confidence© Eric Rondepierre, Confidence, 1996-98

levoyeur© Eric Rondepierre, Le Voyeur, 1996-98

“That impossible photogram, as Roland Barthes said. An object which is not (even) an object, but at the same time is actually two objects. It doesn’t (really) belong to the cinema or (simply) to photography ; it is more than a photograph yet less than a film. It is, therefore, a sort of axis or fold, the precise crossing point (punctum) between cinema and photography. Eminently paradoxical, the photogram is the touchstone of Eric Rondepierre’s work which is acutely conscious of the delicate balance on the razor’s edge where cinema meets photography in their most intimate specificity.


Eric Rondepierre’s work always starts with a film, or more precisely with the image-matter of a film. Rondepierre is not interested in cinema as the reflection-projection of a film on a screen, in a consumer relation to what is watchable, with its imposed length and speed, uninterrupted flow, impression of movement, perceptive fiction, transitory illusion – in other words the magic of the large cinema-body on the screen. What interests him is the film as actual film strip, a material sequence of fixed images intimately and appropriatively related to its object. Film images that you can not only see but also touch, hold, manipulate and collect.                          

In other words, Rondepierre aims at what is most authentically photographic at the very heart of cinema. This is of course profoundly contradictory. The photogram is an impossible object : it is both film’s condition of existence and its total negation. Obviously a film consists only of photograms, yet seeing a photogram for what it is (the frozen image of a film) necessarily means not seeing the film, which can only exist fully as movement. Seeing a film flow past automatically implies not seeing photograms, nevertheless the very essence of a film since they disappear, absorbed into the projection process. Photograms are the only real images and the only invisible images in a film. This is the ontological paradox which makes photograms into cinema’s blind «spots».
(…)


What strikes me most in all this is the principle of texture-filters which seems to me to operate in Rondepierre’s artistic strategy like Freud’s memory screen. It is a question of masks and shifts, in which the accumulated density of textures only reflects downstream the work that the spot principle has already performed upstream : burying and excavating part of what is invisible (part of the unconscious). Just as the concept of photograms revealed by freezeframes can be interpreted as a figure of the revelation of film’s unconscious. Photography and cinema are merely spots and textures. Don’t believe too much in what you can see. Learn to not see what is displayed (and therefore which hides). Learn to see beyond, beside, across and beneath. Look for the spot in the image, texture in the surface, negatives in positives and latent images in the negative ground. Follow once more the route mapped out by the psychicphotographic apparatus, shifting from eye to memory, from appearance to unrepresentable. Dig down through the layers and levels like an archeologist. Photographs are only surfaces, they have no depth, only a fantastic density. Behind it, beneath it or around it, one photo always hides (at least) another photograph, or a film. It is a question of screens, and here you enter in a singular universe, the one of an individual by the name of Eric Rondepierre.


And in this lies one of the possible dimensions of his work – it operates precisely like a psychic apparatus, maybe like Freud’s famous little Wunderblock the « magic notepad » which in 1925 Freud used as the ideal metaphor for the workings of the first topic of the unconscious : a question of levels, of transparent surface area upon which one writes, and a background layer on which the inscriptions are preserved in absentia even when the have been erased from the surface. Photography is the top surface, cinema the background dephts and writing the displaced entity. The « Wunderblock » shifts from one to the other, a link, like the photogram which relates photography to cinema. The deep spot (the invisible, the inconscious, the buried object, the lost text) and the texture which brings it to the surface, visible and conscious (the layered pathway to visibility). Coming and going. Directly or mediated. And starting again from the beginning.”

excerpt of Eric Rondepierre or working with photograms (between spot and texture) by Philippe Dubois in “Eric Rondepierre”, ed. Espace Jules Verne/ Galerie Michèle Chomette, Paris, 1993, pp. 28-35. FULL TEXT here

more of Eric’s work here

┐ WR: Mysteries of the Organism └

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“As for Wilhelm Reich himself, upon whose ideas and career the film is largely based, today he seems less like a sex radical than like a crypto-conservative without knowing it. Reich’s glorification of the orgasm is actually quite heteronormative and prescriptive, as well as being entirely caught up within the discursive deployment of sexuality-as-liberation, described and denaturalized by Foucault. (Indeed, as far back as the 1950s, Norman O. Brown had already denounced Reich’s privileging of “normal adult genital sexuality” over the multiple potentials of “polymorphous perversity”). Reich’s later ideas about orgone energy, for which he was prosecuted and persecuted by the US government, and which (in the late 1950s and the 1960s) had a correspondingly subversive prestige among writers and intellectuals (like Norman Mailer and William Burroughs), today seem little more than variants of today’s fashionable (and entirely conformist) New Age beliefs.

Where does all this leave WR: Mysteries of the Organism? I’ve been suggesting that the ideas and practices which make up the film’s subject matter have all been tarnished by the passage of time. In a certain sense, this means that what Makavejev proposed, in 1971, as images of liberation, have now become parts of everyday experience, in all their banality and obviousness, and have turned out not to be liberating at all. But I am trying to suggest that, in an important way, this only makes the film more visionary and more relevant. And this, of course, has as much to do with the film’s form and dynamics as with its overt content. WR begins as a sort-of documentary about Wilhelm Reich. But other strands quickly get woven in, and Makavejev’s montage becomes increasingly dense and delirious as the film proceeds.

(…)

Makavejev, however, is neither as didactic as Eisenstein, nor as contemplative as Godard. Rather, he pushes intellectual montage in the direction of what I can best call a kind of energizing of potentialities (of what Deleuze would call the virtual, or what Whitehead would call the “mental pole” of a concrescence). Makavejev is concerned with multipying potentialities, even (or especially) when these potentialities (obviously) cannot all be realized (since they are “incompossible” with one another), and when they lead to an impasse. Which is why the film can both enthusiastically celebrate the potentials of free sexuality, and envision the way such a “liberated” sexuality is only a pseudo-liberation, as it issues either in rampant consumerism (the American way), or in the exaltation of a sort of phallic totalitarianism (which applies, in different ways, to both Stalin and Hitler), or to the panicked reassertion of male privilege via murder (Vladimir Ilyich loses his self-possession when he gives way to orgasm and to his desire for Milena; which is why, in classic masculine-domination mode, just like in all those American film noirs, he punishes the woman for having allured him).

That is to say, in comparison to either Eisenstein or Godard, Makavejev’s intellectual montage is… more intellectual, more world-significant in its ramifications. (None of this should be seen as criticism of Godard, for whom I maintain an undying love and allegiance). But, besides being more intellectual, Makavejev is also (how to best put this?) more material — no, rather, more corporeal, more deeply embodied, than Godard (or Eisentstein). This has much to do with Reich, whose insistence on the embodiment of affects and desires is perhaps the most significant and powerful aspect of his theories. Reich, for instance, thought and wrote at great length about how repressions and conflicts and erotic positions are manifested, not just in linguistic and intellectual symptoms (as per Freud), but also very much in bodily postures and gestures, in what might be called the visceral forms of expression. (This non-linguistic dimension is precisely what the Lacanians ignore, systematically and on principle). This aspect of Reich’s theory is in fact explained to us, on screen, by a Reichian analyst (Alexander Lowen, if I am remembering correctly).

Following this principle, Makavejev’s montage is as visceral as it is intellectual. The sexual scenes in WR have generally been the ones that have caused the most controversy: in the dvd of the film that I showed my class, during the plaster-casting scene the man’s erect penis is obscured by a ridiculous sort-of psychedelic efflorescence special effect. This is something that wasn’t there when I viewed the film years ago; it was added to the film by Makavejev in 1991 (he proclaimed it an “improvement” ) in order to satisfy British censorship regulations (is WR the only Eastern-bloc film that has been thus censored both by a Communist country and by a capitalist one?). But in fact, the most physically jolting scenes in the film are not directly sexual at all — they are documentary scenes of Reichian therapy, showing patients violently thrashing and convulsing their bodies while yelling things like “give it to me.” source: The Pinocchio Theory

┐ roots & fruits #8 – Diogo Simões └

© Diogo Simões, Untitled, from the series Miratejo

© Diogo Simões, Untitled, from the series Miratejo

© Diogo Simões, Untitled, from the series Miratejo

© Diogo Simões, Untitled, from the series Miratejo

Influenced by current-events (this is a circumstantial analogy) Diogo’s (b.1988, Miratejo, PT) photographs remind me of a kind of portrait of youth that makes me think of Gus van Sant’s universe. If I had seen this series a few months ago I would probably relate it to projects within the realm of the medium itself and think about the meaning of portrait and nostalgia in the history of photography.
Besides Gus van Sant’s Gerry and Elephant, I think of Mathieu Kassovitz’s works La Haine and Assassin(s). Then I’m reminded of a bunch of texts I read last year about riots in France and in the UK and I reread a few . Somehow the associations are too subjective to be treated slightly and I give up. Now I’m looking at these pictures again and I keep thinking youth, nostalgia, ambiguity, inconsequence, insurrection and rebellion. There’s a sense of coolness and fatalism in the air and that’s what brings me back to the suspended effect a film still can have when it hangs over your head.
Finally, these associations lead me to the text that follows and hopefully it will all make sense:

“Elephant depicts a world untethered from certainties and authority, and in this way it can be seen to reflect postmodern anxieties. Slavoj Zizek’s comment offers a relevant critical perspective. The quote cited at the beginning of this essay [below], taken from an interview at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2001, is Zizek’s response to a question about his concept of “foreclosure”: the idea that contemporary society prohibits a real articulation of the subject.

[…] precisely because the universe in which we live is somehow a universe of dead conventions and artificiality, the only authentic real experience must be some extremely violent, shattering experience. And this we experience as a sense that now we are back in real life.

According to Zizek (and philosopher Alain Badiou, from whom he borrows the French term), the “foreclosure” of the subject has an inevitable flip-side: “la passion du reel” or “the passion of the real”. Elephant demonstrates some of the implications of Zizek’s notion, and through its poetic strategies affords the viewer an opportunity to piece together some of the elements in the bigger picture. We might regard the killers Alex and Eric as embodying the disenfranchisement that many teens (and not just in the US) feel. Viewing their apparently left-field violence in this context reveals a failure within society to deliver a secure place for their emerging sense of identity.

In the same interview, Zizek compares the idea of foreclosure and its implications with the Nietzchean opposition of active and passive nihilism. He describes passive nihilism as that state of apathy resulting from “living a stupid self-satisfied life without great passions”, which invokes the opposite form of conscious self-destruction. Zizek argues that freedom in contemporary society is devoid of the more “radical dimension” of true democracy, existing instead as the watered-down freedom to choose lifestyle. Zizek also sees in the pervasiveness of virtual realities (such as the Internet) a further disconnection from authentic experience.

In Elephant we can roughly align the characters according to the idea of active and passive nihilism. The adult characters present varying forms of apathy or disconnection; their lifestyles – particularly Alex’s parents, as revealed through the lifeless atmosphere of the family home – suggest an arrival at an unquestioned comfort zone, or passive nihilism. We see Alex and Eric attempting to break out of their transparent, but nonetheless prescribed realities: a bid for active nihilism.”

excerpt of Neera Scott’s Sublime Anarchy in Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, in Senses of Cinema.continue reading here

Diogo’s website (currently under construction) is here

┐ Chris Marker └

Chris Marker, an enigmatic figure in French cinema who avoided publicity and was loath to screen his films yet was often ranked with countrymen Alain Resnais and Jean-Luc Godard as an avant-garde master, died at his home in Paris on Sunday, his 91st birthday.

(…)
Critic Pauline Kael called “La Jetee” “very possibly the greatest science-fiction movie yet made.” Film critic and historian David Thomson went further, declaring in a 2002 article in the British newspaper the Guardian that “La Jetee” could be “the one essential movie ever made.”


Its theme may sound familiar to contemporary audiences because it inspired a Hollywood remake, “12 Monkeys.” Directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, the 1995 film was generally viewed by critics as less essential than the original.”

(…)


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┐ Theo Angelopoulos └

 

Theo Angelopoulos departs, today, at 76, ironically run over by an off duty cop while working on set for his next film.

It’s a sad moment for true cinema lovers but for the Greeks as well. Neither the kind of martyr they need today, nor the kind of sorrow or brief grieving mass hysteria in the media.
“Etermity and a Day” and “Ulysses’ Gaze” are masterpieces of which I am now reminded by this unfortunate happening. I shall see them again in the next few days and think of a no man’s land.


Wishing him all eternity and a day

║ Aaron Hobson ║

faraway

© Aaron Hobson, Far Away, from the series Femme Vérité, 2009

busy

© Aaron Hobson, Subterranean Encounter, from the series Even Darker, 2007

“Where does the image begin for you: the setting, the character, a story you’re trying to build?

Definitely the setting. I try to find a location that has interesting natural lighting, stand there for minute, then return to my beaten-up 2001 Hyundai full of old clothes, a shovel, empty wine bottles, duffel bags, McDonald’s bags, and choose what I think might work. It is very spontaneous, almost instinctual. I like to keep the storylines minimal and leave that part to the viewer’s imagination.

How much inspiration does “Cinemascapes” draw from specific films or directors? How much from your own life or where you live?

Hardly any of my images draw from a particular film or director. I did however grow up on movies, television, and computers and was inspired to bring the same appeal that those media deliver—to people of my generation and younger—using still images.

Essentially my cinemascapes are autobiographical. I just tend to exaggerate or embellish my memory of what happened or where it happened. Those that know me well, know that I embellish a lot of things, not just my life’s story.”

excerpt from an interview by Rosecrans Baldwin for The Morning News

To see more of Aaron’s work click here