Shane Carruth’s second film Upstream Color is somewhat significant for a recent trend that moves away from telling manifest stories, where characters engage in cohesive and coherent action and instead relies on the viewers going on an emotional journey that carries them through the film. This concept of storytelling is actually something that has been common practice in high-budget blockbusters with their messy editing and their often illogical screenplays. Take Transformers, Michael Bay’s magnum opus, if you want to say so. Instead of using the principle of causality to guide its audience through the 2 ½ hour-long story, it uses the idea of the guide and puts Shia LaBeouf’s character right next to you, relying that you are going to take his hand and let him walk you through the story. Continue reading »
Being in Vienna on the Weekend I stumbled into a cozy little cinema, which presented on that day “The First Rasta”, a documentary made by French journalist Helene Lee.
The film goes all the way back to the roots of the Rasta-Movement and traces its origins to Leonard Howell, who “invented” what we call Rasta today long before Bob Marley could ever make a song about it. Mrs. Lee not only wants to tell his story, she also wants to reveal the background: Who influenced Howell? What was the situation in Jamaica? And how did he get the idea to worship Haile Selasse I.?
Shouldn’t I just read wikipedia to get that kind of information, a friend ask me. You could, but what you would miss, is Mrs. Lee’s lightweight way of narration. She can put together the story of Leonard Howell, which is always combined with the story of Jamaica’s struggle for independence, and enrich it with all the influences starting with Karl Marx and ending with the Black Power Movement. The film gives you that moment when two facts you always knew are linked by the missing puzzle and you see the whole picture clearly – “The First Rasta” has several of that moments.
Kamil Polak – The lost town of Switez (2011)
Transfiguring an epic 19th-century poem into an animated short while concentrating only on the pictures and using no language – this idea really got me.
Tina Fey – 30 Rock
You need something to laugh on a desert island and that’s definitely the funniest series of the past years. Liz Lemon is my favorite alter ego: neurotic, struggling with her life and always in search for food. I always have to rewind scenes – I don’t get all the jokes at once because I’m laughing too hard.
Casablanca – Michael Curtiz (1942)
My favorite movie, the one I always come back to. I have literally watched it hundreds of times and it never gets boring. Bogie at the airport watching Elsa flying into the fog and the piano tune sets in – most romantic scene ever.
The rear window – Alfred Hitchcock (1954)
Love this one, because it has not only the hitchcockian suspense. It is enriched by his sense for romance and by his humour. And Grace Kelly looks just amazing, the dresses Edith Head designed for her are to die for.
Bad Lieutenant – Werner Herzog (2009)
Kinski was a maniac, and Herzog was the best director to pull that out in a productive way. I never thought Herzog would find a substitute for him till I saw Bad Lieutenant. Nicolas Cage is going berserk and I love every moment of it – especially the lizard scenes.
Annie Hall – Woody Allen (1977)
Every time I watch one of Allen’s neurotic movies I feel understood and completely normal. I don’t remember how often I’d wished for Luhmann to come out, when some jerk was blathering on in the queue.
The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola (1972)
It was about the time I fell in love with Italy, that I also fell in love with this movie. Coppola knows how to capture the big family events. Genius how he develops the Drama between Michael and his father Vito – the young man following the steps of his father, and all the old man ever wished for, was to protect his youngest son from getting into the business.
The big sleep – Howard Hawks (1946)
Another Bogart Classic. To me it is the better alternative to “Maltese Falcon”. Maybe because I prefer Chandler to Hammett, maybe because deep in my heart I am a romantic and I like it, when Bogie gets the girl in the end. And of course there is Lauren Bacall, with her glamorous femme fatale-appearance, the deep voice, the lovely dresses and the strong personality. Furthermore, I would choose this movie for the desert island, because no matter how often I watch it, I can’t remember the story twist. Honestly, I don’t know who killed whom and why. But it’s ever again a pleasure to watch how it all develops.
Bal – Semih Kaplanoğlu (2010)
I grew up in a small village. I love woods. Kaplanoğlu is one of the few directors, who are able to catch the spirit of the wood. He takes us into a rural Anatolia with a little boy and he lets us watch the world through his eyes. And when the moon jumps up and down in the bucket, it’s pure beautiful melancholy seen with the joyful innocence of a child.
The Seventh Seal – Ingmar Bergmann (1957)
After watching a Bergmann movie I always feel uplifted as if I’ve seen a great truth – that’s the Bergmann-feeling. The Seventh Seal is put in here because playing a game of chess with the death is a hilarious idea.
The Divine Comedy – Amos Pos (2010)
It’s more installation than movie. Yet absorbing like falling into a maelstrom of changing pictures in red and blue and green. It’s pure contemplation once you admit yourself to be absorbed. Roberto Begnini recites Dante in his lovely Florentine tone and suddenly it all makes sense – you’re thrown back on your own while surfing on the wave of the lyrics.
Pirates of the Caribbean – Gore Verbinski (2003)
Yes, it got into this list because of Johnny Depp. And it’s the lifebelt – Jack Sparrow knows how to escape from a desert island.
Michelangelo Antonioni, “Il deserto roso” (1964)
When a film is created, it is created in a language, which is not only about words, but also the way that very language encodes our perception of the world, our understanding of it.
The principle of the camera obscura is pretty simple: Light from an external source passes through a tiny hole in a dark box and strikes inside a surface (a screen) creating a projection (an image) of the object outside of the box. By doing so the camera obscura is known as the invention that led directly to the art and technique of photography. That, of course, makes it a predecessor of cinema as well.
Taken by its Latin roots, camera obscura means “vaulted chamber” or “darkened chamber room”.
"Film as dream, film as music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul." - Ingmar Bergman
"I regard criticism as an art, and if in this country and in this age it is practiced with honesty, it is no more remunerative than the work of an avant-garde film artist. My dear anonymous letter writers, if you think it is so easy to be a critic, so difficult to be a poet or a painter or film experimenter, may I suggest you try both? You may discover why there are so few critics, so many poets." - Pauline Kael
"You should look straight at a film; that's the only way to see one. Film is not the art of scholars but of illiterates." - Werner Herzog
"The last thing I want to know is whether you like it or not; the problems of writing are after that. I don’t think it has any importance; it’s one of those derelict appendages of criticism. Criticism has nothing to do with hierarchies." - Manny Farber
"The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed." - Stanley Kubrick
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