Showing posts from September, 2008

“RR” (Benning, USA)

As with Ten Skies and 13 Lakes before it, James Benning’s new film RR forms great ideas and unexpectedly voluptuous beauty out of modest and strict means, content, and style. Composed entirely of 16mm still shots of train tracks, each shot roughly beginning a beat or two before a train enters the frame and lasting until roughly a beat or two after after the train has left, RR is both more rigid and concrete than the undulating abstraction of Ten Skies , as well as more directly grounded in reality and the cinema. Benning uses his landscapes, trains, and railroads as intrinsically American elements, from a visual standpoint. Calling to mind the romanticization of the West, the colonizing and expanding force of the railroads, Benning encourages a recognition of the historical might, impact, and influence of these engines across (and connecting) these spaces. At the same time, the film comes with a clear admission not only to the sheer breadth and size of the American landscape (and th

Atkinson on minimalism

Michael Atkinson's introduction to his piece on The Forsaken Land (2005/Vimukthi Jayasundara) DVD, on the IFC blog (9-16-2008) : Ah, minimalism, the miserable hairshirt pajamas so many critics still love to put on in the semi-privacy of their vocations, ostensibly separating them from the herd of passive filmgoers like enlightened monks separated from the peasantry -- or, at least, so it may seem to the mainstream, who have been trained from the cradle to desire only distraction, and for whom a movie that deliberately fails to deliver narrative excitement is akin to water torture. Honestly, both are fair and comprehensible positions, and if you can decry the ignorant impatience of the many viewers intolerant of the new movie by Jia Zhangke or Pedro Costa or Tsai Ming-liang, you could also legitimately wonder when and where art film asecticism steps over the border into pretentious tedium. (Just because it's not a terribly commercial gambit doesn't mean it can't be ove

Dardenne on non-pro filmmaking

Interview de Laure Adler with Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne on France Culture (en écoute jusqu'à mercredi 3 septembre), retour sur les films de leur carrière et leur style de réalisation. Passage du documentaire à la fiction : "Je crois qu'à un moment donné le documentaire était assez particulier. Ils étaient fort mis en scène nos documentaires. Et on sentait peut-être une difficulté dans le fait que nous devions manipuler les gens pour arriver à les construire comme on voulait les construire. C'est à dire qu'on disait aux personnes " Dites plutôt ça que ça si vous le voulez bien ", dans la mesure où ça correspondait à ce qu'ils avaient vécu et ce qu'ils avaient à dire. Aussi on ne manipulait pas leur paroles. Mais on demandait quand même qu'ils fassent certaines choses et parfois ils disaient " Oui, mais non, pourquoi? " Et on s'est dit tout compte fait on atteint une certaine limite. Puisque nous on aimerait faire ça, il nous se