Yearly Archives: 2015

My favorite end-of-the-year poll

http://ojosabiertos.otroscines.com/la-internacional-cinefila-2015-las-mejores-peliculas-del-ano/

And here’s my own contribution, in English:

 

In order of preference:

Son-of-Saul-2015

1. Son of Saul (László Nemes)

jauja

2. Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)

Ex-Machina

3. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)

I-DALIO

4. I, Dalio — or The Rules of the Game (Mark Rappaport)

Journey to the East

5. Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang)

 

The adjectives used by Manohla Dargis to describe Son of Saul from Cannes — “radically dehistoricized” and “intellectually repellent” — pinpoint my own responses to The Hateful Eight, which proposes that we be entertained by a treatment of the human race as garbage to be gleefully fed into a garbage disposal, and I can’t even bring myself to sample the genocidal pleasures of the latest Star Wars spin-off. This year, I’ve refrained from participating in most end-of-the-year movie polls because I no longer feel either qualified or inclined to “keep up” with the industry’s market choices, but I feel that the art and moral intelligence of cinema as represented by my five choices are as vibrant as ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 … Read more »

A Memorable Evening (Upgraded)

I was privileged to conduct a lengthy public interview with Oja Kodar Saturday night, May 9, 2015, in Woodstock, Illinois, as the main event in a weekend devoted to Orson Welles — the first of three successive celebratory Welles weekends to be held there this month. Oja, as always, was passionate, candid, funny, lucid, informative, and perceptive about Welles, but I’ve never seen her in public speak with so much warmth and insight. The whole event was recorded, and I hope everyone will get a chance to watch it at some point. — J.R.   [5/11/15]

Two weeks later, after returning from a second very enjoyable weekend of Welles events in Woodstock, I’ve added a few more photos of the May 9 event, including two taken by Peter Gill shortly beforehand which show Oja with her great niece Biljana and her sister Nina as well as me. — J.R. [5/24/15]

OjaKodar&JR+family

OK&family

JR+OK2

JR&OK3

JR-OKRead more »

Recommended Viewing: Mark Rappaport’s I, DALIO (OR THE RULES OF THE GAME)

In order to see Mark Rappaport’s brilliant new video about the life and career of French/Jewish character actor Marcel Dalio (2015, 33 min.), you have to take out a trial subscription to Fandor, as I did, but I can assure you it’s well worth the trouble. As in his classic features Rock Hudson’s Home Movies and From the Journals of Jean Seberg (go here for an interview with Rappaport about the latter), both also available on Fandor, but this time with the use of an another actor who’s heard but not seen, Rappaport takes us on a fictional tour through an actor’s career, albeit one supported by a great deal of research and careful film-watching, that proposes some enlightening ways of reinventing how we watch movies, teaching and hugely entertaining us at the same time. Mark’s own accurate  synopsis of what he’s doing, reproduced below, is taken from the web site of a film festival held in the Canary Islands — one of the many festivals where the film has already shown or will be shown later this year. — J.R. [4/26/15]

Synopsis 

Are you defined by other people and their perceptions of who you are? Or can you exist  outside of the arbitrary boundaries which are placed on you?… Read more »

Speech by Pere Portabella (part three)

Four years ago, I requested and received authorization from Pere Portabella to publish in English translation two lengthy texts of his — a lecture that he gave in 2009 when he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the Universidad Autónoma of Barcelona and the even lengthier (over twice as long) “Prologue” he wrote and published for Mutaciones del Cine Contemporáneo (2010),  the Spanish translation of Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia (2003), which I coedited with Adrian Martin. The first of these was an unsigned English translation that Nicole Brenez sent to me; the second was a makeshift translation hastily but generously done by two of Rob Tregenza’s students at Virginia Commonwealth University, Daniel Schofield and Caleb Plutzer.

The original plan was for both of these pieces to appear in the online journal Lola, but for a variety of reasons, this didn’t pan out, and both these texts were recently returned to me. For now, I am opting to reproduce the translation of the speech in three consecutive installments. — J.R.

 

pereportalla

II

In the early eighties, a significant about-face took place, especially in the European Union and the United States. All of the avant-garde movements’ residual ideas, or those protected under that name, were driven out, as the need for a unique form of politically correct, artistically appropriate thought was ushered in, and anything that smacked of “deconstruction” was swept away.… Read more »

Speech by Pere Portabella (part two)

Four years ago, I requested and received authorization from Pere Portabella to publish in English translation two lengthy texts of his — a lecture that he gave  in 2009 when he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the Universidad   Autónoma of Barcelona and the even lengthier (over twice as long) “Prologue” he wrote and published for Mutaciones del Cine Contemporáneo (2010),  the Spanish translation of Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia (2003), which I coedited with Adrian Martin. The first of these was   an unsigned English translation that Nicole Brenez sent to me; the second was a makeshift translation hastily but generously done by two of Rob Tregenza’s students at Virginia Commonwealth University, Daniel Schofield and Caleb Plutzer. The original plan was for both of these pieces to appear in the online journal Lola, but for a variety of reasons, this didn’t pan out, and both these texts were recently returned to me. For now, I am opting to reproduce the translation of the speech in three consecutive installments. — J.R.

pereportalla

Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, the fiction and essay writer, defines “lyrical poetry as that which does not strictly have any ‘recipients’, because it does not communicate any semantic content at all; instead it has just ‘users’, and their ‘use’ consists precisely of taking the place of the ‘id’ in the poem.… Read more »

Speech by Pere Portabella (part one)

Four years ago, I requested and received authorization from Pere Portabella to publish in English translation two lengthy texts of his — a lecture that he gave in 2009 when he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the Universidad Autónoma of Barcelona and the even lengthier (over twice as long) “Prologue” he wrote and published for Mutaciones del Cine Contemporáneo (2010), the Spanish translation of Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of  World Cinephilia (2003), which I coedited with Adrian Martin. The first of these was an unsigned English translation that Nicole Brenez sent to me; the second was a makeshift translation hastily but generously done by two of Rob Tregenza’s students at Virginia Commonwealth University, Daniel Schofield and Caleb Plutzer.

The original plan was for both of these pieces to appear in the online journal Lola, but for a variety of reasons, this didn’t pan out, and both of these texts were recently returned to me. For now, I am opting to reproduce the translation I have of the speech, in three consecutive installments. — J.R.

 

pereportalla

Speech by Pere Portabella for the event at which he is awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree by the Universidad Autónoma of Barcelona

 

I

 

In order to conceive a film, I must always place a blank sheet of paper in front of me.… Read more »

SCARFACE

A capsule review requested by and written for MUBI’s Notebook in conjunction with an ongoing series at New York”s Film Forum. — J.R.

scarface

Scarface (Howard Hawks, 1932): A surprising amount of Howard Hawks’ unstable, weirdly graceful universe is informed by the imminence of death and the proximity of offscreen space, tied to the risks of tangling with sudden impulses. Few of his films are more aware of this encroaching void than Scarface, where X is made to mark the offscreen spot around every narrative corner. This frighteningly brutal black comedy, the least romantic of his crowd-pleasers — a much better gangster film than any of the Godfathers, especially when it comes to confronting reality — was made when people were far less deluded than they are today about the fact that their lives and destinies were being controlled by crooks. What makes it bleaker than Only Angels Have Wings and Rio Bravo is the small and indecisive role friendship is allowed to play in holding back the darkness; perhaps only Land of the Pharaohs betrays a comparable nihilistic bleakness. — Jonathan Rosenbaum

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ln28nyzWSs1qhqg0d.pngRead more »