Originally posted on June 13, 2016. — J.R.
It’s embarrassing for me to confess that I let over six weeks pass from the time that Oda Kaori sent me an email from Osaka with a link to her 68-minute film Aragane until I finally found time to watch it — during a day of rest in Lisbon, in between professional engagements. This has been an exceptionally busy spring for me in terms of writing, travel, and other commitments, but I suspect that another reason why it’s taken me so long was the fearful prospect of watching a documentary of that length about work in a coal mine in Sarajevo. I don’t know why this prospect discouraged me so much, but the fault is mine.
Kaori was one of the original dozen or so students to enroll in Béla Tarr’s Film.Factory when it started three years ago, whom I met during my first of my four two-week sessions there; she was also one of the students most affected by the films of Peter Thompson, whose email I quoted from in my article about Film.Factory, and whom I once lent a DVD of Maya Deren’s films at her request. I believe that Aragane was her thesis film; she has shown it at a few Japanese venues, including the Yamagata film festival, and she is hoping to find a distributor for it.… Read more »
Written for the May 2016 Artforum. — J.R.
Although Jacques Rivette was the first of the Cahiers du Cinéma critics to embark on filmmaking, he differed from his colleagues—Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, François Truffaut—in remaining a cult figure rather than an arthouse staple. His career was hampered by various false starts, delays, and interruptions, and then it abruptly ended in 2009 with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, six years before his recent death. But his legacy is immense.
His career can easily be divided into two parts, although it’s not so easy to pinpoint a precise dividing line between them. And for those who knew him well or even casually, as I did, it’s hard to prefer the first portion to the second without feeling somewhat guilty.
Common to both parts is a preoccupation with mise-en-scène and the mysterious aspects of collective work, offset by the more solitary and dictatorial tasks of plotting and editing. Rivette’s own collective work was frequently enhanced by improvisation—with actors, with onscreen or offscreen musicians, or with dialogue written just prior to shooting (either by actors or screenwriters)—while the more solitary work of plotting and editing emulated the Godardian paradigm of converting chance into destiny.… Read more »