Monthly Archives: April 2015

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]

 

I, Dalio - Or The Rules OF The Game (Subsección Ensayos)

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 »

The Rocky Horror Picture Cult

 

From Sight and Sound (Spring 1980). -– J.R.

Now that criticism and advertising are becoming harder and harder to separate in American film culture, the notion of any genuinely spontaneous movie cult becomes automatically suspect. It implies something quite counter to the megacinema of Cimino, Coppola and Spielberg — a cinema that can confidently write its own reviews (and reviewers) if it wants to, working with the foreknowledge of a guaranteed media-saturation coverage that will automatically recruit and program most of its audience, and which dictates a central part of its meaning in advance.

For a long time in the U.S. (as elsewhere), certain specialized minority interests that get shoved off the screens by the box-office bullies have been taking refuge in midnight screenings, most of them traditionally held at weekends. But what seems truly unprecedented about the elaborate cult in the U.S. that has developed around Friday and Saturday midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, over the past three and a half years, is the degree to which a film has been appropriated by its youthful audience. Indeed, it might even be possible to argue that this audience, rather than allow itself to be used as an empty vessel to be filled with a filmmaker’s grand mythic meanings, has been learning how to use a film chiefly as a means of communicating with itself.… Read more »

En movimiento: TWIN PEAKS Revisited

My column for the April 2015 issue of Caimán Cuadernos de Cine. Although I didn’t have the space to discuss this, it seems to me in retrospect that Jack Nance, even as a relatively minor character (Pete Martell), is as much the realistic backbone of Twin Peaks as he is the realistic anchor of Eraserhead — and, as such, he stands at the opposite end of the spectrum from such supernatural pasteboard characters as Bob (Frank Silva) and Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh). — J.R.

TP-Jack-Nance

TwinPeaks-thentiremystery

The news that David Lynch and Mark Frost are preparing nine new Twin Peaks episodes — all to be directed by Lynch and set in the present, and to air on cable TV’s Showtime in 2016 — has coincided with the release of a beautifully designed Blu-Ray box set with ten discs, Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery and The Missing Pieces, devoted to the 29 episodes broadcast in 1990 and 1991 and the subsequent prequel theatrical feature, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), and many extras. All this has prompted a re-evaluation of the series as a whole, which I’ve now seen in its entirety for the first time. A few critics have aided me in this quest—especially Michel Chion in his 1992 French book on Lynch, Martha P.… Read more »

Orson Welles’ Alternatives

From the April 2015 Sight and Sound. — J.R.

TheTrial-corridor-stripes

Who ever said Orson Welles’ filmography has to be neat? But one rudimentary way of bringing some order would be to distinguish between nine films he completed to his satisfaction (Citizen Kane, Macbeth, Othello, The Fountain of Youth, The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, The Immortal Story, F for Fake, and Filming Othello) and nine others he didn’t complete and/or lost control of (The Magnificent Ambersons, It’s All True, The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai, Mr. Arkadin, Touch of Evil, Don Quixote, The Deep, The Other Side of the Wind).  Yet even this isn’t as neat as it sounds, because he completed two separate versions of both Macbeth (1948 and 1950 — the second at the studio’s request — to eliminate the Scottish accents and shorten the running time by two reels; both are available today in France) and Othello (1952 and 1953; neither, alas, is commercially available anywhere — only an alteration of the second version, edited for the U.S. release and three minutes shorter than its predecessor, and mislabeled a ‘restoration,’ with different sound effects and music added in stereo in 1992).… Read more »