I can easily understand why some of Abel Ferrara’s biggest fans have certain reservations about his Pasolini (2014), available now on a splendid Region 2 Blu-ray from the BFI. Even if it’s a solid step forward from the stultifying silliness of Welcome to New York (2014), it lacks the crazed, demonic poetry of Bad Lieutenant (1992), The Addiction (1995), and New Rose Hotel (1998); most disconcertingly, it’s a responsible, apparently well-researched treatment of one of the most irresponsible of film artists, made by another film artist generally cherished for his own irresponsibility. And stylistically, it’s almost as if Ferrara has moved from being the great-grandson of F.W. Murnau to being the grandson of Vincente Minnelli—although one could argue, more precisely, that it isn’t really an auteur film at all. Yet as a portrait of the great and uncontainable Pier Paolo Pasolini, filtered through the last day of his life—a day focused on new creative work (a novel in progress and a film in pre-production) as well as various other activities, at home and on the street—it carries an undeniable conviction and emotional authenticity, which might make the prosaic strengths of Lust for Life (1956) a more useful model for Ferrara’s ambitions here than the poetic flourishes of a Faust (1926) or Tabu (1931).… Read more »
Monthly Archives: February 2016
Written for Whose Cinema?, a Critics’ Choice Slow Criticism Project booklet published at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, January 27 — February 7, 2016, and in the February issue of the online Filmkrant. — J.R.
“Back then [in Hungary in the late 1970s], it was the censorship of the politics, and now we have the censorship of the market. What has changed? The climate is the same. If you are a filmmaker, it is always fucked up.”
–Béla Tarr at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), 2012
“Piracy isn’t a victimless crime,” is what we read at the beginnings of an inordinate number of DVDs and Blu-Rays — to which I’m often tempted to reply that capitalism isn’t always or invariably a victimless crime either, especially when the victim turns out to be the consumer. And the fact that piracy is usually regarded as a crime and capitalism usually isn’t should mark the beginning of any clear-headed discussion of who (or what) cinema should belong to.
If “Whose cinema?” is a question that needs to be answered, we first have to add another question, and an even thornier one — “What cinema (or whose cinema) are we talking about?” — before we can even think about formulating an answer.… Read more »
The following interview with Alessandro Stellino has just appeared, in Italian, in filmidee #15, along with Italian translations of three of my essays –- “Entertainment as Oppression,” “In Defense of Non-Masterpieces,” and “Work and Play in the House of Fiction”. What follows is an imperfect and approximate version of this interview in its original English — respecting the structure of the Italian version, although in a few cases reconstructing my answers when I managed to lose the original emails. The interview was conducted over many emails, and I brought it to a close when I declined to reply to the question, “If you could teach a course on film history with the most possible freedom in rewriting the canon, how would your program be?”, which effectively would have obliged me to create an entire syllabus. -– J.R.
In the introduction to Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia, a book that has been particularly relevant for the founding of our magazine, you state: “It’s a strange paradox that about half of my friends and colleagues think that we’re currently approaching the end of cinema as an art form and the end of film criticism as a serious activity, while the other half believe that we’re enjoying some form of exciting resurgence and renaissance in both areas”.… Read more »