Archive for Robert Bresson

Hunger

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2016 by dcairns

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First image: wildness and freedom to contrast with the prison scenes to follow. Also: alertness.

Nowadays, when we speak of Steve McQueen’s hunger, we are most likely thinking of the conceptual artist turned filmmaker’s Bobby Sands biopic, not the look in the eyes of a movie star in a Sam Peckinpah film.

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I screened the first eight minutes of THE GETAWAY to students in a class on separation of sound and image and non-literal filmmaking. The inspiration for the class, which was assigned to me, was a few lines from Robert Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography, so naturally I run to “Bloody Sam,” an artist on the far end of any spectrum you care to concoct that might have Bresson and Peckinpah on its chromatic scale.

But this sequence, which takes its time to set up in an almost wordless manner the facts and emotions concerning a bank robber in prison, does show the unique value of divorcing sound from image. The key device is to take the sound of the prison workshop — a repetitive rattle of mechanized equipment (cotton looms, if looms is the word I’m looking for) — and play it over a whole range of material of prison life. It becomes background noise, an inescapable, enervating irritation, the fact of loss of freedom captured in aural form.

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Peckinpah and his editors do some great stuff with picture too, treating the shots of Ali McGraw’s portrait on the cell wall as blipverts, tiny flashes that snap past almost too fast to be acknowledged, and triggering flashback caresses — hands stroking skin or hair — which are equally fleeting. The whole montage reaches a crescendo after we see the prisoners showering, as if the assembled celluloid were thrown into a spasm of homosexual panic, all that available male flesh impossible to cancel out with a few frames of feminine company, snippets of film dropped into the flow of footage like pebbles in a stream.

Moon Landings Faked by Georges Melies

Posted in FILM, Politics, Science with tags , , , , on April 4, 2016 by dcairns

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I didn’t want to post this on April 1st because you wouldn’t believe me.

But think about it — it CAN’T can’t have been Kubrick — the camera never moves. I think we can assume that SK, deprived of the ability to do long, fluid tracking shots, would have gone hand-held, as he did for the Tycho monolith sequence in 2001.

If not Melies, who died in 1938, presenting some difficulties for the conspiracy theorist (but his death was faked too) I think Robert Bresson would have been a good option. Or, since the Americans had a tendency to hoover up left-over Nazi talent, maybe Leni Riefenstahl? She was adept at staging documentaries and she wasn’t exactly busy after WWII. It would have been easy to swear her to secrecy — she was unpopular enough already. I’m proposing a sort of cinematic version of Operation Paperclip here.

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The moon landing fakery theories originated in a book by a technical writer employed by a company called Rocketdyne, which serviced NASA. The author knew nothing about rocketry himself. His self-published crackpot theories were first taken up by the Flat Earth Society, which you should bear in mind. I think a more interesting theory could be spun out of the tenuous connections between Rocketdyne, which merged with Aerojet, and Aerojet’s co-founder, Jack Parsons. It’s not a good conspiracy theory if it doesn’t involve Jack Parsons. Unless you can find another rocket scientist and Crowleyite sorcerer who died in a mysterious explosion, and good luck with that.

Flame On

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on April 4, 2013 by dcairns

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Ever notice that the worst spoilers are those contained in movie titles? Wouldn’t we rather be surprised that THE GREAT GATSBY features a guy named Gatsby who some people think is pretty great? Wouldn’t we rather see DAYS OF WIND AND ROSES without knowing in advance that the action covers a time period greater than twenty-four hours, and that alcohol is imbibed? I would, and I’m not going to stop shouting about it until somebody does something.

While the first movie of DW Griffith (as actor), RESCUED FROM AN EAGLE’S NEST probably takes the biscuit, and long scholarly works have been devoted to pondering just what Robert Bresson was thinking of when he gave away the outcome of A MAN ESCAPED in the title A MAN ESCAPED, I think the 1909 epic NERO: OR THE FALL OF ROME bears favorable comparison with those dead giveaways. Rome falls, and Nero has something to do with it. And if you head over to The Forgotten, care of the Daily Notebook, I’ll give away the rest.