Archive for Tati

Play for Today

Posted in FILM with tags , , on December 3, 2010 by dcairns

The nice people at Criterion have published a blog post by yours truly. And that’s all I shall say about it. Link.


This Blog is on Drugs

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2008 by dcairns

This blog is great when you’re high! LOOK:

The colours, man...

Would you Adam n Eve it?

space face

The doors of deception

red mist

wide of the mark

Take drugs! Be like Richard Widmark!

Actually, while the flu medication I’m taking “may cause drowsiness”, the hallucinatory feeling I have is probably more due to the illness itself, whatever it is. So, ringing in the ears, sweating and shivering, and a curious heightened awareness, or do I mean UNawareness?

“Everything is strange.”

Dragged myself into work and on the bus back, played odd tunes on my Nano, with the result that the world fell into musical step: Nino Rota’s “Carlotta’s Gallop” from EIGHT AND A HALF caused the whole of Princes Street to move at 16fps, jerky silent movie people all enacting a Jacques Tati pantomime of exaggerated body language in perfect time to the music. As I moved my focus from one person to another they all seemed to snap into character and walk, talk, gesture or even SMOKE to the beat.

As the bus Trumbulled into deepest Leith (TRAINSPOTTING country) the music slowed and so did the people, too unhealthy to actually display actual animation, but the synchronisation remained perfect. I tried looking at my fellow passengers to see if they were also part of this inner movie, but that was just HORRIBLE. Too close!

I’m very very amused by the idea of both Fellini and Otto Preminger taking L.S.D. under controlled laboratory conditions, with teams of medicos on hand to monitor their progress through the doors of perception and presumably somehow prevent their consciousnesses from expanding TOO FAR, until their heads exploded like the guy in SCANNERS, and with tape machines whirring to record all the marvellous psychedelic insights that poured from their blubbering mouths. Fellini, at any rate, recorded his psychotropic experience, but never listened to the tapes. But I think it’s fair to say the experience did have some impact on his work.

Roger Corman took a more informal approach, tripping with friends at Big Sur.

‘I spent the next seven hours face down in the ground, beneath a tree, not moving, absorbed in the most wonderful trip imaginable. Among other things, I was sure I had invented an utterly new art form. This new art form was the very act of thinking and creating, and you didn’t need books or film or music to communicate it; anyone who wanted to experience it would simply lie face down on the ground anywhere in the world at that moment and the work of art would be transmitted through the earth from the mind of its creator directly into the mind of the audience. To this day, I’d like to think this could work and it would be wonderful. I think of all the costs you could cut in production and distribution alone.’

That last sentence may be the most delightfully, touchingly square thing anybody ever said about the L.S.D. experience. And while THE TRIP, which Corman was researching, uses a lot of pseudo-psychedelic movie cliches and doesn’t feel researched AT ALL, Corman’s vision of drug art directly inspires a dialogue scene in his later GAS-S-S-S, OR, IT BECAME NECESSARY TO DESTROY THE WORLD IN ORDER TO SAVE IT, where the hero proposes that movies should be produced quite literally IN CAPSULE FORM:

‘Are you saying that some drug dealers are going to become movie producers?’

‘I’m saying that some of our motion picture studios are going to become drug pushers.”

Euphoria #38: chase me, chase me

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2008 by dcairns


Musician / singer / songwriter Daniel Prendiville has a series of interesting suggestions for Cinema Euphoria, our ongoing project to condense the sum total of human happiness into a few thousand feet of celluloid and look at it on Youtube with a wry smile.

‘- the car chase in What’s Up Doc?

– the wedding scene in Guys & Dolls – I was always struck by the way the wedding crowd disperses immediately after the nuptials. It seems to emphasise just how impersonal the big city is – one minute you’re the most important person in the world – the next…

– anything from Welcome to Collingwood – particularly the dialogue where they are describing various capers.’

I like all these suggestions but I find MY HANDS ARE TIED — I don’t have a good copy of GUYS AND DOLLS and the key moment is not on Youtube. Nor are any scenes from WTC, the Russo brothers’ remake of Mario Monicelli’s BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET. So, just like Cybill Shepherd in the ’70s, we are STUCK WITH BOGDANOVITCH.

But that’s no big problem. Although this sequence from the end of Peter Bogdanovitch’s film of Buck Henry’s script is a bit bigger and altogether more climactic than I generally like for Cinema Euphoria (get me some more little moments, you… lurkers, you) we can remedy that easily by concentrating on the Small Things in this big-ass sequence.

The way this clip starts is super-great: I love the little musical set of sounds created by Verna Fields’ sharp and witty editing: muffled shouting / tip-tap footsteps of Streisand and O’Neil / car-horn blasts / whistling patsy. It’s kind of beautiful just to listen to.

Verna F’s inspired work (she also cut AMERICAN GRAFFITI and JAWS before retiring) continues with the marvellous orchestration of LOUD and QUIET in the coming chase. The way she cuts ahead to peaceful scenes lying in the path of the mayhem creates antici… pation that builds the comedy up. I’ve argued here that Boggo sometimes lets his dramatic instincts get in the way of his comedy ambitions, playing on spectacle and suspense in ways that aren’t relevant to slapstick, but it has to be admitted that few filmmakers since the ’20s have even attempted classical slapstick on this scale and with half this amount of success.

(Billy Wilder noted in the ’70s that only Richard Lester and Blake Edwards could shoot slapstick. Before that there were Tati and Tashlin. Preston Sturges loved slapstick but wasn’t particularly good at it. In the silent era there were many many brilliant orchestrators of elaborate visual gag sequences. Now the closest thing is the cartoony exaggeration of Jeunet or Raimi, which is a form of heightened action cinema, a different animal altogether.)

Bogdanovitch himself got to play around with pratfalls again in NICKELODEON, a flawed film (studio interference is at least partly to blame) but one that does boast some rather brilliant comic action, again filmed in bold long-shots like dance sequences. It would be great to see him turned loose on this kind of material again — Boggy may not be as hot as he was back in the day but I do think that any producer who gave him his head on a decent visual comedy piece would make a killing.