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FILM GALORE: OF CHOICE AND OTHER HUMAN PREDICAMENTS

FILM GALORE:

                         Of Choice and Other Human Predicaments

 

15.17 TO PARIS, THE POST, MOLLY’S GAME, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, DOWNSIZING

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BLADE RUNNER 2049

BLADE RUNNER 2049

 

 

The movie is, first and foremost, a visual experience.

Emblematic urban landscape and pouring rain. A significant conjuring up of the first movie screen experience.

 

The visuals are pervaded by our current tastes for alternative reality/realities

Ubiquitous holograms and virtual images superimposed on to the real world

 

A taste for “good scenes”

Interesting and intriguing backdrops: a palace, Deckard’s home or simply the street.

 

Even the landscape of disasters is endowed with a magic quality…

 

The soundtrack is haunting:

The dissonance of the world at hand can be HEARD …

The snow and rain are the only surviving natural elements that are palpable.

The noise of the brew on the stove: eerie in its normalcy, its ordinariness

Everything else looks so alien and strange

Uncanny, yet, in a weird way.

 

Some central question (s)

The real and the virtual

The virtual is presented as a part of the characters’ real world (K’s girlfriend)

Enter The question of a real birth

Again, the question of memories: memories lived by someone or made up

“Yes, these memories have been lived by someone”

The wooden horse as sign of a lost world—a lost time (childhood, with the putative natural birth) and a lost space (nature).

The tree, of course, stands for a genealogical line, calling forth the question of filiations—legitimate or not. Incongruous questions, perhaps, in such a world.

Can the Replicant inscribe himself/herself in a human family/history?

“You are not made, you are born” says the girlfriend who insists on giving (him) a name.

 

His hesitation : did he really live this or does he believe he did?

Enter Memory and identity

The threshold ushering a self-delusion

(Maybe, maybe not)

He has constructed a narrative—a point of origin anchored in a “real’ family (Replicant or partially human…no closure on this point in the wake of the first movie)

A Platonic subtext? we perceive only shadows of the real.

 

Little nods to the early viewer, a different sense of recognition:

The origami

Rachel (without the green eyes): she is (has become) just a shadow, an illusion.

Little concessions to the passing of time and practicing of other SF spaces.

 

Feeling of displacement /unbalance created by the constant intrusion of holograms and their staged dramas (Elvis, Marilyn and company)

Giving shape and contours to our inner theatre, yet they remain as immaterial and fleeting and evanescent.

 

The linearity of time is disturbed along with linearity of space.

We hop from one setting to another without any sense of traveling and transitioning into…

Music and images from another time recur and create another form of haunting.

(Derrida’s specters)

A series of tableaux morphing a dreamscape. With an occasional nightmare.

We have to establish the connections.

Video game aesthetics and cinematic experience

The female body on screen

Desire—with new forms of “streetcars” and naming.

How cinema and reality intersect

Their constant crosspollination

 

A blend of high tech science and gimmicks (little flying objects)

And ubiquitous desires

The ability to scan and record reality, to probe into it with the eye without moving close to the object.

Proximity and distance

Drone like weapons.

 

The dog: the faithful companion. In reality as in the virtual world. At least, let’s hope so.

 

A leave-taking?

Temporary or final?

Depending on whether the next 25 years are—(perhaps) (also)—transitory or final.

 

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

 

 

WONDER WHEEL

WONDER WHEEL

 

The movie opens on a summer day on Coney Island.

Fun is fair, fair is fun

(Foul is fair, fair is foul)

The image of the wheel—seen in the opening shot and at the end, and suggested throughout—casts a shadow over the sandy beach.

The wheel of life is turning, mistakes are repeated, patterns come and go. Recur.

The tragic side of the human condition beyond the fun dimension of Coney Island

The sense of unraveling

Resilience and endurance.

With a bit of cynicism, perhaps.

 

Mickey’s gift to Ginny: A play by Eugene O’Neill

Some dirge is heard, as in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

And in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Woody Allen returns to the world of theatre

And conjures up the character of Blanche Dubois previously explored in Blue Jasmine.

Beyond the kaleisdoscopic glitter of intertextual references

The movie is structured and filmed like a play

Witty and quick dialogue

A sense of entrapment

A series of tableaux

A narrator who is both a voice over and a protagonist

The voice over feeling like an artificial intrusion

Like soliloquies at the theatre.

Characters storm in and out of rooms that feel like a set on a stage— “circumstances” that the actors have to inhabit, following the lead of the Method. Prop-like objects come and go

Lines are uttered

The protagonists become larger than the filmic script

“High galaxies over a fear of falling” in Arthur Miller’s image.

 

Yearnings and longings

Aspirations and dreams

Women trapped in bad marriages

Carolina and her violent gangster husband

Ginny and her alcoholic husband Humpty

The son Richie setting things on fire

Addicted to a sense of danger and collapse

Blanche’s scream “fire, fire” can be heard very distinctly now

A symptom of the paroxysm of feelings and emotions

Human life on the edge.

Some intuition of the violence done to women: Humpty threatening and tender, tender and threatening, in another move of the wheel turning.

The wheel bringing back Carolina’s past

Snatching her and lifting her out of sight

Again.

Women and love

The watch as the pathetic excess of unrequited infatuation,

The lavish expenditure of passion—felt and lost.

The wheel keeps turning, life goes on:

Stanley Kowalski resumes his poker game

Humpty will go fishing

 

Ginny’s common points with Mary Tyrone and Blanche Dubois:

A Janus-faced personality: beautiful and loving, bitter and cynical

A first love, the quest to retrieve that happiness, an inability to heal

Aloofness and withdrawal

Longing for a past that can no longer be

Lies and conceits

Memories and nostalgia

Addiction

Performing and imagining: escaping

Mary and her wedding-dress

Blanche and her “mardi-gras outfit”

All three haunted by aging and the passing of time.

 

 

The fun party-like atmosphere of Coney Island and the Ferris wheel:

The wonder that carnival and circus bring to our existence.

The glitter and shine.

The gilded space of the American dream

Lifting you up, bringing you high

Until the (inevitable) turn of the wheel brings you right down.

 

Inner dreams and longings beyond food and domesticity

The woman under the work outfit.

A momentary escape

The upcoming storm

A lifeguard that offers no protection

In the end.

A beach and footprints erased by unavoidable waves

Human happiness: fleeting and temporary,

The fragile and vulnerable dimension of any human endeavor.

 

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

 

 

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – TUTORS AND TYROS

First:
A phone conversation with Leo before I could see the movie:
“It is not what SW fans expect
It is doing/starting something else
It is about transmission and the relationships between generations”

Then:
A comment by a friend:
“It is amazingly good”

I was prepared—for the best

And I got the best

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THE SQUARE

THE SQUARE

(Laughter and terror: the grotesque, ie. incongruity, distortion, excess)

The world of the museum of art (its aporia, its boldness—real or fake—its institutional dimension, its business model) as a parable of our contemporary society.
The world of modern art and its uncanny elements used to expose a larger social reality about the human comedy and condition.
A series of scenes where incongruous elements expose hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy

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Bruno Latour et les racines de Macbeth

Il ne faut pas plus que quelques minutes, et cent cinquante vers à peine pour que le spectateur et le lecteur de Macbeth n’apprennent, au début de l’acte I, ce qu’il adviendra dans la suite du récit.

Première Sorcière – Salut, Macbeth, salut à toi, sire de Glamis
Seconde Sorcière – Salut, Macbeth, salut à toi, sire de Cawdor
Troisième Sorcière – Salut, Macbeth, qui seras roi.

Macbeth, I, 3, trad. Y. Bonnefoy

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Blade Runner 2049 (D. Villeneuve, 2017)

Quelques secondes, à peine, après les premières images, et le film nous saisit, avec une intensité rare, dans son ambiance hallucinatoire. La musique spatiale inspirée de Vangelis. Les couleurs. Le ciel uniformément gris et la terre identique. La voiture volante. Le réplicant K.
Quelques secondes, à peine, sans un mot prononcé, quelques secondes, à peine, d’émotion brute, son, images, qui remettent en place le décor. Quelques secondes, à peine, et trente-cinq ans ont passé, avec ce vertige qui n’a cessé de nous hanter et de se démultiplier à l’infini de nos questionnements depuis.

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OF SELF AND OTHERS

VICTORIA AND ABDUL

A friendship. An unlikely one. And, then, likely feelings.
An invitation to revisit the nature of Love.
The fiction of a bond, perhaps, out of the fragments or pieces of real lives.
An accomplished period piece:
Victorian England offered to the viewer’s increasing delight out of brilliant camera work, editing and acting. A feast of colors, textiles and gazes.
Once upon a time:
The timeless and stifled ritual of the royal dinners
The trappings of aristocratic life
The smooth surface of unruffled conventions.
Until a bold eye meets another bold eye
Stirs and agitates life anew beneath the mask of a foreboding of death.
An encounter that insufflates into an existence already engaged in a leave-taking a sense of possibility and wonder.
The poetics of fated meetings: what could have remained a one-second experience extends to encompass years—a curve in a straight course that calls for renegotiations and reorganizations.
In its wake: jealousies and rivalries. Meanness and cruelty. The game of the court when a new card is found, played and tragically discarded.
The players come and go, who will dictate the rules next?

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Deus Ex Machina

La meilleure illustration d’un Deus Ex Machina sur une scène de théâtre m’a toujours paru être l’apparition du Commandeur, à l’acte IV du Dom Juan de Molière, et surtout dans la scène correspondante du Don Giovanni de Mozart.

Le génie de Mozart semble avoir volontairement souligné le caractère artificiel de cette apparition pour la hisser jusqu’au sublime, au surnaturel du théâtre.
Tandis que tonne l’orchestre, résonne avec gravité cette réplique qui me paraît être la définition la plus pure du Deus Ex Machina, à la fois parfaitement tautologique, voire banale, et en même temps terriblement tragique et théâtrale:

« Don Giovanni a cenar teco m’invitasti e son venuto »

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Mother (D. Aronofsky, 2017)

An overall Gothic mood of terror and horror/the Uncanny.
Gothic props (such as the mirror) and tropes revisited: the family line and curse, the haunted house (the cellar in particular), the vampire myth/the zombie characters, the conflict between light and darkness, the physical (body, sex) pitted against the transcendental (writing, religion).

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