Cloud and chimera

Pensées hybrides

Free Solo (J. Chin, E. Chai Vasarhelyi, 2018), First Man (D. Chazelle, 2018)

C’est un mystère ancien, dont nous avons fait un mythe. Quelle force pousse certains d’entre nous à désirer si fort l’inaccessible, au point d’y consacrer toutes leurs ressources, de sacrifier à leur obsession tout ce qui les relient à la communauté des humains? Pourquoi acceptent ils d’y laisser leur vie, souvent, et de briser celle de leurs proches? Comment, parfois, réussissent-ils à dépasser ce qui était jusque là considéré comme une limite infranchissable? Pourquoi, derrière ces pionniers, l’humanité toute entière se rêve-t-elle plus grande?

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Alita Battle Angel (R. Rodriguez, 2019)

Lignes de fuite

Esthétique signifiante d’un monde conçu entre la verticalité de Zalem, ville suspendue dans le ciel -qu’on imagine utopique, on ne la verra jamais-, et l’horizontalité d’Iron City, dans son ombre.

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TROUBADOURS ON SCREEN

TROUBADOURS ON SCREEN

YESTERDAY
If Jack can do this at all, it is because he has memorized something others have forgotten, or cannot remember.
If asked “what is the movie about?” , what would you say?

The Beatles? Love? Oblivion? Nostalgia? Family and belonging? Truth?…

A nice balance of humor and earnestness:
Imagining a present where Coca Cola and Harry Potter have been erased…
And the Beatles, too.
The arbitrary but relentless work of oblivion:
Pepsi has survived
And fish and chips, too.

A creative blend of realistic scenes and supernatural moments.
A self-referential nod, perhaps, to cinema and its ability to transform our habits, patterns and shapes into images and witty lines.

The yellow submarine now exists only as a plastic commodity,
Its connotative meaning only understood by the happy few who REMEMBER:
Some inside joke only picked up by a privileged trio.

The unifying power of music,
Imagined communities of a different order: the worlds created by concert going and music performing (and video sharing in this version):
A topic also beautifully explored in Ethan and Joel Coen’s O Brother (for those of you who remember the movie…)
And more recently by Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born.

Stars are conjured up out of the folds of memory and dream.
Let’s imagine a world where John Lennon is still alive at 78
And can deliver wise advice to a young (er) artist about truth and life.
A world where truth prevails indeed at the expanse of phoniness and money,
A world where love and loyalty triumph over arrogance and pride.
A modern Orpheus recovering for his peers a beauty that could have disappeared forever.

The movie sketches some serious and epic pictures
Beyond the obvious melodrama and comedy about a coming of age artist:
Occasional glimpses at our contemporary upheavals
In sync with the questions that formed the backdrop to the original band’s arrival on the world stage.

The film reenacts—like Lala Land a few months ago, for those who remember—the magic and wonder of cinema:
Its ability to conjure up worlds where electricity comes and goes, where bonds are reinvented across borders, and where parents finally see the light, and love their child anew.

ROLLING THUNDER REVUE: A BOB DYLAN STORY BY MARTIN SCORSESE
The 3 interfilmic interludes, including Jean-Louis Barrault in Les Enfants du paradis :
A reminder of Scorsese’s love affair with silent film,
And of the origin of cinema as an interlude to theatrical acts.

Rolling thunder and its series of actors on a stage.
And its off-stage moments, with their own scripts and dramas.

Modern troubadours for a timeless performance.
Characters conjured up out of images and vintage footage and film excerpts,
And recontextualized in a series of interviews that function like so many theatrical asides—with improvised or rehearsed lines, all creating an illusion.

A world of sound and fury
With the occasional ghost or fool:
A Shakespearan comedy of errors.
Faces and voices retrieved from oblivion or nostalgia.
Its narrative trajectory playing a harmonious counterpoint to the tune played by Danny Boyle’s Yesterday which performs parallel cultural work.

We, in 2019, perhaps feel that the rolling thunder that awaits us might be all too literal to be included as a metaphor, or even as a cultural borrowing.
Bob Dylan’s statement about how truth is uttered more clearly with a mask on sounds like a conundrum, a riddle for us to decipher—unless it is some oracle.

The long final credit sequence (presented as an ‘encore’) lists the artist’s yearly hits, yet from a distance it looks like other types of lists: casualties, victims, missing people.
Some implicit and direct tribute to all that remains forgotten and erased, and must be exposed and listed anew? Danny Boyle’s creative script is conjured up again, rolling thunder and stones.

To all of us troubadours of today and tomorrow,
And other bards on tour,
Scorsese’s film inspires us to sing that in music and art and writing,
our humanity endures.

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

TWO TRIBUTES TO CINEMA: JIM JARMUSCH AND PEDRO ALMODOVAR

TWO TRIBUTES TO CINEMA: JIM JARMUSCH AND PEDRO ALMODOVAR

« The Dead Don’t Die » and « Pain and Glory »:
Strange bedfellows at first,
Odd partners.

Yet, on looking closer:
A common tribute to the power of cinema.

The ability of moving images and filmic narratives to conjure up alternative worlds and bespeak human creativity.
To rework “realistic” material—an individual sense of loss or a collective fear—into an aesthetic quest and/or statement.
To shape chaos—internal and external—into shapes, designs and patterns.

To explore the meta-fictional dimension of Art: cinema drawing attention to the fact that it deals in (not just: with) illusion and fiction—aural and visual.
Breaking the fourth wall, exposing the trick.

THE DEAD DON’T DIE
Inter-filmic dialogue with other zombie movies—in particular George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead.
Other generic forms or cinematic icons loom up, sleepwalking into the viewer’s imagination:
The Western and SF
The horror film and the thriller
Alfred Hitchcock and The Birds (and Psycho)
The War of the Worlds, reaching into the imagery of ET…

For Romero: the cultural context for the handling of the zombie character was the Vietnam War.
The Zombie of our post 9/11 imagination is cast on the stage of climate change and unbridled capitalism, in an uncanny set characterized by fake news and political lies.
The Undead no longer crave human flesh only, but material goods and the attending addiction they trigger.

The figure of the hermit/the outcast: the Poet at work? The Fool of traditional Elizabethan courts and other human theatres?

The grammar of terror and the vocabulary of horror.
The grotesque and the gothic at work and play.

A parody of iconic elements of American culture and film.
A statement about our contemporary (posthuman?) condition.
Wither cinema?

PAIN AND GLORY
Identity and belonging.
The weight of traditions and customs.
The yoke of family expectations.

Love and passion.
Some desire felt but not articulated, or even named.
The unexpected and unexplained ellipsis.
Absence and unspoken thoughts.
Silences, and then words again.

The creative eye and the personal I
Coming to terms with cannot be retrieved or recovered.
No time regained catharsis
But a final joke and reversal
For the viewer’s sake,
And his/her enjoyment.

The show must go on!

A thought-provoking handling of iconic elements of Spanish culture and history.
A statement about loss and resilience.
Pain and glory in a stalemate.
Wither cinema?

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

Earth Day 2019 – Frontières

C’est à la limite où disparaissent les arbres. Quand on s’est suffisamment élevé sur les sentiers rocailleux, sous le soleil, à l’ombre des sapins, chênes, aulnes ou autre espèce, selon le lieu, selon le climat. Un peu de vent qui agite les cimes au-dessus du regard, et après un certain temps, au détour d’un virage, derrière une roche, soudain, comme par surprise, on perce, et l’immensité se fait.

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EARTH DAY 2019

EARTH DAY 2019

Of SHAPES, DESIGNS AND (OTHER) JIGSAW PUZZLES

The cascade above the gorges.
You approach the fence. You have not been there in years.
Suddenly the memory emerges, takes shape, tunes in. You are jolted into a poetry of mental designs. You can match today’s vista and vision with another equally pleasing image. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pattern falls into place—the design of happiness.

Ithaca gorges!

The former and original agenda for happiness rejoins the current one.
Longing for a temporal home that has been lost;
Retrieving it, perhaps, in the light that hovers over the landscape, in its promise of warmth and clarity.

You see the other trail below. The eye looking for exactitude, the mind seeking for precision.
You decide to pay the emerging path a visit. The cows are long gone, and have not been replaced. The bridge looks new, though. And so is your emotion.
You are surprised at not feeling the bitterness that would inevitably accompany this kind of revisiting. Enjoying the view as if for the first time. You focus on the sound of the wind in the leaves
You register the slow-paced steadiness of joy and peace.

And, instead of musing over lost time, you rejoice over given time, like another expenditure of life.

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

VICE

VICE

“Fair is foul and foul is fair” it is again.
Shakespeare’s tragic figures
Hovering over our historical moment:
Their temptations, evil deeds, and destructive legacies.

Couples bound in power and ambition
On different stages:
If the world is a stage, the stage is a world
Too.
And the actors keep strutting about,
Uttering their well-known tale
Full of sound and fury.

But this time, it signifies something.

When the three Witches are encountered,
No fear,
No remorse,
No dilemma.
The American tale “from rags to riches” twisted and warped.
A rise to power, some ascension into abysmal corruption.
The paradoxical dynamic of greatness gone unchecked, and unfettered.
The blinding logic of self-delusion:
Mediocrity to be overcome through bullying others.
And destroying/erasing them.

“We are yet but young in deed”…
How to wade back indeed?
Sleepwalking and unraveling.
Spiraling out of control.
Deeds done that cannot and will not be undone.

Exit with another theatrical line that conjures up more troubling “deeds”—
In fiction and reality:
“Legacies! Huh… And other things such as bloodstained pillow-slips”.
So says Blanche DuBois upon seeing the Mexican vendor who carries the flowers to be displayed at funerals.
Flores para los muertos. Flores. Flores.

Where is the Streetcar named desire?
Huh…Desires without the “magic”…
Just tricks and con games,
And vice turned Vice.
The other way around, too.
Foul is… fair is…

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

CINEMATIC BITES

CINEMATIC BITES

FIRST MAN
The human epic more and the national narrative.
The man and the scientist.
How he overcomes grief and loss:
The long haul to the finish line,
The physical and psychological toll.

A STAR IS BORN
The person and the artist:
Not losing your soul,
Finding your own voice,
You have something to tell people musically.
The nurturing, and the return of the demons of the past,
Acceptance, tolerance, unconditional love.
Healing through art?

THE FRONT RUNNER
The biopic, and the issue of the journalistic task.
The moral and professional objectives:
To believe or not to believe in the alignment of words and actions,
The quest for truth,
Asking the question that calls for a clear answer.
Does the means justify the end?
What is the cultural work performed by the movie in our context of “fake news” and/or “alternative reality”?

THE MULE
The South/North route as frontier.
A vertical trajectory that evokes other human displacements and events associated with the legacy of a violent History (the Antebellum South/the Great Migration/contemporary forms of exodus).
The well-known narrative of the drug trade through the portrait of a Korean War veteran working for one of the Mexican cartels.
The barren and desolate landscape of new and native forms of warfare, with equally numerous casualties and losses.
The female body as a desirable, but disposable and exchangeable commodity.
The fragile and beloved flowers grown by Earl’s horticultural skills constitute a tragic reminder of a beauty that cannot survive in the scorching sun of Texas land—some expenditure of love that might die with the gardener.

COLETTE
To revisit the story of a canonical writer, and highlight the journey to the self—artistic and personal:
To shed the illusion of romantic love.
To let go of unhealthy attachments.
Writing and the performing arts:
Two modalities of existence and expression.
The obstacles,
The nurturing presence of a groundbreaking mother,
The choices and their attending losses and gains.
Keeping track.
Staying focused.
Letting go of the burdens.
Breaking free…

GREEN BOOK
The uncanniness of one’s origins.
An unlikely friendship
Beyond the obvious racial line divide
The feeling of estrangement that comes from seceding from a given community because one wants to pursue one’s path as an individual.
The power of the person to take a step from within the prison cell of institutional racism and biases:
Individual agency and freedom.
Societal borders made porous by mutual trust,
The common predicament and loneliness,
Looking beyond the obvious differences.
Our attachments and sense of belonging.
Our elected communities and chosen affinities:
The families we leave, the families we create
What change can you enact, trigger and achieve?
Sudden revelations and encounters with the truth of who you are…
Freedom might take the form of the moment of happiness you create for others.

ROMA
The slow pace of the film, a tutoring in patience and care.
The growing bond between two characters separated by class, age and education.
The common predicament of women.
The political backdrop as metaphor for the personal collapse
And vice versa.

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
The material of tragedy.
Fate and destiny.
Curse and catharsis.
Fear and terror.
The collective burden,
The individual predicament.
The sense of waste.
The anger
No deus ex machina but the resolution brought by unconditional love.
And the closure of Hope.

MARIE LIENARD-YETERIAN

THE SHORT STORY: A DOUBLE BILL/REGARDS CROISÉS SUR LA NOUVELLE

THE SHORT STORY : A DOUBLE BILL/ REGARDS CROISÉS SUR LA NOUVELLE

Two collections of short stories :
Teasing generic conventions,
Conjuring the artistic worlds of painting and cinema into their narrative imagination.

Deux recueils de nouvelles :
Jouer avec les conventions du genre,
Convoquer l’univers de la peinture et du cinéma dans leur imaginaire narratif.

TRAJECTORY
By Richard Russo (2017)

Four short stories, four thresholds ushering uncanny guests into the house of fiction.
Four cardinal points directing us to unchartered narrative continents, Following the lead suggested in the title.

A range of characters faced with different dilemmas and crises—decisions to be made in spite of fear, resentment, or just the weight of life:
To face up to a student who plagiarizes.
To decide to accept oneself and the other, and rejoice in the feeling that the current winter will not be the last.
To reject, or accept, a brother in the midst of emotional turmoils, and existential queries.
To launch into script writing, and undertake the journey—physical and mental— between Los Angeles and New York.

Circumstances to address.
Possibilities to articulate.
Designs to sketch.
Films on the move.

The narration conjures poetic and novelistic tricks, and proposes forays—or trajectories—into alternative storytelling modalities, and unexpected modes of the imagination.

A choreography of bold yet determined gestures on the stage of narrative conventions.

And a polyphony of sort.

OMBRES ET MURMURES : QUAND LA SCÈNE DEVIENT UN MONDE
De Thomas Thérèse (2018)

Une série de courtes nouvelles en prose à vocation poétique— autant d’anachorèses créatrices, de « retirements » (à l’instar du personnage dans Le Maitre de Santiago) dans un contexte saturé d’images.

Comme les peintures de David Hockney : regarder le moment, et faire prendre conscience au lecteur de l’activité de regarder.

Une invitation double : voir et re-voir.

Une dimension méta-fictionnelle réitérée par les textes consacrés au cinéma, où l’activité du spectateur est également donnée à voir.

Compléments et déclinaisons de certains thèmes à travers la récurrence des sections en alternance avec des sections uniques.

Digressions filmiques qui proposent d’autres « visions » et constituent autant de « suppléments » de l’acte de voir, à travers le détour par un autre art.

L’acte de voir et ses limites, interpellations à poursuivre pour découvrir dans l’avènement du texte suivant un prochain point de vue. Pointillisme à la Seurat.

Le retour de certains titres—comme l’on peut parler du retour des personnages pour les romans balzaciens et faulknériens, par exemple—rythme cette invitation.

La ponctuation et la mise en page ébauchent autant de convocations à voir la page comme espace de mise en regard—espace de jeu avec les images et les mots. Et avec notre curiosité.

Telle la couverture et son blanc à remplir, écrire, ou peindre. A habiter.

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

GUEST CONTRIBUTION: REVISITING EDGAR ALLAN POE…

THE LETHARGIC MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH: THE ORDINARY DEATH OF HUMANITY

And now was Humanity indeed beyond the wretchedness of Kharon’s bark. Newly deceased, she wandered through ravens scavenging her limbs and scabious rats devouring the Masque of the Red Death. The blood which concealed her visage slowly possessed them. They acted with the fury of a promethean demon, a lost fragment of human sins, and began to crawl over the white room. The sockets of her lost eyes withered upon the dark blazing dusk.

Beneath the pressure of abominations that overcrowded her narcissism, the rats merged into an ox-like shape, blurred and faceless, wreaking havoc and defeating every pure atom that still existed in life. The sky-no-more collapsed and the white room lost its unblemished innocence. Evil thoughts became its sole intimates. Although Humanity longed to destroy herself countless times, she had not perceived that absolute dread of the Death. The word « monstruous » could not incarnate the void that cristallized her decadent form.

It was then, however, that Humanity mimicked an ashamed prayer. A wild stance that evoked the fear of absolute punishment. It was a sharp cry which fractured the night’s debauch and damnable silence. The unfathomable longing of her soul suffered once and it crushed the infinite mercy of the world, as if Atlas had shrugged. The melancholic waters dried long ago from her sad mind and her heart fell like the liveless corpse of a snake squashed by the fangs of a reddened tyger.

And the switch from which life triggered indefatigable promises melted inside Humanity’s overripe belly. She changed into an unvalued component of life. She died from exhaustion in her typical manner, exaggerating the decay of emotion. And then, Silence spoke, in pristine loneliness, trying to summon an ounce of dolefulness.

Olivier DUPIRE
(MA student at the University Nice Sophia Antipolis/University of Nice Côte d’Azur)
Reading to Understand.

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