Cloud and chimera

Pensées hybrides

Author: Marie Lienard-Yeterian (page 2 of 9)



Recent releases have given us much food for thought in terms of revisiting human agency.

Little Women and Bombshell might first come to mind as these two films constitute powerful tributes to women’s empowerment and resilience.

Another pairing opens other lines of inquiry to consider how committed cinema can be rebranded as a form of moral ecology that questions regimes of abusive power.

In Bombshell and Garabandal, the viewer discovers women who struggle with powerful institutions that hijack truth and reality. Mechanisms of coercing and silencing work to undermine the action of individuals who strive to balance loyalty, accountability and responsibility. Whether they cover the news or testify to a religious experience, these women bear witness to a version of reality that challenges and disturbs established forms of authority. Their individual mission collides with the collective agenda, and pries open ruling ideologies. Yet, their words are distorted and weakened; their influence is undermined, their testimonies are dismissed. People around them lack of courage to stand with them even as they see and know that they are right. A few engage in blatant lies to invalidate their work, more turn a blind eye.

Some victory comes at a cost, but the complete happy ending is deferred.

It will be up to the viewer to find some closure, and peace.

These films celebrate individual courage and boldness. They invite the viewer to consider the power of cinema as a tool to investigate the challenges of present by revisiting past events, and consider the tragic legacy of intimidation and fear, silence and hypocrisy, complacency and ignorance.  

Perhaps they function as truth-telling mechanisms when news has become fake, and fiction no longer is where you expect it to be.


A gothic house and its gallery of grotesque characters

Suspense and reversals. Creaky steps and a dark park. Terror with the spice of humor, horror with the buffer of wit.

Daniel Craig, alias James Bond, presides over a script which stages moral conflicts where good prevails without compromising itself.

And where enjoying a cup of coffee with the right mug in the right hand on the right balcony provides happy vantage point and felicitous denouement.



Ralph Ellison and Invisible Man.

The underdog has retreated underground

The gradual tension

Water rising and flooding everything, washing everything and everyone away

Like anger suddenly unleashed.

Destructive and relentless.

A sense of place, the use of space as character:

The apartment

Stairways and trapdoors

The cellar.

The exploration of the dark recesses of the mind

The descent into Madness, the vaults of the human psyche.

People going up and down the stairs

Missing each other or bumping into each other.

Lines sketching different courses of action of actions

Frames within frames.

Patterns emerge, colors clash, emotions collide.

The intrusion of the supernatural

The stone: the parasite?

Or is the parasite the rich man who lives off the back of the poor?

The pervasive sense of threat

The smell you cannot wash off: the place where you belong and where you are brought back too relentlessly and cruelly.

The poor who are constantly thrown back into their reality

The poor who are seen and treated as garbage.

The uncanny child’s gaze and gift of intuition

His ability to decipher the invisible present

His own trauma

The former maid: “I have forgotten something in the cellar”….

Something, someone.

Living on the edge, living on the border.

The political dissident that has to hide.

All those who have to go into hiding.

Resentment and bitterness

And the sudden eruption of violence.

The gesture of contempt that triggers the rage

People and things turn around

And the current balance is thrown off-balance.

The party turns bloody

The tomahawk that was supposed to be used for fun is now used for real!

The dogs feed off the meat on the spike that has been used as a weapon.

The laughter at the end: as a result of the trauma/the concussion?

Laughing in the face of terror and horror?

The Fool’s laughter? Erasmus and In Praise of Folly?

The revenge of the helpless against the powerful?

The open-ended finale: “I have a plan”

The sense of a warning issued somewhere, sometime.


The grotesque behind the farcical mask.

The freak turned wise expresses the ills of society:

Erasmus and his In Praise of Folly, again?

The Fool denounces the hypocrisy of the Court

While negotiating urban violence and other emotional jungles.

And his own existential fall and mental collapse.

The De Niro character is on the other side of the fence of law and order,

Yet the Travis of Taxi Driver is conjured up:

His gaze and dreams

And the theme of vigilante violence.

The play with the guns, rehearsing an act of violence,

And performing it relentlessly, without a break.

The image of urban warfare,

And collective madness as an expression of fear and anger.

The subway scene and the overall sense of danger and threat,

NYC as the new Frontier.

Nothing can protect you: the shooting of Wayne and his wife in a dark alley.

The gradual sense of being ostracized and estranged.

A growing sense of resentment and bitterness as a result of being treated unfairly.

The slow descent into something that cannot be named.

The scene at the gate: who is behind bars?

The real intention behind the farce.

Keeping a happy face through it all: HAPPY!

When the buffoon confesses his crime, he is not taken seriously.

To the psychiatrist he issues a warning: “You do not listen”…

Another bloody act to make his point.

What does it take for people to hear the punch line?

Marie Lienard-Yeterian



Two heroes:

One reclaiming his family, and going home after all.

One rejecting her ancestors, and finding a new home after all.

Ghosts and apparitions.

The intrusion of the supernatural instead of just the magic of science fiction.

The space opera takes a Shakespearean turn:

The visit of a Hamlet-like father claiming the son back, away from the dark side;

The mother conjuring up Ben out of Kylo Ren.

The ingredients of tragedy:

Conflicts and dilemmas, hesitations and choices, murders and sacrifices.

Human passions at war with themselves

Courage and fear, forgiveness and resentment, anger and peace.

A departure from the technological and robotic galore.

An episode clearly refocusing on what makes the human story an epic one: Journeys undertaken to articulate an identity for yourself even if it means rejecting your original bloodline,

Or to uphold your name (some viewers might remember John Proctor in The Crucible)

Or to claim one.

Against all odds, and expectations,

Reverse the course of destiny,

And turn flaws into strengths.  

The blood family and the family you create through loyalty and fighting for the common good.

Betrayals and intrigues conjuring up Macbeths and other Richards or Iagos of the Dark Side.

With the occasional lightness of Twelfth nights and porter scenes comic relief.

Shouts and murmurs, whispers and screams.

Hands that kill, or give life.

Rey and Kylo Ren: twins of some sort after all—a dyad in the Force.

Romeo and Juliet-like, fighting on the same side, after all,

Delivering a better world for others.


Death held at bay by Love,

An ultimate sacrifice and gift.

A life redeemed, after all.

The urgency of ethical imperatives clearly situated against the backdrop of our overall moral bankruptcy.

Enter natural elements and climatic protagonists:

Glaciers, lush forests or raging seas.

Tempests to come, and be feared.

Tiny humans strut and fret about the stage in the face of an adversity greater than what they can imagine—with or without the stars, other players that have their exits and entrances.

The proper scale of our humanity in the galaxy,

Brief candles that can be put out indeed.

And the proper measure of our greatness too: mercy, compassion and Love,

And their sound and fury

Signifying something.

Marie Lienard-Yeterian



The movie invites a reflection on the conversation between literature and cinema—their respective narrative tools, their common agenda. Their mutual inspiration. Creative and ingenious kindred spirits.
The title has a programmatic ring in that regard: the formulaic opening of the fairy tale coupled with the evocation of the iconic cradle of cinema.
Hollywood: the place where literature morphed into film, perhaps.

Once upon a time tales began and ended.
Once upon a time characters were born and died.
Once upon a time plots were done and undone.
Once upon a time lines were written, and uttered or forgotten.
Once upon a time the world was a stage, the stage was a world.
Once upon a time images and words competed for power.
Once upon a time dreams and nightmares wove in and out of reality their texture of emotions and desires.

A number of literary texts appear: Tess, a biography of Walt Disney, a dime novel, Hamlet. Some of them gesture toward tragedy, others to comedy. Connecting the dots between the two, perhaps.
Hamlet is conjured up in Dick’s soliloquy in his lodge:
The loneliness and the actor’s insecurity,
1960’s countercultural ideals and icons haunting the dreaded ghost, maybe…
Enter Parody and Satire, and Elizabethan fools.

Of note: the voice over, and the precise chronology with dates and times, like a well-rounded play. A drama unfolds to reach a climax, with a witty punch-line, an open-ended finale, and a reversal: terror and horror provides the unexpected opportunity Dick has been dreaming of…

The precise evocation of 1969 Hollywood: its icons and revolutionary spins.
The music, movies, television series and shows of an era that spawned Hippy culture and the Vietnam War.

Playing with the viewer’s expectations about suspense:
Hitchcock-like moments (Sharon at the movies, we expect something bad to happen to her), the car on the road, the trip to the ranch, and the encounter with a blind man that watches his favorite show every evening.

Rehearsing the grotesque mode on screen:
Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove in the scene with the Germans?
The Coen Brothers’ Burn after Reading or Fargo?
Tarantino’s own films?
Violence laced with comedy, and the other way around.

How to become a hero on screen or on the page?
The importance of readers and viewers.
The communal act of making a movie, and watching it.
The narrative voice: who gets to tell the tale.

Once upon a time the story of film as a lieu de mémoire—a site of memory bodying forth Scheherazades for our era.

Marie Liénard-Yeterian



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.

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



« 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.

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?

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




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



“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
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



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.

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 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 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.

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…

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.

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.

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.




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.

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.

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

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