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Critiques (page 1 of 5)


Screen Comments/Leaf Screenings

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

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

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY: A SONG…

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY : A SONG
To the tune of “I Want to Break Free”…
With a chorus line from A Streetcar Named Desire

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

Renaming oneself
Shaping one’s life into a design of one’s own making.
Gender and identity.
A sense of belonging within elected families:
A band, and a public.
The transformative power of the stage experience,
And of the experience on stage.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

The carefully crafted artistic persona,
The mesmerizing performer-singer
Reinventing himself for each performance,
And each public.
The stage as place, and space for the magic to intrude on the prosaic,
A creative crucible of tamed hauntings,
A site for possibility to deliver Life.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

Each show a declaration of love and independence,
A renewed call to reach out and be accepted.
The interactive energy, dynamic, and dialectic.
The shared pleasure of bald and uncanny music.
Yet, the unavoidable leave-taking.
The reconciliation with the estranged father,
And the self, damaged or healed.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

“I have always relied on the kindness of strangers”, says Blanche:
Streetcars and desires,
Loss and incongruity.
And, sometimes, so quickly, Desire beyond Death.
Coming to terms with one’s fate and mortality,
And rocking into the future of eternity
With the perfect song, and love.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

ON WATCHING THE MOVIE ‘BURNING’ : A POEM

ON WATCHING THE MOVIE ‘BURNING’ : A POEM

Little hunger and great hunger:
The aspirations and longings.
Reenacting the dance for people who have never known hunger,
And never will.

The cat and mouse game:
You infer the presence of the cat,
then come to doubt its very existence.
And then you encounter it, in the most unlikely place,
Calling it by its name,
And performing some tragic recognition scene.

The well:
Secret wounds and holes.
What happens to your trauma when its spatial materiality is erased, or forgotten? Denied? Ignored?
How to decipher the scars of the past, the marks of the present, or the traces of the future?
Is literature a way of keeping track?

A trio of foreign (English) words uttered in the film dialogue:
Metaphor, Little Hunger, Great Hunger.
Whispers to our ears, and imagination,
Swift tutorings into code-switching, and
The dance of metonymy and metaphor,
The function of art,
Literary and other.

The pantomime:
You imagine you desire eating a mandarine.
You perform the peeling, and the consuming,
You make your mouth water out of anticipation,
And extract pleasure out of the illusion of its presence.
The ability of art to create something out of nothing,
And make your mind water,
Surf on the suggestion of its presence,
Riding the wave of emotions and affect.

Writing: performing a pantomime on the page, suggesting, and inviting.
Reading: enjoying the conjured mandarine, reenacting the possibility of its presence.

Faulkner: there is more to William than the picture on the cover of the book that Ben is reading.
Now you see it/him,
Now you don’t.
Barn burning, or just burning.

Enter Gatsby, without Scott:
A decontextualized character, a figure on the run
In search of something other than “a voice full of money”.

The dance in the evening sun:
An exercise in beauty and gratuity
Hinting at a form of transcendence,
Conjuring some prescience ushered by the work of art,
And its transformative power.

Tender is the night, indeed.
The other side of paradise might be within our reach, after all.

Burning:
Living, loving
Writing, reading.
Double binds, and their attending dance and pantomine.

Marie LIENARD-YETERIAN

Person to Person (Manhattan Stories)

PERSON TO PERSON (MANHATTAN STORIES)

NYC and its urban jungle,
An ecology of fraud and authenticity.

Enter emblematic characters illustrating different ways for humans to interact,
Striding in and out of the space of their dreams and longings
Performing the intermittences of our loves and passions
Acting out our compromises and tentative redemptions
Working through our fears and anxieties.

Bene and his passion for vintage records
Establishing the leading metaphor:
You are in the groove or not.

The teenage friends
Melanie and Wendy, and their respective boyfriends or dates.
Wendy aspiring to casting the net wider, yet
Encountering the violent reality of life: first through the video recorded by voyeuristic onlookers,
And later on her own, the spilled blood still a stain on the sidewalk. And on her life.
An ominous shadow. A stubborn cloud in her sky.

Claire’s lonely life with her cat
And her attempt at changing jobs (and life).
Her encounter with the manipulative journalist of NewYorkNews
And her newly-found awareness of what matters for her.
Phil’s apparent gentility, and his concealed face: anger and frustration.

The wife who killed her husband
His stopped watch giving her away and setting her on a different course of time.
The repair shop owner Jimmy and his stubborn silence
A pawn used by different players: customer, police, journalist.

Bene’s friend Ray who has damaged his girlfriend’s life by posting pictures of her on the Internet.
Jealous and self-centered
Betrayed in his turn for 20 dollars that are later spent on a lottery ticket.
Janet’s love and forgiveness,
And a new beginning?

The shopkeeper out to make an extra buck
Betraying friends and promises.

Buster and his fling with the hairdresser.
Bene and his budding love.
Women and men, sex and desire, love and romance.

Woody Allen-like characters and mood.
Intertwined stories and recurring persona.

Lies and deceit
Loyalty and friendship
Agency and independence.
Slices of life, snapshots of emotions, sound bites of conversations
Contrived or real.
Whisperings and murmurs
With occasional shouts and screams.
And silences.

Some happy ending, if not a Hollywood ending: a party to celebrate love and the acknowledgment of it: “I have big love for you”….” I do too” … “That’s good news”..

Indeed.

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE

THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE

“Truth, like Art, is in the eye of the beholder”
(Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)

A fairy tale for our modern times
The fantastic, with a political and artistic twist
Scripts, old and new.

A thought-provoking work about virtual reality, a sort of companion piece to Ready Player One. In its own way. Playing in a virtual world, to escape reality.
Creating an avatar for yourself,
Falling prey to it… for better and for worse.
But in the process, you inspire others.
And journey on. On a horse, on a mule,
Or on foot.

A statement about what creation is: the search, the recycling of previous ideas, the intertextual processes, the dialogic dynamic between different generic traditions and conventions.
The literary text and its screen adaptation through the creative reworking of the individual film director
The trappings of the mise en abyme device
The maze of numerous narrative lines
The rewriting of the old to shape the tale(s) anew.
Fiction and its attending spaces: creativity, imagination, illusion.

Intruders in the fictional party: politics and ecology.
New forms of power and feudalism.
The old castle and the new dwellers, lords and feuds of a different era.
The grotesque excesses of wealth, the instrumentalization of the other: her body (the notion of a « whore », « what is the going rate? »)/his face: “you have a good face”.

The Russian oligarch and his fantasy world
The regressive and infantile behavior
The new courtesans: to curry his favor to « obtain the contract ».
Sex and desire
Sublimated love (Dulcinea: the ideal/idealized woman)
How to uphold chivalric values in the crass world of money and advertising?
The new poor: gypsies, migrants, and other outcasts
The destructive ecology of a mindset generated by fear and prejudice
Assuming that the other is … dangerous, hostile, murderous, treacherous… and constructing a narrative around it. And acting on it. Violence–physical and other.
Reality undoes it, yet you persist in the script of your own making.

A landscape of rugged and uneven surfaces
The desert of some environmental disaster
And its attending heaps of garbage, material and moral.

On the narrative level: the black and white sequences: akin to italics and other typographic devices to show the different narrative layers in written texts.
Coming in and out of the cinematic world, coming in and out of the space of memory:
Remembering: staging/restaging an alternative reality.
Memory and its treasure chest of images—conjured out of the space of a former experienced reality, or created out of the space of longing and nostalgia.

The beauty of the creative illusion
And the ugliness of the illusions generated by fear and prejudice

The power of the imagination to map out alternative realities
And the power of the imagination to whip up anxiety and distrust

The delusion—and yet the awareness of that illusion
To uphold the illusion of grandeur, not just for yourself but for others.

The old film, the new in the making.
The return of the old film in his life: nemesis of his having sold his talent to the industry of advertising.

To inscribe yourself in a line of fictional heroes, to appropriate them for yourself at different times in your life.

Last but not least: a tribute to cinema
The enticing lure of the moving image to capture our inner dynamism, the momentum of our individual and unique imaginative power.

The Force was with Adam Driver… Could Toby outperform Kylo Ren??

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

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