Cloud and chimera

Pensées hybrides

Critiques (page 1 of 5)


Screen Comments/Leaf Screenings

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

EVERYBODY KNOWS

EVERYBODY KNOWS

The opening sequence: like the first paragraph in a short story, it provides clues and hints, it conjures coming themes, introduces the main protagonists, and establishes leading metaphors and tropes.

The church bell tower where some truth is told, some oracle is given:
“Everybody knows”
About Paco and Laura…

The clock mechanism proceeds relentlessly, setting other processes in motion: moving hands, ringing bell, flapping bird wings, fluttering thoughts and emotions.
A heavy and ominous atmosphere sets in
A foreboding of something to come: broken glass around the dial
The uttering and whispering of an unwelcome prophecy:
If you get too close to time, you can hurt yourself.

The scribbling on the wall, the scar of a lost passion.
What is intuited through the single initial,
What the marking indicates, points to, yet also silences.
What it stands for, what it fails to express
What it recalls, and still conceals.

The wedding ceremony in the room below: the marriage that could not take place years before: the fated and star-crossed lovers went their separate ways.

The re-apparition of the past and its unfinished business
The no-exit world of village life
And its attending array of passions and grievances, past and new.

The obsessive filming of every detail, in a quasi journalistic fashion.
The corridors and stairways, the doors—locked and unlocked
The upstairs rooms and the shared bedrooms: physical spaces mapping out psychological and emotional ones.
The building of a particular mood through the editing and the camera work
“A feat of compression” as Elia Kazan said about theatre: every detail matters, and leads to an outcome.
The comings and goings of family members
The unsaid and unsayable
The secrets and the taboos
The suspicions and the guilt
The resentment and jealousy

Irene, whose name means Peace, yet she brings recklessness and trouble
Whose daughter is she? Who is her father?
The biological/ the adoptive father who prevented the abortion.
Fatherhood: regained, and lost again.
The ending: a disquieting lack of closure
The stuff real life is made of
As everybody knows, indeed.

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

The Rider

THE RIDER

“He galloped up … his heels in the horses’ s ribs and it dancing and swirling like the shape of its mane and tail…” (William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying)

The articulation of passion and identity and self—and the loss of it all. At first.

The nightmarish return of haunting images of success. And failure.
Some turning point: the accident or event through which change brutally and relentlessly storms in, damages and destroys—taking off masks, ripping confidence and arrogance open, wounding and hurting.
The daily routine now altered by the unavoidable scar. The visible one, and the invisible one.

Yet, Brady gets to live, unlike the horse he had befriended. Another casualty of life and its rugged surface.

The love and gentleness of the simple-minded sister Lilly who puts paper stars on her sibling’s body when he is sleeping.

The friendship with other cowboys: their aspirations, endurance and fear. The terror and horror of the rodeo experience. And its addictive thrill and thrust.

The beloved horse Gus sold off, and the crazy horse Apollo who gets tamed—momentarily.

The admired friend Lance abandoned by luck, stranded in a place of no return, remapping the boundaries of heroism, probing into the unchartered territory of the power of the soul.

Life compelling you to re-design your priorities, and accept a new perimeter for your wanderings. The scope of a new wisdom, perhaps. And the shape of some eternity.

The final choice: self-less love for the loved ones, instead of the self-centered pursuit of a deadly illusion.
Letting go of the “before” to allow for the delivery of some “after”—however uncertain and unknown.

Finding happiness in the knowledge that you still have life, and in the awareness that your ability to dream lives on—undamaged.

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT

“Sorrow is food swallowed too quickly, caught in the throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe” (Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing).

A form of contemplation, the quality of a gaze that strives to explore without damaging, to know without assessing. To see without becoming blind.

Gus Van Sant covering the territory of forgiveness and acceptance, tracking down despair, anatomizing courage.

The birth of a calling
The discovery of a hidden talent
The beauty of lasting beginnings

Empathy—and, more radically, compassion.
A form of mercy, too. For oneself, for others. For humanity in its irreducible scripts and achievements.

The American story of from ‘rags to riches’ revisited from the point of view of the body and the soul. The existential rise from despair, the understated heroism of fortitude and hope.

A variation of the American Dream, a declaration of will and purpose, and a requiem for posthumanism.

A form of prophetic insurgency, perhaps.

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

Older posts

© 2019 Cloud and chimera

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑