Cloud and chimera

Pensées hybrides

Critiques (page 1 of 4)


Screen Comments/Leaf Screenings

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

READY PLAYER ONE

READY PLAYER ONE

 

Teenage coming-of-age story the Twenty-First Century way…

Indulging in the magic that Spielberg’s works provide.

Like Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret, Ready Player One proposes some tribute to cinema

And the cultural work it provides.

An invitation NOT to play alone.

 

For the viewer who was a teenager in the 80’s, the enhanced visual pleasure of recognition: familiar references de-territorialized and re-contextualized in a virtual world—the only world when they can be found anyway, as they now belong to the world of memory only.

 

The legacy of enduring screen figures that have become new heroes and icons, King Kong leading the way for contemporary Aliens and Machines.

The thrill of the guessing game of a roman a clef :

How many references can you track down/identify/retrieve/appropriate?

Literalizing the trope of Back to the Future

The urban landscape as the SF version of Blade Runner?

 

The wonder of ET and AI combined with a topical and political agenda.

How do you live in a disenchanted world?

Withdrawing into an “oasis”

Conjuring an Illusion of power and agency into perfect shape and guise

Deploying your potential in which your ‘real’ life is now reduced to heaps of garbage or life in a cubicle (with a panopticon effect, a nod to Foucault maybe)

Fidelity centers and their new forms of enslavement.

The immature behavior of the CEO speaks to the current lack of world leadership, and an increasing regressive will for power : “Who has the biggest bomb?…”

 

Some kinship with the recent release Ghost in the Shell:

A fighting spirit and a rebellion

Resistance to the encroachment of big corporations

Reintroducing the collective dimension beyond the pervasive self-centeredness

Following the way set by the Atari Game Adventure where winning is not what matters, but playing is.

 

Attention to detail(s): the quarter that was going to be discarded is the access to a Second Life.

Look again: the curator is actually someone else

Review your hypothesis and assumptions

Revising eventually leads to the truth (and success in the contest)

 

The moral component of the fairy tale: “only the real world is real”

Shutting down the game two days a week: a plea to reinvest the places of humanity and explore its space anew—with or without the avatar(s)?

 

Reality: Augmented, repurposed.

 

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

Ready Player One (S. Spielberg, 2018)

Depuis quelques années, le cinéma de science fiction occidental semble bégayer.
Alternant prequel, reboot et cross-over, il revisite les mythes puissants apparus dans la seconde moitié du XXième siècle. Les héros de Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner viennent à chaque nouvel épisode hanter une génération qui a de moins en moins en commun avec celle qui les a inventés. Avec Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg érige cet art de la répétition au statut de manifeste, célébrant une pop culture riche et colorée, que s’est pleinement appropriée la génération des années 2045.

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HOSTILES

HOSTILES

The war experience and its dehumanizing impact on human life, mind, and soul
Like Dunkirk, but through the story of the Frontier and its genocidal history—individual and collective.

Following suit on a number of recent movies: an invitation to uphold Love over any other possible or tempting way of “being in the world”.

Realism with an epic scope.
Conjuring other Westerns, with some generic rewriting.
Narrating possibilities for wrong to turn around and do right
Pushing the borders of Manichean scripts
Exploring the frontiers of good encroaching on a legacy of evil.

Mercy and forgiveness
Sacrifice and surrender
Gothic haunting and punishment and retribution.
Emotions and the call of duty
The individual and the collective: how to map the contours of agency in such a territory?

The different protagonists of the Western myth:
The Federal government (faraway: how to send orders, how to establish and maintain a rule of law)
The Indian tribes (rivalries between them too)
The US army
The conquest of the land
The reservations
The trappers
The outlaws who appropriate the land returned to the Indians by the US government
The open spaces
The raggedness of the land
The constant sense of danger

With some unusual ones:
Women as activists, denouncing the inhuman treatment of the Indians
Julius Caesar as a source of inspiration for Captain Joseph Blocker, a devoted reader of his memoirs.

And an unusual closure:
The hero getting on a train. Moving back East (Chicago) and not heading into the Western sun.

Of note, the following touches and sketches:
Fear and anguish (the woman in hiding trying not to let out a single cry)
Terror and horror
Awareness and denial
Grief and mourning
Resilience and oblivion.
Amnesia and indifference?
Trauma and wound
Revenge and the vicious circle of violence
Treachery and trust
A bond created by the common sharing of loss and sorrow: the Indian family’s compassion for the woman who has lost her three children and husband.
The giving and accepting of the blouse: a form of healing.

The different soldiers emblematizing different postures toward war:
The young French soldier, unprepared and incongruous
The seasoned officer, hardened by the business of war, yet set in motion by the question of the West Point graduate: “how did you feel the first time you killed a man?”
The West Point star: engaged and committed; yet armed with (only) a bookish understanding of war.

US history: the former soldiers of the Confederacy side by side with former Union soldiers
The common cause of the genocide.
Henry and changing racial relationships,
Joseph’s admiration and loyalty: “I would choose you over and over again”.

Joseph’s kindness towards Rosalie Quaid as a way to redeem himself? To find some regeneration in upholding that one life he can cater to in remembrance of all the lives he took as part of his ‘job’?
Yet, the addictive urge to do violence: slicing the throat of the man instead of shooting him. A form of visceral savagery acquired over the years: can it ever be exorcized? The gaze of the child and woman changes everything. He becomes aware of his cruelty.

A man, a woman, a child: some nuclear family? Different broken pieces communing as some anamnesis of the legacy of the Frontier: the retired soldier, the widow, the Indian orphan.

A happy ending?
Can happiness be found beyond the painful memories, the emotional casualties and the respective losses (team mates and friends, family, parents and relatives)?

This Western closing in an unusual way indeed, the (formulaic) sun inferred from the suggested script rising above some space off stage.

From SUNRISE
A Poem by Mary Oliver

You can
die for it—
an idea, or the world.

(…)

What is the name
Of the deep breath I would take over and over
For all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
fire.

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

THE DISASTER ARTIST

THE DISASTER ARTIST

“I am not interested in the theme of a story but in its meaning… all the elements in the story contribute to its meaning” Flannery O’Connor

Three protagonists on a stage:
Friendship
Dreams
Reality

A stage where some parable about Love is performed beyond the staging of a true story
Friendship and the disinterested gift of love
Cinema and the “labor of love”, in Martin Scorsese’s image
Passion in its many guises and roles,
Masks and metaphors.

The size and scope of our aspirations, and their possible collapse.

What creates a bond?
What’s in a pact? In a promise—given and fulfilled?
Sharing a vision
Loyalty to a person, loyalty to oneself.

Yet, the inevitable and ineluctable constraints and limitations of every person.

The secret around Tommy:
The mystery that each of us holds?
How to tell our story?
What do the facts of our life (birthplace, age, income) narrate about ourselves/about us?

No biographical data can pay tribute to what we are. Have. Make. Do.
And sometimes miss. Or achieve.

Love:
Possessiveness and loss
How to keep the right distance?
How to have compassion yet speak in truth?

Devotion to one’s trade and talent
“As actors, even a bad day on the set is better that a good day outside the set because we do what we love to do”
Commitment and engagement—-total and unflagging.

How to communicate one’s dream and desire?
A project turned on its head
A reminder of Scorsese’s journey with Taxi Driver.
The inevitable gap between the creator’s intention and the reception of the work.
As Greg tries to convey to Tommy, success it IS for the movie, even if it is NOT the kind of success intended by Tommy.
Letting go of one’s individual control, surrendering to the collective mythmaking.
The possible misunderstanding and the sense of possibility inherent to these very misunderstandings.

A hall of mirrors:
Greg and Tommy, David and James Franco
Actors and actresses playing their own roles

The twin-end of the movie:
-The divided screen sequence (a reminder of Franco’s ambitious adaptation of As I Lay Dying) juxtaposing the ‘reality’ of the factual background behind the script (the original movie The Room) and its screen adaptation (Franco’s staging and filming of it)

-After the end credits, a pause, and then an added sequence, like an afterthought:
Tommy with another Greg-like character
Repeating the pattern
A way for the film to broaden its scope
Some opening up of the particulars of the story covered by the script (revisiting the making of a now cult movie)

Referential play and visual games
An artist at work—with or without (the) disaster(s)

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

THE SHAPE OF WATER

THE SHAPE OF WATER

 

“Mais quand, malgré la souffrance, un désir est murmuré, il suffit qu’un autre l’entende pour la brise reprenne  flamme”                  Boris Cyrulnik, Le murmure des fantômes

 

 

A story of resilience of some sort

A story about listening and being heard

A fairy tale and a political parable

A film crossing generic lines

Characters moving across boundaries

Love as frontier, not border.

 

The sacrifice (killing) of a being to research

The blinding effect of assumptions or denials

The silencing of minorities and other ‘Others’

The ruthless treatment of humans turned machines (the role of institutions and other places of power in the overall dehumanizing of people turned into ‘agents’ indeed)

Yet the silence of the disenfranchised (because of their race, gender, class and age or handicap) speaks louder than words

 

In our Posthuman context there is more to the “happy ending” than first meets the eye:

A tribute to the force of our humanity

Whitmanian songs of compassion, understanding and healing:

Leaves of water, We celebrate ourselves.

 

The Meliès-like quality of a “trip to the moon”

The magic and wonder that cinema enacts and triggers and invites.

Some happy resolution for the characters

Some sense of closure for the viewers.
Yet we might imagine an alternative narrative for the  movie

The way La La Land proposed one last year: the uncanny lovers’ story could take place on earth (in our world) and not in water (the world of fantasy, or any place that is not our world).

And the shape of a dream beyond

If only we decided to take the time to share an egg, a piece of music, or a dance.

In an unlikely place, with an unlikely friend, in our likely world.

 

« Il n’est pas fou de vouloir vivre et d’entendre au fond du gouffre un léger souffle qui murmure que nous attend, comme un soleil impensable, le bonheur »     Boris Cyrulnik,   Le murmure des fantômes

 

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

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