Cloud and chimera

Pensées hybrides

Critiques (page 2 of 4)


Screen Comments/Leaf Screenings

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

LADY BIRD

LADY BIRD

 

What’s in a name? The name given by your parents (what you inherit: the common name Christine, shared by other women) and the name you create and give yourself (Lady Bird, shared by no one)

Reimagining yourself, creating a different origin and identity: illusion or empowering narrative?

 

(The reader of Flannery O’Connor’s fiction revisits “Good Country People” and its story of Joy/Ulga’s own journey at self-discovery, with the occasional blindness, self-delusion, and pride: lessons to be learned, as painful as they might be, as necessary as they are sometimes… and suggested new departures… beyond what the text narrates but evokes in some off-stage space, tragic and theatrical… or not)

 

Teenage life, with its ups and downs, misunderstandings and understandings.

Communities, imagined or real.

Belonging

Being rejected or accepted. Rejecting and accepting.

The ‘true’ friends as opposed to the ‘mock’ friends who use you

Kyle’s carelessness as opposed to Danny’s kindness.

 

The rites and rituals of passage, prom or no prom.

Love given, taken back, and recovered,

And attention.

Love and attention: “maybe the same thing”, as the nun indicates.

Self-esteem

Hope and aspirations

The gift of compassion

Welcoming the Other in who he is/as he is:

The gay boyfriend turned foe, and friend again.

 

Theater and dance as ways to try out other identities, build self-confidence, And introduce creativity in one’s life.

Dreams of material success,

The intricacies of femininity,

The proper dresses, cheap or not,

The performance(s) for oneself and others.

Parental love, understood or not

Parental love, received or not.

The way others see your parents, appreciate and love them. Praise them. See in them things you have not (yet) seen.

The sense of rejection that the mother feels with her daughter’s departure

Yet the child’s departure is no comment on what a mother has given the child, just a normal aspiration.

For better or for worse. There is no telling. Just the dynamic of life, the unpredictable work of time and space.

The mother: as a family figure, and as a professional, counseling the priest.

Both catering to the needs of others in need of love and trust and hope.

The sense of shame attached to poverty

The silent battle with depression (the father, the priest), loving despite one’s suffering

Or because of it.

 

Moving to the big city

Yet remembering home: Sacramento, and its beautiful sights.

The pride of driving around, feeling empowered by the intimate knowledge of the landscape combined with the newly-acquired knowledge of driving the car.

 

The encounter at the party as wake up call from the world of rural (childhood/teenage) fantasies to urban (college life/adult) reality.

Getting drunk: tasting pleasure combined with danger

The hospital scene: facing the little boy who has lost an eye. Like him, she is partly blind. But unlike him, she can make use of her eye(s) if she wants to.

 

The epistolary quality of the phone call, part of an on-going exchange.

An answer left in the air,

Like so many of our conversations and attempts to reach out.

Messages left unanswered, out of indifference, boredom or negligence.

 

Will the “Lady” find her Prince? Charming or not…

Will the “Bird” take her flight?

 

 

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

 

Phantom Thread

PHANTOM THREAD

 

The crude world of There Will be Blood is replaced by the polished context of London, its good manners and social rituals.

A no less harsh reality, in certain ways

A wilderness of another kind.

Other obsessions and destructive streaks

Other phantoms

Other threads uniting the protagonists

Weaving and unraveling/raveling out the pattern

 

On the London stage as opposed to the Southern California arena

Another interesting triangle: Reynolds Woodcock and his sister Cyril

And his model and lover (then wife) Alma, the outsider.

Manipulation and power anew.

The decorum of the manners and customs, the violence of the secret passions

The oppressive and stifling mood of the Victorian era against the backdrop of the 1950’s

Jealousy and longings; sighs and whispers.

The breakfast ritual enacting the denial of the material reality

Chewing, eating, drinking

Feeding on earthly food

Disturbing the willful erasure of the bodily needs.

The interlude of the New Year’s Eve Party

And its carnival of other masks and metaphors.

 

The narrative structure:

The flashback frame, hardly noticed at first

Then the movie plot catches up with the beginning

Before proceeding to an ending that is hardly satisfying

And leaves open the question of the confessional mode with the young doctor

 

Fairy tale innuendos, and intertextual resonances with stories such as “The Oval Portrait” or The Portrait of Dorian Gray

The artist (painter or dressmaker) and his sitter.

With a twist:

The muse reveals (like a photographic film exposed to light) the real personality of the apparently successful and confident ‘master’.

The elaborate designs of the dresses

And their complex making,

The androgynous figure of the sister,

A loved and lost mother,

The reversible roles in the family pattern

Alma as an occasional surrogate mother.

 

A wound and a secret weakness suddenly exposed.

The motif of the poison scene, an exchange of gazes

The mutual understanding and acceptance of death

The passion, the co-dependency.

Surrendering to her power

In near death he finds love,

The hovering ghost of the lost mother,

The physical ailment revealing the ailment afflicting the soul

Tormenting the memory and the heart

 

The theatrical and staged dimension of the visual effects

The pictorial editing and tight framing

Close-ups betraying the sensuality of the touch,

Some eroticism hardly kept in check under the professional gesture

The lingering hand on a beautiful fabric

The cutting and putting into shapes

The torn or stained material.

An elaborate choreography of gazes and moves,

And footsteps on endless flight of stairs.

 

Revisiting the gothic script

The notion of a curse

The sewing of a note in the lining: NEVER CURSED

The blend of the supernatural and the real

The universe of the Bronte sisters and Daphne du Maurier

Wuthering Heights, and its tale of passion across class lines

But also, more hauntingly,

Rebecca and its tale of murder and jealousy

The power of mysterious and strong women

Cyril/Mrs Danvers

Reynold’s mother/Rebecca

The staircase of the London home/Hallways and recesses in Manderley

A psychological and emotional chase.

 

The flirtation with bodily death against immortality through art

The surprising doubling effects

Strengths and weaknesses

And unexpected designs

With, or without, the thread and its phantom.

 

Et quand il est à s’en mourir

Au dernier moment de la cendre

La guitare entre dans la chambre

Le feu reprend par le chant sombre

Aragon, Le fou d’Elsa

 

 

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

 

 

FILM GALORE: OF CHOICE AND OTHER HUMAN PREDICAMENTS

FILM GALORE:

                         Of Choice and Other Human Predicaments

 

15.17 TO PARIS, THE POST, MOLLY’S GAME, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, DOWNSIZING

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BLADE RUNNER 2049

BLADE RUNNER 2049

 

 

The movie is, first and foremost, a visual experience.

Emblematic urban landscape and pouring rain. A significant conjuring up of the first movie screen experience.

 

The visuals are pervaded by our current tastes for alternative reality/realities

Ubiquitous holograms and virtual images superimposed on to the real world

 

A taste for “good scenes”

Interesting and intriguing backdrops: a palace, Deckard’s home or simply the street.

 

Even the landscape of disasters is endowed with a magic quality…

 

The soundtrack is haunting:

The dissonance of the world at hand can be HEARD …

The snow and rain are the only surviving natural elements that are palpable.

The noise of the brew on the stove: eerie in its normalcy, its ordinariness

Everything else looks so alien and strange

Uncanny, yet, in a weird way.

 

Some central question (s)

The real and the virtual

The virtual is presented as a part of the characters’ real world (K’s girlfriend)

Enter The question of a real birth

Again, the question of memories: memories lived by someone or made up

“Yes, these memories have been lived by someone”

The wooden horse as sign of a lost world—a lost time (childhood, with the putative natural birth) and a lost space (nature).

The tree, of course, stands for a genealogical line, calling forth the question of filiations—legitimate or not. Incongruous questions, perhaps, in such a world.

Can the Replicant inscribe himself/herself in a human family/history?

“You are not made, you are born” says the girlfriend who insists on giving (him) a name.

 

His hesitation : did he really live this or does he believe he did?

Enter Memory and identity

The threshold ushering a self-delusion

(Maybe, maybe not)

He has constructed a narrative—a point of origin anchored in a “real’ family (Replicant or partially human…no closure on this point in the wake of the first movie)

A Platonic subtext? we perceive only shadows of the real.

 

Little nods to the early viewer, a different sense of recognition:

The origami

Rachel (without the green eyes): she is (has become) just a shadow, an illusion.

Little concessions to the passing of time and practicing of other SF spaces.

 

Feeling of displacement /unbalance created by the constant intrusion of holograms and their staged dramas (Elvis, Marilyn and company)

Giving shape and contours to our inner theatre, yet they remain as immaterial and fleeting and evanescent.

 

The linearity of time is disturbed along with linearity of space.

We hop from one setting to another without any sense of traveling and transitioning into…

Music and images from another time recur and create another form of haunting.

(Derrida’s specters)

A series of tableaux morphing a dreamscape. With an occasional nightmare.

We have to establish the connections.

Video game aesthetics and cinematic experience

The female body on screen

Desire—with new forms of “streetcars” and naming.

How cinema and reality intersect

Their constant crosspollination

 

A blend of high tech science and gimmicks (little flying objects)

And ubiquitous desires

The ability to scan and record reality, to probe into it with the eye without moving close to the object.

Proximity and distance

Drone like weapons.

 

The dog: the faithful companion. In reality as in the virtual world. At least, let’s hope so.

 

A leave-taking?

Temporary or final?

Depending on whether the next 25 years are—(perhaps) (also)—transitory or final.

 

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

 

 

WONDER WHEEL

WONDER WHEEL

 

The movie opens on a summer day on Coney Island.

Fun is fair, fair is fun

(Foul is fair, fair is foul)

The image of the wheel—seen in the opening shot and at the end, and suggested throughout—casts a shadow over the sandy beach.

The wheel of life is turning, mistakes are repeated, patterns come and go. Recur.

The tragic side of the human condition beyond the fun dimension of Coney Island

The sense of unraveling

Resilience and endurance.

With a bit of cynicism, perhaps.

 

Mickey’s gift to Ginny: A play by Eugene O’Neill

Some dirge is heard, as in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

And in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Woody Allen returns to the world of theatre

And conjures up the character of Blanche Dubois previously explored in Blue Jasmine.

Beyond the kaleisdoscopic glitter of intertextual references

The movie is structured and filmed like a play

Witty and quick dialogue

A sense of entrapment

A series of tableaux

A narrator who is both a voice over and a protagonist

The voice over feeling like an artificial intrusion

Like soliloquies at the theatre.

Characters storm in and out of rooms that feel like a set on a stage— “circumstances” that the actors have to inhabit, following the lead of the Method. Prop-like objects come and go

Lines are uttered

The protagonists become larger than the filmic script

“High galaxies over a fear of falling” in Arthur Miller’s image.

 

Yearnings and longings

Aspirations and dreams

Women trapped in bad marriages

Carolina and her violent gangster husband

Ginny and her alcoholic husband Humpty

The son Richie setting things on fire

Addicted to a sense of danger and collapse

Blanche’s scream “fire, fire” can be heard very distinctly now

A symptom of the paroxysm of feelings and emotions

Human life on the edge.

Some intuition of the violence done to women: Humpty threatening and tender, tender and threatening, in another move of the wheel turning.

The wheel bringing back Carolina’s past

Snatching her and lifting her out of sight

Again.

Women and love

The watch as the pathetic excess of unrequited infatuation,

The lavish expenditure of passion—felt and lost.

The wheel keeps turning, life goes on:

Stanley Kowalski resumes his poker game

Humpty will go fishing

 

Ginny’s common points with Mary Tyrone and Blanche Dubois:

A Janus-faced personality: beautiful and loving, bitter and cynical

A first love, the quest to retrieve that happiness, an inability to heal

Aloofness and withdrawal

Longing for a past that can no longer be

Lies and conceits

Memories and nostalgia

Addiction

Performing and imagining: escaping

Mary and her wedding-dress

Blanche and her “mardi-gras outfit”

All three haunted by aging and the passing of time.

 

 

The fun party-like atmosphere of Coney Island and the Ferris wheel:

The wonder that carnival and circus bring to our existence.

The glitter and shine.

The gilded space of the American dream

Lifting you up, bringing you high

Until the (inevitable) turn of the wheel brings you right down.

 

Inner dreams and longings beyond food and domesticity

The woman under the work outfit.

A momentary escape

The upcoming storm

A lifeguard that offers no protection

In the end.

A beach and footprints erased by unavoidable waves

Human happiness: fleeting and temporary,

The fragile and vulnerable dimension of any human endeavor.

 

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

 

 

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – TUTORS AND TYROS

First:
A phone conversation with Leo before I could see the movie:
“It is not what SW fans expect
It is doing/starting something else
It is about transmission and the relationships between generations”

Then:
A comment by a friend:
“It is amazingly good”

I was prepared—for the best

And I got the best

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THE SQUARE

THE SQUARE

(Laughter and terror: the grotesque, ie. incongruity, distortion, excess)

The world of the museum of art (its aporia, its boldness—real or fake—its institutional dimension, its business model) as a parable of our contemporary society.
The world of modern art and its uncanny elements used to expose a larger social reality about the human comedy and condition.
A series of scenes where incongruous elements expose hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy

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Blade Runner 2049 (D. Villeneuve, 2017)

Quelques secondes, à peine, après les premières images, et le film nous saisit, avec une intensité rare, dans son ambiance hallucinatoire. La musique spatiale inspirée de Vangelis. Les couleurs. Le ciel uniformément gris et la terre identique. La voiture volante. Le réplicant K.
Quelques secondes, à peine, sans un mot prononcé, quelques secondes, à peine, d’émotion brute, son, images, qui remettent en place le décor. Quelques secondes, à peine, et trente-cinq ans ont passé, avec ce vertige qui n’a cessé de nous hanter et de se démultiplier à l’infini de nos questionnements depuis.

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OF SELF AND OTHERS

VICTORIA AND ABDUL

A friendship. An unlikely one. And, then, likely feelings.
An invitation to revisit the nature of Love.
The fiction of a bond, perhaps, out of the fragments or pieces of real lives.
An accomplished period piece:
Victorian England offered to the viewer’s increasing delight out of brilliant camera work, editing and acting. A feast of colors, textiles and gazes.
Once upon a time:
The timeless and stifled ritual of the royal dinners
The trappings of aristocratic life
The smooth surface of unruffled conventions.
Until a bold eye meets another bold eye
Stirs and agitates life anew beneath the mask of a foreboding of death.
An encounter that insufflates into an existence already engaged in a leave-taking a sense of possibility and wonder.
The poetics of fated meetings: what could have remained a one-second experience extends to encompass years—a curve in a straight course that calls for renegotiations and reorganizations.
In its wake: jealousies and rivalries. Meanness and cruelty. The game of the court when a new card is found, played and tragically discarded.
The players come and go, who will dictate the rules next?

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