07 avril 2010

Wolves are not alone (2)

See previous post on Film Comment's "neo-politique des auteurs."
According to Gavin Smith the only "visionaries, risk-takers, misfits, mavericks" he remembers from back then are : Rossellini, Resnais, Tarkovsky, Brakhage, Oshima.
Rossellini and Oshima aren't film form inventors on the same level as the other three. They are a lot more "mainstream" stylistically, comparatively. Anyway, too many past lone wolves omitted to start listing them here. Let's concentrate on today.

Now (the last 30 years, he says, no less) the "lone wolves" are :
  • Wong Kar-Wai
  • Lucrecia Martel
  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul
  • Jia Zhang-Ke
  • Arnaud Desplechin
  • James Benning
I like this sceptical attitude that questions the originality and the creativity of contemporary auteurs... because too many filmmakers take it easy and pile up the reels textbook-style, whether within the studio system or amongst art-cinema anointed artists. But if you do it wrong, this motivational pressure to innovate falls flat, unfair and oblivious. But... what is Desplechin doing here??? is he what you call "visionary", "risk-taker", "misfit", "maverick"??? compared to what? to Spielberg or John McCain maybe, but not compared to the others on your list... We're on a whole different level of innovation there. I can think of dozens of filmmakers bolder than this guy. In fact let's just name-drop some REAL innovators now.

Apparently, in Rotterdam, mister Smith didn't see Tsai Ming-liang, Luc Moullet, Harmony Korine, Raya Martin... just to name a few lone wolves who attended this one singled out festival. If you go to Rotterdam and come back with a feeling of uniformity, you don't need to visit other more mainstreamized festivals... I don't know, Film Comment should write more about, say, EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA... maybe. Reviewing Zodiac, Wall-E, Public Enemies, Avatar, Fantastic Mr Fox, Up in the Air or The Lovely Bones won't get you there. You're the one giving publicity to the commercial conformism.

He completely forgets to name Abbas Kiarostami, David Lynch, Tarr Béla, Charlie Kaufman, Roy Andersson, Straub-Huillet, Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Tscherkassky, when he expands his reflection to the greatest masters working today on the worldwide scene, for the past 30 YEARS.

You need lone wolves? Here are more lone wolves.
It's hard to think that "art-cinema" is a realm of copycats and followers when you watch the truly original universe and aesthetic of :

Aki Kaurismaki, Kitano Takeshi, Peter Watkins, Lisandro Alonso, Carlos Reygadas, Aleksandr Sokurov, Elia Suleiman, Hadjithomas/Joreige, Emir Kusturica, Kim Ki-duk, Bruno Dumont, Delépine/Kervern, Hong Sang-soo, Jim Jarmusch, Jessica Hausner, Avi Mograbi, Raoul Ruiz, Vincent Gallo, Todd Solondz, Sharunas Bartas, Darejan Omirbaev, Albert Serra, Vincent Dieutre, Philippe Grandrieux, Guy Maddin, [EDIT: added] Lav Diaz, Matthew Barney...

and I'm forgetting a lot more at this moment, I'm sure (because I only go through the current decade from the top of my head, not the last 30 years like he does). But I assume they are not worth mentioning in Film Comment, because they are either not visionary enough to his taste, or just not talented enough to be included in his Best-Of...

There is this illusion of embracing the totality of the universe when you go to a festival. Critics are submerged by an overwhelming batch of fresh films, selected by festival programmers, scrapped up from other festivals left-overs, or passed on from the festival circuit favourite pets... and then they figure they can make grandiloquent statements about the future of cinema, whereas all they see is a line up formatted by a seasonal marketing. The festival marketing of the "art-cinema" scene, of course, not the studios' commercial marketing... but still, the process of selection/elimination creates the same logistical blind spots and tentative florilege.

What is the journalistic purpose to forge this false sense of auteurs scarcity, talent poverty, festivals uniformity??? What sucks is the safe commercial format of film production, upstream, and distribution censorship, downstream. That's what keeps real artists from the eyes of the public. But a critic ought to know better...


Read the full "the critic who cried wolf" saga here : 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

4 commentaires:

HarryTuttle a dit…

It is interesting to note that in the Film Comment "decade" poll top15, they don't even mention Stan Brakhage [nowhere on the top100], Resnais [found at #75], Lucrecia Martel (whose feature length films are all after 2000)[found at #50], Arnaud Desplechin [found at #17] or James Benning [found at #66]...

So on one hand Gavin Smith says he wants more innovators and lone wolves, on the other hand they are not endorsed by the Film comment best of of the last 10 years.

What is the discrepency two issues and 4 months apart? Is it a conflict between Gavin smith's opinion and the pollsters or is it that being a "Gavin Smith's lone wolf" doesn't correspond to being considered "the top best of the best" by the critics polled?

Adrian Mendizabal a dit…

TO ADD: ...Lav Diaz, Brillante Mendoza...

gavin smith needs a lot of watching i think, 2000 aesthetically and historically important films isn't enough i think. He totally forgot Abbas Kiarostami and that is a biggggg fail as a critic to identify the director as a lone wolf, or the most obvious choice, David Lynch, whose works are unique in form. errr... Well, i see mr. smith a bit bored with the contemporary scene nowadays. He missed the old days. I hope he will be better so that his nostalgic sickness will wear off. Admit it, we too experience the same feeling of "I miss the 60s Godard, I miss tarkovsky,i miss ozu, i miss Renoir or Murnau." But as part of the critical community, such feelings must be buried, we have to move on to current trends. However, once in a while recall these auteurs for their contribution to the 'FILM FORM' in general.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Lav Diaz of course! how could I forget that one? ;)

Godard, Takovsky, Ozu and Murnau didn't even get the critically acclaimed cult while they worked (and while they lived for some of them) they have acquired over the years. Renoir might be the exception, and Godard a bit too. But usually critics don't see "masters" when they are in front of their eyes. It takes the distance of history...

HarryTuttle a dit…

On the book "Philippine New Wave : This is not a film movement" :

Chris Fujiwara : “For people who care passionately about an art form, there is always the danger of stopping at a certain historical point and saying, "It's all over, let's think only about the past." Maybe they're tired of the effort of staying contemporary, maybe they've lost the capacity to respond to new ways of perceiving and thinking about their art form, or maybe the potential for their art form to produce important work seems to them to have run out. As far as cinema is concerned, Khavn De La Cruz's anthology offers a powerful rebuke to such defeatism. The book documents the richness of a national film movement, one of the most vigorous and accomplished on the contemporary film scene, that shows no signs of imminent exhaustion. Even if you have never seen any work by the filmmakers represented, if you care about the future of cinema you should read this book.”


Adrian Martin : "Political, urgent, experimental, impulsive, risk-taking, challenging audiences and demanding recognition: this is what the Philippine New Wave is all about. And these mad dogs sure know how to party, too."