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...