29 mai 2012

Global BO 2011 (partial)

source : The Great Slide (Film Comment; March 2012) / Despite The Avengers figures, the American box-office still looks stagnant (Phil Hoad; The Guardian; 8 May 2012) / CNC / OEA 

In red, the box office business earned by American distributors (the 6 majors + the main other smaller distributors). I believe the stat combines the business made by American movies both at home and internationally. 
In black, the domestic box office business for various countries other than the USA.
Understand that these two sets of figures overlap. The blacks are confined to a geographical area (and include some of the title distributed by the American studios). The reds are confined to a given distributor's property (some of its BO is earned in the black columns and other overseas territories).

The red figure on top is the number of films distributed by that studio. For the comparison, I wish I had the number of films distributed by the countries on their national market for 2011. Roughly this number goes between 1500 (India), to 300 for the smaller distribution markets (Malaysia, Russia). So we can appreciate the huge gap between the money a few Hollywood movies make (between 1 and 39 titles for each American studio) and the much lower business made by an entire country (including the dominant share of Hollywood movies on these markets). The 6 major American studios are all bigger in term of business than any full-scale country (about 40% of the BO in Japan comes from the sales of Hollywood imports). And the so-called "indie" studios (which are either a "specialty division" of a major studio or a fun-sized miniature of a Hollywood distibutor) stand on their own along the medium-sized countries. No wonder that the sum of all American studios/distributors coalesce into a Gulliver in Lilliput on a world-wide global market. How could non-American countries compete with Hollywood? One single American studio could take on alone any country (or several of them) on the planet and still win. 

Now for those who wish to champion and protect cultural diversity in the world couldn't do otherwise but to  demolish the isolationist wall in the USA and defend protectionist quotas outside of the USA, for as long as the survival of non-American films (specifically non-English, and non-European) is threatened by the indifferent emotionless hegemony of Hollywood across the world markets.

Number of distributed titles (both national films and foreign imports) on some domestic market  in 2009 or 2010 :
  • India (2009) : 1571
  • Japan (2010) : 716
  • France (2009) : 588
  • USA (2010) : 560
  • Germany  (2009) : 513
  • UK  (2009) : 503
  • Taiwan  (2009) : 431
  • South Korea (2010) : 388
  • Italy  (2009) : 355
  • Singapore  (2009) : 352
  • Australia  (2009) : 349
  • Malaysia  (2009) : 320

Note also on the graph the gap between the major studios and the so-called "indie" distributors in the USA. The vast majority of the movie business on the North-American market (USA+Canada) is ran by the major studios and their blockbusters (56 titles earn over m$500 each). The vast majority of the films made in the USA (550+ titles including imports earn less than m$50 each) are not blockbuster types and only generate an insignificant business in comparison. The American public doesn't support the production of alternative content... it's all about mainstream blockbusters. Mass demand / Mass supply. The "indie" offer is barely marginal, it's not even a substantial niche. There is a standardisation of a uniform taste on an industrial scale. 

Related :

28 mai 2012

Philip Kaufman masterclass (Cannes 2012)

Director of the celebrated film The Right Stuff and the film adaptation of Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Philip Kaufman has been a prominent figure in American cinema since the 1960s. Originally hailing from Chicago, he is now strongly associated with San Francisco where he has lived for the past 50 years.
His body of work includes both independent and studio films – “a wide-ranging body of work that draws on his unique elements of style and philosophy”, explains Annette Insdorf, who has just written a book about him.
Screenwriter (he co-wrote the original story for the script of Raiders of the Lost Ark with George Lucas) and director, Philip Kaufman will be interviewed by Michel Ciment about his work and his films and about developments in American cinema.
Cannes Film Festival 2012 (25th May 2012) 1h10' [Français] [English]

Autres masterclasses :

27 mai 2012

Alain Cavalier (France Culture)

Une semaine avec Alain Cavalier. Hôtel Claret, chambre 310, confidences d’un filmeur
Hors-champ (Laure Adler; France Culture)
Alain Cavalier, lors de la rétrospective qui lui a été consacrée à la Cinémathèque Française (26 avril - 9 mai 2012), a accepté que l’équipe de « Hors-Champs » puisse le rencontrer au début, en cours et à la fin de sa rétrospective.
Il voulait s’assurer par lui-même qu’il était capable pour la première fois de sa vie de voir ses propres films et de voir comment lui réagirait par rapport à son travail et comment les spectateurs réagiraient par rapport à des films qu’il n’a jamais eu le courage de revoir.
Cette série d’émissions est une série de conversations avec différents plans sonores, des confessions et une introspection : filmeur sachant filmer.
1. Alain Cavalier évoque sa méthode de travail (21 mai 2012) 44' [MP3]
2. Le filmeur et la confrérie des filmeurs et le désir de garder une trace  (21 mai 2012) 44' [MP3]
3. Alain Cavalier évoque les autres cinéastes, sa situation d'être sans famille, le son, l'image et l'inconscient (21 mai 2012) 44' [MP3]
4. Alain Cavalier évoque l'influence de la peinture et la littérature sur sa manière de filmer, la musique des mots et la voix (21 mai 2012) 44' [MP3]
5. Alain Cavalier rencontre son public et parle du rapport qu'il entretient avec les nouvelles technologies (21 mai 2012) 44' [MP3]

Projection Privée (Michel Ciment; France Culture) 28 avril 2012 [MP3]
Alain Cavalier au sujet de la rétrospective qui lui est consacrée à la Cinémathèque française du 26 avril au 9 mai 2012.

Conversation avec Alain Cavalier (La cinémathèque française; 26 avril - 9 mai 2012) programme PDF
Inattendue, expérimentale, autobiographique, surprenante, telle est l'inclassable carrière d'Alain Cavalier. Il débute dans les années 60 avec L'Insoumis et Le Combat dans l'île. Il adapte brillamment Sagan (La Chamade). Le Plein de super est un étonnant road movie masculin. Ce répondeur ne prend pas de messages en 1978 est une expérience formelle surprenante où il aborde sa propre vie sentimentale. Thérèse, portrait distancié de Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux est salué quasi unanimement par la critique. Les nouveaux supports du cinéma lui permettent de tenter diverses expériences pointillistes, intimes et biographiques.
Plutôt qu'une « rétrospective », le cinéaste a souhaité présenter sa programmation sous la forme d'une conversation. Au sens littéral du terme : Alain Cavalier n'a accepté cet hommage, qu'à la condition d'être présent chaque jour pour converser avec le public. Être là, à côté de ses films, pour veiller sur eux. À moins que ce ne soit l'inverse : eux qui veillent sur lui. Pari incroyablement excitant. 
Vidéos d'Alain Cavalier filmées sur le vif pour sa rétrospective :

Filmographie d'Alain Cavalier :
  • Pater (2011) 
  • Irène (2009) 
  • Le filmeur (2005) 
  • René (2002)
  • Vies (2000)  
  • La rencontre (1996) 
  • Libera me (1993) 
  • Thérèse (1986) 
  • Un étrange voyage (1981) 
  • Ce répondeur ne prend pas de messages (1979) 
  • Martin et Léa (1979) 
  • Le plein de super (1976) 
  • La chamade (1968) 
  • Mise à sac (1967) 
  • L'insoumis (1964) 
  • Le combat dans l'île (1962)

Voir aussi :

26 mai 2012

Repeat Whiner (Cannes) Season 2 Episode 4

Cannes Roundtable II: On Carax, Resnais, Kiarostami, Lee Daniels, and more (FilmLinc; 25 May 2012)
With : Joumane Chahine (Profil), Stefan Grissemann (Profil), Marco Grosoli (La Furia Umana), Amy Taubin (Film Comment), Gavin Smith (Film Comment), Scott Foundas (Film Comment)

The second part is a little better, but there are still unforgiveable B.S. that professional journalists (let alone critics) should never utter...

Scott Foundas: "People who have been coming to Cannes much longer than I have seem to be saying this Cannes is the most this, or the least this. But this is my ninth or tenth time here, and I’ve rarely felt that one year is so dramatically different from another, and once five or six months go by, you still usually see the major films of the year at Cannes."
He's got a momentary surge of wisdom!

Amy Taubin : "But this is just a terrible Cannes. There are a handful of films that are very good, but I can’t make a list of 10 films that I want to report about. That’s never been the case."
Do you need me to dig up all the garbage you review all year long, when the American distribution system dictates what approved titles you're allowed to talk about? Hypocrit !
"never" I like how definite and assertive she is... never room for nuance. See Foundas's comment above.
Then she speculates on why a film was lined up on this section rather than that section, and based on these allegations blames the festival for not satisfying her dictatorial whims... Yeah sure, Amy's feeling of a perfect festival is what EVERYONE must agree the festival must be like.

So you will only be remotely happy with the achievement of a Cannes selection when 10 out of 10 films on your year-end top10 are from Cannes? Thus, Cannes would have ALL the world's best films, consequently Venice, Berlin, Toronto and all the others would have none, and fill in with below-par material? You need to stop whining like an amnesiac baby at every festivals and start considering the material constraints and limitations of a festival on the festival circuit, in the world industry, on the yearly calendar... incorporating the fact that some masters prefer to premiere at other festivals, or didn't finish their films in time... and of course, the human fallibility of the curatorial team... We don't expect the Cannes team to get it right 100% of the time, not in a world where taste is so diverse and antagonistic! There will always be a whiner to find the "perfect selection" not to his/her taste... Live with it!

Joumane Chahine : "[..] I think Hong Sang-soo is bringing meaninglessness to a new level. People around me seemed to enjoy it but I saw no whimsicality, only emptiness."
Gavin Smith : I feel as if Hong is committing himself to being a minor filmmaker and staying in a narrow field.
Wow. Thanksfully, there are actual critics who disagree with that. Hong Sang-soo is one of the greatest fiction maker working today. The inability to sense the subtlety of his cinema is proof that todays journalists are stuck in the XXth century. La critique de Papa... The problem is not that I disagree with your uninspired taste, dude, it's how disrespectful and condescending is the expression of your misunderstanding of an art form you're unable to grasp.

Scott Foundas : "I agree on the Hong, but I quite like Kiarostami’s In Another Country."
Let's ignore the fact he mismatched Hong's film title with Kiarostami's, and that nobody EDITED this on the website... Oh the irony of the superiority of print journalism editors... But it doesn't matter, American readers don't process whatever is published in the American press, they just swallow undiscriminatively, uncritically... and film writers abuse this blissful complacency by publishing bullshit.
Scott Foundas : "This to me is Reygadas’s Tree of Life or 2001. [..] I don’t think something like Uncle Boonmee is minor—in his way, that’s his Tree of Life or 2001."
Compare Mexican or Thai cinema to American-centric models, the only thinkable model possible... right? why do you have to compare Reygadas to Kubick or Malick's experimental one-off masterpiece? It's not like if Reygadas made conventional films in the past...

Amy Taubin : "I’m suffering from digital depression at this festival—one digital film after another in which there is a total absence of light."
Why don't you fight the digital conversion in your country then? Hollywood pushes for an ALL-DIGITAL by the end of 2012 (and sets the world standards in the industry worldwide, unfortunately), and the ridiculous number of 250 arthouses in the USA will shrink even more because of the Digital conversion necessary investments, instead of building up to a more healthy number. I didn't see Film Comment do ANYTHING, so don't complain all of the sudden when you're outside of your country... this is hypocritical. 
Amy Taubin : "I don’t care about those films either because they’re minor. Do I want to sit through a language of that? I don’t at all."
See roundtable part 1. She's got only one catchphrase... lol

Amy Taubin : "You can take a grand subject and still make a minor film. He’s still a minor filmmaker and he’s only interesting to people who have not grown up with the avant-garde. And that’s what’s happening here. People who have no knowledge of the first avant-garde or even the second avant-garde think these films are fantastically experimental and they aren’t."
Wait. I was agreeing with you when I thought you meant Réalisme Poétique (French Impressionism), Cinéma Pur, Dadaïsm and Surréalism (which were the First and Second Avant Garde of Silent Cinema in the 20ies). But if you believe you've "grown up with the AG"... you obviously mean New American Cinema (Structural-Materialism, Underground) of the 60ies, unless you're 100 years old... So your attempt to be condescending to the new generation of "ignorant" viewers is a fail and comes back biting you in the ass! Silent Impressionism was a better aesthetic reference for this Reygadas film.
Besides, there is nothing wrong with actualizing formal experiments made in the past, with a totally contemporary touch to it. There is really no point to reject a film proposition based on such a superficial aspect. If anything, there isn't enough truly creative formal experiments (ground-breaking or not) in today's cinema.

After bitching about world cinema's more narratively inventive, more formally experimental... they gush blissful praises to the American films in competition... which most of the press agrees are failures and don't deserve to be in competition. So I guess people don't judge films based on merits but based on fanatical irrational patriotism... which is sad. They are unnecessarily nitpicky (petty, superficial, knee-jerk) with world cinema, and overpraising mediocre American movies (again based on superficial whimsical feelings)... this is not film criticism, this is not fairness, this is not impartiality.

Scott Foundas : "I think everything you say is the intention of the film [The Paperboy] —and it was rendered slapdash without any guiding principle of style or tone."
Stefan: "I think it’s all style and no story."
Self-contradictory comment on the SAME film. Either it's all style or no style... Because they don't know what they're talking about, and use words with their own idiosyncratic/contradictory definitions of them.

Joumane Chahine : "No Latin Americans."
WTF? Walter Salles and Carlos Reygadas are in competition. And a dozen others in the parallel sections (Benjamín Ávila; Yulene Olaizola; William Vega; Pablo Stoll Ward; Pablo Larraín; the cuban omnibus; Michel Franco; Pablo Trapero; Juan Andrés Arango, Raul Ruiz; Juliana Rojas, Natalia Garagiola)
See : Les nouveaux noms du cinéma latino-américain (Débats de la Quinzaine 2012)
Marco Grosoli : "Aida Begic’s Children of Sarajevo is a medium but good film. Why not put that in. It seems like a statement to have no women."
Sure! Last year Cannes puts 4 women in competition and gets praised for it. This year, there's none and now the festival has a known agenda to suppress women... Oh the convenience of short-term memory...! Get real dude! Are you a critic who thinks critically or just a fucking pundit out there to spew random talking points to fire up your readership??? Giving opinions about a synopsis is rather easy for anybody to do... But if you want to tackle grand political subjects, make sure to KNOW how CRITICISM works.

Scott Foundas : "Last year there were quite a few women, so it’s quite random. It’s not unique to Cannes. People invent trends or scandals that are quite banal, and it’s a way of avoiding actually engaging with the films and the content. It’s just smoke and hype."
Words of wisdom. I wonder how he wisened up... See Roundtable 1 and The log in the eye of the beholder
Gavin Smith : "Oddly enough, France, which is one of the most sexist countries in the world, has more active female directors than others."
Yeah right. It's up there along Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, China, India, Malaysia... French women can't vote, drive, marry freely or divorce, live alone, wear flesh-revealing clothes, get an education, vote, get a job, hold political offices... LOL Gavin Smith has no clue what female discrimination amounts to in the world, and surely wouldn't pass on an occasion to pull random libel out of his ass... I wonder if the USA is any less culturally sexist than France (which it is, because we live in a patriarchal/fallocrat WORLD, in almost every country as a matter of fact, unfortunately). 
Amy Taubin (follow up): "That’s because of the state support for filmmaking [in France], like in Australia."
Sure smartass. All you have to do is to pour money and women will change overnight from being a suppressed demographic to a creative artist community. As if there was less money available in Hollywood than in the French industry to justify the lower number of prominent female directors... Go tell Alice Guy, Germaine Dulac, Marguerite Duras, Agnès Varda, Claire Denis, Pascale Ferran, Ariane Michel, Catherine Breillat, Julie Bertuccelli, Sandrine Veysset, Zabou Breitman, Agnès Jaoui, Emmanuelle Bercot, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Dominique Cabrera, Catherine Corsini, Julie Delpy, Virginie Despentes, Lola Doillon, Nicole Garcia, Delphine Gleize, Brigitte Roüan, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Jeanne Labrune, Isild Le Besco, Maïwenn, Céline Sciamma, Ounie Lecomte, Noémie Lvovsky, Laetitia Masson, Danièle Thompson Isabelle Mergault, Coline Serreau... that they only got famous because of subsidies and not thanks to their own talents and the feminism of French society. LOL

What a bunch of clueless talking heads! How do they get an accreditation at Cannes is mystery to me... Cannes must be really desperate to get broad press coverage in the USA! That's what I find outrageous in the making of this festival, not whether the yearly film batch is a little better or little worse than the previous year... To each his own priorities.

I don't think it should be this easy for me to make fun of their ignorance, clumsy ideas and uncalled-for insults. Not for people who call themselves "critics". You're a critic when you are able to manage rhetoric to serve grand ideas, not to manipulate your dumb readers and get away with it because you're too lazy or too deceptive to seek truth instead of facile sensationalist controversies... so-called "seasoned reviewers" should aim for higher standards than that.
There are so many ways honest, competent critics can and should debate over contrasted taste, argumentative views, valid opinions... to nurture a rich and profound film discourse about serious things and credible thoughts. That we could do without all the worthless shit that careless pundits put out, like the Fox News of film criticism... disparaging films and critics you disagree with, with total disregard for objective understanding of reality and the limits of decent educated taste...

I don't write these counter-reviews, or meta-criticism, to convince the writers in question, cause they're probably too far up their own asses to even consider being wrong or too proud to accept having to make amends. But I'm writing this in the hope that some people on the interwebs will read this in 100 years and think for themselves whether I am being utterly subjective and gratuitously aggressive or if I'm making sense and pointing at unacceptable mistakes. Maybe a few readers will stop swallowing this shit blindly and take what they find in the press with a grain of salt and not put these journalists on an undeserved pedestal... Only then general culture will improve and useless reviewers will have a harder time getting prominent positions in the institutional press to dumb down the masses. Because, contrary to them, I believe in higher cultural aspirations and higher standards for the film press. 


Débat de la Quinzaine (Cannes 2012)

La parole aux cinéastes (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) 
4 débats présentés par Edouard Waintrop, en présence de cinéastes de la sélection, de cinéastes français de la SRF et de nombreux autres invités. Ouverts au public, sur le parvis de la Malmaison.
Tout au long de son histoire, et aujourd’hui plus que jamais, la Quinzaine des Réalisateurs a été et demeure à Cannes un lieu de découvertes, d’expérimentations, d’échanges et de rencontres entre les artistes, les professionnels, et les cinéphiles.
Notre projet s'inscrit dans une volonté de remettre l'auteur au centre des débats, de réinventer la Quinzaine comme un lieu d'échange et de convivialité, mais aussi de pérenniser et de développer les rencontres entre tous les réalisateurs, qu’ils soient sélectionnés à la Quinzaine, ou dans une autre section.
Les auteurs des films sélectionnés seront accueillis par des réalisateurs confirmés (en 2012, Christophe Blanc, Eric Guirado, Pierre Salvadori et Pierre Schoeller) tout au long de leur passage à la Quinzaine. Chaque cinéaste accueillera les réalisateurs et les accompagnera lors des différentes étapes de la présentation du film à la Quinzaine.
Ces orientations se matérialisent également à travers des débats, articulés autour de plusieurs films de la sélection ; les auteurs seront conviés à développer certaines problématiques en compagnie d’un critique et de leurs hôtes cinéastes.

Le cinéma des pays arabe aujourd'hui 
(20 mai 2012) audio 57' [MOV] FRANÇAIS
Avec : Merzak Allouach (Algérie), Yousri Nasrallah (Egypte) et Nabil Ayouch (Maroc)
Les invités ont parlé des défis du cinéma arabe dans un contexte de changements sociaux et politiques. Ils ont décrit les difficultés qu'ils rencontrent dans leur pays pour produire et diffuser leurs films.
Ils ont souligné la vitalité d'une jeunesse qui invente des moyens alternatifs de faire et de montrer des films. Tous trois ont insisté sur l'importance de défendre une place pour la liberté de création face aux interdits institutionnels et moraux et à l'émergence d'un nouveau pôle de financement du cinéma arabe dans les pays du Golfe.
Autres interviews vidéo à voir :

* * *

Les nouveaux noms du cinéma latino-américain
(21 mai 2012) audio 1h03'39" [M4A] ESPAÑOL+FRANÇAIS
Avec : Benjamín Ávila (réalisateur d'Infancia clandestina), Yulene Olaizola (réalisatrice de Fogo), William Vega (réalisateur de La Sirga), Pablo Stoll Ward (réalisateur de 3), Pablo Larraín (réalisateur de No), Christophe Blanc (SRF) et John Hopewell (Variety)

Autres interviews vidéo à voir :

* * *

Nouvelles audaces du cinéma français
(22 mai 2012) audio 51' [MOV]
Avec : Rachid Djaïdani (réalisateur de Rengaine), Elie Wajeman (réalisateur d’Alyah), Eric Guirado (SRF), Boyd Van Hoeij (Variety) et Catherine Corsini (SRF)

Autres interviews vidéo à voir :

 * * *

Multiplicités des cinémas indiens - Bollywood : l’arbre qui cache la forêt?
(23 mai 2012) audio 41'43" (25min manquent au début) [M4A] ENGLISH+FRANÇAIS
Avec : Anurag Kashyap (réalisateur de Gangs of Wasseypur), Pierre Salvadori (SRF), Hubert Niogret, (critique et producteur), Patrick Frater (Film Business Asia), Sunil Doshi (producteur), Sudhir Mishra (scénariste, réalisateur)

Autres interviews vidéo à voir :

* * *

Autres interviews :
  • Leçon de cinéma de Nuri Bilge Ceylan [ extrait vidéo 4'47" ] Prix du Carosse d'Or 

Voir aussi :

24 mai 2012

Repeat Whiner (Cannes) Season 2 Episode 3

Cannes English-language Roundtable (23 May 2012): Amy Taubin (Film Comment), Gavin Smith (Film Comment), Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter), Scott Foundas (Film Comment) :

Gavin Smith : "I wasn’t in the Lumière, but was there a standing ovation at the end of the Michael Haneke press screening? [..]  I mean, was there a lot of applause?"
Yeah, Cannes is all about the standing ovations... LOL That's the kind of trivial detail shallow people remember of important events. If the film is shown at an eldery retirement home, or to paralytics, will you tell your friends the film sucked because nobody stood up for 20 minutes to applaud it? It's all about showing off and appearances...

Todd McCarthy : "Because you have to say it was a downer film. It wasn’t one of those exhilarated “whoopee”–type screenings."
"downer" and "whoopee" is the vocabulary of a film critic talking about films selected at the most prestigious festival in the world? wow you must feel so much superior to cinema's best... Maybe you can print this in THR about fucking Hollywood flicks... but you could show a bit of respect and deference for proper films made by people who care for their work (informal conversation or not).

Scott Foundas : "if this movie [Matteo Garrone's Reality] had just shown up here and it wasn’t this film that Matteo Garrone had made right after Gomorrah, and it wasn’t shown in the official competition, people would like it a lot more. [..]"
Gavin Smith : "You’re basically saying that it suffers from the burden of expectation, which always seems to apply in Cannes when somebody’s had a big success."
Guilt by association. You realise that most of the "problems" with Cannes are what the public brings in, right? An actual critic should be able to ignore the pre-screening gossips and concentrate on judging the work on its in-film merits. What's all this B.S. talk? Not only you play the expectation/anticipation game like the random moviegoer, but it becomes an evidence to demolish a film now? WTF?
Yes films in competition are judged more harshly, that's the point of a competition! that's the price to pay to get the privileged platform, as opposed to "off-competition" or screening else where in the world.

Scott Foundas : "I think it’s sometimes easy to take those guys for granted a little bit and not take them as seriously as some of the more capital-A Auteurs."
I hope you're not one of the whiners who complain that Cannes only invite the same Auteurs over and over then... What do you want in Cannes, quality auteurs or new faces? Fucking flip-floppers who use whatever talking-point is more convenient to always have something to whine about in every context! And never put forth a stance because they believe in it and held a coherent history supporting that stance for ever. 

Amy Taubin : "That doesn’t mean I thought it [Reality] was good, or that I wanted to be sitting there for the length of it, which I certainly didn’t."
Nevermind your job is to attend EVERY screening you're supposed to cover, back-to-back, regardless for its quality... because you're a fucking REVIEWER, not a self-indulgent moviegoer! But thanks for sharing this incredibly banal (consumer-grade) thought... is that how articulate is a reviewer compare to anyone else? If you had given a few thought to the responsibility of your job, you would never utter such B.S. in public, much less when it's recorded for later publication... Fucking pathetic. See Slow films, easy life (Sight&Sound) 

Amy Taubin : "And it [Beasts of the Southern Wild] had a standing ovation in a mixed screening. Press was there, students were there—the students loved it—and normal people, whoever they are, were there, so it was that kind of mixed thing, and it was fantastic."
Aspiration for the average... She goes to an elite festival (specialized in showing challenging art-oriented non-commercial films that have a hard time getting distributed in the world in general and in the USA in particular) and what she looks for is the populist confirmation of the all-sorts crowd... You can stay in Sundance if you only care for feel-good movies!

Todd McCarthy : "It’s one of the most deliberately vulgar and unattractive casts that’s ever been assembled. No doubt, absolutely on purpose."
WTF? This is just plain insulting. Even for a mere spectacle consumer it would be libelous. But for a "critic", this is embarassingly unprofessional. Some people don't even filter random ideas popping up in their head... You'd think a "trained reviewer" would know better...
Gavin Smith : "Fair enough, but basically what that means is that Michael Haneke refuses to leave his comfort zone as a filmmaker, and I think that it’s really time that he did that. [..] Well, that’s not what I mean by comfort zone. What I mean is that Michael Haneke is very comfortable making films in a certain milieu. This film was fine in that milieu. In effect, I came full circle and I wasn’t questioning it, but I do think that going forward in his career he needs to look elsewhere. [..] I do think that Ken Loach should start making films about other classes of people in England."
I'm glad there was someone to speak up against such B.S.
Amy Taubin, Todd McCarthy and Scott Foundas dare to stand up to their editor and pound some sense into him. See Comfort Zone in Contra-Contrarianism (IFFR) 4 
One mentions the suicide of Haneke's aunt, another his family of musicians, and Gavin Smith mischaracterizes as a mere "comfort zone" what is the basic autobiographical input any writer, any artist, any filmmaker uses to nourish his/her fictional stories. Total "authorism" fail. You don't have to abid to the Auteur Theory to know that an author uses personal life experiences first and foremost, whether it ends up obvious or in a concealed/criptic way. Besides it's not a reviewer's prerogative to decide the content chosen by an author. And we only appreciate the diversity of themes, social classes, milieux, historical periods on a comprehensive scale encompassing all authors of a certain country or globally worldwide. You can't blame one given author for not making a film about that theme you want, or for repeating familiar themes. The community of films balance out eachothers. One completes the lacks of others and vice-versa, in terms of representative diversity.
You may examine the content, contextualize, criticize it, but if you reject it altogether (as if someone wasn't allowed to make a film about that, or had made too many films that way) you cross the line of critical duty and step down into the average consumer selfish demands. In Hollywood, studios supply whatever the audience asks for. But in real life, filmmakers make films because they have something to say, from within, not to pander to a potential audience, or petty reviewers...

That's a lot of bullshit that refuses to die out... Until USA deals with film culture education, American reviewers will remain this shallow, petty and whining like babies until they get what they want, exactly the way they asked for, and right now.

But wait, this isn't over. In the same roundtable, Gavin Smith makes a 180° turn and start defending the "comfort zone" of Beyond the Hills, after Scott Foundas blamed Romanian directors for sticking to their "New Wave" comfort zone and Amy Taubin complained about The Hunt  :
Gavin Smith : "On the contrary, I couldn’t disagree with you more [Beyond The Hills]. There’s a small core of filmmakers in Romania who are making most of the important films, and all of these films enter into an intense dialogue with each other from film to film, and I think that’s fascinating. There’s not enough of that going on in the world, it seems to me. [..] You had a visceral reaction to just having that story retold [The Hunt]. It’s not a new story. There’s nothing new in this film."
B.S. ! Reviewers who just throw random disorganised ideas don't mind for long term coherence of a consistent line.
Finally, everyone agrees about the evil of the "comfort zone" when it comes to Hong Sang-soo. WTF? They have no clue what they are talking about, and are not qualified to talk about artfilms. And then :
Scott Foundas : "Yes, one of the great body filmmakers. David Cronenberg, a guy whose whole career has been about body horror." 
So is it a "comfort zone" to be identified as the "filmmaker of body horror" or is it something to be praised for? I think you need to sort yourself out before coming up with contradictory bullshit theories about what art should or should not be...

Todd McCarthy : "There were bold aspects to it [De rouille et d'os], too, but the very same story, treated a different way, could have been a very conventional, middle-of-the-road Hollywood movie. So in that sense it wasn’t as exciting as some other works of his. But I thought it was a very good film, quite credible—fine."
Hypothetical straw man! Yeah, if you tweak this and that, and take out all the good elements, the great performances, the skills, the inspiration, the style... you end up with crap. Oh really? That was a very informative statement. If you cared about the Hollywood sub-standard formulaic stories, maybe you'd be a bit more vocal about the absence of artfilms in your country dude! And it's not about WHAT you film (it could be the most banal or cliché story) but HOW a filmmaker translates it, what he does with it.

Scott Foundas : "I could have counted down to the minute that shot was going to cut to black. I found it very mannered, very self-conscious. [..] And then when the camera started to track, I thought, OK, we’ve got about 30 seconds until it’s going to cut off on a shot of just these two guys, everyone else framed out, and a conversation that doesn’t have anything to do with the movie."
LOL. Yeah dude, being able to predict cuts to the second makes you a better "critic"... Brag away! Is this film criticism or weather forecast???

Amy Taubin : "I think the Vinterberg is a terrible film. I think it’s dumb. I can’t even talk about why it’s terrible."
Then don't speak up! Wow you don't need to be an employed reviewer to utter such useless shit...

Scott Foundas : "The only thing I want to say beyond what we’ve talked about is that people are always hot to talk about trends in Cannes, and I feel like trends are usually the invention of — [..] Magazine editors and people who are looking for some kind of an angle rather than just talking about the films. So I’m glad we mostly talked about the films. But, really culminating with the Haneke this morning, I have been struck by the intense physical quality of the films here in the competition. [..] This has really struck me as being a throughline through the films. The films themselves are quite visceral. [..] Also, I never buy the idea that there’s any theory to the programming of the festival. In Cannes, so much of how films are scheduled is about talent availability"
LOL. He's glad the conversation didn't fall into the topoi of Cannes coverage, BUT he makes sure to drag it there himself now. Yeah let's find a simplifying talking point to sum up the overall flavour of the competition, so we have something easy for our readers to digest, and we can later accuse some films for not respecting the annual trend or conversely to blame the festival for being a cardboard caricature of itself. Finally he declares that what he just said didn't make sense.

I notice that except for the cinematography in particular scenes (an opening scene in a bad film...), what they talk about is whether they like the subject matter chosen by the author, about the actors performances and plot points... And then they heckle the director, virtually screaming at the screen in their head. They argue with what is realist, how social behaviours should be in real life... as if these fictions were documentaries. That's a bit disappointing for art critics. They don't really talk about CINEMA, about the art of filmmaking, about depth and inspiration. That's what distinguishes the critics from reviewers, or "the men from the boys" (no offense intended to feminists, it's the saying).
I know it's only a stream-of-consciousness conversation, before the end of the festival... Fine. But these are seasoned reviewers... shouldn't we expect higher-standards from their "first impressions", just like they expect such "high standards" from this festival? Their nitpicking would be more credible if they held themselves to the same level of critical standards...

They are disappointed by these films... well, I'm disappointed by the level of their discourse.

Related :

22 mai 2012

Editorial for dummies

Cahiers editorial by Stéphane Delorme (Mai 2012) :
Faire une revue de cinéma n’est pas très éloigné du travail de programmateur. [..]
Défendre cinq ou six films par semaine, comme le font les quotidiens et les hebdomadaires, revient à annuler ce travail de programmation. Les films sont tous dans le même tas, tout se vaut. On se demande bien comment un lecteur peut s’y retrouver ! La mission de la critique est au contraire de choisir, de trancher, de conseiller ce qu’il faut voir en premier, ce qu’il ne faut pas rater. On vit un étrange moment, où à la peur de perdre de l’espace dans la presse (il faut bien justifier le nombre de pages pour sauver les pages cinéma) s’ajoute la peur de perdre le large public (il faut donc aimer les gros films) et la peur de « tuer » les petits films (qu’il faut forcément défendre…). La situation depuis le début de l’année devient dramatique : on a le sentiment que, sauf navet, tous les films sont défendus. Les Cahiers, par contraste, paraissent bien sévères. Cinq ou six films aimés par mois ! [..]
Le privilège du mensuel est d’arriver en premier sur les films et de proposer donc la première programmation. [..] Trop de films sortent, la situation devient absurde. À l’heure où les films restent deux semaines à l’affiche, il faut que la critique frappe fort et juste et assume son rôle de guide. Sinon les films importants ne seront pas vus. [..]
Cette politique, puisque c’en est une, va de pair, aux Cahiers, depuis trois ans, avec le refus de suivre la loi perverse de « faire écrire celui qui aime le plus le film ». La générosité excessive de cet axiome fait que, sauf navet, on trouve toujours quelqu’un ! Aujourd’hui, le rédacteur en chef décide, après discussion de la rédaction sur les films, comment ceux-ci seront « traités » et programmés dans la revue. Lorsqu’un film divise (comme le Hong Sang-soo d’ailleurs ce mois-ci), il faut trancher. Et s’il n’y a pas de film, il n’y en a pas. [..]
Editors at Film Comment ("We will put every films in a random top10, one way or another") and Sight and Sound ("EVERY film of month reviewed") should read this and learn what is the role of the editor of a niche film magazine! (Maybe that's why Cahiers publishes online its editorial every month, and these other two English-languages magazines don't, because they aren't proud of them)
And Cahiers is a niche magazine in a country where the market is NOT dominated by Hollywood products at a level of 80 to 95%... 

Now,  I don't necessarily agree with Delorme's position for the month of may, but the principle he highlights is undeniable when you want to generate high standards in film culture and higher aspirations for your readers.
I even welcome his discarding of the old "Cahiers tradition" to let the one who likes the film the most write up the blissfully blind positive review. Because this isn't criticism, it's more like turning film reviewing into a subservient branch of film marketing.

The cliché is that the weeks before Cannes, the distribution is lackluster because all the critics are in Cannes. Is it always true?
I agree with singling out Hong Sang-soo's The Day He Arrives, which is of course one of the best film of the year (or last year in première timeline). But there are others, enough to fill up the highlight pages of a monthly magazine.

Notable titles for May 2012 distribution in France (from a total of 58 films) :
  • The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-soo)
  • Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
  • Barbara (Christian Petzold)
  • Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo)
  • 11 flowers (Wang Xiaoshuai)
  • Walk away Renée (Jonathan Caouette)
  • La Rizière (Xiaoling Zhu)

Lire aussi :

21 mai 2012

Female Glass Ceiling in Hollywood (CUFF)

9 May 2012 (15 May 2012) 1h18'
HIDDEN PIONEERS: WOMEN IN THE FILM INDUSTRY As part of the 25th Columbia University Film Festival at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, filmmakers Lisa Cholodenko ("The Kids Are All Right"), Nicole Holofcener ("Please Give"), Shari Springer Berman ("American Splendor") and Cherien Dabis ("Amreeka") sat down together for a panel about women in the film industry moderated by Columbia professor and filmmaker Bette Gordon.
On May 9, as part of the 25th Columbia University Film Festival held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, a panel came together to discuss the disparity between the number of films being made by women today and the number of women graduating from film school. Only five percent of films today are made by women (10 percent of screenplays written by women), yet women make up 50 percent of U.S. film schools (and more than 50 percent at Columbia). Women are slightly more represented in the Indie film movement, but a large disparity remains.


19 mai 2012

Jean Douchet fait son cinéma

Laure Adler présente Jean Douchet fait son cinéma 
(Hors champs; France Culture)
Jean Douchet, l’un des plus grands passeurs de l’Histoire du cinéma a accepté de nous livrer ses manières de voir un film et d’expliquer les raisons pour lesquelles le cinéma est un art qui met en branle l’imaginaire du spectateur en faisant appel à son esprit de rêverie et à son sens de la beauté.
Co-fondateur des Cahiers du cinéma,  Jean Douchet, ami de Rivette, Godard, Rohmer, est aussi réalisateur et acteur dans de nombreux films de jeunes cinéastes dont il a éveillé la vocation. Socrate de la Cinémathèque de Langlois puis de la rue d' Ulm, il est aussi en ce moment même professeur à la Cinémathèque où il vaut mieux arriver très en avance pour pouvoir l’écouter tant son esprit critique, sa profondeur d'argumentation et son éloge du désir et du plaisir font des émules auprès des jeunes de vingt ans, nos futurs cinéastes.

  1. Ma vie mes films et Jean Luc Godard (14 mai 2012) 44'  [MP3]
  2. Que signifie être acteur ? (15 mai 2012) 44'  [MP3]
    Conversation avec Bulle Ogier 
  3. Comment on devient cinéaste et comment le demeurer ? (16 mai 2012) 44'  [MP3]
    Avec Benoit Jacquot
  4. Réel et imaginaire, le hors-champ, la 3D, une catastrophe pour le cinéma (17 mai 2012) 44' [MP3]
    avec Jean-Louis Comolli 
  5. Voir un film c’est vivre sa vie et imaginer celles des autres (18 mai 2012) 44' [MP3]

Filmographie citée :
  • La salamandre (1971/Alain Tanner)
  • Les adieux à la reine (2012/Benoît Jacquot)
  • Les faux-monnayeurs (Benoît Jacquot)
  • Au fond des bois (Benoît Jacquot)
  • Werther (Benoît Jacquot)
  • Le Cinéma Comolli (2011/Jean-Louis Comolli) DOC

Bibliographie :
  • La DVDéothèque de Jean Douchet (Jean Douchet; 2006)
  • Nouvelle vague (Jean Douchet; 2004)
  • L'art d'aimer (Jean Douchet; 2003)
  • Corps et cadre : cinéma, éthique, politique (Jean-Louis Comolli; 2012)
  • Cinéma contre spectacle (Jean-Louis Comolli; 2009)
  • Voir et pouvoir - L'innocence perdue : cinéma, télévision, fiction, documentaire (Jean-Louis Comolli; 2004)

* * *

Ciné club de Jean Douchet :

Voir aussi :

18 mai 2012

Ciné nostalgie (France Culture)

1. Paris mis en scène
Un documentaire de Simone Douek et Jean-Claude Loiseau - Rediffusion de l'émission Les Mardis du cinéma du 27 septembre 1988 (54') MP3
Si vous aimez Paris, allez au cinéma... Depuis la naissance du 7ème art, Paris est liée au cinéma. D'abord parce que c'est la ville où s'est très vite implantée cette industrie ; ensuite parce qu'elle fut une toile de fond pratique pour nombre de films et que les poursuites de Fantomas et de Judex sur ses toits devinrent de belles rêveries ; enfin parce qu'elle finit par enserrer dans ses paysages l'action et les héros des films, devenant elle-même un personnage important… Paris réelle, Paris recréée par le décor, Paris rêvée, l'évolution de ses rôles depuis le cinéma des années 30 jusqu'aux images contemporaines de la banlieue, en passant par la Nouvelle Vague.
Avec :
  • Gilles Nadeau, réalisateur
  • Jean Douchet, cinéaste
  • Max Douy, chef décorateur
  • Henri Alkan, chef opérateur
  • Catherine Gamard, assistante de réalisation
  • Mehdi Charef, cinéaste

* * *

2. Les bords de Marne – Silence, on tourne. Silence, on coule : les studios de Joinville
Un documentaire de Françoise Séloron et Mehdi El Hadj - Rediffusion de l'émission Les Nuits magnétiques du 3 novembre 1989 (54') MP3
Flash-back nostalgique en 1989 dans les studios alors en démolition de Joinville. Sont évoqués avec des décorateurs, des chefs opérateurs et des comédiens les souvenirs professionnels liés aux grandes heures des studios dans les années 1930 et 1940. Dernières évocations des décors dans les films tournés en Studio, des différents ateliers et magasins qu'on trouvait sur place à sa grande époque - réparation de véhicules, fabrication de grues et travellings, trucages, costumes...
Des anecdotes émouvantes émaillées d’extraits de films tournés sur place : « L'affaire est dans le sac » de Pierre et Jacques Prévert en 1932, « La belle équipe » de Jean Duvivier en 1936, et « Drôle de drame » de Marcel Carné en 1937.
Avec, notamment, les photographes Patrick Bard et Willy Ronis, le décorateur Max Douy et le chansonnier Roger Pierre.

* * *

3. Les salles de cinéma – Lieux de culte
Un documentaire de Jacques Kermabon et Yvon Croizier - Rediffusion de l'émission Les Nuits magnétiques du 19 mai 1989 (54') MP3
Témoignages de passionnés des salles obscures : le réalisateur Jean-Jacques Beneix pense que chaque nouveau complexe immobilier devrait contenir plusieurs salles de cinéma. Le cinéaste  se réjouit du succès des grandes salles parisiennes (Le Grand Rex, le Max Linder). Pour lui, le cinéma doit sortir du réel et du quotidien (qui est le propre de la télévision) pour produire des grands spectacles qui font rêver et donnent envie aux spectateurs de se déplacer.
A contrario, le journaliste Jean-Luc Douin détaille l'enquête de Télérama parue en 1989 sur la désaffection du public de cinéma : prix des places, mauvais accueil, inconfort, mauvaise qualité de projection, afflux de publicité. Georges Rouleau, propriétaire de la petite salle le Studio 28 dans le 18ème arrondissement de Paris, fait la synthèse : chez lui , les "stars" y laissent leurs empreintes dans le ciment comme à Hollywood et pendant une semaine la programmation est laissée aux spectateurs fidèles de sa salle !
Avec, notamment, Jean-Jacques Beneix, Jean-Luc Douin, Brigitte Aquenin du cinéma Max Linder, George Rouleau du Studio 28.

Extraits de films :
  • « Roselyne et les lions » de Jean-Jacques Beneix (1989)
  • «  A star is born » de George Cukor (1954)
  • « La traversée de Paris » de Claude Autant-Lara (1956)

Voir aussi :

17 mai 2012

Art of Argument

Carol Tavris (Social psychologist and author) video 30'51"
TAM 14-17 July 2011 Las Vegas 

Hahaha. This is the history of the widdening, entrenched rift between anti-intellectuals and intellectuals ! LMAO

People who cannot fathom they ever be wrong speak confidently the most ridiculous bullshit, and when they're asked to revise their judgement and aspire to higher standard, they cling to conservative values and start rejecting anyone disagreeing with them, in complete denial of being in error. Rather than admitting to being wrong once, they unconsciously (in the best case) repress this process of redemption and reparation to indulge in their wrongdoings, self-justifying everything necessary to keep a straight face and carry on pretending they're right and everyone else is out to persecute them, while all it takes is to correct oneself, be grateful for learning something new and move on to a more enlightened life. 

This is especially true for people who hold important offices, like newspapers editors, leading journalists, famous critics, scholars... They prefer to surround themselves with yes-men who agree to anything they say and pat them on the back all day long (what's an "intellectual" without a good ego-massage?), rather than having to publish a correction that would put a dent on their shiny armor, and virtually question their legitimacy for being there in the first place. Futher down the line, they evolve to adopt trivial errors and defend them with aggressive energy, making a passing comment (which they didn't care enough for to think it through properly) become the unassailable core of their belief. From then on, it's impossible to discuss anything rational with them. They've become totally immune to reality, fact-checking, science, statistics, books, reasoning and philosophy. That's the price to pay for being overtly proud once (saving face for the occasion) and failing to seek truth instead.

Intellectuals we could look up to are ones who have the humility to accept corrections, suggestions, recommendations and don't feel insulted (or like their world is shattered by it). Casually striding along their merry intellectual ways by acknowledging mistakes is part of the learning curve and makes you stronger.
Justifying your mistakes wins you a verbal joust (in appearance, if at all) on the short term, but makes you weaker on the long run. 

I feel sorry that the ones in the wrong have no sense of humour or self-derision to deal with confrontational arguments more casually. As Carol Tavris says, you have to treat people who make mistakes with special attentions to the point where you have to apologize for pointing out to a mistake or concede that their bullshit may not be entirely deceptive... And this happens at the highest levels of society, in politics (political debates), in religious factions, in scientific arguments, as well as film criticism of course. Oh! the unwavering self-righteousness of those in the wrong. 

Handle stupidity with respect and devotion, or else... they throw a fit and threaten to refuse to welcome corrections. Very mature. Is that what we've come down to? Treating like precious divas the people who corrupt culture and constantly degrade the level of intellectual discourse, otherwise stupidity wins and we're not allowed to win an argument. Riiiiiight. Babies must have their ways. Always. That's very mature. Idiots have the easy life I see, and nobody cares for the damage they do to reason and culture. This is the evil of blissful "Positive Thinking", where everything must be positivized, where any position (even the ones proven wrong or the offensive ones or the self-contradictions) can be justified by any means necessary, and should be respected for that. Where "Freedom of expression" becomes "Legitimacy of non-sense". Sorry, but that's not the same thing. You're allowed to EXPRESS everything you like, but it doesn't mean that whatever you say IS RIGHT. Some positions are debatable amongst intellectually honest people, as a matter of taste disagreement or in the case of multiple compossibles. BUT. There is also such a thing as a universally recognized error that anyone intending to participate to an intelligent debate can agree on. And these are position that no-one may duck behind.


16 mai 2012

Paris et la comédie sophistiquée (Cerisuelo)

Par-delà certains clichés et stéréotypes (l’amour, la mode, le “bien vivre”), la représentation de Paris dans les films hollywoodiens a permis à certains grands cinéastes d’illustrer à son firmament une espèce bien spécifique du genre comique : la comédie dite “sophistiquée”. Si les films qui la composent se déroulent presque toujours sur le Vieux Continent – et le plus souvent à Paris –, elle est aussi le fait d’Européens transplantés à Hollywood très tôt dans leur carrière. En suivant à la trace les aventures parisiennes du Londonien Chaplin, du Berlinois Lubitsch et du Viennois Wilder, nous tâcherons de saisir à sa racine ce si délectable transfert culturel offert par le 7e art. Marc Cerisuelo
Marc Cerisuelo est professeur à l’université d’Aix-Marseille. Il a consacré de nombreux articles et ouvrages au cinéma hollywoodien classique. Il vient de publier “Fondus enchaînés. Essais de poétique du cinéma” (Éd. du Seuil).

12 mai 2012

Cinéma de l'Union Soviétique 1922-1991

Joël Chapron est venu à l'Institut Lumière pour nous parler de cinéma soviétique 
3 mai 2012 (Institut Lumière; Lyon, France) 1h10' 

Voir aussi :

10 mai 2012

Kant et la faculté de juger

1. Vitalisme, mécanisme... organisme ? (7 mai 2012) 50' [MP3]
Adèle Van Reeth reçoit Philippe Huneman (chargé de recherches à l'Institut d'histoire et de philosophie des sciences et des techniques, CNRS / Université Paris I Sorbonne) à propos de la notion d'organisme dans la Critique de la faculté de juger de Kant

2. Qu'est-ce qu'un jugement de goût ? (8 mai 2012) 50' [MP3]
Adèle Van Reeth reçoit Luc Ferry pour interroger le concept de jugement de goût chez Kant.

3. Les Idées esthétiques (9 mai 2012) 50' [MP3]
Adèle Van Reeth reçoit Jacques Darriulat ( professeur de philosophie de l'art à la Sorbonne) pour évoquer les Idées esthétiques chez Kant.

4. De l'esthétique à la morale (10 mai 2012) 50' [MP3]
Adèle Van Reeth reçoit Michael Foessel (maître de conférences en philosophie à l'Université de Bourgogne à Dijon) pour décrypter le passage de l'esthétique à la morale dans la Critique de la faculté de juger

  • Kant, Critique de la faculté de juger, traduction d'Alain Renaut, Partie II "Critique de la faculté de juger téléologique"
  • Métaphysique et biologie : Kant et la constitution du concept d'organisme (Philippe Huneman; 2008)
  • Hume, Essais esthétiques, "De la norme du goût", traduction de Philippe Folliot
  • Art (pièce de Yasmina Reza, 1994) avec Fabrice Luchini, Pierre Vaneck et Pierre Arditi
  • Homo aestheticus : l'invention du goût à l'âge démocratique (Luc Ferry; 2006)
  • Le Sens du beau : Aux origines de la culture contemporaine (Luc Ferry; 2000)
  • Humain trop humain, I, chap.4; Nietzsche
  • La privation de l'intime : mises en scène politiques des sentiments (Michaël Foessel; 2008) 

Lire aussi :

09 mai 2012

Hollywoodized Paris (de Baecque)

Pourquoi Hollywood a-t-il investi, en près d’un siècle, tant de moyens pour enregistrer, ou plutôt fabriquer, du Paris par centaines de films ? Comme si ces deux capitales du cinéma étaient condamnées à esquisser ce pas de deux prolongé, ininterrompu, un flirt irrépressible, afi n de mettre en scène un typically Paris de manière artificielle, spectaculaire, affichée, parfois presque provocatrice. Il faut donc regarder de près le cliché hollywoodien de Paris : il renvoie moins à la ville elle-même qu’à une pulsion (désirante, culturelle, économique) projetée par sa fabrication. Autrement dit : Paris parle plus du désir américain que de la capitale française. C’est ainsi qu’on prendra le cliché à son propre piège, en révélateur cinématographique d’inconscient. Antoine de Baecque
Historien, critique de cinéma et journaliste, Antoine de Baecque est l’auteur d’un grand nombre de livres consacrés au cinéma. Il est commissaire de l’exposition “Paris vu par Hollywood” qui se tiendra à l’Hôtel de Ville (du 25/09/2012 au 16/01/2013).

Related :

04 mai 2012

Repeat Whiner (Koehler) Season 2 Episode 2

The log in the eye of the beholder
"Thursday’s announcement of the official selection for the upcoming Cannes Film Festival marks status quo in one area (the number of veteran auteurs in the competition) and a shift in another (a decline in the number of women in the lineup).
The lineup of 55 new films that will screen at the festival tends to reinforce the perception that the official selection side of the event—that which takes place in the beach town’s hulking Palais complex and is selected by artistic director Thierry Fremaux—is less the site of discoveries than where the established find reinforcement for their reputations. More open fields for discoveries can be expected, as is the Cannes pattern, over at the parallel, independent sections of Directors Fortnight and Critics Week [..]
In all of this, please note who’s missing: Women.
My colleague Eugene Hernandez compiled a tally of the number of women in the Cannes competition in recent years, and though the average is a bit over two names per year, the number in 2011 shot up dramatically to four, setting off headlines about Cannes’ year of the woman [..]"

Cannes 2012: Old Boys’ Network, in Status Quo (Robert Koehler; Film Comment; 22 April 2012)
How cute, pseudo-journalists who pretend to care for women's right and for newcomers by rehashing the same old mindless clichés plastered in the press EVERY fucking year before the festival even starts... How original!
Do they really CARE? Or is it just an opportunist posture to join the usual Cannes free bashing? Let's find out in their Year-End Top10 :

Robert Koehler top2011 (100% MALE / 30% VETERAN) he picks a male veteran as Best Director (Weerasethakul)
  1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives MALE / VETERAN (Cannes2011)
  2. Mysteries of Lisbon MALE  / VETERAN (TIFF2010) 
  3. Agrarian Utopia MALE (Rotterdam2009)
  4. Margaret MALE 
  5. To Die Like a Man MALE (Cannes2009)
  6. Extraordinary Stories MALE 
  7. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu MALE (Cannes2010)
  8. Take Shelter MALE (Sundance2011+Cannes2011)
  9. Poetry MALE  / VETERAN (Cannes2011)
  10. The Mouth of the Wolf MALE (Turin2009+Berlin2010) 

Eugene Hernandez top2011 (100% MALE / 50% VETERAN) he picks a male veteran as Best Director (Malick)
  1. The Tree of Life MALE  / VETERAN (Cannes2011) 
  2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives MALE  / VETERAN (Cannes 2011)
  3. Mysteries of Lisbon MALE  / VETERAN  (TIFF2010) 
  4. Le quattro volte MALE (Cannes2010) 
  5. Hell and Back Again MALE (Sundance2011) 
  6. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 MALE (Berlin2011)
  7. Melancholia MALE  / VETERAN (Cannes2011)
  8. A Separation MALE  / VETERAN (Berlin2011) 
  9. Incendies MALE (Telluride2010) 
  10. Moneyball MALE (TIFF2011) 

Film Comment's Top 100 Films of the Decade 2000s (91% MALE)

Women : 9 mentions (9%)/ 6 filmmakers (Claire Denis*3, Agnès Varda, Kathryn Bigalow, Lucrecia Martel*2, Sofia Coppola, Catherine Breillat, Kelly Reichardt)

New Directors / New Films 2012 - Lincoln Film Center (86.2% MALE / 55% NON-DEBUT)
  • Women : 4/29 (13.8% not better than Cannes line up best years)
  • Debut : 13/29 (that sucks for a program that claims to feature NEW blood)
  • Actual world-first discoveries : 2/29 (that sucks for a program that claims to make DISCOVERIES)
  • Re-runs from international festivals : 25/29 (thank you foreign festivals for discovering new titles for our program)
  • Old film/Dead director (i.e. not NEW): 1 (brain fart?)

Thierry Fremaux makes the best of the 1719 submissions he received to select a representative list narrowed down to 22 titles (that's a reduction to a sample of 1.3% of all entries). 

Meanwhile American reviewers only watch (at best if they do their job right) 400 NEW films a year (only 607 titles of the 5500 films made in the world, were released on the North-American market in 2011) and narrow them down to a top10 (a reduction to a 2.5% sample of all entries) without leaving a single spot for WOMEN!!!! How ironic that last year Cannes had 4/20 women on its line-up (that's 20%!!!) and on the same year, these 2 smartass (occasional) feminists put 0% of women on their top10... Why am I the only one to find this self-condradictory???
So basically, douchebags are pretty good at pointing finger at a foreign festival, but they wouldn't even reframe this in a more global context (the effective minority of female-filmmakers anywhere in the world), or a more personal perspective (they don't do what they blame others for not doing). That's braindead "criticism" for you.

The issue of gender parity in the workplace (the glass ceiling for female directors) needs to be dealt with at the root, upstream, when the job of a filmmaker starts. By looking at how many female directors are given money to make films, and how well supported they are during production, or how they face constant discrimination, exclusion, mistrust, hindrance in their work... And even before that at the university stage : how many female students choose to enroll for a film class and how many graduate?
Because when a film is picked up in Cannes, all is done and said, it's the final stage of a film production (right before distribution), it's downstream from the glass ceiling. Cannes may only select films that have been made and finished. If there are only 10% or less of films made in the world every year by women... it would be hard for Cannes to select more than 10% of women films (statistically assuming that male and female filmmakers are just equally deserving to be selected on a world-class festival in comparable proportion). If you expect Cannes to line up 50% of male films and 50% of female films... that means that the smaller sample of films made by women is much superior in quality than the majority of films made by men. We could do that (an exact gender parity) as a symbolic gesture (positive discrimination, affirmative action), to help restore the balance over time, hopefully. But it won't make a competition of the highest standards, which is what Cannes is looking for. It's an uphill battle for women filmmakers of course, but Cannes is not responsible for this discrimination, Cannes only reflects le fait accompli (a world that dominantly gives film projects in the hands of men).
It would be much more ingenious to look at the gender statistics of the Cannes Cinéfondation that welcomes debuting filmmakers each year.For that we could hold the festival responsible for encouraging gender discrimination, not for the competition itself.

"Festival selections are no places, nor should they be, for quotas of any sort. But Cannes is a place, maybe the place, where the cinema and festivals worlds take their temperature every year, to gauge the state of the art, for better or worse. Those of us who’ve argued that Cannes’ hothouse atmosphere isn’t a proper place to do this—indeed, perhaps the worst place to do this—have long ago lost the battle. Cannes is pretty much the center of our (local) universe, and is allowed to define standards and tendencies from there. [..]
So, given this set of facts on the ground, does the absence of women this year (only the third time in the past thirteen years) say anything about where cinema is right now? Unlikely. More likely, it’s a matter of (bad) timing, or, less likely, bad candidates. Besides, women are winning elsewhere on the festival circuit."  
Only after laying random unexamined uncontextualized facts for the benefit of a sensationalist bashing, does he conclude that it wasn't such a smart idea to go down this route... However, the diffamation is already done : making a catchy headline to manipulate his readership, and stuffing the whole first half of his article with useless and deceptive misinformation. That's exemplary of bad journalism, which cares more about (hollow) effects than about insightful education. With "journalists" who care this little about setting high standards for film journalism, it explains a lot about the dire straits of American Film Culture... That's what I call a douchebag culture.

As for the veterans, without them there would be no continuity in the establishment of world-class critical standards. If you renew every year your line-up, as a principle, you imply that filmmakers can only be at the level of an international competition only once in their career. And by discarding the winners of past competitions, you deprive yourself of the artists who proved to have top-notch talent, thus falling back on others, possibly lesser, artists to give them their moment of fame, even if they aren't as good as the veterans.
Committing a certain fidelity to competition veterans is not only a political strategy (to bank on acquired fame rather than risking an uncertain/controversial newcomer) that any event should consider for its perennity (that's a superficial and self-serving but necessary consideration), but most importantly it acknowledges the fact that past winners were not a fluke, a passing fancy, but the recognition of a solid talent capable to produce masterpieces over and over (that may compete with the year's best, every time they make a new film). If film masters keeping being as good as when they emerged in Cannes, there is no reason to ignore their new films.

Complaining about the recurrence of well-known names on a line-up of a world-class competition is a blatant misunderstanding of how the art market works. Would you get tired of Mozart after hearing him ranking in the charts more than 5 years in a row? So you think Van Gogh only painted one award-worthy painting and all the others are just repeating themselves? Shakespeare should only be praised for one of his play, more than that and he overstayed his welcome... right? What a lot of bullshit! Besides a festival cannot be judged on 2 consecutive years. The evolution of the history of art only makes sense when looking back, with a critical distance of time, on several years, or many decades.

Blaming the official competition for not doing what the parallel sections are doing is also pretty stupid. It's like blaming the Best Actor category for not rewarding as many women as the Best Actress award! All the sections of the Cannes festival (even the ones not organised by the official direction) function as a symbiotic system. If the International Critics Week (self-described as the competition for DEBUT and Second-film!!!) was redundant with an official competition lining up too many debuts, then it would die out and be cancelled. The reason Un Certain Regard spawn out of the main competition line up, is precisely to shine a spotlight on a supplementary batch of films that could not make it in the official competition, often times because they are too unpolished (less professional, not quite at world-class standard) or disconcerting (subversive/experimental).
If Cannes DOES create space for Un Certain Regard, La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs and the International Critics Week... it is precisely to give different films their own characteristic competition, not to run 4 copycat line-up which enroll films according to the same standard, the same criterion, the same range, the same flavour... Who are these idiots who would like all festivals, all line-ups to be ONE SIZE FITS ALL, ANYWHERE, ALL THE TIME???
Cannes wants to get 4 distinctive line-ups!!!! If you crave for DEBUT films, go to the SiC that's the section taking care of this category!!!