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The Film thread - Page 29

post #421 of 428
Thread Starter 
For the Linklater fans

The long conversation: Richard Linklater on cinema and time


There’s something inherently compelling about seeing human beings age through time. From the online time-lapse videos of faces changing over the course of a year to Michael Apted’s Up
series, this process moves us. The ongoing drama of Apted’s films, which have followed a select group of British children into adulthood, is simply the drama of life unfolding. The structure is simple – Apted conducts an interview with the participants every seven years, weaving in B-roll footage that offers the smallest window into their everyday lives – and yet we are transfixed.

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In narrative filmmaking, this presentation of time is more complex, because it is also a re-presentation of time in a fictional context. As well, the artifice of aging has always been a part of filmmaking, whether through makeup, special effects, multiple actors and/or acting itself.

Beyond this artifice, however, lie characters – the actors themselves – who’ve aged with us in actual time. More often than not this aging is merely a byproduct of a profitable franchise churning out sequel after sequel. (Were it possible, I suppose some of these franchises would freeze their actors in time.) But there are franchises that do necessarily unfold in time, like the recently completed Harry Potter series, which for many felt poignant not only because of its sweeping plot but because they were actually witnessing these characters getting older.

Outside of these mega franchises, there are film sequels in which the actual passing of time plays a crucial role, not as a mere byproduct but as a key ingredient. The goal is not to produce the next film as soon as possible but to wait for enough time to pass so the actors can age along with their characters (a sort of filmmaking-as-winemaking). What comes to mind most immediately are the five films of François Truffaut that track the ongoing life of Antoine Doinel over the course of 20 years. The changing face and body of Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine are a significant part of this narrative experience. We are not only witnessing the story of an abandoned boy struggling to become an adult, but time itself.

With this year’s release of Before Midnight, Richard Linklater joins Truffaut in offering this rare kind of cinema in which the physicality of time confronts our own existence. What makes Linklater’s narrative unique is that his two main characters, Jesse and Celine, have always been mindful of time passing, even when we first meet them in their twenties, and remain mindful in their forties. This is part of what draws them together – their willingness, or even eagerness, to discuss such things. Linklater unapologetically allows his characters, not only in these films but in his others, to engage with what it means to exist in this world. His cinema is filled with characters who question, theorise and reflect.

For Linklater, the unfolding of life is worthy of conversation and representation. In Before Sunrise (1995), Jesse describes to Celine an idea for a 24/7 cable access television show that would capture “life as it’s lived… a guy waking up in the morning and taking the long shower, eating a little breakfast, making a little coffee and reading the paper.” “Wait, wait,” Celine responds. “All those mundane, boring things everybody has to do every day of their fucking life?” Jesse: “I was going to say the poetry of day-to-day life…”

This idea of day-to-day life being worth watching, as a kind of poetry, gives context to Linklater’s first feature, It’s Impossible to Learn How to Plow by Reading Books (1988), which primarily consists of long takes of Linklater sitting, cooking, eating, doing laundry, taking a shower, driving a car and riding on trains.

There are moments that stand out among this ordinariness: Linklater pointing his gun out of the window, looking at his hands in the sunlight, standing before a mountain range with his friend, watching Dreyer’s Gertrud on television. None of these moments are given explicit meaning within the context of a narrative. Linklater and his gun are not a part of a sinister plot. When he looks at his hand in the sunlight, it is not a turning point in the story. They are simply moments. (The one exception may be the clip from Gertud that Linklater chooses to show, in which the main character describes life as a dream. This is a theme that Linklater will later engage throughout his films, and even here it may be suggesting that these moments are a kind of dream.)

This value that Linklater sees in the ordinariness of life unfolding makes his Before series all the more delicate. He is aware of life’s temporality, of the characters’ temporality, of our own temporality. What I appreciate about Linklater is his willingness to converse about these things, about things that matter. He is rarely coy or apathetic. If we are admonished to write what we know, it is not surprising that Linklater writes about people who are concerned but find pleasure and connection in the discussion of their concerns.

Linklater is at ease partaking in the long conversation of cinema, of what it is or might be (a conversation that is being reclaimed from its academese stagnation of “is” paralysis). For Linklater, it is a question both of history and possibility. It is less about prescription then it is potential. When we spoke, he had just finished wrapping his 12 Year Project, which takes the idea of representing time in narrative filmmaking to a whole different level.

If cinema is also the art of time passing, then Linklater is proving to be one of its most actively engaged and thoughtful directors. Unlike other filmmakers often identified as auteurs, Linklater’s distinction is not found on the surface of his films, in a visual style or signature shot, but rather in their DNA, as an ongoing conversation with cinema, which is to say, a conversation about time passing.
post #422 of 428

Watched Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, impressive film. About a teenage nun in 1960's Poland who leaves her convent for the first time, and along with her aunt, try to locate the grave of Ida's mother, who died years ago while hiding from the Nazis. The action and subtext of the film are very clear and direct despite little dialogue. An art film critics can praise without reservation.



also saw Chantal Akerman's La Folie Almayer.



Akerman is a very interesting filmmaker, but I felt lost without having read the Joseph Conrad novel Akerman faithfully adapts. The on-location cinematography captures, quiet miraculously, the sensory experience of heat deep within the jungles of Cambodia, against which are set, often ten minutes at a time, stillshots of the protagonist's meandering and delusional soliloquies. If that's not enough, there's also a twenty-minute shot towards the end of a completely still and silent Almayer pondering to himself. Not gonna pretend I was spellbound through it all but I'm glad I watched it. Almayer also had some nice loose summer fits that would get a lot of thumbs in waywt.

Edited by accordion - 8/27/14 at 10:49am
post #423 of 428

Ida was a revelation for me. Quite certain I won't see better framing/composition in a movie this year. Which other movies of Pawlikowski's should I seek out?

post #424 of 428

Ida is the only one I've seen but My Summer of Love made Emily Blunt.

post #425 of 428
Originally Posted by dan138zig View Post

who are some highly referred directors that you just don't get even one film of theirs? mine seem to be fellini.


A little late, but have you seen his "Casanova" ??


And for me, I don't know about a director, but the film "La Régle du Jeu" didn't resonate with me at all.  

post #426 of 428
Originally Posted by Ireges View Post


And for me, I don't know about a director, but the film "La Régle du Jeu" didn't resonate with me at all.  


I knew the robots were gonna take over at some point but didn't think they'd be posting on SF so soon

post #427 of 428
The Rules of the Game came out in 1939, the same year as Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, (The Marx Brothers') At The Circus, Marcel Carne's Le Jour Se Leve, Son of Frankenstein (which throws Basil Rathbone into the mix with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi), The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (which launched Rathbone into his career-defining 14-movie series), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton. That's a pretty impressive roster.

The same year saw the release of the second cel-animated feature film (after Snow White), not from Disney but from Fleischer Studios. I didn't even know about "Gulliver's Travels" until recently, but I enjoyed watching it. It has the same caricature-characters and the same abundance of humorous little details in everything from the dialogue to the physics that people expect from Disney, though there's quite a bit of old-timey music and the 'hero' is unconventional in that he has no arc and faces no real obstacles.

It's available on YouTube in 1080p and apparently exists on Blu-Ray already.

post #428 of 428

Never get tired of watching this movie, it is like Scarface for me. I don't understand a lick of Portuguese but if they talk slow enough I understand it all haha. The film is stylized beautifully though, would definitely recommend


This movie came out of left field for me and I was NOT expecting to like it at all. Ending was a bit....well lets say confusing, but overall solid movie
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