Darling Marlene: To hell with god damned ‘L’amour’… – love, Noel

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In the midst of her stormy affair with Yul Brynner, a heart-weary Marlene Dietrich wrote the following letter to her good friend, the British playwright, Nöel Coward (his impassioned response – full of sound advice for any lovelorn soul) follows:

 

April 3rd, 1952
Noël, my love,

Finally I can sit down to write. After returning from the coast I rushed into recordings for my radio show to be ahead on tapings so that I can leave again at the end of the month… That means that I cannot take you to the boat. How sad can things get? And it’s all for money, which makes it even sadder. Radio being in its last year as it seems to me, is the last easy source for quick money and I cannot afford to say no. My own show does not bring enough money to keep everything and everybody going.

My gilded cage life goes on quite hopelessly… Anybody else but I would be on an analyst’s couch by now, faded and frustrated, but every time I want to rebel I tell myself that all this [her relationship with Brynner] is of my own choosing and that I can stop it anytime I wish. Why I don’t stop it I don’t know. Maybe I’m too used to get what I want. But then – why shouldn’t I get what I want? If he wouldn’t want me anymore it would be easy, but he seems to want it very badly.

So much of that. The Chicago Personal Appearance was fun. So much easier than films. I found out what it is I have on the stage. Balls! That’s the only explanation I have for the impact of it all… It is spring here so much it hurts. I want it to be last June again and drive in the open car over Washington Bridge and have Frankfurters and drive back at sundown. But instead I look out through my golden bars and sigh like when I was sixteen…

I miss you as you know always in my heart. MARLENE

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Firefly Hill Port Maria, Jamaica B.W.I.
Oh, darling,

Your letter filled me with such a lot of emotions the predominant one being rage that you should allow yourself to be so humiliated and made so unhappy by a situation that really isn’t worthy of you. I loathe to think of you apologizing and begging forgiveness and humbling yourself. I don’t care if you did behave badly for a brief moment, considering all the devotion and loving you have given out during the last five years, you had a perfect right to. The only mistake was not to have behaved a great deal worse a long time ago.

It is difficult for me to wag my finger at you from so very far away, particularly as my heart aches for you but really, darling, you must pack up this nonsensical situation once and for all. It is really beneath your dignity, not your dignity as a famous artist and a glamorous star, but your dignity as a human, only too human being. Curly [the shaven-headed Brynner] is attractive, beguiling, tender and fascinating, but he is not the only man in the world who merits those delightful adjectives?… do please try to work out for yourself a little personal philosophy and DO NOT, repeat DO NOT be so bloody vulnerable. To hell with God damned ‘L’Amour.’ It always causes far more trouble than it is worth. Don’t run after it. Don’t court it. Keep it waiting off stage until you’re good and ready for it and even then treat it with the suspicious disdain that it deserves … I am sick to death of you waiting about in empty houses and apartments with your ears strained for the telephone to ring. Snap out of it, girl! A very brilliant writer once said (Could it have been me?) ‘Life is for the living.’? Well, that is all it is for, and living DOES NOT consist of staring in at other people’s windows and waiting for crumbs to be thrown to you. You’ve carried on this hole in corner, overcharged, romantic, unrealistic nonsense long enough.

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Other people need you?… Stop wasting yourself on someone who only really says tender things to you when he’s drunk?…Unpack your sense of humour, and get on with living and ENJOY IT. Incidentally, there is one fairly strong-minded type who will never let you down and who loves you very much indeed. Just try to guess who it is. XXXX.

Marlene & Noel.jpg(Source: The Telegraph)

posted by Dixie Turner

Truffaut Revisited – Part 2: Jules et Jim (1962)

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Review by Rob Munday
Welcome to Paris. Early 20th century. Before the war.
Take a ride with me on this merry-go-round, Francois Truffaut seems to say, the opening sequences here a bravura display of editing and narration to create the city as circus. Here is a story of two men (Jules and Jim) and one woman (Catherine). Early on Jules et Jim pre-empts Godard’s Bande a Parte with it’s love triangle and in the playfulness on show in front and behind the camera.
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The use of stock footage to fill gaps fits into this tone. It’s part of a refreshingly flip attitude to period drama – a genre that often becomes more about frills than thrills. These three aren’t characters from history but simply three modern people in a world from the past.We follow these free spirits driven by Catherine’s lust for life but interrupted by the war. Separated by conflict, love pulls them together. That sounds sentimental and perhaps it’s where the problem lies as there is a disconnect here between the director and his material (a book by Henri-Pierre Roché).
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As it goes on the cracks start to show. You find yourself caring less and less – Jules is simply a sad sack, Catherine (although brilliantly played by Jeanne Moreau) becomes infuriatingly self-centred, and Jim is little more than a nose on legs – first with a moustache and then without.Perhaps Truffaut should have stopped shooting halfway through this story and picked it up at a later date when his world-weariness could match his characters post war selves. As it is Jules et Jim limps towards it’s conclusion as if weighed down by period dramas of the past.

Truffaut Revisited – Part 1: Shoot the Pianist (1960)

Tirez+1Review by Rob Munday

Shoot the Pianist

Francois Truffaut’s second and third films reflect the tastes of the French New Wave. So here we have a (very French) film noir based on American pulp fiction that was followed by a period epic that puts two fingers up to the bloated French cinema that preceded it.

What can a movie be? After a life spent worshipping at the altar of cinema Truffaut’s answer is clear: Everything.
Shoot the Pianist is a no holds barred assault on standard filmmaking. It is, by turns, thrilling, funny, pulpy, tender, tragic, simple, grand, irreverent and romantic. Sometimes these collide so suddenly your head spins – the possibilities are endless, and it all looks effortless.

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The pianist in question is Charlie Kohler (Charles Aznavour), a bar room piano player who keeps himself to himself. Meanwhile his past is running down the street, pursued by gangsters and about to crash into Charlie’s solitude and force him to confront the man he once was. For Charlie was Edouard Saroyan, a man who broke free from a family of criminals into the big-time as a classical pianist.

This feels like a film made on the fly. It’s as if Truffaut felt the success of 400 Blows could die any second so why not go out all guns blazing with this: a scampering tale where fingers must pick between tickling the ivories or the trigger of a gun. What really makes it great cinema is the heart that holds it together. Put simply, Truffaut cares. He cares above all for this talented, elusive, playful, scared little man who is hovering between two identities knowing he is doomed to make the wrong choice.

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All this in 82 spine-tingling minutes.
Sometimes that’s all you need to show what movies can be.

Simon Says: Next Goal Wins (2014)

The_poster_for_the_film_Next_Goal_WinsNext Goal Wins (2014) – dir. Mike Brett and Steve Jamison.

This is  a remarkably entertaining documentary about a football team with an astonishingly dismal record – only 2 goals scored in 17 years and a humiliating 31-0 defeat to Australia – no, it isn’t England! It is American Samoa.

fullwidth.c005d2a3This tiny Pacific island team is now facing the prospect of a world cup qualification campaign and, for the first time, turn to a foreign coach in the shape of Thomas Rongen, a maverick Dutchman whose persona could not be more different to many of these islanders.

After a somewhat  troubled start, we share in a wonderful friendship that develops between coach and players, including one of the team, Jaiyah Saelua (a fa’afafine – the third sex of Samoa, born male but having both male and female characteristics and very important in Samoan culture), whose gender is not only accepted within the team, but welcomed with open arms. Hard to imagine it happening elsewhere in the world of football!

What follows next is not just a football documentary, but a wonderful into this extraordinary island culture with the highs and lows wonderfully filmed, and a moving recognition from the coach about what effect the American Samoan philosophy had on his own outlook to life.

A wonderful tribute to the power and purity of sport.

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Interview with goalie Nicky Salapu

Interview with director Steve Jamison

Telegraph article on Jaiyah Saelua

The Observer feature on the transformation of the team

New Releases: 29th September

LILTING:

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The best film out this week. In lieu of explanation why (trust in me – when have we ever steered you wrong ‘ey?), here’s a dashing pic of Ben Whishaw and Andrew Leung at the film’s European premier.

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FADING GIGOLO:

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I just don’t know about this one. I just don’t know.

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BLENDED:

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I cribbed this off Wikipedia, but it says all you need to know: “A. O. Scott, chief film critic for The New York Times complained about the film’s ‘retrograde gender politics; its delight in the humiliation of children; its sentimental hypocrisy about male behavior; its quasi-zoological depiction of Africans as servile, dancing, drum-playing simpletons’ and concluded ‘Parents strongly cautioned. It will make your children stupid.’ Enough said.

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THE WIND RISES:

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An exquisite farewell to filmmaking from Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki. The Wind Rises is a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi. It looks beautiful and sounds beautiful. Watch in it in Japanese please, the English dub means you’re gonna have to listen to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ugly-as-his-face vocal folds – although you will get to enjoy some Werner Herzog (and his signature umlaut flirtation) should you prefer not to do the film with subs. The great theme song is Yumi Matsutoya’s 1973 channeling of Carole King, Hikōki-gumo. Mmm.

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JIMMY’S HALL:

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Jimmy’s hall was a rural dance hall built by Irish political activist Jimmy Gralton in 1932. Jimmy’s Hall is also a film by Ken Loach. Here are 7 YouTube comments about the latter…

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looks shite

Aren’t heathens adooooooorable …

Looks fairly formulaic Hollywood fare

VERY Ken Loach. Would watch.

Vote Sinn Fein

STEPHEN IS MY NAME
IM THE MOST WANTED MAN ON MY ISLAND
EXCEPT IM NOT ON MY ISLAND OF COURSE
MORES THE PITY

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE:

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SALVO:

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ROAD:

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POSTMAN PAT: THE MOVIE:

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THE FOLLOWING SEASON 2:

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WALKING DEAD SEASON 4:

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Posted by William Goodey

New Releases: 22nd September

OF HORSES AND MEN:

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SIMON SAYS:

Iceland’s official submission for the 2014 Academy Awards was billed as a “darkly comic country romance”, a description I may have to take issue with.

Shot in the spectacular Icelandic countryside, in a remote valley community, we are taken on a journey of love, death and sex, not through the eyes of the small valley community, but, somewhat strangely, from the perspective of their horses.

Perhaps it is a result of my not riding in my youth, but I have found the praise heaped upon this film slightly bemusing – yes, it’s beautifully shot, and it is certainly unlike anything you will have seen before, and, probably, unlike anything you’re likely to see in the future.

Clearly the horse plays an integral part in the lives of these islanders, but as a word of caution for those easily traumatised, the notice that no horses were hurt in the making of the film should probably have come at the start and not at the end!

Prepare yourself for an equestrian… well, merry-go-round, rather than rollercoaster!

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TRIALS OF CATE MCCALL:

uiraqi_1402666296683Judging by the trailer alone, this looks at best like a pretty average courtroom drama, at worst like a made-for-TV waste of time. It was not, however, made-for-TV, and looks can be deceiving – and so can trailers. So, with a cast that makes it interesting enough to work your way from the front of the DVD case round to the back, chuck it on and give it a whirl.

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HANNIBAL SEASON 2:

hannibal-promo1When therapy goes wrong.

Settle down to another session with Dr. Lecter. Make sure to bring your suit of armor.

posted by Dixie Turner

 

On my birthday, I want to be alone…

Happy Birthday, Greta Garbo!

Film and Television“Upside-downy”: The Face that launched so many others.

On the day of her birth, watch her utter her first speaking words in Anna Christie (1930) (“gimme a whiskey… and don’t be stingy, baby!”), which created mini-hysteria with the phrase ‘Garbo Talks!’ flying about in a media-frenzy:

Greta’s most famous words, however, come from Grand Hotel (1932) – dir. Edmund Goulding (Dark Victory, Razor’s Edge):

“I WANT TO BE ALONE….”

Bellow is a letter the great Aloof One wrote to her friend Grace Kelly, AKA Princess Grace of Monaco, explaining, in the nicest possible way, that she’d really rather not right now, thanks all the same:

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xxx

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xxx

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I know who I’d rather be.

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Watch out for the up-coming and worrying Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman.

(Source of letter: notorious-mag.com)

posted by Dixie Turner

“If you continue to be boring, I will hire an actor in New York to pretend that he’s Errol Morris.” – Harvey Weinstein. Xxx

58th Berlinale Film Festival - Standard Operating Procedure PhotocallErrol.

A (whip-) cracking letter from a distinctly less-than-impressed Harvey Weinstein – Miramax movie mogul – to Errol Morris after the director gave an interview promoting his latest feature, the ground-breaking and, eventually, multi-award-winning whodunnit documentary, The Thin Blue Line.

“I’ve never been able to make a living as a documentarian; it’s a terrible thing to say; a terrible admission. My movies have always been costly; they lose money – I hope distributors aren’t listening…” – Errol Morris in The Making of The Thin Blue Line.

Transcript

MIRAMAX FILMS

August 23, 1988

Errol Morris
c/o The Mondrian Hotel
8440 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Errol:

Heard your NPR interview and you were boring. You couldn’t have dragged me to see THE THIN BLUE LINE if my life depended on it.

It’s time you start being a performer and understand the media.

Let’s rehearse:

Q: What is this movie about?

A: It’s a mystery that traces an injustice. It’s scarier than NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. It’s like a trip to the Twilight Zone. People have compared it to IN COLD BLOOD with humor.

Speak in short one sentence answers and don’t go on with all the legalese. Talk about the movie as a movie and the effect it will have on the audience from an emotional point of view.

If you continue to be boring, I will hire an actor in New York to pretend that he’s Errol Morris. If you have any casting suggestions, I’d appreciate that.

Keep it short and keep selling it because that’s what’s going to work for you, your career and the film.

Congratulations on all your good reviews. Let’s make sure the movie is as successful.

Best Regards,

(Signed)

Harvey Weinstein

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(Source: Letters of Note Images: Harvey here, Errol here)

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Catch Errol Morris’ most recent film, The Unknown Known on Donald Rumsfeld on DVD now:

posted by Dixie Turner

2 Week New Release Double Whammy: 8th September and 15th September

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE:

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Well, new Jarmusch. Mandatory then. You’re not getting any more than that. M-a-n-d-a-t-o-r-y.

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FRANK:

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And now, a public service announcement from Video City!

Fassb-E-nder:

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Fassb-I-nder:

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Thank you for listening. Enjoy Frank 🙂

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BLUE RUIN:

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This is the thriller… ahem..giphy (2)

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POMPEII:

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THE TRUTH ABOUT EMANUEL:

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KATE SAYS:

The Truth About Emanuel is a dark & quirky film, although it seems that efforts have been made to present the uncomfortable aspects of the story as tidily as possible for a mainstream audience.

Alfred Molina is particularly good as bereaved husband Dennis, moving on with his own life while remaining emotionally supportive of and close to his daughter, Emanuel, played by Kaya Scodelario who takes the lead with exceptional capability – further contributing to Gregorini’s talent for casting and directing young women, as she did so well with her previous feature Tanner Hall (co-written and co-directed with Tatiana von Furstenberg). And there are great supporting turns from Frances O’Connor (Janice) and Jimmi Simpson (Arthur) – names maybe unfamiliar, yet you’ll recognise both of them. The casting of Jessica Biel – who delivers a fine performance – may have hoped to attract wider distribution, however I imagine that anyone watching films for Biel might be expecting something more conventional, so unlikely to appreciate the general tone of Emanuel.

At times the pacing of The Truth About Emanuel might be a bit slow for some audience members. However, the film’s cinematographer, Polly Morgan, helps to create some captivating and memorable visuals; some of the sets are quite stylised and the costumes appear very carefully considered.

I could understand the perception that The Truth About Emanuel occasionally tries a bit too hard and almost trips over it’s own cleverness. Then again, maybe there were layers and symbolism that passed my by.

If you’re attracted or intrigued by the trailer then the film will certainly keep you engaged… Ultimately, it’s the visuals and performances, rather than the narrative, that left a lasting impression with me.

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THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY:

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The Two Faces of January is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. It must, therefore, be worth a pop.

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BAD NEIGHBOURS:

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“Quite possibly the most conventional and conservative comedy featuring two straight dudes engaged in a dildo swordfight you’ll see all year.” – Matthew Lickona, San Diego Reader

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A TOUCH OF SIN:

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Exceptional stuff from the director of Still Life and 24 City.

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ALSO NEW OUT:

SABOTAGE:

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THE HYPNOTIST:

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RUN & JUMP:

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A THOUSAND TIMES GOOD NIGHT:

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WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE:

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SMART ASS:

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A SINGLE SHOT:

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MOMS’ NIGHT OUT:

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STOP AT NOTHING: THE LANCE ARMSTRONG STORY:

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HOMELAND SEASON 3:

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MODERN FAMILY SEASON 5:

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THE GOODWIFE SEASON 5:

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Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 21.47.34

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Posted by William Goodey

Werner Herzog and Errol Morris talk about ‘The Act of Killing’ (2012)

The blurring of performance and reality; the difference between ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ – two great documentarians, both of whom are executive producers of the film, discuss Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary on the anti-communist purge that was the Indonesia killings which took place in 1965-66. The film chronicles – via re-enactment – many of the killings by the gangsters who were put in charge of the death squads, one of whom allegedly killed up to 1,000 people personally.

Interview with director Joshua Oppenheimer for the BFI

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Look out for Oppenheimer’s latest film ‘The Look of Silence’, currently doing the rounds at various film festivals and, hopefully, to make it’s way to a cinema near you sometime soon (as of yet, there’s no UK release date)..

 

posted by Dixie Turner

SIMON SAYS: Calvary (2014)

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 Calvary (2014) – dir. John Michael McDonagh

Having loved In Bruges (2008) thoroughly enjoyed The Guard (2011), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Brendan Gleeson’s latest film, but having experienced a strict Catholic education, I was always going to watch it.

The film opens with the dreaded confessional box and an anonymous parishioner informing Fr. James (Gleeson) that from the age of 7 he was abused appallingly by a nameless Catholic priest, so, in a week’s time – he announces that he is going to kill him as a means of retribution.

The viewer then goes on a journey where they are introduced to a number of other members of the congregation, most of whom could have a motive for making the threat.

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Meanwhile, Fr. James, of course, has a few skeletons in his own closet and we see how, after all the recent scandals, the Catholic Church is no longer held in the high regard that it once was in Ireland.

Although there is a smattering of darkly comic moments, this is by and large a moving drama in which Fr. James begins to doubt his own faith and Gleeson plays the part well with a subtle sense of fragility and humility… In short, a good little film!

Roger Ebert’s Letter to Werner Herzog

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Dear Werner,

You have done me the astonishing honor of dedicating your new film, “Encounters at the End of the World,” to me. Since I have admired your work beyond measure for the almost 40 years since we first met, I do not need to explain how much this kindness means to me. When I saw the film at the Toronto Film Festival and wrote to thank you, I said I wondered if it would be a conflict of interest for me to review the film, even though of course you have made a film I could not possibly dislike. I said I thought perhaps the solution was to simply write you a letter.

But I will review the film, my friend, when it arrives in theaters on its way to airing on the Discovery Channel. I will review it, and I will challenge anyone to describe my praise as inaccurate.

I will review it because I love great films and must share my enthusiasm.

This is not that review. It is the letter. It is a letter to a man whose life and career have embodied a vision of the cinema that challenges moviegoers to ask themselves questions not only about films but about lives. About their lives, and the lives of the people in your films, and your own life.

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Without ever making a movie for solely commercial reasons, without ever having a dependable source of financing, without the attention of the studios and the oligarchies that decide what may be filmed and shown, you have directed at least 55 films or television productions, and we will not count the operas. You have worked all the time, because you have depended on your imagination instead of budgets, stars or publicity campaigns. You have had the visions and made the films and trusted people to find them, and they have. It is safe to say you are as admired and venerated as any filmmaker alive–among those who have heard of you, of course. Those who do not know your work, and the work of your comrades in the independent film world, are missing experiences that might shake and inspire them.

I have not seen all your films, and do not have a perfect memory, but I believe you have never made a film depending on sex, violence or chase scenes. Oh, there is violence in “Lessons of Darkness,” about the Kuwait oil fields aflame, or “Grizzly Man,” or “Rescue Dawn.” But not “entertaining violence.” There is sort of a chase scene in “Even Dwarfs Started Small.” But there aren’t any romances.

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You have avoided this content, I suspect, because it lends itself so seductively to formulas, and you want every film to be absolutely original.

You have also avoided all “obligatory scenes,” including artificial happy endings. And special effects (everyone knows about the real boat in “Fitzcarraldo,” but even the swarms of rats in “Nosferatu” are real rats, and your strong man in “Invincible” actually lifted the weights). And you don’t use musical scores that tell us how to feel about the content. Instead, you prefer free-standing music that evokes a mood: You use classical music, opera, oratorios, requiems, aboriginal music, the sounds of the sea, bird cries, and of course Popol Vuh.

All of these decisions proceed from your belief that the audience must be able to believe what it sees. Not its “truth,” but its actuality, its ecstatic truth.

You often say this modern world is starving for images. That the media pound the same paltry ideas into our heads time and again, and that we need to see around the edges or over the top. When you open “Encounters at the End of the World” by following a marine biologist under the ice floes of the South Pole, and listening to the alien sounds of the creatures who thrive there, you show me a place on my planet I did not know about, and I am richer. You are the most curious of men. You are like the storytellers of old, returning from far lands with spellbinding tales.

I remember at the Telluride Film Festival, ten or 12 years ago, when you told me you had a video of your latest documentary. We found a TV set in a hotel room and I saw “Bells from the Deep,” a film in which you wandered through Russia observing strange beliefs.

There were the people who lived near a deep lake, and believed that on its bottom there was a city populated by angels. To see it, they had to wait until winter when the water was crystal clear, and then creep spread-eagled onto the ice. If the ice was too thick, they could not see well enough. Too thin, and they might drown. We heard the ice creaking beneath them as they peered for their vision.

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Then we met a monk who looked like Rasputin. You found that there were hundreds of “Rasputins,” some claiming to be Jesus Christ, walking through Russia with their prophecies and warnings. These people, and their intense focus, and the music evoking another world (as your sound tracks always do) held me in their spell, and we talked for some time about the film, and then you said, “But you know, Roger, it is all made up.” I did not understand. “It is not real. I invented it.”

I didn’t know whether to believe you about your own film. But I know you speak of “ecstatic truth,” of a truth beyond the merely factual, a truth that records not the real world but the world as we dream it.

Your documentary “Little Dieter Needs to Fly” begins with a real man, Dieter Dengler, who really was a prisoner of the Viet Cong, and who really did escape through the jungle and was the only American who freed himself from a Viet Cong prison camp. As the film opens, we see him entering his house, and compulsively opening and closing windows and doors, to be sure he is not locked in. “That was my idea,” you told me. “Dieter does not really do that. But it is how he feels.”

The line between truth and fiction is a mirage in your work.

Some of the documentaries contain fiction, and some of the fiction films contain fact. Yes, you really did haul a boat up a mountainside in “Fitzcarraldo,” even though any other director would have used a model, or special effects. You organized the ropes and pulleys and workers in the middle of the Amazonian rain forest, and hauled the boat up into the jungle. And later, when the boat seemed to be caught in a rapids that threatened its destruction, it really was. This in a fiction film. The audience will know if the shots are real, you said, and that will affect how they see the film.

I understand this. What must be true, must be true. What must not be true, can be made more true by invention. Your films, frame by frame, contain a kind of rapturous truth that transcends the factually mundane. And yet when you find something real, you show it.

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You based “Grizzly Man” on the videos that Timothy Treadwell took in Alaska during his summers with wild bears. In Antarctica, in “Encounters at the End of the World,” you talk with real people who have chosen to make their lives there in a research station. Some are “linguists on a continent with no language,” you note, others are “PhDs working as cooks.” When a marine biologist cuts a hole in the ice and dives beneath it, he does not use a rope to find his way back to the small escape circle in the limitless shelf above him, because it would restrict his research. When he comes up, he simply hopes he can find the hole. This is all true, but it is also ecstatic truth.

In the process of compiling your life’s work, you have never lost your sense of humor. Your narrations are central to the appeal of your documentaries, and your wonder at human nature is central to your fiction. In one scene you can foresee the end of life on earth, and in another show us country musicians picking their guitars and banjos on the roof of a hut at the South Pole. You did not go to Antarctica, you assure us at the outset, to film cute penguins. But you did film one cute penguin, a penguin that was disoriented, and was steadfastly walking in precisely the wrong direction–into an ice vastness the size of Texas. “And if you turn him around in the right direction,” you say, “he will turn himself around, and keep going in the wrong direction, until he starves and dies.” The sight of that penguin waddling optimistically toward his doom would be heartbreaking, except that he is so sure he is correct.

But I have started to wander off like the penguin, my friend.

I have started out to praise your work, and have ended by describing it. Maybe it is the same thing. You and your work are unique and invaluable, and you ennoble the cinema when so many debase it. You have the audacity to believe that if you make a film about anything that interests you, it will interest us as well. And you have proven it.

With admiration,
Roger

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(Source: rogerebert.com)

posted by Dixie Turner

Happy Herzog – Werner’s Minnesota Declaration: Defining ‘Ecstatic Truth’

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Happy birthday, Werner Herzog, in whose hands the “permanent and immediate danger” of existence drops out of darkness, touches poetry and brightens and strengthens the heart and mind.

“LESSONS OF DARKNESS”

Minnesota declaration: truth and fact in documentary cinema

1. By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.

2. One well-known representative of Cinema Verité declared publicly that truth can be easily found by taking a camera and trying to be honest. He resembles the night watchman at the Supreme Court who resents the amount of written law and legal procedures. “For me,” he says, “there should be only one single law: the bad guys should go to jail.”

Unfortunately, he is part right, for most of the many, much of the time.

3. Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.

4. Fact creates norms, and truth illumination.

5. There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.

6. Filmmakers of Cinema Verité resemble tourists who take pictures amid ancient ruins of facts.

7. Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.

8. Each year at springtime scores of people on snowmobiles crash through the melting ice on the lakes of Minnesota and drown. Pressure is mounting on the new governor to pass a protective law. He, the former wrestler and bodyguard, has the only sage answer to this: “You can´t legislate stupidity.”

9. The gauntlet is hereby thrown down.

10. The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn’t call, doesn’t speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don´t you listen to the Song of Life.

11. We ought to be grateful that the Universe out there knows no smile.

12. Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of a hell that during evolution some species – including man – crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota April 30, 1999 Werner Herzog

(source: rogerebert.com)

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!!!

 posted by Dixie Turner

Stanley Kubrick’s Top 10 Favourite Films…

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In 1963, Stanley Kubrick submitted the below list of his Top 10 favourite films to American magazine, Cinema – this is the first, and apparently only, time he ever submitted such a list:

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1. I Vitelloni (Fellini, 1953)

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2. Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957) – what an inspired poster!

Viktor: When you were little you believed in Santa Claus. Now you believe in God.

Kubrick, in a letter to Ingmar Bergman: “I believe you are the greatest film-maker at work today. Beyond that, allow me to say you are unsurpassed by anyone in the creation of mood and atmosphere, the subtlety of performance, the avoidance of the obvious, the truthfulness and completeness of characterization.”

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3. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

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4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston, 1948)

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5. City Lights (Chaplin, 1931)

Kubrick on Chaplin:

“If something is really happening on the screen, it isn’t crucial how it’s shot. Chaplin had such a simple cinematic style that it was almost like I Love Lucy, but you were always hypnotised by what was going on, unaware of the essentially non-cinematic style. He frequently used cheap sets, routine lighting and so forth, but he made great films. His films will probably last longer than anyone else’s.”

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6. Henry V (Olivier, 1944)

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7. La notte (Antonioni, 1961)

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8. The Bank Dick (Fields, 1940)

Roger Ebert on W.C. Fields:

“Assimilating the unique fact of W.C. Fields is a lifelong occupation for any filmgoer, conducted from time to time according to no particular plan. There is not a single Fields film that “must” be seen in order to qualify as a literate movie lover, and yet if you are not eventually familiar with Fields you are not a movie lover at all. What is amazing about him is that he exists at all. He is not lovely, and although he is graceful it is a lugubrious grace, a kind of balance in a high psychic wind. All of his scenes depend, in one way or another, on sharing his private state: He is unloved, he detests life, he is hung over, he wants a drink, he is startled by sudden movements and loud noises, he has no patience for fools, everyone is a fool, and middle-class morality is a conspiracy against the man who wants to find surcease in alcoholic bliss. These are not the feelings of his characters; they are his own feelings.”

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9. Roxie Hart (Wellman, 1942)

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10. Hell’s Angels (Hughes, 1930) – unbelievable trailer, by the way, that so callously boasts of the “ariel combat so real it took the lives of three pilots…”

posted by Dixie Turner

Stanley Kubrick to Ingmar Bergman: “Your vision of life has moved me deeply…”

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Transcript

UNIVERSAL-INTERNATIONAL PICTURES
UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIFORNIA

February 9, 1960

Dear Mr. Bergman,

You have most certainly received enough acclaim and success throughout the world to make this note quite unnecessary. But for whatever it’s worth, I should like to add my praise and gratitude as a fellow director for the unearthly and brilliant contribution you have made to the world by your films (I have never been in Sweden and have therefore never had the pleasure of seeing your theater work). Your vision of life has moved me deeply, much more deeply than I have ever been moved by any films. I believe you are the greatest film-maker at work today. Beyond that, allow me to say you are unsurpassed by anyone in the creation of mood and atmosphere, the subtlety of performance, the avoidance of the obvious, the truthfullness and completeness of characterization. To this one must also add everything else that goes into the making of a film. I believe you are blessed with wonderfull actors. Max von Sydow and Ingrid Thulin live vividly in my memory, and there are many others in your acting company whose names escape me. I wish you and all of them the very best of luck, and I shall look forward with eagerness to each of your films.

Best Regards,

(Signed, ‘Stanley Kubrick’)

Stanley Kubrick

(Source: http://www.lettersofnote.com/)

***

BERGMAN

The Seventh Seal (1957)

Wild Strawberries (1957)

Cries and Whispers (1972)

***

KUBRICK

The Killing (1956)

Lolita (1962)

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

***

posted by Dixie Turner