Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Like Grogan In the Movies

I've seen quite a few films now during the Easter break. Two of them were documentaries that I saw in conjunction with my FTV studies essay. They're not really documentaries as such, because one - Chronique d'un été - was the beginning of the cinema vérité phenomenon ("the cinema of truth", literally trying to show life as it is) and the other - Man With a Movie Camera - was the chief inspiration for it. Man With a Movie Camera was made by Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov in 1929 before government control over the film industry became too suffocating. It's a very self-reflexive work trying to define a unique language for film-making. It's silent but the copy I watched had a quite unusual score, written after Vertov's instructions. It's about a man walking and travelling around a city with his camera and filming events and people. The other film is called Chronicle of a Summer in English and was made by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin in 1961. It's sort of a documentation of its own making, edited chronologically. Jean and Edgar are trying to make a film about life and living in Paris and it has very little in the way of action. It's mainly a series of interviews and monologues with about ten different people. The last part is shows the participants watching the finished movie (up until that part) and giving critique (some of it quite scathing) and then Jean and Edgar are shown arguing about whether the project was successful or not and if they were happy with what they've done, on which they seem to disagree.

A radically more fictitious film is David Lynch's new creation - Inland Empire starring Laura Dern and Justin Theroux. It's filmed entirely by digital cameras which made me a bit suspicious at first, but he's managed to assimilate the technique into the Lynchian world of aesthetics. It's about three hours long, the plot doesn't start until twenty minutes into the film and then gets hopelessly lost after one and a half hours. I left the cinema with a mild headache. But it was worth it, because it's one of his best although it cannot touch Mulholland Drive. Unlike that one and all his other movies, Inland Empire doesn't even seem to have a secret key that unravels all the mysteries of the plot. If that's not a problem for you, I think you should go see it too.

Other stuff I've seen recently is X-Men 3 (out of allegiance to a good comic) which is a disgrace to the two earlier films, L'Eclisse and L'Avventura (the other two Antonioni films that supposedly make up a trilogy together with La Notte), and Belle-de-Jour (the brilliant 60s Luis Buñuel film that's been on for two weeks at Glasgow Film Theatre). And I've also seen Gregory's Girl starring Clare Grogan of Altered Images fame. It was made by Bill Forsyth in 1980 and I can definitely see why it's some people's favourite film and has been called one of the the best Scottish films ever. The film still above would've made a good record cover, wouldn't you say?

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