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This archive contains posts from May 2007 to November 2008. More recent posts are at: http://sallitt.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Spanish Cinema Now: Walter Reade, December 7-27, 2007

I haven't seen any of the films in the Walter Reade's upcoming Spanish Cinema Now series (none of the new films, anyway - I saw Pilar Miró's The Cuenca Crime long ago, and wrote a short review at the time), but I thought I'd share my pre-fest notes.


  • The item I'm most anticipating is Jaime Rosales' La Soledad (Solitary Fragments), which screened in Cannes' Un Certain Regard section this year. Rosales made an impressive debut in 2003 with La Horas del dia (The Hours of the Day), a deadpan account of a Barcelona shopkeeper whose occasional murders seem unmotivated.
  • Iciar Bollain (the teenage actress in Erice's El Sur), whose film Mataharis is screening, did a very nice, character-driven drama in 1999, Flores de otro mundo (Flowers from Another World). Her 2003 followup, Te doy mis ojos (Take My Eyes), disappointed me, but I'm still keeping tabs on her.
  • Among the unknown quantities, Miguel Hermoso's Lola, la pelicula looks like a totally unpromising biopic of a famous flamenco dancer - except that the trailer reveals a really cool, old-fashioned widescreen compositional style, and even a nice action moment. I'm very curious.
  • Santi Amodeo's Cabeza de perro (Doghead) has a more interesting subject, but the trailer has a flashier, more suspect visual style. I'm rooting harder for Lola, la pelicula, but this looks like the most interesting of the series' unknown art films.

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25 Comments:

Blogger Eric M. said...

I bought that 5 movie pass for this festival. 53 Winter Days (13th), Contestant (14th), Barcelona (A Map) (14th), Education of Fairies (18th), and Seven Billards Tables (21st).

I've really been into Walter Reade of lately. In the last week I went to see The Iron Horse and Battling Butler-but I am very upset that I won't be able to make the Clara Bow double feature, but I can't get off work on a Sunday. I try to see every silent film I can in a theatre.

December 5, 2007 at 4:10 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Battling Butler is so awesome. But I must admit that I have a fairly big problem with silent movie accompaniment in general. I keep telling myself that I need to start watching silent movies on DVD, where I can turn off the volume and watch in silence; but then I forget and go to the theater again....

December 5, 2007 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger girish said...

"But I must admit that I have a fairly big problem with silent movie accompaniment in general."

Dan, you took the words out of my mouth. Coincidentally, I'm at work on a biggish post on this subject for the next week or two. Perhaps we (and others) can chat more about this interesting topic then.

December 5, 2007 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Girish - every time I see a silent movie in a theater, I think about writing an antisocial blog post on the subject - then I lie down until the feeling goes away.... I'll look for your post.

December 5, 2007 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

P.S. to Girish - I wrote a little bit about silent movie accompaniment in these a_film_by posts: 16210, 16263, 43048.

December 5, 2007 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks for those links, Dan!

December 5, 2007 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

La Soledad is unashamedly arty and really impressive. It's truly shocking at times, and yet one comes away thinking about the sun and breeze on the patios of shady apartments. It's playing again on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 3 pm and Friday, Dec. 14 at 9:15 pm.

December 10, 2007 at 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I certainly would not want to disappoint anyone, but I feel I should warn you that this Walter Reade selection is far from representing what is best in poor Spanish cinema, bad as its current shape might be. Most of the program I would not stand to watch again, and many would fill up my list of the year's worst, at least if only taking into account those ambitious enough (or rather, pretentious galore!). Of course, my stand is far from shared, and I don't dream of being right. But I'm afraid pseudo-Bressonism is endangering the future of many young new filmmakers (which seem to believe Bresson is boring!), even potentially interesting ones such as José María Orbe or even Javier Rebollo, which follow the trail of Marc Recha, Jaime Rosales and others, with the almost guaranteed applause of a crowd of young critics which should know better. Rather than Viscarret or the Foreign-film Academy Award contender J.A. Bayona, I wish you could see the films of José Luis Guerín, Felipe Vega, Albert Serra, Pablo Llorca, Isaki Lacuesta, probably the latest Pere Portabella, and of course the recent non-features by Víctor Erice, and some more, or the final film of the late Joaquim Jordá.
P.S.Iciar Bollain's "Mataharis", very badly treated here, I found her best directorial job yet.
Best luck to all,
Miguel Marías

December 11, 2007 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Hello, Miguel! Like all national film series at the Walter Reade and MOMA, Spanish Cinema Now is full of bad, obvious films. I think these series are proven moneymakers for those venues, and are not aimed at cinephiles. But it's fun to scout around and try to find the ambitious works.

I couldn't tell from your post whether you think Recha and Rosales are overrated. I haven't yet had a breakthrough with Recha, but I find Rosales quite exciting. It's possible that some of his ambition isn't fully integrated into the form of his films, and comes across as pretentiousness. But I think the texture of his images is beautiful, and I admire the way he acknowledges the mystery of his people without making a fuss about it. After having a painful experience a few days ago with Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding, it occurred to me that it's not enough simply to show the dark side of people in a naturalistic way: the filmmaker also has to judge, moment by moment, how the audience is affected by these revelations, what position we are placed in relative to the characters. It seems to me that Rosales in La Soledad, and Nanouk Leopold in her last two films, have a gentle, balanced perspective in depicting the internal malevolence of families that Baumbach lacks. (More accurately, I think Baumbach isn't interested in this kind of balance.)

Of the filmmakers you praise, a few have turned up in NYC: Guerin's fine En la ciudad de Sylvia just played the New York Film Festival, and Serra's Honor de cavalleria screened in last year's Spanish Cinema Now series, then had a week's run at the Anthology Film Archives. I'll make a note of the other names you mentioned.

The issue of neo-Bressonianism is very interesting. I love Bresson, but I always think of him as a kind of crackpot genius: not someone with a special handle on truth, but rather someone who turns his own personal needs and peculiarities into a powerful style. (I do not find him interesting as a theorist.) So it's rather odd when so many young filmmakers adopt his mannerisms. And yet somehow many of his disciples make good movies, despite their inability to replicate Bresson's weird sensibility. Perhaps there's something challenging and stimulating about adopting an aesthetic of self-denial, even for its own sake.

December 11, 2007 at 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Dan!
Sorry to fully disagree about Rosales, really overblown and overrated here (and elsewhere). If you did not get that it's because I try not to be insulting, nor too negative about well-intentioned, hopeful newcomers like Javier Rebollo, Rafa Cortés and several others I could name, which have a hard life to bear if they stay out of commercialism. The trouble is that they are prone to believe a) that they are geniuses, b) that they are on the right path, c) that they have nothing to learn. And Bresson's model, much as I love everyone of the (few) films he made, is only valid to himself, and has no theoretical value in itself. To watch a crowd of little Bressons would be a nightmare. It's easy to pass lack of expressivity as "austerity", inability to direct actors (or acting students, or friends) as "sobriety", lack of feeling for the characters as "anti-melodramaticism", tonal ruptures as "distancing devices" (years ago they quoted Brecht, now it would be rather Bresson--or Ozu). I mistrust every film which depends on outside information (as it happened with Rosales first film, "Las horas del día", much better than "La soledad") or which passes incoherence or the will of its makers as "a comment on the senseless despair of the world" or the "futility of being", which may sound transcendental, but is as conventional as "boy meets girl" (and probably less fun). If I watch why things happen to the characters (because they never act, perhapst not even react) and find that too many times they are killed off to end the picture, I don't believe a word. Depressed or exploted characters can be an alibi for putting on the screen unexisting characters. And some of these filmmakers are for me true imposters, or little pretenders, which copy things from there and there, repeat some things said years ago in interviews by Erice (or lately Guerín), or put Bresson's "Notes sur le cinématographe" to the same ready-made (ab)use that Charmain Mao's Little Red Book was 35-40 years ago. As to its realism, born and living in Madrid, I only recognized my hometown in "La soledad" because of some street-plates, there's nothing of the rhythm or the feeling of the city. If you aspire to be a Bressonian (instead of yourself), you must first of all realize that his style is a form of writing with images and sounds, and that such an endeavor requires a lot of work, so it's hard for unexperienced or lazy filmmakers to get Bresson right, even if it looks so simple it seems easy. I think Benoît Jacquot's first films were deadened by their Bressonism, and that only with time and filming got to have a style of his own and to make (usually) very interesting films, probably deeply indebted to Bresson's example but not dependent of Bresson's unique style. But this would be a much too long and complex discussion. You probably know what I mean, since I feel in your two films a certain inspiration from Bresson, without aping him in the least.
Miguel Marías

December 13, 2007 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Miguel - in the case of my films, the direct influence came mostly from Rohmer. As for indirect influence, that's anyone's guess....

I've always felt that Bresson had a personal, quirky aversion to anything about human beings related to performance and projection. The normal amount of drama that everyone incorporates into their interface with the world registers on him as theatrical falsity. He made a fascinating style out of it - and I think it's often the case that good artists build personal style out of a skewed way of looking at the world that doesn't work well as generalized theory.

One of the things I find interesting about La Soledad is that the characters don't seem to me depressed or exploited. Both the two main characters are unusually strong: the one endures a terrible calamity, but in the way that a strong person does, reassembling her life a bit at a time; the other is clearly a pillar who is leaned upon by the people around her, though she mysteriously begins to lose fortitude, for no apparent reason, just before the end.

I don't feel a lot of Bresson influence in Rosales. At the least, the acting style in his films is far more naturalistic.

December 13, 2007 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

This is an interesting discussion on post-Bresson minimalism. But I wonder if it's fair to compare young filmmakers (who make films far less ambitious) to a top master. Honor de Cavalleria is maybe the less compromising and still is far from Bresson's mastery, it comes out as an exercice of style rather than the invention of a new universe.
It's also unfair to isolate Bresson as an alien in cinema, since he wanted to open a new form of cinema, le "cinématographe". He wanted others to follow his path, to make cinema that way, and not the "wrong way". So it's not blasphemous to imitate him. Though I understand the fine line between copying and following.

I'm with Dan on La Soledad, I found its "contemplative" style very intersting to depict a classic melo/trauma in a most unconventional way. It's not perfect, so I consider it a "little film" affectionately, without any sense of condescention. It's just the range installed by the very premise of the film, and its narration. I thought it was closer to Reygadas or Escalante's Sangre, or Dumont maybe, than any Bresson film.
Does one get an impression of the social reality in France from a Bresson film?

A similar film, also in Cannes this year, was Pedro Aguilera's La Influencia. Also a single-mother dealing with depression in a self-encompassed world almost entirely shut from external interactions.

December 13, 2007 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Harry - I too have the feeling that Bresson felt that he was blazing a trail that the rest of cinema should follow. I don't think it's blasphemous to follow him, and I don't even think that the results of following him will necessarily be bad; but I think his ideas about cinema were quirky, and don't make sense to me as generalized theory.

Thanks for the tip on Aguilera - he hadn't been on my radar.

December 13, 2007 at 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'm getting very boring, but I think some filmmakers which take this or that from Bresson or Dreyer, Tarkovskií or Antonioni, never mind, and tell people they do what they really don't, end up making films like Aguilera's - sorry, another in much the same vein -, which, effectively, Tuttle is quite right there, have much less to do with either of the former directors than with Escalante, Reygadas, Dumont, and other very prestigious filmmakers which I really don't like at all - might I add González Iñarritu and Lars von Trier? - and which I think are precisely solemn counterfeiters. Of course it is not forbidden to try and follow any filmmaker's lessons, I only said it is often dangerous and not very useful or interesting to watch. Whatever one may think of Bresson, I feel he was very expressive (his films are moving, not the characters), quite coherent in his choices, and constantly developing throughout his whole career. Very far, in any case, from the quite useless, obtrusive and senseless use of split-screen through three fourths of "La soledad".
Miguel

December 14, 2007 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

I was going to say that I prefered La Influencia to La Soledad (which is a bit more conventional in threading basic flat-mate conflicts, and divorce pathos), and that I found very interesting the experimental use of the long-take split screen in the latter (to cover two simultaneous angles of the same scene, sure it could be done better but I think there is something new to explore there). But I love both. Miguel, if you dislike Reygadas and Dumont, it explains why we disagree on this.
Although I don't think the films we talk about have much to do with Lars von Trier (who intellectualizes his mise-en-scene a lot) or Iñarritu (who uses overt non-linear narration). Besides neither of them own anything to Bresson.
Maybe La Soledad is a bit of a network-narrative, by exposing the parrallel lives of a few people. But La Influencia is strictly linear and only gives us one point of view in a very non-intellectual mise-en-scène.

I agree that wanting to become Bresson is vain, but doing bressonianism should be encouraged, because this is a powerful approach to cinema that it would be a shame to limit to the small filmography of Bresson. If filmmakers trying to be a little minimalist are Bresson's sheep, then what are all the mainstream directors since Griffith?
There are so many followers who follow the wrong guys, so when youngsters pick a worthwhile model, even if it's hard to equal, we shouldn't discourage them.

Dan, do you find Bresson quirky? or is it "Le Cinématographe" that is? I don't understand what you mean by "generalized theory"... he clearly stated that this only applied to a way of making cinema that wasn't like anything else being made at the time. So it's no surprise if it doesn't fit with the other theories of cinema or THE unified theory of cinema, if that's what you mean.

December 14, 2007 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Miguel,
I realize you probably mentionned Lars von Trier and Iñarritu as other examples of "hacks", and not in comparison to the films we talk about here. Sorry for the confusion.

December 15, 2007 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Miguel - though I liked La Soledad a lot, I confess that I felt a little unsure about that split-screen technique. In particular, I wasn't sure that I wouldn't have liked the film as much without it, and wondered how necessary it was. But the images do carry a charge, even if it's hard for me to understand how they work. Their most obvious characteristic, that they almost always destroy our spatial orientation, so that people appear and disappear from unexpected sides of the frame, seems like a cerebral effect. But there's something effective about the way that Rosales consistently makes the broken space look like a unity, like one big widescreen view of a sizable interior with multiple clearings or passageways. The newly created space often has a serene integrity that is only gradually, and casually, undercut by the action. And even more effective to me is the way that the funhouse effect is counterpointed with quiet, natural sound, gentle lighting effects, and undramatic blocking that is easy for us to scan. It's as if, having committed to the obtrusive split-screen concept, Rosales decided to work against its disruptive aspect and naturalize the effect in certain ways.

Harry - I definitely find Bresson's films quirky, and not just his theory. Given how normal and universal it is for people to perform a little, to use drama and presentation to make their social interface effective, I find Bresson's determination to suppress this aspect of human countenance an extreme gesture. Lo and behold, interesting things happen to his movies because of this amputation. But I can't regard this preference of his as somehow a truer or more accurate way of showing people. It seems more like a compulsion on his part, a personal need - exactly the opposite of "transcendental."

This is all cool - art and compulsion are familiar bedfellows - but in his theory Bresson seems to regard this approach as a rejection of the evil ghost of "theater." And, as you observe, he wants everyone to do it.

December 15, 2007 at 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, Harry,
I promise to end this discussion. Only to clear a couple of points (not the one you cleared already on your own, Harry).
On a general basis, I'd wonder which could be the interest or merit of disorienting or puzzling the viewer and sending your gaze right and left of a wide screen not to see anything more, but (at best) the same thing from another, indifferent or useless, point of view. Since I firmly believe cinema allows to see better and more, I find hard to accept its use to let us see less and worse. Contrary to Richard Fleischer's "The Boston Strangler", where the split screen technique was used for the double purpose of showing simultaneously related actions happening at different places at the same time, as well as the split personality of the strangler himself, or to the original, spectacular "Polyvision" in Gance's "Napoleon", I see no justification whatsoever for the split screen in "La soledad". Even used to "avoid" (?) conventional dialogue (no that they talk much!) set-ups, why (and what for?) have two people sitting in front of each other and show one from the front and the other from the side (either side), in profile?. Why make your gaze jump from right to left to see the same movement, the same corridor, the same room, the same expressionless face, rather indifferently framed? What may this add, except an appearence of "originality"? This trend in Spanish cinema, which I do not consider in the least Bressonian, rather anti-Bressonian or fake-Bresson, but are so dubbed by critics and some times by the filmmakers themselves, really represent for me either a way of covering up their (often justifiable and understandable) deficiencies or, I'm afraid, the symptoms of a very curious "fear of feeling". They seem to fear above everything else that someone may think they are being "sentimental" or "moving"... the followers of this policy of the "stiff upper lip" end up choosing as characters people unarticulate, depressed, warmthless, unsensitive, passive...and for me, of a very limited interest. It's perhaps OK to have once in a while a film like that, if some filmmakers have that bleak views of life, but when it becomes a plague, a fad, a trend, a stylistic "minimalist" choice... I merely do wonder.
Best,
Miguel Marías

December 17, 2007 at 4:07 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Miguel - you don't have to end the discussion for my sake - I find it interesting.

As I mentioned, I'm not sure that I completely understand or appreciate Rosales's rather obtrusive visual concept in La Soledad, so I'm not in a position to mount a good defense of it. The argument you make - that the purpose of cinema is for us to see better and more - is one that I can appreciate. Truffaut used to take a position similar to that, and Rohmer just reiterated it in an interview in last month's Cahiers du Cinema. So the idea that cinema abandons its mission statement by not showing things, or not showing them well, seems to be part of the Cahiers tradition. Of course, one must deploy this idea carefully, as a whole lot of cinema can be brought up on charges of not showing, or not showing well.

I don't think the split screen in La Soledad was always redundant. Often it was used to expand an interior space, to create a wide, magical-looking location that could be parsed visually, but that didn't give the proper results, so to speak, when people moved around in it. It's generally true, though, that the visual concept wasn't necessary to the storytelling, and existed as "something extra," a purely aestheticized additional layer - which is always a risky thing. I can think of only one scene where the split screen was used in a functional way, and it was one of my favorites in the movie: the single shot of two park benches, presumably in separate areas of the same park, where the protagonists of the two threads of the story sit, head on to the camera, unaware of each other.

All I can say in defense of the general concept is that it wasn't just an attempt to distort space, which would have been too thin an idea. I found a lot of counterpoint at work: having created what is almost a funhouse world, Rosales then did a lot to normalize the broken image, giving us at various times a) compositional tranquility and balance; b) enough time to grasp the physics of the new space, so that we weren't simply disoriented; and, most importantly, c) natural light and sound that pulled the image back into the realm of documentation and often created a strange sense of serenity.

What the split screen has to do with Bresson, one way or another, I really couldn't say. I will repeat, though, that I didn't think the characters in La Soledad were depressed, or without expression. In fact, both the lead characters are conspicuously strong; and the acting here is full-bodied, albeit mostly restrained.

Have you seen McDonald's The Tracey Fragments? There's a film where the multiple screens aren't just an added layer of aesthetics, but the whole show!

December 17, 2007 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

"Better" and "more" are relative/subjective words, that wouldn't mean the same thing for me, so even if we agree on the terms, we will not agree on what they mean. If I say "less is more", cutting out all the unecessary mannerism and overstated narrative elements helps cinema to get rid of the distraction and focus on the essential and show it more and better. I don't find it useless at all. As a lover of "boring films", I believe that cinema could be understated, "empty" and "boring"... it's all a matter of perspective.

Your example of the Polyvision is an augmentation, like multiple films/stories running simultaneously (what Gance called "simultaneous parallel montage"). While Rosales doesn't mean to saturate the onscreen activity into an overnarrative spectacular showcase. It's like a rear view mirror, frame within the frame. Like Dan says, it's a counterpoint, a neutral control sample, to contrast with the appending action taking place in the next frame. I agree though that the framing is perfectible.

December 18, 2007 at 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, Harry,
Thanks for allowing me to go on... I will try to be brief insofar as my limited command of English allows me.
First, to clear some things up from the beginning: I do not find any real (good or bad) resemblance between Bresson and any of these much overpraised Spanish films which I happen to find either poorer than they could or simply very bad. The filiation has been suggested by other critics or by the filmmakers themselves, and echoes some superficial Bressonisms which one can detect on many French films since 1960 to this very day. To take Bresson as a model doesn't seem to me foolish, and he could have a sobering influence at times where filmmakers would rather emulate Scorsese, Spielberg or Kubrick. On principle, I would feel nearer to Rosales or Aguilera (and feel nearer to Rebollo or José María de Orbe) than to late Medem, Uribe, Amenábar or newcomers like Bayona. But I am not able to believe a word, a gesture, a frame in most of their (for me) very crude and lazy films, full of allusions (rarely more than mentions, theme-dropping in much the same way as others practice name-dropping) culled from TV News and newspaper headlines of the earlier half-year or so, without really treating them. Along with this, I see an oversimplification of characters, which (I feel) "act" (not much) like robots, not on their own (they recall me Bazin's article on the "cybernetics" of André Cayatte). The films tell you they are strong -- I don't see it. If they are laconic it is because they are created as isolated, unable (or unwilling) to communicate or express their feelings, and because it saves the trouble of writing believable dialogue and then directing the actors so that they make it sound real.
I love also films that a lot of people may find boring or empty or slow (but I do not think they are any of such things), from "Gertrud" to Huillet & Straub, Godard, Bresson, Rohmer, Oliveira, Kiarostami and some others; I may like as well very "cinematic", dynamic, fast-moving, action-packed films, from Hitchcock to some Peckinpah or Scorsese, and I see no merit whatsoever in merely letting time pass, in silence or with some sort of voice-over, over long-held shots of one or two persons of which one ignores almost everything.
As for the "polyvision", I'm long past any dogmatic manias (there can be very good zooms, even if most are cheap) to disapprove theoretically of it or any other thing (even the slanted framings of "The Third Man"), if the results add something which otherwise could no be conveyed (or so forcefully or economically expressed), but not when they are a gimmick intended to be "different" and therefore claim a bit of attention in a certainly very competitive business. Technology or very obtrusive tricks allow to displace any discussion from more serious issues and to pretend some sort of "modernity".
No, I have not seen The Tracey Fragments, but I have seen other films which put split-screen to a useful function, instead of merely creating spatial disorientation or escaping the choice of an angle and the choice of a take over another.
When I say cinema serves to see better and more, I don't mean just optically, it has nothing to do with any notions of transparence, simplicity or innocence. Such un-transparent filmmakers as Eisenstein, Hitchcock, Visconti or Welles have also taught how to look at the world and have allowed us to understand it better...
Miguel Marías

December 19, 2007 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

This is by far the most comments that one of my blog posts has drawn!

I think that the characterizations in La Soledad are worked out in the script and playing, and are not just a result of the movie's general tone. For instance, the young divorcee's ability to cope with change and adverse circumstances is commented upon by other characters; and the script opposes her to a weaker, more dependent ex-husband. Unlike you, Miguel, I think that Rosales's approach to performance is much more full-bodied and psychologically accountable than, say, Bresson's.

I rather liked Lola, la película, though it wasn't ambitious enough: it accumulated interesting undertones and vibrations, and then ignored them when working out the development of the story (especially the ending). But the film had a nice, old-fashioned camera sense; and it surprised me by giving its characters a natural, unstressed mixture of motivations instead of the simplifications that biopics usually hand out. (The fictional Lola Flores, for instance, seemed to conduct her love life partly out of self-interest and ambition, and yet was also presented as having a sincere attachment to her partners.)

December 20, 2007 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

I could see the accusation of excessive/clumsy "pseudo-minimalism" in Marc Recha's Dies d'agost, which I failed to understand.
Rosales' and Aguilera's film only show the imperfections of a debut carreer, but I wouldn't say their styles are fundamentally corrupted by lack of personality, or lazy appropriation.

I'm not dismissing Polyvision because it's too narrative. I'm just saying it was a different ballpark of narrative mode.

I don't understand the problem with deadpan acting, it's not new and it's not unique to Bresson. Without mentionning Bretch, Beckett, Ionesco, we have a bunch since Keaton, and Tati, Duras, Straub, Warhol, Garrel, Angelopoulos, Jarmusch, Antonioni... They are not "bressonian", but they established minimalist acting as a potent option in cinema. Could you elaborate why you dislike it?

December 21, 2007 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Dan, preparing for the Cine Latino sidebar at the Palm Springs International, I am grateful for your comments in defense of Solitary Fragments. Said defense, with Harry's insights folded in as well, have made Solitary Fragments high on my list of films to catch at PSIFF. Enthusiasm remains much more convincing to me than disdain, no matter how critically nuanced.

It's been interesting for me, coming late to the discussion, to see you fashion a "review" of Solitary Fragments in--echoing the film--fragments.

December 23, 2007 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Thanks, Michael. After you see the film, please let us know how it struck you.

December 25, 2007 at 5:41 PM  

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