All posts by goldfarr

Man With A Movie Camera and Inception

Today in class I had brought up a lot of similarities between Inception and Man With A Movie Camera. I went online just now to see if anyone else shared my thoughts and sure enough… they did.

The city landscape folding on itself, the constant references to trains, and the kicker… The director’s name, in Russia actually means “Spinning Top.” So, it’s safe to say that Nolan is pretty influenced by this film, which makes sense, since Inception is essentially a metaphor for the movie making process anyways. Pretty amazing what 80 years of technology can do to what boils down to the same concept: the magic of movie making and the foundations of dreams.

Looking at this film 86 years after its release is like looking at any classical piece of art. Is it truly enjoyable and fun to watch? Actually, yes, at parts it certainly is. Especially with the incredible score blasting in sync with the images. However, this is not a film meant to entertain. It is a film meant to experiment with a relatively new paint brush. If we were to really break down some of the editing/technical magic Vertov pulls off in this time period, we’d be talking for days. As someone who is not technical, the cutting of images was so precise and meticulous, it would be incredible to see what the man could do with modern technology.

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Run Lola Run – the German Vertigo

I know a few others have pointed out the Lola similarities to Vertigo, but I’ll jump on the bandwagon. Firstly, I loved the movie. It was clearly created by a team of artists who love film. The structure, screenplay, editing, direction, music and acting were all so unique and different that I think this film belongs in the category for timeless, culturally important foreign films – it was excellent.

The vertigo references were often times blatant (on purpose) which was great. The spiral spinning behind Manni in the phone booth. The never ending spiral staircase. The credits with Lola running into the spiraling dimension warp. The painting in the casino. Tykwer, the director, took so many different film practices and stuck them together with a twist. I thought it worked beautifully. One thing that I always ask myself when I watch a film is, “What the hell happened to that side character we met for a minute? ” I really liked the Tykwer did the camera motif and showed all these butterfly affect scenarios. Motifs are an excellent way to end a film – it leaves the audience smiling. I also though that the pacing of the film was excellent. Another film that practices the “What if” scenarios is Sliding Doors, but Lola was much quicker and to the point. It was like a cooler version of speed with all these different scenarios. Plus, the subtle hints that Lola was knowledgeable of her previous attempts was very intriguing. Almost God-like. There is a film called Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal which goes through replays of scenarios or the recent Edge of Tomorrow which tackles the ground hog day approach and it works really well.

Philosophically, the film really addresses the theory of compatibilism  which offers that we can live with free will and determinism simultaneously without being illogical. The film starts with the security guard asking us to address these questions. Can we be liberated and make our own choices or are we stuck accepting a predetermined fate?

All in all, the movie is nothing short of brilliant. You can watch it and just have fun with it or you can watch it and dig into deep philosophical questions that will take you down a day long rabbit hole of questions. Not to mention the wild editing choices and directorial design. Awesome movie. Kuleshov would be very proud.

So close that he could hardly fail to grasp it

The above quote, from Gastby but appropriate for our discussion of Day for Night, is pretty perfect for Truffaut’s thesis. The dream scenes really stuck out to me… I loved the fact that we journey inside the director’s head for three vignettes and discover his inner psychological desires. For Truffaut, a cinematic masterpiece is his green light. And when we finally discover that the child is walking towards Citizen Kane posters (and struggles to reach for the posters of the masterpiece), we see that Truffaut desperately wants to make a piece of art that will allow us to see the world through his lens. I think it’s interesting to compare a man like Gatsby (a man made entirely from his own imagination) and Truffaut who is creating an entire world from his own imagination.

So to jump to a new topic regarding idealogical cinema apparatus – perhaps Baudry is completely right. All film is idealogical. There is no way for a film to be real. Truffaut confirms this with his behind the scenes look at the filmmaking process. But can’t life be purely idealogical? Can’t film not offer a better glimpse at reality than some people who choose to be alternative versions of themselves? Or is the alternative versions of ourselves merely alternate realities we create and thus all of reality is true verisimilitude, but art can never accomplish this due to the means of artistic communication may it be a brush, a guitar, or a camera. I’ve often found film to be far more educational regarding human interactions and communication styles than real life. Film paints life in an understandable way. I love that film is idealogical. It is a fantasy a collaborative group of artists create to help explain reality (when the film is trying to recreate life through a story).

I think all of us, may it be Gatsby, Truffaut, or anyone in the class, is in some way an idealogical version of themselves. That is how we see the world. It is natural. What Baudry argues is that film takes our idealogical lens and turns it into reality… Perhaps that’s the greatest mystery of them all. We all want to attain what is out of reach. We all want to secure our idealogical vision for our future. Sometimes it is so close we can hardly fail to grasp it. Film is our way of dissecting that inner quest – a quest that through cinema can bring us all together over a common ground, whether we read the film in similar ways or not.

La Nuit Americaine – “No one’s private life runs smoothly, that only happens in the movies.”

Truffaut’s master tale of filmmaking is all at once a structurally well made film with excellent characters, a well directed adventure into filmmaking and a commentary on the art form all of us are choosing to pursue in our academics. For anyone passionate about film, this should be the kind of film that we are immediately drawn to. The language is crisp, effective, funny and well delivered by the actors. Does it feel dated? Of course – but that only adds to the beauty. With the main theme being is film more important than life, or, better yet, is film perfection and life imperfection? Personally, what Truffaut touches upon in his film is exactly why I (personally) find film so intriguing and why it is an art form I wish to challenge myself in. This is not a painting. This is not music. And this is not a book. Film is a collaborative process involving so many different voices, suits, and set-backs that it is a true mystery how we find ourselves watching the cinema that we do.

One element of the film I find fascinating is the character of Alphonse. I love the fact that in all of his free time, he tells his cast and crew that he is going to the movies. A man obsessed by cinema tries to live his life according to the code of film. It’s a code I find myself living quite frequently as well. I think many actors, writers and directors look at reality through the lens of a camera… with an audience watching them. They thrive on drama, try to create picturesque moments, and question their faith in life when things go ‘off script’ in real life (as we see with Alphonse being dumped). Rationally, filmmaking is a story telling form of art that audiences watch for a variety of reasons… but it is not reality. I write scripts and find myself constantly frustrated when my conversations in life don’t follow the language and flow I give my characters… But it is something we all must accept, no matter how much we love to get lost in the world of cinema.

This is a film made by a man obsessed with his art form. He even plays the fictional director in the movie! My favorite line so far is said by Ferrand to Alphonse, now lost in despair – “No one’s private life runs smoothly, that only happens in the movies.” We love movies… plain and simple. Our personal preferences will vary, but that’s what makes film perhaps the greatest art form ever. It takes so many different genres, tones, mediums and voices and stuffs them together into moving images that dare to dazzle us and transport us to a new world to forget about the one we are currently in. “I’d drop a guy for a film… but I’d never drop a film for a guy.” I’d say the same (about a woman) but the point is clear… This is what we love. And the process might be like going to war… but when the final product is something to be proud of, it sure feels like victory. This was the perfect film to start with – and to answer day one’s question about why we need to know film theory… It’s because we need to understand what film is, it’s essence, and it’s relation to our lives and how it shapes us. If you live and breathe film (like I know many in the class do), you need to ask “what is my reality compared with my cinema.”