The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid 22 October 2014
Categories: Film / dvd-mine
Yes, gratuitous violence and sexism. So, there you are. That’s it.
A few points come to mind:
- These two films are like a membrane between life and death. You feel, I feel, the dirt, heat, sweat, and salt of life and death.
- The death is on this side of the membrane. Death here is not, for me, exclusively limited to the killings in the film. They are more formal elements, choreographed, gestures: particularly in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid the many shootings are painterly, he literally and clearly uses simple red paint for the little explosions and spatters of blood. The sunlight and grime which permeate both films are drenched in death.
- The sexist portrayal of women is also strangely formal in the sense that Peckinpah is saying, okay, here is a woman and I will portray her in this form, in this manner, namely how I and, to be honest, much of society sees women. But there is a kind of indifference towards the women which is superficial, simply showing a lack of interest and not cruelty.
- The women in these two films are certainly portrayed in the oppressive relations, roles, and constraints that women are subjected to in our society. I’m talking here about underlying power relations, not individual circumstances.
- Yet the women in these two films are more alive and present than the men, though of course powerless and subjugated to them at the same time. The women are more real: in fact they are mostly probably not actresses but just extras, in other words real people, which they mainly come across as.
- But the men are also subjugated to something, in the grips of some momentum they can’t free themselves from. They talk about going to Mexico for freedom, but that will never happen, it isn’t possible, they can’t liberate themselves from what they are caught up in, which is mainly getting money and shooting anyone who is remotely in their way. And particularly as in The Wild Bunch they prefer to follow their principles to certain death rather than abscond to Mexico with their gold.
- It is as if women are on the other, “life” side of the membrane, and men are on this death side of the membrane.
- These films make me think about consciousness, or degrees of consciousness or its lack. This is a tricky theme. We are not as conscious as we would like to think we are. The difference between our consciousness and that of other animals is not as black and white as we would like to think. Our will is not as free as we would like to think it is.
- There is a relativity of principles and morals driving these two films, a relativity depending on the circumstances as they change and unfold: Borgnine’s character says something along the lines of it not being only about making a promise, but who you make it to.
- Title: The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
- Directed by: Sam Peckinpah
- Writing credits: Walon Green, Sam Peckinpah, Roy N. Sickner / Rudy Wurlitzer
- Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Warren Oates, Edmond O'brien, Jaime Sanchez, Strother Martin, and more / James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Richard Jaeckel, Katy Jurado, Chill Wills, Barry Sullivan, Jason Robards, Bob Dylan, Luke Askew, Rita
- Cinematography: Lucien Ballard / John Coquillon
- Year: 1969 / 1973
- Further details: These DVDs were a gift from N.
Philip Guston and Géricault in the Schirn 26 January 2014
Categories: Exhibition / museum
I visited the Schirn Kunsthalle yesterday to see two exhibitions: Philip Guston and Géricault. I liked them both. Géricault was very moving. What he did in his short short life was powerful. I also like Guston: the thing about his late paintings is that they are finished, they are just there, they have a simple and genuine sense of completeness.
- Title: Philip Guston and Géricault in the Schirn
- Year: 2014
- Venue: Schirn Kunsthalle
The Great Gatsby 11 June 2013
Categories: Film / in-a-cinema
I know almost nothing about Fitzgerald’s writing and I don’t think I would like it. I really only know about him as a friend of Hemmingway’s, and as a contemporary of James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound, all authors and poets I love.
I watched this movie to the end in order to find out what the point of it was, what the story was about. And anyway it was easy on the eyes, voluptuous, visually self-indulgent – entirely made with special effects. I don’t care for supposedly naturalistic films made with special effects, only films that involve invading aliens or natural catastrophes (which are no longer entertaining for me anyway in our era of environmental abuse and an increasingly unstable climate – I just witnessed some of the terrible damage of the floods in parts of Germany).
As far as I can gather from the story as depicted in the film, it is about idealized love, and the purity of its feeling, contrasted with the inauthenticity of the rest of life.
Some reviews I have read of the film criticize it for being inauthentic, shallow, two-dimensional. Now, I don’t like the film or the story, and maybe I’m being too generous about the intentions of the film-maker, but my impression is that that is the point, that the form does in fact reflect the content. A luxuriously artificial world created by decadent wealth in order to skate over harsh reality. That was the film as filmed, the cinematography, though you can hardly call it cinematography in the traditional sense of film run through a camera. It was shallow and inauthentic and visually excessive from beginning to end, serving as a foil for the real, authentic, idealized, pure love carried as a torch by Gatsby. Not that I buy into this idealized love, but I think the author of the book and the maker of the film do.
So I don’t think some of the reviewers I have read were right.
Or maybe I’m wrong. But I doubt if I’ll read the book or more reviews in order to get more clarity about that.
One element that I think supports my view is the use of the doctored photos in the film: they are the most authentic and naturalistic visuals in the movie. What I mean is: while watching it I was at first surprised at how badly the retouched, composite black and white photos of the protagonist’s faked life were. But as the film developed and some of the photos were shown, I realized that they reflected how such photos would be retouched with the technology available at that time – hence the only visual authenticity: evident forgeries of his life. If this is the case (maybe some other reviews touch on this), then it is a moderately intelligent touch by the film-maker. The reality of faked reality in faked reality. The most inauthentic character was that way because of his authenticity.
But still, it is not a movie I will watch again.
One thing that put me off about the movie and I consider even racist is how hip-hop music was used in most scenes depicting decadence.
- Title: The Great Gatsby
- Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
- Writing credits: Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, screenplay by Craig Pearce
- Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Toby McGuire, etc.
- Year: 2013
- Cinema: Savoy Cinema, Dublin, Ireland
Eric Clapton 31 May 2013
On Wednesday the 29th we saw Clapton in the Frankfurt Festhalle. It was a beautiful concert. My first time seeing him. So I am making progress in seeing everyone I deem important.
The opening concert was Andy Fairweather Low, who I am afraid to say I had never heard of, though certainly I have heard his voice and guitar playing, based on all of the records he has participated in. He is a long-time colleague and friend of Clapton’s and often tours with him.
- Title: Eric Clapton
- Venue: Frankfurt Festhalle