Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Queen of Versailles

(Lauren Greenfield / 2012)

Very few filmmakers get interviews like this. Greenfield belongs to that rare circle of Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, and to a lesser extent, Adam Curtis. Only they can give their subjects enough rope to hang themselves. And yet an uneasy sympathy (or pity) comes through. And like Herzog and Morris, an allegorical mise en scene shares the frame with the banality of reality television tropes. Her talking head footage seamlessly fits within the gonzo construction of a perverse reality. The environment of each interview tells us as much as the subjects. They become one and the same.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Who Knows What About Movies?

My partner and I were Sam and Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom for Halloween and nobody knew what the hell that was. Outside of my movie friends the film does not exist. I would have expected this had we gone as Irma Vep and Guérand, not Wes Anderson characters. Perhaps its the innocuous title: Moonrise Kingdom sounds like a Twilight installment. I wonder, because conversation has proven that these people are familiar with (and love) Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr Fox. Do they only know about films that advertise on the streets they travel or run commercials during the reality TV they watch? I know not everyone eats movies like I do, but I might as well have been explaining that we were characters from a Lav Diaz movie.

Films are always falling in and out of cultural memory. If anything speaks to the value (for me) of writing about film, of criticism, of video essays, and perhaps even film studies, it is the experience of this movie being totally forgotten in the realms I navigate (non-film academics, retail job, [most] friends and family). A mainstream film with A-list talent that has only been on DVD for a month.


A coworker, knowing I like movies, asked me what the deal was with John Waters. They had never heard of him or any of his pictures. They were fascinated by what they were watching (working through a boxed set someone lent them). I don't know much about their tastes or politics, but they were thrilled by this new find. If anything speaks to the longevity of subterfuge (for me) it was this moment. Even when movies or entire directors drop out of some people's cultural memory, they still retain the power to shock and disrupt and plant seeds of curiosity.


I recall an add slogan run by NBC's Must See TV when I was a child: if you haven't seen it, it's new to you.


This is the entirety of an exchange in the comments sections of a piece for The Notebook written by Fernando F. Croce (source):

Blue K Custodian of the Cinema:  Wow, you guys send “critics” to a major festival who haven’t even seen a single work by Ghatak? Bravo.

Daniel Kasman: Ghatak’s films are very hard to see in the States, Blue.

Fernando F. Croce: This “critic” hopes to never run out of new directors to discover.