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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Rules of the Game's positive negative

Rules of the Game taught me the rules of the game,” Kevin Thomas quotes Robert Altman in a dispatch detailing the recent 35mm digital restoration of Jean Renoir‘s 1939 masterpiece (the prior Criterion DVD edition was only cleaned up for video). rulesofgame-terrace.jpg Thomas also quotes Renoir as saying his rationale for making pictures was to make “audiences feel a little less lonely.” Showing at the NuArt in Los Angeles and opening Friday at Chicago’s Music Box, the negative of Rules of the Game was destroyed by bombs during World War II. The two men who first reconstructed the film “labored three years to incorporate the trimmed footage, found untouched in a warehouse, with the best portions of the few copies of the soon-banned film that survived the war. They managed to reconstitute the film with less than a minute missing. Only now has it become possible to see Rules of the Game as it looked upon its July 7, 1939, Paris debut. That’s because Criterion[‘s Janus] Films has undertaken a complete digital restoration of a fine-grain master print located in Paris after a painstaking search… While Roger Ebert has expressed puzzlement that “this magical and elusive work” always seems to place second to Citizen Kane on best-films lists, Bertrand Tavernier, a major contemporary French director whose work reflects a deep knowledge and appreciation of world cinema, has said that he would “give the whole of Citizen Kane” for a shot like that of the guests arriving at the chateau “like in a Robert Altman film, with people talking, overlapping within the shot, and a wonderful depth of focus.” Indeed, for critic J. Hoberman Rules of the Game is “a movie that Woody Allen, Robert Altman and Mike Leigh, to name three, are always trying to remake.” *

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch