“I would not have made any of my films or written scripts such as Taxi Driver had it not been for Ingmar Bergman… He was an old man. But what he has left is a legacy greater than any other director. He made film-making a serious and introspective enterprise. No one had been able to pull that off until he showed up. I really wasn’t that interested in being a film-maker, except in the way that Bergman redefined what you could be as a film-maker. I think the extraordinary thing that Bergman will be remembered for, other than his body of work, was that he probably did more than anyone to make cinema a medium of personal and introspective value. Movies by nature are, of course, very commercially driven and very accessible. No one really used cinema as private personal expression in that way. Bergman showed that you could actually do movies that were personal introspections and have them seen by general audiences.” [Expanded at the link.]
Geoffrey McNab was one of the last journalists to get near Ingmar Bergman, at last month’s Bergman Week on Faro Island. Excerpts: “He doesn’t have to meet people here. He can be alone with the stones and the heavens. It is good for the soul,” the actress Barbro Hjort af Ornas said of Faro, the remote, windswept island in the Baltic Sea where Ingmar Bergman died yesterday. She first met Bergman in the late 1930s, when she appeared in amateur plays that he directed. As a Faro resident, she understood why he sought refuge there. “The air is different, the light is different. There is a peace you can get here – an absolute peace. No one to see and nothing to disturb you, just nature.” During the lectures and screenings devoted to Bergman, McNab writes, “it was midsummer. It didn’t get dark at all. Not that this changed the island’s eerie atmosphere. As Bergman testified, “my ghosts, my demons, phantoms and spirits never appear at night. They often appear in broad daylight.” … He had had a hip replacement and was reportedly confined to a wheelchair. His eyesight was fading and he had stopped watching films in that specially built cinema… There were rumours that he was beginning to deviate from the rigorous daily routine he had followed for so long – brisk early morning walk, three-hour writing stint, lunch, reading and then an afternoon film… Everyone was looking forward to his 90th birthday next July. Events were being planned all over the world: retrospectives, travelling exhibitions. Now, one guesses, these events will be rushed forward… In some quarters, there will be relief at Bergman’s passing. The Swedes, who sometimes gave the impression of being embarrassed by this monumental figure in their midst, will be able to honour him without reservation. The old spats – the battle with the tax authorities that led him to live in exile, the debates about his stifling effect on younger film-makers – will be forgotten. He will take his place in the list of their major cultural figures, at least the equal of his beloved Strindberg… There was something Prospero-like about Bergman on his island. He would talk without irony about the spirits who surrounded him on Faro. He needed his demons – his fear and rage. “Of course the demons have to be around,” he told his friend and fellow film-maker Jorn Donner. “But as long as I am in the studio or theatre, I control the universe and so the demons are automatically kept under control.” [More at the link.]
Antonioni on transforming a “natural” space he’s chosen to shoot in: “You are describing a tempttion I have every time I go anywhere, to an office or to a private home. Sometimes it even arises in my own house. Someone comes to see me and suddenly, during the conversation, I feel uneasy; it is because I feel that we are badly placed in the room, we are badly seated. He is on a sofa, I am next to him, while I ought to be seated opposite him. And instead of a wall with a picture on it behind the back of the man I am speaking to, I should like to have a window, perhaps even so that I could distract myself by looking out. When I shoot a film, that is all I am doing. I arrange things and people the way they ought to be.” [From L’Express, September 8, 1960.] Links: Some thoughts on Zabriskie Point; “I am not God, but…“: on the making of Blow-up; Robert Koehler on the reissue of The Passenger, “that cinematic Rip Van Winkle… 30 years after its controversial premiere in 1975, [it’s an] anti-adventure, as slippery as an eel.”
Jack talks up his love for Michelangelo.
Take it away, Stu: “I live kind of a pathetic little life in Jersey City, N.J. There’s the tiny apartment I just moved into, with the home office, two disused CD players, a stack of unpaid bills, an empty refrigerator and more dirty clothes than I can sometimes afford to wash. Traffic noise persists virtually around the clock. None of the bodegas in the neighborhood sell beer, and none of the liquor stores sell food. The last tenant took the air conditioners he pledged to leave behind. I’m too cheap to replace them. Across Montgomery Street is a church that I spy every day and from which a cloudburst of hymns sneaks through its three-story facade each weekend. It’s a Spanish-language church; I can’t make out a word of it. But there’s something very familiar about its weekday quietude — the boxy crosses and weathered wooden doors, the tiny vestibule tucked between the bases of twin spires, the faded blue and yellow windows against the sand-colored walls, an old, humble monolith that would apologize for its own symmetry if it could. In my lapses of workaday self-pity, I stare out the window and think, “It’s like a scene from a Bergman film.” Well, of course it is. Everything is like a scene from a Bergman film…” [Much more at the link.]
One paragraph in Paul Cullum‘s a raft of anecdotes and history and remembrance of LA rep house majordomo Sherman Torgan: “Rod Steiger came down here to see Children of Paradise with a whole entourage,” remembers Robert Nudelman, a building-restoration advocate and weekly patron since the theater’s launch. “Robert Altman drove by the theater a couple of years ago when a double bill of his was playing — I think he was on his way to the Golden Globes — and he got out to say hello and get a program. And Lawrence Tierney [the character actor whose career was revitalized by Reservoir Dogs, which played an extended midnight run at the theater]: Here was a guy who was pretty much forgotten or disliked by everybody, and it’s one of the few places he could come and talk to people and enjoy himself. His big social event was coming down here.”
Errol Morris has said something to the effect that if you point a camera at anyone without asking them a question, just stare at them with a “dog face,” they’ll go crazy and tell you anything you want. Charlyne Yi’s version is slightly sunnier.
From the Telegraph, Nick Broomfieldmakes breakfast: “A nice frothy cappuccino and porridge. Earlier this year I spent four months in Jordan filming Battle for Haditha, about the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians by US Marines in 2005. The locals in Jordan thought the crew and I were mad because we ate porridge for breakfast in the blazing heat. It was a tough film to shoot. My last two films have been dramas – I’m getting too old for documentaries – but filming this was exhausting.”
While it’s taken eighteen years to get blown up to movie scale, the marketing of The Simpsons Movie has taken twists and turns the past few weeks, with a screening in time for most reviewers’ deadlines added only at the end of last week. Fox has in the past few years withheld bad movies from reviewers until the last minute, the rumored reason here was to prevent all the jokes from getting repeated. While the jokes are nonstop from the first frame to the last, if you read five reviews and each give away five jokes with context, there’s twenty-five little “oof!s” you’ll no longer have in the dark with a paying, tickled audience.
The question of spoilers in general came up in a Sunday op-ed by Village Voice writer Nathan Lee (whose passionately empurpled prose is also featured in Film Comment), in which he rows for spoilers. Of the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” early reviews in the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times, Lee writes, “Personally, I couldn’t care less about the fate of the neurotic boy wizard. Professionally—as a film critic who might be assigned to review the movie version someday I hope he croaks. I’m a sucker for bleak endings… I’m that terrible thing, the film critic [who isn’t afraid to use spoilers]… [T]here isn’t a single frame of The Number 23 I wouldn’t mock in great, guiltless detail… I’m confident that my readership does not include humorless scholars of the Joel Schumacher oeuvre. To spoil or not to spoil involves larger questions about the role of the critic, the needs of the reader and the changes to both caused by the scale, speed and outlaw spirit of Web-based commentary…”
If you’re in Chicago, at 7pm tonight at the Apple Store at 679 N. Michigan, I’ll be conducting a conversation with Julie Delpy, sponsored by indieWIRE, about her writing-directing debut, Two Days In Paris.
You can neither make beautiful, great movies without risk as you can make babies without sex. Risk is part of the artistic process. That’s why I like performance, because performance is walking a high wire.
~ Francis Coppola
“Probably the most heralded movie I’ve ever been in was Forrest Gump. While I was sitting on the park bench, I asked Bob, ‘Is anyone going to care about this guy?’ He said, ‘I don’t know Tom. It’s a mine field. It’s a fucking mine field.’ So when it works, you just say, ‘We dodged all the mines.'”
~ Tom Hanks