By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

Bertolucci 2014

Last Tango, When I started, I didn’t know where I could go with Marlon Brando and Maria. Because there is something that you can’t tell in the screenplays—and it’s exactly what’s missing from screenplays—which is the flesh and blood of the real people in front of the camera. The script describes the characters, but when you go to shoot, you try to invent life in front of the camera. I don’t know… My wife says that I could make a cup of tea look sexy. When I did that film, nobody could have stopped me. In Italy it had been banned—it couldn’t be shown for I think 10 years after the opening, and I was condemned for two months in prison with suspension. Just a few months ago I was at the Cinémathèque Française for a retrospective and someone asked about shooting that scene in Last Tango. It was Marlon’s idea to use the butter. She knew there was a sex scene, but she didn’t know about the particulars. She was offended that I didn’t tell her, because I wanted her to react like a girl would react to that surprise. And that became a kind of scandal: “You make actors copulate in front of the camera, shame on you.” People thought they were really fucking! This is not the only film that I’ve done, but it’s the one that goes on and on and on.”
~ Bernardo Bertolucci 2014

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“When books become a thing, they can no longer be fine.

“Literary people get mad at Knausgård the same way they get mad at Jonathan Franzen, a writer who, if I’m being honest, might be fine. I’m rarely honest about Jonathan Franzen. He’s an extremely annoying manI have only read bits and pieces of his novels, and while I’ve stopped reading many novels even though they were pretty good or great, I have always stopped reading Jonathan Franzen’s novels because I thought they were aggressively boring and dumb and smug. But why do I think this? I didn’t read him when he was a new interesting writer who wrote a couple of weird books and then hit it big with ‘The Corrections,’ a moment in which I might have picked him up with curiosity and read with an open mind; I only noticed him once, after David Foster Wallace had died, he became the heir apparent for the Great American Novelist position, once he had had that thing with Oprah and started giving interviews in which he said all manner of dumb shit; I only noticed him well after I had been told he was An Important Writer.

“So I can’t and shouldn’t pretend that I am unmoved by the lazily-satisfied gentle arrogance he projects or when he is given license to project it by the has-the-whole-world-gone-crazy development of him being constantly crowned and re-crowned as Is He The Great American Writer. What I really object to is this, and if there’s anything to his writing beyond it, I can’t see it and can’t be bothered. Others read him and tell me he’s actually a good writer—people whose critical instincts I have learned to respect—so I feel sure that he’s probably a perfectly fine, that his books are fine, and that probably even his stupid goddamned bird essays are probably also fine.

“But it’s too late. He has become a thing; he can’t be fine.”
~ Aaron Bady

“You know how in postproduction you are supposed to color-correct the picture so everything is smooth and even? Jean-Luc wants the opposite. He wants the rupture. Color and then black and white, or different intensities of color. Or how in this film, sometimes you see the ratio of the frame change after the image begins. That happens when he records from his TV onto his old DVCAM analog machine, which is so old we can’t even find parts when it needs to be repaired. The TV takes time to recognize and adjust to the format on the DVD or the Blu-ray. Whether it’s 1:33 or 1:85. And one of the TVs he uses is slower than the other. He wants to keep all that. I could correct it, but he doesn’t want me to. See, here’s an image from War and Peace. He did the overlays of color—red, white, and blue—using an old analog video effects machine. That’s why you have the blur. When I tried to redo it in digital, I couldn’t. The edges were too sharp. And why the image jitters—I don’t know how he did that. Playing with the cable maybe. Handmade. He wants to see that. It’s a gift from his old machine.”
~ Fabrice Aragno