Archive for April 2nd, 2018

© 2018 by James Clark

      Marketing films would seem to be a straightforward matter. Some subjects attract a large constituency; other subjects find niches within the vast clientele. Of course, professionalism is indispensable. And essential to that construction would be a solid vision that there is a demand commensurate to the costs, financial and wear and tear. Some viewers want to be simply entertained; some viewers want more than that. And filmmakers are well aware how their vehicles can succeed in that division. Whereas the single-minded entertainers occupy an industry like any other industry, those practitioners aware that movies can function as disclosure—not only on the same level as the venerable arts but on a step above—have placed themselves within a far more complex sphere of communication. The majority of such film folk see a clear route to lucrative and enjoyable outcomes by catering to long-standing verities. Tweaking what religion, morality and science have plied for millennia garners the lion’s share of the activity we’ve begun to clarify. Some film artists graft unfamiliar factors to their conventional offerings, on the supposition that their clientele will appreciate a bit of daring (to be readily subsumed by their unshakable parameters).

Others of that predilection for more, having crunched many numbers along the way, openly defy in their work mainstream world history. Included in this rebellion are the many sensational possibilities which the volatile daring brings to itself. Thus, this wing of mavericks stands to entice a share of the lighten-up thrill-seekers. Diverse such artists—having now branded as “auteurs”—like, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick, Michael Mann, Brian De Palma—have ridden to fame and fortune along that career path. More recent entries to that fraternity can be seen in the work of Tom Ford, Ruben Ostlund and Martin McDonagh.

But this strategy, to me, anyway, affords being, if not obviated, complemented by a mode of filmmaking which has something very different in mind from the now well-known auteurship. Far removed from the glamor of being a wise, punk superstar, there is a notable development of films having spoken to alarmingly few. Their occurrence is so unprepossessing and so devoid of substantive direction that only those patient enough, to backtrack along its vast distemper to a (beckoning) hidden source, would assemble there. Paramount to this communication is a preparedness for never prevailing against a dead weight of anathematic destructiveness. (Such isolation being at the same time directed to share pleasures of self-sustainment, the energies of which soaring to real integrity with scant follow-up by that clientele, but enough fascination to look for more.) Three filmmakers—forget the auteur status—have brilliantly managed to sustain such a project while still being assumed to have been “indie” auteurs, show-biz insiders. The prototype, Abbas Kiarostami (1940-2016), became a gang of one, finding money and well-wishers in the impenetrable dark ages of Iran. Jim Jarmusch, a former Manhattan hipster-musician who spends virtually all his time and finds financing in Europe, excels in finding the light during a perpetual eclipse of the sun. The third such unknown, Kelly Reichardt, whose first film, River of Grass (1994), we take up here, has wonderfully accommodated our study of what makes her tick insofar as she has seen fit to, on completing the movie on tap, stay silent (with the exception of a couple of short experiments) for 12 years before proceeding with a manifold to stay the course. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

As I write this Monday Morning Diary this morning it is snowing outside.  The New York City area has yet again been pelted by the white stuff, sending a curt message to Spring that winter will not be vanquished without a fight.  Rarely does snow fall in April but here we are and it is remarkable school has convened what with a number of teachers living several towns away unable to reach this destination.

The Greatest Television Series Countdown Part 2 soldiers on and some splendid essays have been posted.  Keep watch for coming sensational podcasts from Jared Dec and Trevor Nigg, as well as future installments of the gloriously resurrected Fish Obscuro from Jared.  This coming week will feature the latest super essay from film scholar Jim Clark.

Jamie Uhler will soon be posting the introduction post for the second annual Allan Fish Online Festival to be staged in late May for ten to eleven days, depending on the number of volunteers.

Lucille, Sammy, Jeremy and I saw two films in theaters this past week.  One was a tense thrilled by Stephen Soderburgh and the other a Steven Spielberg box office hit that frankly did not float my boat. (more…)

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