Wednesday, August 1, 2007

filmmakers pass on . . .

ingmar bergman, 89
michelangelo antonioni, 94

full stories found (at least) at The New York Times

i have seen only a few of the masterful films of these two filmmakers. i did not, as The New York Times stories suggest has been the case with many viewers, always see their films as coherent or abundantly clear, but then i tend to enjoy ambiguity in film; in many ways it's what allows us to discuss -- sometimes over coffee and cigarettes (please forgive the cliche) -- just what is going on in, sayWild Strawberries or L'Avventura, both of which i found confounding but also brilliant in many ways. L'Avventura was initially booed and hissed at Cannes, but as Gary Morris explains in an Images article, "[f]ortunately, a small band of critics recognized the film’s ravishing pictorialism in the service of a vision of modern life as a quiet hell of ennui." "a quiet hell of ennui"(QHOE, which i'm going to normalize within my discourse). that 's good. and it's applicable, as i recall the film. and it's true that i a shared a vision of these characters (on the island) as "shallow," i admit that i sensed, at times, greatness, especially in its bleak pictorialism, which so clearly reflected that QHOE.

i imagine lots of Berman and Antonioni will be appearing on TNN, IFC, Sundance Channel, and so on. i plan to wallow in the various takes on homage.


chris said...

i always want to watch older, classic cinema - or at least films acted / directed by "the greats." i always tend to go look for Humphrey Bogart movies, though. i'll bet i've watched Casablanca a half-dozen times (love that film). my humble dvd collection only admits to a few classics (Ikiru, Godfather I II III, Casblanca, The Big Sleep, Outlaw Josey Wales)

perhaps i'll go pick up Wild Strawberries or L'Avventura.

you're the buff - any other suggestions...?

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

getting ready to teach, Chris. i'll come back to this and see if i can recommend, although Casablanca is a favorite few can deny ;)

chris said...


Kafkaz said...

Time for you to read Cigarettes are Sublime, which a friend gave me many years ago, now. You'd love it--a very poetically theoretical analysis of smoking, and of course incorporating film, as well as writing.

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

ooooohhhhhh. yes, i need that! i think i recall seeing it years ago.

i feel that i need to say that i smoke less than once a month (because i know it's dumb, ultimately; i'm not addicted, and sometimes, i just want one).
actually, i have not smoked since the one i had in May.

just feels like something i should add ;)

i'll get the book (and hope it doesn't seduce me into wanting to smoke more, like some films easily do).

bonnie lenore kyburz said...


first, see _Persona_. it's difficult for me to watch for many reasons, but it's masterful.

there was a funny moment at C's or MLA (can't recall which) a few years ago. Deb Holdstein was talking about film, and she saw me in the audience and said something like, "i know bonnie's a film person and may not like to hear this, but i can't bear to watch _The Seventh Seal_--a Bergman classic). i thought it was funny and admired her admission, so i have to add that for me, generally, watching B and A is sort of like *work*, at times (w/ _L'Avventura_ especially!). but there's something about their work, for me, that sort of mystifies, even in its clunky-feeling mysticism (i think here of _Wild Strawberries_; one has/had to appreciate what B was doing, especially w/ a certain dream-like quality, which he says he was after in the "semi" autobiographical narrative. it's important to build my historical repertoire so that i can think carefully about what i'm doing now (not essential for a filmmaker but for me, for someone who wants to both make films and think about film (film as rhetoric, film production).

in my C's paper, i obliquely referenced Fritz Lang's _M_, which is considered sort of the "original" film noir . . . you might want to see that. amazing.

as w/ some directors, you feel or know you should watch their work because of what they did, ground they broke, to put it crudely. and that's just that. you may see it w/ contemporary eyes and find it exasperatingm as i did w/ Godard's film _Le Mepris_. as i was prepping for C's '07, i wrote to Phillip Lopate, who wrote the piece for the Criterion Collection (and gushed that he loved it, Godard's best, he said). but the piece was written a while back, so i emailed P to see if that opinion still held; he said "yes." i was stunned. i found the film so (i have to come back to it) exasperating whereas _Breathless_ was the shit. and _Masculin-Feminin_, which i think you might really like, and, of course, _Alphaville_. early, underfunded, underdetermined Godard. funny, P doesn't care so much for these early films compared w/ the latter. i was stunned. but i respect P and his view; just don't get it.

chris said...

my that's a lot of homework! and it may take me a while to get around to all of that. thanks K and B for the suggestions, though.

say, do you know if the Criterion Collection has released anything on Carrey's early classic "Ace Ventura Pet Detective"? j/k i'm sure that probably made you cringe (which is why i am chuckling slightly) :)

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

oh, lordy ;)

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

It's awards show Sunday, so i'm giving Margot. I'm through with the wishfulness and angst and regret, and Margot, more than an...