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I saw an amazing
movie recently, and want to spread the word: Phil Morrison's JuneBug.
Really great. The best film I've seen all year. A bright reflecting pool,
with the stillest of surfaces, apparent calm and peace, but slowly revealed
to be miles deep and dark, with all sorts of wonders swimming in the depths
... but only visible to those who can look with averted vision to see
through the reflections and make out the flickers. Try to catch it. Spread
the word. Bring a friend. Tell a friend. We must support the good things
to make more good things possible.
is a filmmaker worth watching. A quiet, deep feeling, deep seeing artist
in a land of cleverness, entertainment, and noise.
read an exchange between Phil Morrison and Prof. Carney, click
To quote the
young John Keats (from memory--forgive any errors): Much have I travelled
in the realms of gold,/ And many goodly states and kingdoms seen/ Round
many Western islands have I been,/ Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold./
Oft of one wide expanse have I been told....
About ten years
ago, a student of mine, David Kang, recommended that I look at Wong Kar
Wei's work. Call me dumb, but I hadn't heard of it up until the time David
put me onto it. Long story short: I did and I haven't stopped looking
since. A few days ago, I saw 2046. It was a Saturday evening
screening and I sat in a 300-seat theater with no more than 15 other people
(alas), and applauded all alone when the credits rolled at the end. I
don't know whether 2046 is a movie or an opera, but whichever
it is, I do know it is a masterpiece. A modern version of Turandot.
Princesses in towers. Princes lined up to court her. Riddles being posed.
Heads rolling at wrong answers. Well, actually, the inversion of all of
that. Turandot inside-out. Turandot as a man. The princes
as women. But totally operatic in its emotional enormity and extravagance.
And brilliant and devastating. Nessun dorma. Vincero. Splendera!
You owe it
to yourself to see not only this film, but all of Wong Kar Wei's work.
There are only a few certifiable geniuses making films nowadays. (Abbas
Kiarostami, Mark Rappaport, Lars Von Trier, and Mike Leigh are the names
of some of the others.) Anyone who cares about the present or future of
the art should make it a point to master the complete works of each of
these artists. Wong Kar Wei's work too, of course. Give thanks such a
Ray Carney also highly recommends
Andrew Bujalski's new (and as of this date--Summer 2005--unreleased) Mutual
Appreciation. It's just as good as Funny Ha Ha (click
here to read about it), or maybe even better (but rankings are invidious).
It deserves to be well-known.
Bujalski is one of the shining
lights of the younger generation American indie movement. He is the Renoir
of Gen Z (or whatever the heck letter we have devolved down to in this
new and otherwise fairly unfunny century). Funny Ha Ha and Mutual
Appreciation give us new eyes and ears. They let us hear emotional
dog frequencies--and watch the butterfly flutters of feeling that bring
us together and pull us apart. Bujalski makes us laugh at our foibles--and
shed a tear of self-recognition at our fumblings of love.
It's a cause for celebration
when a new artist comes on the scene and helps to write the history of
the present, helps us to understand our own lives. His career is one to
watch. Please support him in any way you can.
I received this
announcement in my email the other day. I highly recommend Su Friedrich's
work, particularly Sink or Swim, The Ties that Bind,
Hide and Seek, and Rules of the Road. She is one of
America's artistic treasures.
"Outcast Films at www.outcast-films.com
is pleased to announce the release of acclaimed veteran filmmaker Su Friedrich's
films on DVD. Digitally re-mastered from the original 16mm negatives,
this collection of 13 films is essential for every library, media center,
as well as women and cinema studies programs. This collection of DVDs
includes the filmmaker's classic works such as SINK OR SWIM, HIDE AND
SEEK, THE TIES THAT BIND, DAMNED IF YOU DON'T, and THE ODDS OF RECOVERY,
as well as EIGHT BONUS FILMS."
recently came across the following statement by Peter Coyote and want
to reprint it here. San Francisco-based Rob Nilsson has been laboring
tirelessly and brilliantly in the American cinematic vineyards for almost
forty years and it's high time the importance of his work (which includes
the award-winning Signal Seven and Heat and Sunlight
as well as the more recent "Nine at Night" series) was acknowledged
and honored in his native land. Like many other American independent artists,
his films are better known in Paris, Tokyo, and Copenhagen than in New
York and Los Angeles. So much the worse for America. It's a sad reflection on American film reviewing and theater and festival programming. If you haven't discovered
them already, I highly recommend Nilsson and his films, and enthusiastically
agree with Coyote's assessment.
"If there were any
justice in the world, Rob Nilsson's actors from the Tenderloin Group would
be as widely recognized and hailed as any of the current crop of nobodies
gracing the pages of People and US magazine. In Rob's new film, NEED,
the latest in Rob's nine-picture series, the performances are every bit
as bold, daring, unremittingly true and startling as they have been in
all the others. Do whatever you have to do to see these films and these
actors. Done for less money than the "perk packages" some stars
receive they are gritty, true and moving. But, if there were any justice
in the world John Cassavetes would still be alive and recognizing Rob
Nilsson as his long-lost heir."
A letter recently received
by Prof. Carney:
Very much appreciate your putting the Coyote quote up on your site.
It means a lot to me.
And here's another quotation from Karen Black who attended both screenings
of NEED at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Makes me feel someone actually
sees what I've been up to.
Hope you're squaring off with the academic Fascists. When I think
about this country and what to value these days, I come up with only my
daughter, friends, some good bakeries, brew pubs and an occasional amazing
meal from a foreign tradition. The Arts are full of entitlement junkies,
pop poseurs and out and out charlatans. I'd like to be a Liberal, but
that's impossible given the absurdity of most of their chatter. I certainly
can't be a Conservative. I'll be dead soon enough without that. So maybe
I'm just a Dissenter, or with Conrad Aiken, "a yea sayer with nothing
to say yea to."
Yet I say "yea" to the occasional film which rises to the
level of honesty and a search for "the way things seem to be."
But when was the last one? Hard to remember. Oh yes, I was very moved
by Mike Leigh's VERA DRAKE. What a terrible wasteland we've fostered with
the determination to make art a handmaiden of politics. I was a reluctant
warrior 25 years ago, but I saw through it even then. Pointing out injustice
is to put a finger on your own heart. Look next door. Watch the squirrels.
It's the nature of things. Then comes Art to give you some sort of reason
to feel. Along with your daughter, a brew pub, sex, passionate friends
and the untrammeled universe no mind could ever comprehend... let alone
Ray Carney replies:
Thanks Rob. Funny, funny coincidence that you would
write today of all days. Dealing with some "academic issues"
right now. Have to post a disclaimer on my BU Film Studies pages. (Click
here to read it.) Don't mind doing it, since the wise ones will understand
or already understood without being told. Don't need a weatherman to know
which way the wind's blowing. But, as do your comments, it brings home
the fear that people are consumed by.
Delighted to include KB's quote on the site alongside
the other. And that too is another coincidence! Near the top of my Mailbag
page 34 I have an exchange with Jay Duplass, where he and I meditate on
the difference between films with and without "life" --in other
words about the difference between the morbidity of Hollywood and the
truthfulness of particular independent works -- in almost exactly the
same sense that Karen Black intends. But I have to thank you for her quote.
She describes the difference much better, much more clearly, and more
passionately than either Jay or I do. Ah, if only one critic or reviewer
in America understood what she, you, and I are talking about........ if
Watching Rob Nilsson's film "'Need",
I became aware that I was watching an entirely new kind of film. Shockingly
new the way cinema verite was new in its time, the way "Easy Rider"
was new, the way the impressionists were outcasts because no one had seen
the world through a painter's eyes that way ever before. And new in the
way that once these new forms of art were seen, nothing could ever be
the same again.
One is not watching a scripted movie and so
one doesn't watch actors doing their lines , achieving their emotions
well, or very well, or not so well. We're just not watching actors at
work. And one isn't watching an improvised movie. I've seen them and I've
been in them. In an improvised film, one knows somehow that the actors
feel a camera directed at them and that they'd better come up with something.
We're watching them improvise.
In Rob Nilsson's work, there is no script,
yet this is not really improvisation. So what is it? Well, it's life.
We seem to be watching life unfolding as it will, without a prompted direction,
without any given path.. As if we could, for these precious moments, stand
inside the rooms and touch the very skin of these people, mark the walk
they take to the window in the night. For Mr. Nilsson has created a technique
that makes it possible that the stories can be inside the players and
the players aren't playing, it seems. They are just living.
This is historic film making in the true sense
of the word. Historic, because if everyone suddenly began to make movies
the way Rob Nilsson makes them, Hollywood would vanish. The world of filmmaking
would be an entirely different one. When something truly great is spawned,
there is always the obvious question: why didn't anyone ever do this before!?
And the sad answer may be that no one ever will.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like
to become invisible and follow an interesting stranger down the street
and into his apartment, to be able to watch him and wait inside his room
to find out more about him? Now you can. Great movies have changed: now
they don't have to be dandified, orchestrated mirrors of life. With Rob
Nilsson's work, they are life.
Actress, Writer, Singer