Film recommendation: “Paris, Texas”

Two days ago I watched this film at the cinema. A friend told me that it is widely available online, but I preferred to go to the cinema, for its setting and rituals: comfortable seats, great audio and video, planned timing and breaks. It is a situation where I have to decide very little and I can concentrate fully on the film.

IMG_20170808_192906

I have been enchanted by the colours, all along the film. Camera angles were a treat in practically every scene (I thought that the film could be stopped almost anytime and printed out on a large canvas, with wonderful results). But maybe I enjoyed the careful, slow unwinding of the characters’ stories even more than everything else. It seemed to me that some moments were not acted at all, they seemed so alive and real. I enjoyed the sensation of having enough time to understand what the characters thought, what they felt, instead of having to pick clues or devices put in place to signify an emotion, but in a way that saves film-time. I felt there was no plot, no planned outcome, and this made me feel relaxed – otherwise, when I know that the plot has to follow certain steps, I end up fixing my attention to it, afraid of missing a clue, but missing a whole bunch of other information.

It was great to watch the movie together with many other people. We chuckled, paid close attention, smiled, laughed and sighed together. It was precious to hear the buzz of conversations started right out of the doors, people flowing out in pairs or small groups, all starting a discussion about some particular scene or their impressions. There were people who didn’t like the film, and it didn’t bother me, even if I loved it a lot. There are many factors that need to be there to make you enjoy an artistic creation like a movie, not all under our control; maybe they were tired or worried about something and could not focus; maybe they didn’t like the story. Some films and books clicked for me only when I saw them again much later, with a different mindset.

For this movie, I liked the large space that the creators reserved to the spectator, to be filled with personal interpretations and empathy. There are very little hints of the opinion of the creators on the complex net of relationships among the characters, and their lives’ difficult turns. I felt that they offered that story to me, as it was, without trying to make sense of it themselves.

I’m curious to see more movies like this, and I am open to suggestions! Let me know in the comments.

Advertisements

“Robby Müller – Master of Light”: exhibition at Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin


Yesterday I visited Robby Müller’s exhibition and decide to take all the time I needed to savour it. As the exhibition is about cinematography, the movies were aired in short excerpts, and this helped me ask: “How did Müller convey the impression of a small room? Which angles did he choose? How did he work with light?” instead of the usual “What is happening in this scene? What’s the story?”. I loved the uncommon focus on what is usually considered backstage work, whose goal is to support the narrative. It made me feel at ease, and made me appreciate those film excerpts enormously. It felt like being more than a spectator, there was a connection with the cinematographer and the director rather than with the film characters. This is the role I feel closer to myself: the informed spectator. I don’t see myself as participating in the action, nor as the naive receiver of cinema tricks and devices. I am audience, who aims to feel close to who realised the film.

One film I want to watch in its entirety is Paris, Texas, with its silences, filled up with the landscapes and the human society that lives and walks around the protagonist like a storm of busy insects. Colors and lights are incredibly dense, like in an oil painting.

Image from film-grab.com

The exhibition also included a small selection of Polaroid photos taken by Müller on his travels. They were stunning. No surprise – but it urged me to learn more about picture composition and lights, because they are more important than the technology of your camera. I am struggling with photography books, which go either too little or too much in detail, and with my inability to see my mistakes in the pictures I take. Luckily I can ask advice to a few friends who are both great photographers and good teachers!

On acting, on roles

I had planned a book review for today, but either it is too long since I read the books I’d love to talk about, either I borrowed them and can not go through my bookmarks to find the excerpts I cherished the most.

So, let today’s post be a reflection on acting and on the roles you can build, or have to fit in, as a human being. I have been fascinated by how the actors of Sherlock have created such rich characters, full of little details and vibrant from emotions, but without identifying themselves in them (you can see how they appear outside of the stage, and even briefly when they pop out of their character’s role on stage. Intriguing). I wondered how it would feel to keep being a given character in real life, and concluded that it would not be possible – as much as a statue or a painting are not as alive as the subject they represent. The way in which these actors carefully build their own characters, line by line, gesture by gesture, is the most artificial way that I can imagine. No one could create his/her image for the public like this, without feeling the varying gap between the character’s personality and his/her own, and suffering from it. There would never be room for truly natural behaviour, as everything would have to be considered by the mind-director before being executed.

Still, I find that the acting process is able to generate extremely valuable insights in one’s own personality. A particular ease or difficulty in acting a line tells much on how one built him/herself during the years; and the stage offers a relatively safe place to test  changements, because it is not you, rather your character who is in the spotlight.

Let me conclude with my love for the backstage – for the basement where the statue stands – for the closeness of actors beyond their characters – for the privilege of knowing how a magic trick (let it be a play, a concert, a dance show, a cooking recipe!) comes to life – for the sweet, subtle pleasure to be among the magicians.