Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some Film Reviews

I haven't actually been to any movies (or watched any, for that matter) since the World Cup began - it's been a bit of a soggy patch for new releases, and that's made it easy to ignore films in favor of soccer. The World Cup only happens every 4 years, after all - and it is such a magnificent spectacle, it's hard to take your eyes away. So this post rounds up films I saw a few weeks ago, and has been sitting in draft ever since - that has more to do with a couple events (a niece's graduation, notably) taking up time than the cup, but still... There were some good ones in this batch, so I want to get it posted eventually...

Metropolis - the restored version: 15/15 - No doubt about it, this is an event. I don't know if it is because of the quality of the print, or the new footage, but it is like seeing a different film. The new footage is important - some of it is added plot - the "Thin Man", following Freder and his associates around town - more details about Georgy (the worker Freder trades places with) and Josephat (Joh's fired assistant) - etc... Though most of the additions seem to be adding shots to familiar sequences. These shots, maybe even more than the added plot elements, give the film a brand new feeling - and, frankly, make it seem more like a Fritz Lang film. A couple sequences in particular - Freder and Maria's rescue of the children, and the mob chasing the "witch" through the city - really illustrate this. Both are a good deal longer - both are much more detailed and intricate. The rescue gains a sequence trying to break through a grate that threatens to doom them at the last moment (a la Harry Lime) - the mob scene gains a number of shots, that show more of the geography of the city, and clarify the relationship between the two Marias (real and robot) and the mob. Bbut more than making more sense, the two esquences have a much better rhythm - Lang is a master of rhythm, of alternating slow and fast passages and shots, action and pause - he's a master of building tension and releasing it... that's missing in the versions of Metropolis I remember (and confirmed by glancing at my 10 year old DVD). Those sequences are dashed off in the old version - they lack sense (it's not clear at all that the mob is chasing the real Maria when they catch the robot, say), and the rhythm is direct and fairly monotonous. Everything is cut, action to action to action - all movement and violence, unfolded without pause. The new version is much more Langian - the action is varied - there are shots full of movement and shots of stillness, tension - literally, the movement of the children in the rescue and the mob in the chase is blocked - there are obstacles (the grate) - people in motion run into walls... Throughout these sequences, and many others, the new footage builds tension - creates multiple threads of action, retards the action before releasing it, and so on. I would say - for the first time, this film looked and felt like a truly great film - not just an iconic film, full of wild ambition and great imagery. For all that, in the past, I think I always felt a bit distanced from it - as iconic as its imagery and ideas were, the film felt dated. But the full version feels anything but dated - it is as thrilling and powerful as M or the Mabuse films - it's just bloody great.

Air Doll: 10/15 - Kore-Eda's little mermaid update - a sex doll comes to life, lives, suffers... It starts well, but it seems to run out of ideas. The Air Doll comes to life, wanders around Tokyo, takes a job at a video store, etc. - her adventures are intercut with snippets from the people around her - her owner, a clerk at the store and the store's manager, a drunk girl next door, some kind of kid, an old woman who seems to want to be arrested, a cop looking for bad cop movies, and old man on a bench, a father and daughter.... We get the usual array of living doll/robot/fairy princess imagery, but at first it's quite intriguing, in its low key meander through the streets, and its not-that-subtle intimations of sex slavery and the immigrant experience. (It's a Korean woman, after all, playing this doll - her experience is not unlike someone brought here, without knowing the language, dependent on a man, etc.) There are hints of similar alienation in the other characters - her owner is from Osaka, and she is mocked for speaking with an Osaka accent, for example - though most of the alienation turns out to be less literal, just loneliness and isolation. (That is, it blunts its potential political edge.) In the end, it never really builds - the second half tends to slide into cliches, competing cliches - will she be redeemed? will she be destroyed? will someone innocent suffer? It fades; Kore-Eda is a superb director, but this story loses its way and goes to nothing.

Harlan: In the Shadow of Jud Suss: 10/15 -fascinating documentary about the family of Veit Harlan, director of Jud Suss, dealing with the repurcussions of his activities in the war, especially that film. Or I should say - dealing with the lack of repercussions. The conscience of the film, and family, is Veit's son Thomas Harlan - who made a life of trying to take the responsibility for his father's act of enormity... Meanwhile the rest of the family seems to grasp the evil of the film, but still tend to make excuses - and claim that they are not to blame, that they too suffered - though it is to the point that they did not suffer in any way comparably to the way Jews suffered, to some extent because of the film. One of the women in the film talks about her grandparents - Harlan on one side; on the other, a Jewish couple who were murdered in Russia. The film addresses these issues quite well - through the experience of this family.

Network: 10/15 - Howard Beale is fired, and goes mad on the air, first promising suicide, then trying to apologize, but saying he couldn't take the bulshit anymore. This is a hit so he is allowed to rant - at first, things go nowhere special, then he has a real crack up and starts talking about visions - and finally turns up in his PJs and gives the mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore speech. Success! WIth Faye Dunaway as a cynical programmer, William Holden as an old time news producer who makes moralizing speeches but is as selfish and amoral as anyone, Robert Duvall as a company man, and Ned Beatty as the big boss, who steals the movie with a speech about money. There's a subplot about terrorists as entertainment, that ends the film. Overall, it's basically Meet John Doe with the roles redistributed a bit, and in general, simpler and more paranoid. (Rather obvious parallels - from the promised suicide to a confrontation at a long table to the girl reporter to the John Doe clubs...) Money and information has replaced power politics as the goal and means, though. Still, it's a bit too simplistic, and not too convincing in its implication that TV is the devil, especially considering that Lang and Capra were doing this stuff in the 20s and 30s - the ballyhoo boys...

Casino Jack and the United States of Money: 10/15 - basic documentary about Jack Abramoff, the super lobbyist, right wing freak, and con man. Though the most disturbing thing is how the confidence schemes are indistinguishable from the legal lobbying. All of it is deeply immoral and corrupt. Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Edward Arnold and Ned Beatty would feel right at home.

Knockout Rounds Begin (Soccer again)

Well, the US is out of the World Cup, losing to Ghana for the second World Cup in a row. I can't say I'm surprised - if I wanted to, I could say I called it, since I did, after Ghana's first game - they hadn't been so sharp in the last couple games, but this time looked quite good. It was a great game - tense and close and active throughout - the US screwed up on D again, though, and Ghana made them pay. Fun to watch, anyway, and I can't really feel too bad - I am glad to see an African team playing well, getting deep into the tournament, after the continent's bad showing in the groups. I wish the US had gone on, but it's not a heartbreaker.

I think Uruguay will handle Ghana fine in the next round - they would have handled the Americans maybe even easier. That was another nice game to watch - Uruguay's forwards are so slick, they make you pay attention - and for a defensive minded team, they seem to play a relatively watchable brand of soccer. The commentators kept mentioning Inter Milan, with their great defense and flashy scorers, striking fast and sure - that's a comparison that occurred to me too. Uruguay seems to be playing the part of the good Italy in this world cup - defense and slick, counter-attack oriented offense. I suspect Portugal will play the part of the bad Italy - defend and dive...

The rest of this round? I think I'd stick with the quarterfinalists I predicted before the groups were done: Argentina, Germany; Brazil and Holland; Paraguay and - I think the Iberian cup (so to speak) is a lot harder to predict than I let on. Spain has a boatload of talent, but they still don't seem to be entirely in synch. Portugal may or may not score another goal from the run of play - but they don't seem likely to give much up and are exceedingly opportunistic. And, I have to admit - what I've seen this time, as well as 2006, they are completely shameless about how they get their chances. Last time out, they played Holland in the second round, in what I thought would be a very pretty game - it ended up being a disaster. The game against Spain might not be any better. An overmatched ref and it might be unwatchable. For all that - they are almost a home team, for my neighborhood (they were definitely the home team last time, Portuguese flags everywhere - but I've moved, back to a more Brazilian part of town) - and as annoying as they can be, I can't help wishing them well... Spain winning would make for prettier soccer later on - and if they do win that game, it could be the hurdle they needed to clear to reach their potential - but I suspect Portugal will take the game....

Anyway - I am looking forward to quite a few of these upcoming games - Paraguay and Japan could be an interesting contest - the Japanese played some very solid soccer in the group stages, as did Paraguay - that could be a well played, closely contested game. Holland Slovakia might be fun - might be the Dutch's chance to finally get the offense running (especially is Robben plays). Though Slovakia deserves some kind of reward for getting rid of Italy, bless their souls. And Chile might give Brazil some jitters - if they can keep their players on the field. Oh well - onwards!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Still All Soccer All the Time

It is - the world cup is still taking up pretty much all my discretionary time. It's been well worth it. Things have shaken out a bit, though not always the way you'd think - some groups have gone to form, some are exceedingly mysterious... It has been enjoyable, and could get very entertaining in the next couple days.

Lovely to see France implode. They cheated to get in, they came apart at the seams - it's been a delightful spectacle. Nice to see South Africa salvage a win, even if it was too late... Uruguay and Mexico definitely deserved to go through from this group. Rather massive disparity in what they get next though - Argentina being Argentina with a vengeance, South Korea - a nice, energetic side, but not world beaters. It's been a South American cup so far - and it occurs to me that it would not take much - an upset or two, and not necessarily big upsets, to create an all South American semifinals. Uruguay looks more than able to handle any of the teams it might get in the second round (winner of C or second in D, I think). Brazil and Argentina have been the best of the tournament (though Brazil still seems to be coasting) - Brazil might run into some nasty teams in their side of the draw, though. Argentina looks like it has an easier road (unless Germany comes back strong.) Leaving, really, one upset required - which could come in the last group game - Chile wins their group with a point or more, and that eases their path significantly. Though Paraguay has also looked very good, and could get through. Very interesting.

Anyway - tomorrow's games are the big ones for us Americans. We should be able to win. I dearly hope Slovenia knocks England out (a draw does it, if the US cooperates - though if the US loses, Algeria might beat out England, almost as entertaining, if less enjoyable...) That would put 2 of the bit European powers out. And Italy, Spain and Germany are vulnerable as well. They all should manage to get through - but it's dicey. Spain has to deal with a very good looking Chile, while Switzerland plays Honduras - not a done deal. Germany's group is confusing, since both Serbia and Australia look capable of winning or losing the game (regardless of the other team's performance), and Ghana has been the most effective African team. A draw, and the wrong combination of events in the other game, and Germany could be out. And Italy? gave up early goals in both games, and got them back on a goalie mistake and a very weak penalty call - if the other team and the ref don't give them anything they might not score - and if New Zealand eke out another point - oh, what joy!

All right: predictions, because I can and have to post something here:
US beats Algeria (3-1, say)
England and Slovenia tie - US wins the group...

d - Serbia and Australia tie; I think Germany beats Ghana, but Ghana gets through on goals.

E is easy - Netherlands have already won, basically; Japan I think just needs to tie, and I think they manage it.

F - Paraguay wins; Italy ties and advances, much as it disappoints me

G - Brazil wins, Portugal rides those 7 goals to the second round, where they won't score any more

H - I think Honduras steals a tie from Switzerland - I think Spain wins the other game, but it could be a tie - Chile has been very good. It could be w wild one, though - Spain has to win, and Chile has enough offense to make them pay for trying. Interesting.

After which - Uruguay beats SK, Argentina beats Mexico. The US beats Ghana, Germany beats Slovenia. I think I have Holland playing Italy - god, I hope they win if that game comes off, but the Dutch are bound to choke... Paraguay beats Japan easily. And -Brazil and not-Portugal (Spain, I suppose) win.

Then? Uruguay beats the US; Argentina beats Germany. (Even if I get the orders wrong, I think these teams are getting through those games.) Brazil beats the Holland Italy winner. Leaving Paraguay the team that has to pull an upset to get to the finals. Though to be honest, I think if Spain makes the second round, and can beat Portugal (assuming that's who they get), they will probably have their form. If they don't, well - Chile or Paraguay will have this spot. Which I think would be a pure delight. The South American teams have been winning so far, and have been a pleasure to watch doing it. (Other than maybe Uruguay, when they go fully defensive.)

I think a Brazil Argentina final is in the works. The way it looks right now - that's Argentina's game. Though if Brazil gets their act together - they should win it all, as usual.

We'll see how this turns out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More World Cup Comments

Happy Bloomsday! Not much left of it - time to take in the words, though: "Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine." Such a beautiful book.

Anyway - my mind has not been on literature this past week - but rather, Sport. The World Cup (eclipsing even the Celtics' run) - thanks to the magic of DVR, I have managed to see every game played so far - not every minute, perhaps, but a good percentage of them. And might as well offer opinions, group by group?

Group A? France looked terrible; after the first game, Mexico looked solid and South Africa looked passable, though the second game against Uruguay changes that - though they really only fell apart after the penalty. But Uruguay has been a revelation. They packed it in against France and completely baffled them - then came out playing a much freer, more open game against South Africa, dominating them. They look well deserving of the second round, and Diego Forlan looks like one of the players of the tournament so far - he looked to have more real chances on goal than France did in the first game, and he scored a perfect beauty of a goal in the second game... I think Mexico has a fine shot at beating France - France would have to play far better to get past them. Could happen, but - they look ready to collapse, and god, I hope they do. It's Bloomsday, after all...

Group B: Argentina looks legit - they didn't overwhelm Nigeria, but they dominated play. Though Nigeria kept the pressure on, and their goalie was huge. I could see them coming back from that. South Korea looked very good, though against Greece, who were helpless. Tomorrow's game there will tell - whether Argentina is really a title contender, and whether South Korea is really as good as they looked. If South Korea gets exposed, NIgeria might be able to beat them - I could see that. Finally - Messi didn't get a goal, but looked his brilliant self.

Group C: Slovenia's win complicates things, but I think they're still hard pressed to get through - even if they can draw out, both England the the US should beat Algeria, and should get more than a goal... England lost on that ghastly bit of keeping, but looked beatable anyway - they mounted decent threats, but had lots of trouble at the back, defenders getting beaten and so on... The US, meanwhile, looked like a pretty complete team - solid D (after their ugly breakdown on the Gerrard goal), great keeper, enough offense. They have choked before in the world cup though. England too, though they usually wait for the second round...

Group D: deutschland, deutscheland uber alles... They are always sort of favorites - they looked like the real deal there. Their strikers are going to score - their midfield play looks strong and creative - they don't mess up on D - they should be around at the end. They're young and all, but they laid those doubts to rest. Of the others - Serbia probably played better than the results - though they obviously ran out of steam at the end - got a red card when a beaten defender grabbed a player; and lost on a penalty after an idiotic handball. (Lots of strange incompetence in the first round - goalie blunders by England, Algeria, Paraguay; this handball; the Danish own goal... nerves? exhaustion, in Serbia's case, I think.) Ghana, on the other hand, looked very impressive. The African teams have been a bit disappointing, but not Ghana. They had injury problems too, with Essian out - but the rest of the team came through - Kevin Prince Boateng had a very nice game... The US and England (assuming they get through) will get the top two teams in this group, and frankly, I think Germany and Ghana will both win those games...

Group E: The Netherlands is another team with a load of talent but a bad track record - their opening game was rather bland. Denmark hung around, and looked like they were going to beat themselves, with that own goal - though the Dutch got better later. They looked a lot more dangerous without Van der vaart and Van Persie - I think because they were all coming into the middle - the subs went wide - and Wesley Snejder began to operate in the extra space. A couple teams have this problem - England worries about having too many midfielders in the middle; I thought SPain's troubles were partly due to their tendency to bunch up... Holland looked much better late. In the other game - the commentators were right - Cameroon had nothing coming through the mid-field, reduced to long balls into the box at the end. Japan played hard and did a good job creating chances, and played a pretty good D as well. Denmark can beat them - they have to, I think - but I can see Japan getting through. I'd like to see that, being a Japanophile - though I like the Denmark team too...

Group F: This is Italy's group, isn't it? All ties of course. Italy looked dull and inoffensive, though probably more organized than France. Paraguay gave them a good game, and should have won - gave them a gift. The other two - Slovakia outplayed New Zealand, but looked like they though the game was over by the 80 minute mark - you could see trouble brewing - they stopped working on D... NZ didn't stop and you see the results. Italy and Paraguay should get through anyway. Ho hum.

Group G: The Portugal/Cote D'Ivoire game was not much fun - Portugal has nothing but Christiano Ronaldo and their defense to go on, though both are first rate. (Though if there is a more irritating player in the game than CR I don't know who it is - a diving diva, though my god, he can do things on the field...) CIV had trouble mounting scoring threats, but they played a good game - hopefully, Drogba will be stronger in the later games - he looked very tentative out there - this game might re-establish his confidence - and they could do better. They have to - Brazil wasn't overwhelming, but they were Brazil. They got careless at the end, but still... and North Korea - played DEFENSE and played it well, and even managed a couple counters... things might go differently for them against less composed teams - they might get some points out of this group yet...

Group H: Spain looked beautiful, but came up empty. Switzerland gave them very little, and took what they got. Chile looked great - Honduras looked like what they were - a team in a weak confederation sneaking in on a late goal by someone else... Spain is hardly out of it - Chile can score, but can they stop Spain? Can Switzerland repeat their performance against Chile? Can they score enough against Honduras? Interestingly - you can almost imagine this group leaving someone behind with six points - if Spain wins out, while Chile beats Switzerland and Switzerland Honduras - none of them all that far-fetched... that would be very interesting in itself. It's probably a bit more likely to see the Swiss and Spanish go through, though...

And so... second set of games, here we go - with Brazil and Germany the two powerhouses who've basically established themselves - the rest are still a bit up in the air. I think Ghana and Uruguay are the most impressive underdogs so far (Switzerland is a bit too one-dimensional to get away with it forever), though South Korea is certainly promising. The rest, I imagine, will be clarified this upcoming week...

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup 2010

Time, once more, for what is, really and truly, the most exciting sporting event on earth. Through the years I have been one of those Americans who gets addicted to soccer* every world cup, but ignores it in between - this year, though, I added the Fox Soccer Channel back in January, and have been watching the game religiously since. European club soccer mostly - but this means that, for once, I have seen most of the stars - Messi and Xavi and Wesley Snejder and Maicon and Franck Ribery and Drogba and Lampard and David James and Nicholas Bendtner and so on. I know who Jon Mikel Obi is! For once, all my soccer thoughts will not be strictly theoretical and second hand. Mostly theoretical and second hand, but not just....

I am happy to watch the tournament purely for pleasure, without caring who wins - or opportunistically cheering for whoever started to look like fun - that's how I used to do it. (And how I learned to love, if not spell, Hristo Stoichov)... But I suppose I have druthers, and even opinions this year. The latter are mostly conventional wisdom and prejudices - it seems beyond pointless to pretend to predict the cup's progress, but in general terms - it looks very likely to be completely wide open - upsets, surprises, underdogs, for all the usual reasons when the cup is held outside Europe, plus the fact that the traditional reliable teams seem weaker than usual (Germany, Italy), while the most talented (non-Brazil) teams have rather checkered tournament pasts, or insane coaches (Spain, Holland, Argentina.) I think - Brazil is Brazil; one of those talented chokers will come through big; African teams will almost all play over their heads - I'd guess Cameroon and Nigeria do best, given the draw and the injuries... Etc. Nothing profound there, but hey....

As for rooting? I'll cheer on the Americans as long as they are relevant. I think they have a pretty good chance of taking out England - they have a lot to play for, winning that game is a realistic goal and likely to be seen as such... though they are sure able to choke.... After that - I am very fortunate in being able to root for the local favorites. I can promise you, most of my part of town will feature a lot more yellow and green in the next few weeks than red white and blue - actually, it features more yellow and green the rest of the year than red white and blue. The travel agencies and street front churches are all Brazilian - I hear as much Portuguese as English at the supermarket. This is very handy come world cup time.... Otherwise? I admit to mostly cheering against France and England - then, for any African teams, plus the Dutch (who always at least make for pretty soccer) - and, I think, this year - hoping one of those underachievers (Spain or Argentina, plus Holland) breaks through. Mostly though - I just revel in the games....

*this is the USA, and calling soccer "football" just makes you look pretentious, not to mention confusing people.... when the English stop putting "u's" in words like "color" and "labor" then they can criticize. Though if anyone can get rid of that boring abomination Americans call football, they will have my enduring love.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Carl Dreyer and Gertrud

Via David Bordwell (first, and other sites since), I see that a new English language site devoted to Carl Theodor Dreyer is on line. There's a good overview at the Bioscope site - it's a thing of beauty. Biographical info, info on the making of films, discussion of films, essays on his methods, his style, and a huge array of photographs, film clips, archival material - amazing.

It happens that this week I finally got around to (re)watching Gertrud - I've had it sitting on the shelf for the last 6 months or so, my usual habit with DVDs. I have seen it before - back in the 90s, at Harvard, with Ray Carney himself in attendance. He got into an argument across the auditorium with a woman who had the temerity to laugh at something that might, in fact, have been a joke. (It might have been the line near the beginning when Kanning asks Gertrud why she is laughing - she says she's only smiling: she's barely that...)

It is hard to say what I thought of it then - I can quote myself: "Very slow, austere film about a woman married to a politician who has an affair with a musician who doesn't love her so after far more talk than is necessary moves away to Paris and lives a lonely but apparently fulfilled life. Hard to get a handle on." Still - it must have stuck with me - I would come across references to it, effusive praise often enough, and I would have an idea what they meant. I read Carney's Dreyer book, and recognized the movie in it. I knew there was something there, but could not quite presume to say what.

So finally I have gotten around to watching it again. And I think, in fact, it is something like a masterpiece. Maybe not Dreyer's best (though that is very good indeed), but a superb work nonetheless. It is, undeniably, a very strange film - strange looking, strangely put together. I don't know that it looks like anything else - it seems that critics called it old-fashioned when it came out, but did films anywhere ever look like this? Those stiff, static poses, the flat line readings, the lack of any overt reaction or emotion? It's not like a silent film - it doesn't intensify the pure visuals - it tends to freeze the images - people in the middle distance, unmoving, or moving in slow precise patterns, shadowed by the camera. It isn't theatrical, exactly, either - if it were on stage, it would be as strange and uncanny as it is on film.

That seems to be the strategy at work - the style mutes the emotions, it puts them in quotes, rather than acting them out. It is anti-representational, anti-illusionist - it does not try to enact its story as if it were real people in a real place - it presents them, as artificially as puppet theater. The actors/characters tell you the story, more than show it. And everything in the style works to maintain this attitude. Though as it happens, the story itself is more emotionally complex than it might seem - the characters are hard to get a read on, as characters. Gertrud is selfish and demanding, though also sympathetic - the men around her take her for granted - offer her less and less, and finally she seems to recognize that she really doesn't need what they can offer. And the men too - they are believable types (at least) - they make decisions, and live with consequences, and regret them... Dreyer seems to keep us closest to Gertrud's perspective, but not absolutely - and makes the shifting perspectives and relationships one of the organizing principals of the film's style. The camera movement, the choreography, all create a fluid physical representation of the psychic ebb and flow of the story. (You can find plenty of discussion of that aspect of Dreyer's style in Carney book.)

Though looking at it again - the writer who really got it right was Jacques Rivette. In the course of an altogether unedifying (and one-sided) argument over Getrud with the inimitable (thankfully) Dan Schneider, one of the interlocutors posted a quote, taken - as it happens - from this old Cahiers roundtable discussion. (Or possibly Jonathan Rosenbaum's reference to the same passage.) I shall quote, almost in full:
if Dreyer's film, more "logical," in any case more chronological, [than Straub's Not Reconciled, I think] doesn't doesn't function formally as a dream, it nevertheless also prescribes an "oneiric" vocabulary: at once the telling of a dream and a session of analysis (an analysis in which the roles are unceasingly changing; subjected to the flow, the regular tide of the long takes, the mesmeric passes of the incessant camera movements, the even monotone of the voices, the steadiness of the eyes -- always turned aside, often parallel, towards us: a little above us -- the strained immobility of the bodies, huddled in armchairs, on sofas behind which the other silently stands, fixed in ritual attitudes which make them no more than corridors for speech to pass through, gliding through a semi-obscurity arbitrarily punctuated with luminous zones into which the somnambulists emerge of their own accord...).

Seeing it now - that is dead on. Seeing it now, with Rivette in mind, you can't miss the parallels. Time and again, characters assume the position of a session of analysis (as much as it is anything) - one person behind the other, usually one sitting, one standing, or sitting above the other person - turned away from each other, each talking in turns (taking turns - lines of dialogue are kept distinctly separate here), often enough about - dreams, emotions, values and desires, in almost clinical tones.... But as Rivette notes - the positions change, the roles change - one stands and the other sits - they take turns speaking.... And I noticed that quite often - it is the character in the "doctor's" position (behind the other) who speaks, as if they were the patient. Which strikes me as another means of running variations on the patterns....

It's interesting as well that there are scenes in the film that explicitly stage many of these very relationships. That is - that if the doctor/patient positions of Analysis are one of the characteristic staging strategies of the film - it is notable that at least one scene depicts this relationship in fact.

In this shot, Axel is Gertrud's doctor (she fainted; he gave her a pill.) He is also, explicitly, studying psychology and psychiatry, and tells her so. And here - he leans behind her as she talks, explicitly, about her father, about her ideas about marriage and fate, and eventually about her dreams - prompted, as it happens, by Axel's reference to his Paris discussions of dreams and symbols...

It's interesting as well that Dreyer does something like this with the staging, as well. All those shots of people standing or sitting next to each other, looking past one another -

- look, in fact, as if they were looking at one another in mirrors: and sure enough, Dreyer makes the pattern explicit: they stand in exactly the positions they have through the bulk of the film, but this time - the mirror is really there.

It's an interesting strategy, what I would call providing a naturalistic instance of a convention. There is a lot of this in the film. It is like telling a dream - and contains the telling of dreams; it is like a dream - and has dream sequences; it is as artificial as an opera - and contains songs. It seems to spell out the types of formal elements that will make it up - to include direct instances of them, along with the many variations on their conventions.... A fascinating film...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Another Perfect Gam!e

Back around the beginning of the baseball season, I saw a handful of articles and blog posts(though for the life of me, I can't remember where) based on the question of whether anything new could still happen in baseball. I think possibly, having three perfect games thrown within the space of a month would count. Though the fact that the third one didn't count because the ump blew the call on the last out might trump that. That is a hard mistake to make - in that situation, I can't imagine not erring on the side of the pitcher. Anyway, to top this, someone is going to have to hit 5 home runs in a game, and get called out on the last one for missing third base.