Press Play’s Matthew Cheney found ties and links between the writing and dramatic philosophy of poet and playright Antonin Artaud, who once, wonderfully said:
“No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.” — wikiquote
Cheney’s article and accompanying video essay perhaps stretch this comparison too far, but it’s a great read and an intense viewing.
The only sort of filmmaking less reputable than gory horror movies is porn. Both traffic in sensation and exploitation. This is why we need them. They’re all that’s left to break through the cool surface of protective irony and oh-so-earnest, respectable emotionalism that so many of us perform and parade and reward every day — to break through into some part of our selves that few of us want to share with the rest of the world. Such movies are the antidote to mumblecore and emo and Oscar bait. We should watch these movies in seedy theatres where the floors are covered with entire archaeologies of dirt, grime, rot, and petrified bodily fluids. We should stare down at those floors and look for our reflection, for it is there that we will find ourselves best preserved.
Making a similar point, at least in the greater sense of “In Defense of Violent Art”, is Warren Ellis’ essay Blood in Your Eye: Why We Need Violent Stories froma a few months back.
In that essay for Vulture, Ellis makes a strong argument for violent works of art.
From that essay:
Difficult topics must be engaged with, and in the way that fiction invites us to engage but numbing news-porn deliberately does not, because news wants us only to witness and have our buttons pushed, and denies greater emotional and intellectual immersion. The news doesn’t want us to think, only to react, like plants.
We don’t even understand indefensibly disgusting work until we give it the protections and investigations of speech. The most horrible things in the world, the real cancers of our society, have to be interrogated. You can’t ignore a tumor. If you do, then it quickly becomes too late to do anything at all about it and you’re nothing but a skinful of the stuff. At which point, saying, “I don’t understand why this happened” is not only disingenuous but utterly offensive.
We learn about things by looking at them and then talking about them, together. You may have heard of this process. It’s sometimes involved in things like science. It’s also the system of fiction: writing things in order to get a better look at them. Fiction is how we both study and de-fang our monsters. To lock violent fiction away, or to close our eyes to it, is to give our monsters and our fears undeserved power and richer hunting grounds.
"…well, I approach everything like pornography…."
In this Lincoln Center interview Nicholas Winding Refn the danish director talks to an audience about his then upcoming film Only God Forgives.
It’s worth watching him respond to the classic questions most directors get asked over and over again 1. Refn’s responses are coy, playful, and joyfully rebelious in their indifference to catering to press-junket drivel.
But amidst all of the rock-star chutzpah, he manages to provide an honesty not seen in these type of interviews. His replies have a “how I got away with it” tone that infers he’s more interested in a different element of filmmaking.
Beginning filmmakers lack confidence. Refn has gotten past that point. Having made a series of increasingly challenging filmes, he seems to be more interested in the battles of film financing and distribution.
Somewhere around the 40 minute mark he lays out the core blueprint of what he’s trying to do: keep making films. Refn’s goal seems not to make a “masterpiece”, or work with international talent — these are great by-products but they shouldn’t be confused with the goal: to make more films.
I love this, as it’s only logical; the goal of every beginning and veteran filmmaker should be to make more films.
Matt Thomas has a great write-up on Zoe Barnes’ desk and House of Cards director / executive producer David Fincher’s potential input on the overall design.
[David Fincher has the] habit of conveying the feeling of massive amounts of what is often referred to as knowledge work taking place. In a number of Fincher’s films we’re given glimpses of characters doing things like researching, writing, or coding. At some level, the bulk of his films are about characters trying to make sense of information.
It’s difficult to render knowledge work cinematically (quick, what’s the last great movie about writing you remember seeing?), as opposed to physical work which more readily lends itself to Rocky-style montages, but Fincher has figured out a way to short circuit the process.
With its stacks of paper, piles of books, and conspicuous coffee pot, it reminds me of a prototypical grad student’s apartment. Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that Zoe seems to be halfway living with Lucas by the end of the thirteen episodes. Living like a grad student is no way to live.
The average Wikipedia article on a motion picture suffers from a major shortcoming. The infobox will often contain the usual production credits: director, writer, producer, cinematographer — but rarely, if ever, does it carry mention of a production designer, or costume designer.
A shame when you consider the fact that the players in a film inhabit a space; and this space shares the screen with them in every scene. On some level the space informs their characters disposition and worldview. Equally it creates a tone and wrapper for an audience to interpret a film.
Modern Hollywood film making was born in studios. On the rare occasion when it ventured outdoors it was for stunts and the majestic panoramas seen in westerns. The French New Wave directors, coupled with the Italian New Realists, heavily influenced recent Americans film school graduates to take their films to the streets. The cinema of the late 60’s and 70’s was born from filthy streets and the shoot from the hip European aesthetic.
In recent years, films have returned indoors. Film productions heavily reliant on computer controlled lighting rigs, motion control camera, and visual effects that require consistent and reliable conditions have created a cinema removed from American cities.
This isn’t a bad thing and there’s certainly room for both types of filmmaking. So it’s with great admiration that I look upon the blog of someone like Nick Carr, who for the past few years has been documenting the filming locations of New York films.
If cinema, New York City, or the euphoric combination of the two intrigue you then you’ll certainly enjoy his blog, ScoutingNY.com.