February 20, 2009

The best everything film

Whether one accepts the dream reading or not, the power of this once ignored film has become a commonplace, proving that the idea of resurrecting a lost love can touch any human heart, whatever he or she may say. "You’re my second chance!" cries Scottie as he drags Judy up the stairs of the tower. No one now wants to interpret these words in their superfi­cial sense, meaning his vertigo has been conquered. It’s about reliving a moment lost in the past, about bringing it back to life only to lose it again. One does not resurrect the dead, one doesn’t look back at Eurydice. Scottie experiences the greatest joy a man can imagine, a second life, in exchange for the greatest tragedy, a second death. What do video games, which tell us more about our unconscious than the works of Lacan, offer us? Neither money nor glory, but a new game. The possibility of playing again. "A second chance." A free replay.
Chris Marker on Vertigo, of course. Whose La Jetee was a dream version of Vertigo, rendered as haunted and terrified science-fiction. The compliment was returned in Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, a La Jetee remake that includes a very relevant chunk of Vertigo within it, coming of course when Madeleine Stowe's character changes her hair colour (and Vertigo fans would have asked: did she get cast for her name?).
A couple of years ago someone I know was asked to work up a brief for an essay on the theme of following in film. Did I have any examples? The patient camera in Elephant came to mind but then, the early stages of Vertigo, Scotty in the art gallery. "Maybe Vertigo is the best following film." "Isn't Vertigo the best everything film?"

February 5, 2009

"There is no why"

Thoughts of Zabriskie Point in James Marsh's doco on high-wire walker Philippe Petit, Man on Wire. In Zabriskie Point, Mark flies a small plane from the empty desert back to LA, having painted on its side the phrase "no words". In Man on Wire, Petit answers questions about his motivations for his big gravity- and death-defying stunts -- the biggest being a walk across the space between New York's twin towers in August 1974 -- with "there is no why". In each case, the action is an argument against reason or logic, not a contribution to it.

In Man on Wire, the secret planning and preparations for Petit's walk are reconstructed in crime-film black-and-white as though this were a heist movie. On first glance this looks like padding -- this is a slim story to stretch to 90 minutes -- but maybe there's a better way to see it. If Petit's walk is to be taken, somehow, as the positive, joyous and generous inverse of the terrorism of September 11, 2001, then the long planning of this event must match the long planning of that one. And that might be why there is so much emphasis on the building of the World Trade Center itself at the start of Man on Wire: the building site is a ground zero that something grew from rather than a ground zero that everything fell into.

February 4, 2009

The final image of

David Fincher on why he wanted to make The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:

"I just thought the final image of a 74-year-old woman holding a seven-month-old baby and helping him through death, I just thought it was a beautiful way to end a love story."

Of course, this website has already registered its agreement. Other great lines from a fascinating and often very funny interview.

On Alien 3: "No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me." (Not even Vincent Ward?).

On Fight Club: "We opened at the Venice film festival, and I think to say that they hated it would be an understatement. Let's put it this way: the youngest person in the screening was Giorgio Armani."