Rainer, you complained about the woman sighing at a screening of Inimi Cicatrizate. I watched the film alternating between sighing and holding my breath. I experienced voluptuous pain when reading each of the excerpts from Blecher’s work quotes presented as intertitles and was at each moment mesmerized by Jude’s mastery of mise en scène. It is a film of odd beauty, one easily gets lost in its richness. There is absurdity in Inimi Cicatrizate, but it is another kind of absurdity, one that has choked on itself (Patricks review of the film).
Further moments of bliss with Peter Hutton: two men walking up the suspension cable of a bridge in Three Landscapes.
After so many festival days, the Viennale feels just like the merry-go-round-roundabout traffic-jam scene in Tati’s Playtime. In (the negligible) O Cinema, Manoel de Oliveira e Eu, João Botelho claims that the secrets to de Oliveira’s health were drinking whiskey and eating toasted bread with pure olive oil. I guess that having Playtime for breakfast in Gartenbaukino might work in the same way for all of us.
Six years after Meek’s Cutoff Kelly Reichardt makes a discreet-feeling and great film about people meeting people and almost every decision in it seems to come out of necessity.
Luc Dardenne confesses that in La fille inconnue he and Jean-Pierre have tried to create a charater with a sort of consciousness which they feel has dissappeared from society. I wish I could feel less like I’m being preached to.
Having to sit in a box in the Historischer Saal of the Metro Kino and watching the film with the view blocked by (beautiful perhaps) sculpted wood makes one think about the Eric Pleskow Saal with a feeling that almost resembles fondness.
Hans Hurch awards the Meteor(ite) Prize to Jem Cohen but we all suspect him of having betrayed the filmmaker by giving him not a piece of meteorite but something he brought from his trip to Greece.
For all those who have, like me, always wondered if filmmaker use special effects in order to make Emmanuel Salinger’s eyes appear bigger – no, they don’t. I’ve seen him in the lobby of Metro Kino.
The Viennale has every year an inofficial theme song, this year it’s undoubtedly John Barry’s Theme from The Persuaders which is to be heard in Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama. After a week of Viennale, the films unfortunately seem to start to melt into each other. The body is drained, I attended too many parties, none of them offscreen. At some point Isabelle Huppert started rubbing me with her foot under the table. Her mom was there too. But I like her mom in L’Avenir way better because her eyes have no face. Elle gave me an adrenaline boost, Nocturama as well. I suppose there are few festivals on which one doesn’t at some moment stumble upon My Way. Yet at the Viennale it comes in Nocturama, performed (mimed) by one of the young terrorists (male), wearing make-up, walking down the stairs of the supermarket, the Sid Vicious way. It seems only natural, the Viennale is better than Il Cinema Ritrovato (and all the other film festivals I have attended). It is outrageous, I mean it positively, there is a lot of outrageousness at the Viennale so far. For whatever reason his acts makes me think of Lee Kang-sheng as some sort of mermaid in The Wayward Cloud. Completely different things, completely different implications of the musical act, so I guess it is simply because I think too often of Tsai Ming-liang. I saw his No No Sleep again at the Viennale, this time on the big screen, it made me think that naming the short-film program in which it ran „Beautiful“ was the perfect choice. But that was before I saw the other films. I suppose I am a groupie for Bonello (intellectually?), I do however wonder if seeing only this film would have turned me into one. It just happens that Bonello is one of the very best out there („there“ meaning the hazardous outside that treats talent and passion so indifferent). He has style and qualities that go way beyond simple matters of mise-en-scène.
I attend another private party moment, it has again vaguely something to do with rape, like the Christmas dinner in Elle, this one takes place in Lav Diaz‘ The Woman Who Left. Two women in a house, a transvestite, soon to be raped, and an ex-convict looking for revenge sing Somewhere from West Side Story together. A moment of solidarity between two women, as one could say there are some in Elle. Before my fever goes away I see Paul Hamy turning into João Pedro Rodrigues in O Ornitólogo, again, one of the better films of the year. My fever dissappears when Isabelle soothes me, herself and her grandson (the one in L’Avenir, not the one in Elle because that one is not her grandson) when singing À la claire fontaine. I then realize that all I wanted to say was that I have never seen anything that resembles Peter Hutton’s (yes, I’ll say it and act as if it needs no further explanation) perfectAt Sea.
Is Austerlitz a look at how the present looks at the past or does the film simulate a look from the past on the present? I am not sure that these are two completely different things. But through choices concerning where to place the camera and through its use of sound, the film keeps both these slightly different possibilities open at all times. What I mean by a simulation of the past looking at the present is, that the possibility of the camera’s perspective belonging to the spirit of one of the many killed there is kept open (a visible one, if the tourists watch closely). In that same line of thought, the film’s use of sound (Andrey writes about „intensifications of a meticulously composed soundtrack“) with its distance enhancing distortions undergirds such a (not reading but) way of perceiving Austerlitz, as a ghost looking at the present. (I also vaguely remember reading that the film makes use of sound material from the time.) As does the fact that Austerlitz is shot in black and white. This is all not new to Loznitsa, of course, but there seems to have been an increase in the implications of his chosen means. Perhaps this comes over as an attempt to impose a simplistic interpretation of the film, though what I am trying to stress out is the incredible complexity of Loznitsa’s film. Austerlitz deals with and raises very delicate questions concerning film ethics, what is disturbing about the film lays (of course) not only in what it shows, but also in its way of showing it (here I mean disturbing as something positive). It is not seldom that Loznitsa’s films are discussed as refined exercises in observation and little more. I find them rather scandalous, in a very positive way. I would like to hear Cristi Puiu speaking about Austerlitz. He and Loznitsa move on the same slippery cinematic territory.
A secret award ceremony of the Viennale took place today at 5 a.m. at Gartenbaukino. Hans Hurch awarded the prize for brutality in film to Hong Sang-soo’s Yourself and Yours – irreproachable in (paradoxically) dealing with all kinds of reproaches (you can find Patrick’s review of the film here). A man looking like Hong Sang-soo walked up onto the stage to receive the prize but he swore he was actually the filmmaker’s twin brother. Or sister. It was too early in the morning, I couldn’t pay enough attention to what was happening. Woody Allen got furious and accused the South Korean filmmaker’s twin of having made only a tasteless remake of his film Everything you never wanted to know about relationships. The rivalry between Allen and Sang-soo has been much discussed in the press in the past few years seeing that two filmmakers compete yearly against each other for the title of “fastest working European film director”. (I heard that there are negative comments about the film making use of only a few locations. But that comes with an increase in intensity. Once again, Hong Sang-soo delivers one of the very best films of the year.)
It is odd. With actual human presence in the frame kept to a minimum, it feels at times as if Peter Hutton’s Budapest Portrait (Memories of a City) and Lodz Symphony bear the weight of the entire history of humanity. The absence of people draws attention to people. Yet what we see are streets and buildings at the crack of dawn, shapes and structures, textures and shades, wonderful details of all sorts. I remember the connection between motion and emotion coming up as a topic in Robert Gardner’s Screening Room with Peter Hutton. It is interesting to think about that again after seeing the two films.
The ghost of Jean Epstein sits somewhere in the cinema and watches the films of Peter Hutton. I feel it moving towards me. We see, taste, feel New York near sleep for Saskia, Florence and Boston Fire embraced and I can feel its tears of joy pouring on my face. There is so much smoke in Boston Fire because it has swallowed the explosions in Bruce Conner’s Crossroads and all the smoke in Humphrey Jennings‘ Fires were started. After such an awakening of the senses, the world eventually gets numb.
„Sehr gut!“, a woman cries out loudly. She’s referring to a intertitle in Die Rosenkreuzer which reads that the film was shot partly on the original sites and with museum props from the era of Joseph II.
I feel that there is a great similarity between what Rivette does to Wuthering Heights in Hurlevent and what Pialat does to Van Gogh. Whatever it is I mean by it, it would be blasphemy to put it in a key note. But it has something to do with scratching polish with one’s fingers until the nails break and one’s hands bleed. Just like Lucas Belvaux breaks the window with his hands in Hurlevent and they bleed. I may be wrong.
I have a thing for scenes in which characters regain their eyesight, even if they are not particularly accomplished and make no special use of the possibilities this motif opens up.
Doesn’t Rester Vertical make one ask him/herself if cinema is tired with cinema? Or is the film about that?
Tip: There are memory sticks provided by Innovative Film Austria laying around. 4GB, containing the catalogue as PDF file.
There is one funny scene in Paterson, it is the one in which someone accuses the lamentingly philosophizing guy who got left by his girlfriend that he is just playing an act. And he replies “I am an actor”.
She combs her hair, this jealous actress, and when she combs her hair she spreads the grease. She spreads the grease just like she spreads the poison when she exhales cigarette smoke. And she is almost always exhaling cigarette smoke. I choke on it and feel that Ozu’s Ukigusa monogatari is breathtaking. In the cruelest of ways, in the most beautiful of ways. Hopes and goals hang by a thread as thin and fragile as those holding the lamp Ozu draws attention to. Even if the thread doesn’t break, the light is so dim it might run out at any moment. It seems that Ukigusa monogatari explores failure in all of its aspects. Even the possible gravity of great dramatic moments is bound to fail because one’s ass can itch and need scratching. In the end, there is no ending, just an attempt to reprise relationships which have already failed. Ozu’s later variation on this film, Ukigusa, with its static shots, deceiving colors and uncomfortable daylight brings cruelty to even a higher level.
In my mind, this edition of the festivals starts with nearly a hundred people running down the stairs of the Albertina in order to get to the Film Museum and watch Ozu. It all looks like the Odessa steps sequence. In fact, they were senior tourists hurrying to get on their bus.
The Viennale bribes me with fantastic jewelry in the hope that I will get over the fact that the festival bag is so ugly this year.