Thursday, August 02, 2007

Death must be a cinephile

Edward Yang wasn't enough for him, so he comes back and picks up Bergman and Antonioni on the same day. What, are they having a film festival up there? These things come in threes, I hope. Otherwise Wim Wenders better start looking over his shoulder.

Naturally most of the memorial fuss has been made over Bergman (though Yang's passing did not go unnoticed in spots). Antonioni was uneven in a way that Bergman was not. I haven't seen Red Desert, but Zabriskie Point is a mere curiosity. Blow-up and The Passenger are fine films, but for me they leave a lingering aftertaste of self-conscious artiness. (I should say "left," as I haven't seen them for a while; maybe I'll give them another chance.) Il Grido is an early one which I recommend.

L'Avventura, however, was a real kick in the head. It's tough sledding (it got booed at Cannes), but it's a real milestone in cinema. 1960 must have been some year, with Breathless too. I find it very difficult to say what I got out of these films (there's a reason I'm not a film critic!), but it has something to do with close attention to the nature of time (and the experience of same). No doubt this reflects the influence of existentialism on the Continent.

As for Bergman, his consistency is remarkable. I just saw Smiles of a Summer Night a while back, one of his breakthrough films (1955), and Faithless (2000) was just as good (actually, Liv Ullmann directed this one, from Bergman's script). I look forward to seeing Saraband (2003); the library has it but I haven't gotten to it yet.

RIP to both; but Death better cut it out or all we'll have left is Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

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