Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bahrani vs Dardennes

My second contribution to Filmwell is now up. Notes on the Dardenne retrospective at Lincoln Centre, NYC, with lots of links to things Dardennian. Best part is an interview excerpt from Cineaste magazine, where Ramin Bahrani (MAN PUSH CART, CHOP SHOP, GOODBYE SOLO) takes issue with L'ENFANT - the bum! - and we consider the fine line between moral and moralistic.

While you're over there, you might also want to check out a nice essay by fellow Filmweller Alissa Wilkson - "Goodbye Solo, This American Life, and Ramin Bahrani" - which niftily connects my favourite radio show ("This American Life") with Bahrani's small-scale cinematic realism. And she points to an exceptionally fine A.O Scott piece on Neo-Neo Realism that references everybody from Bahrani and the Dardennes to Roberto Rossellini, Satyajit Ray and WENDY & LUCY.
"What if, at least some of the time, we feel an urge to escape from escapism? For most of the past decade, magical thinking has been elevated from a diversion to an ideological principle. The benign faith that dreams will come true can be hard to distinguish from the more sinister seduction of believing in lies. To counter the tyranny of fantasy entrenched on Wall Street and in Washington as well as in Hollywood, it seems possible that engagement with the world as it is might reassert itself as an aesthetic strategy. Perhaps it would be worth considering that what we need from movies, in the face of a dismaying and confusing real world, is realism."

A.O. Scott, Neo-Neo Realism, New York Times, March 17 2009

Most Dardenne and Bahrani films cited here are available at Videomatica

Sunday, May 24, 2009

L'Argent (1983, France, Robert Bresson)

"There is much to savor in The Late Film, a BAM series of movies made toward the close—or the climax—of their directors’ careers. Of all the works selected, none could be less autumnal than Robert Bresson’s L'ARGENT (1983), which screens on May 10. Adapted from a tale by Tolstoy, it is as swift and wintry as a sudden frost. As often with Bresson, the actors are mostly nonprofessionals, and they move through the series of terrible events like stoics and sleepwalkers, lacking the will to fight fate. A schoolboy pays for a picture frame with a forged note, which enters the social system as if it were a virus, and leads in the end to a feverish killing spree, in which not even the saintly are spared. Yet Bresson—who was eighty-two years old when the film came out, and clearly in no mood for mellowing—frames the acts of wickedness, both great and small, with a terrifying calm. Prepare to be haunted by his closeups of objects: a wallet, a ladle, a bowl of hot coffee, an axe. They might almost be guilty themselves."
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, May 11, 2009

Available at Videomatica

Leon Morin, Priest (1961, France, Jean-Pierre Melville)

"Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1961 drama, based on a novel by Béatrix Beck, is a strange hybrid and one of the most peculiarly mutilated films ever. Set in a small French town, it spans the years of the Second World War and the Occupation and carries over into the postwar period. The story is centered on a young widow, Barny (Emmanuelle Riva), a Communist whose late husband was Jewish and who struggles to spare their two young children from being deported to a concentration camp. Melville’s depiction of wartime France is peerless: the brazenness of collaborators, the casual anti-Semitism, the presence of the swastika and of German street signs, the arrests and disappearances are presented with a harrowing simplicity. But the film’s main drama concerns Barny’s relationship with the handsome, brave, vigorous, and intellectual priest of the title (played with virility and verbal aplomb by Jean-Paul Belmondo), who seduces women’s souls—and Barny’s above all. Melville presents their relationship without irony, avoids any trace of satire, and, to make it the heart of his film, cut out (against the producers’ wishes) an hour of footage about the Occupation. Melville films wartime with barely restrained passion, he films religious dialectics with remarkable but dispassionate skill, and he uses the story of Barny and Morin to skew the postwar political context—to reinforce the role of Catholics in the newly founded Fifth Republic and suppress that of Communists. In French, English, and German."

Richard Brody, The New Yorker, April 20, 2009


"Here’s the thing about LEON MORIN, PRIEST, Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1961 adaptation of the novel by Béatrix Beck, opening today in revival at Film Forum. Melville praised Beck’s depiction of the Occupation, and his film, too, is a remarkable representation of it—but when German soldiers carry out the deportation of Jews, the events take place at a distance and reflected in the glass pane of a storefront; the soldiers’ faces aren’t seen, except for that of one, silent and immobile, who is standing guard beside the window. But, later in the film, two German soldiers are seen in action—one, aware that he’s about to be sent to the Russian front, tenderly approaches a French child and gives her his bracelet to wear; another, guarding a railroad crossing, warns a French woman that she is forbidden to cross the tracks, but, when she ignores him and continues on her way, he benignly lets her go. Melville’s skew of things doesn’t look like an accident: in the early sixties, the president of France, Charles de Gaulle, was actively working on achieving reconciliation with (West) Germany; by suppressing the faces of German soldiers arresting Jews and instead showing only the most humane of German soldiers speaking and acting in close-up, Melville was contributing to that cause."

"Similarly, in his approach to the story about a Communist woman who falls under the influence of a priest and converts to Catholicism, he doesn’t just make the woman’s Communism vanish, he makes all the Communists in the early part of the story vanish. Melville’s depiction of the Occupation is superbly textured and detailed, but his vision of the way he wanted postwar France to be then took precedence over his power to depict it as it was. (I know that in France in 1961 films with political content were subject to stringent censorship; but there’s no evidence that Melville struggled with it, or rather, against it.)

"P.S.: Here’s Melville speaking about the film in the indispensable book of interviews with him by Rui Nogueira (long out-of-print, in translation in Viking’s great Cinema One series, readily available in the original French): “I didn’t shoot the scene where Christine describes the terrible death of a child who is killed by an Italian soldier. I like Italians, and I didn’t want to show them in an unsympathetic light.”

Richard Brody, The Front Row Blog, The New Yorker, April 17, 2009

VHS may be available at Videomatica - check with staff

Saturday, May 23, 2009

NOW PLAYING: Big Screens

A few things that may have some Soul Food content...

FIERCE LIGHT: WHEN SPIRIT MEETS ACTION is at the Fifth Avenue, filmmaker Velcrow Ripper a one-time Vancouverite.

Atom Egoyan's ADORATION continues at the Granville 7.

Soul Food pal Luci has been at the movies lately, and recommends THE SOLOIST (Tinseltown, Esplanade, Fifth Avenue) and IS ANYBODY THERE? (Tinseltown). The latter makes me think of SUNSHINE CLEANING, which I liked (Granville 7). Saw the former Saturday evening: mostly avoided the "two men changing each other's lives forever" sentimentality I dreaded; good looking pic, doorways / archways, and note the cinematic hat tips to Robert Downey's other journo movie, ZODIAC (wonder how many tributes to newspaper people we'll see in the near future); nicely realized scripting about us well-intentioned "homed" people getting involved with street people and figuring we'll be their saviours - our inclination to play god; pity, though, they had to caricature the Christian character, the fault was in the performance/directing not the script, which had room for a more nuanced, complex reading; last word, I'll watch anything with Downey or Catherine Keener.

And if you want to get charged up, U23D continues three-dimensionally at the IMAX Theatre, Canada Place.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Filmwell: Loose Canon

Last week I told you about Filmwell, a new film site involving Jeffrey Overstreet and some other of my favourite film/faith writers. This week I can tell you, I'm one of them! Jeff invited me to become a contributor, and I posted my first article yesterday morning. (Looks like I'm The Wednesday Man.)

"Loose Canon" talks about my recent list-making binges (tabulating the five editions of 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die, and comparing those to several other Greatest Films Of All Time lists), announces a summer project to catch up on the films that made all seven of those lists, and chats up THE APARTMENT - first on that list, an amazing film.

By the way, in 34 Films I DO Want To See Before I Die, I listed all the movies that had shown up on six interesting "Great Films" lists. Since that time I blended in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made (Second Edition), which shrunk the list to 30 titles. The four flicks dissed by the NYT are BLADE RUNNER (1982, Ridley Scott), CITY LIGHTS (1932, Charles Chaplin), METROPOLIS (1927, Fritz Lang) and SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (1927, Fritz Lang). So I reckon I'll have myself a little Fritz Fest once I've watched my way through the rest of The Sevens (having already seen Chuck and Ridley's pix), then on to the Six Flicks!

Summertime, and the livin' is movie...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scenes From A Parish (and Filmwell)

Soul Food Movies friend Jeffrey Overstreet called to let me know about Filmwell, a movie site featuring writers Mike Hertenstein (Flickerings/Cornerstone), Mike Leary (film-think), Jason Morehead (opus), Jeffrey Overstreet (Looking Closer) and Alissa Wilkinson (Curator)). My first visit yields this tip from the artist formerly known as (M)Leary: currently in earliest stages of release, playing around Boston, but now we know to watch for it. The trailer shows that somebody behind a camera had a good eye...

(My favourite quote from the trailer: "I had a grandmother that, she came from Canada. And she could hardly speak English. But she made herself understood." I'm inspired: time to get over to the community centre and re-enroll in that American as a Second Language night class...)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fierce Light opens this week in Vancouver

Off the top of my head, Velcrow Ripper is a Vancouver filmmaker who travels the world making documentaries about spiritual stuff. SCARED SACRED played the VIFF a few years ago, and this one opens in Vancouver this week. I don't know if it comes from the WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW end of the spectrum, or the Sojourners end of the spectrum, so let the popcorn buyer beware...

"Fueled by the belief that another world is possible, acclaimed filmmaker Velcrow Ripper takes us on inspiring journey into what Martin Luther King called Love in Action, and Gandhi called Soul Force; what Ripper is calling Fierce Light. Illustrated by interviews with spiritual luminaries Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Thich Nhat Hanh; and activists including Alice Walker, and Julia Butterfly Hill - FIERCE LIGHT is a spiritual experience in itself, about the impact and the necessity of spiritual action in today's world." IMDb

"Is Anybody There?" opens this week

I've not seen this, but judging from the descriptions, it's maybe a thematic companion piece to SUNSHINE CLEANING?

"Set in 1980s seaside England, this is the story of Edward, an unusual ten year old boy growing up in an old people's home run by his parents. Whilst his mother struggles to keep the family business afloat, and his father copes with the onset of mid-life crisis, Edward is busy tape-recording the elderly residents to try and discover what happens when they die. Increasingly obsessed with ghosts and the afterlife, Edward's is a rather lonely existence until he meets Clarence, the latest recruit to the home, a retired magician with a liberating streak of anarchy...." IMDb

Opens this week in Vancouver

Thursday, May 07, 2009

WISE BLOOD (1979, USA, John Huston)

WISE BLOOD (1979, USA, John Huston, Benedict & Michael Fitzgerald from Flannery O'Connor novel)
"That belief in Christ is to some a matter of life and death has been a stumbling block for readers who would prefer to think it a matter of no great consequence. For them Hazel Motes' integrity lies in his trying with such vigor to get rid of the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of his mind. For the author Hazel's integrity lies in his not being able to." Flannery O'Connor

Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum writes that this is conceivably John Huston's best film, certainly his finest adaptation. While not widely seen, it was widely celebrated by critics for its unfailing faithfulness to what might seem an unfilmable novel – the screenwriter (see also Mel Gibson's Passion) and producer are sons of Robert and Sally Fitzgerald: Dad was O'Connor's literary executor, Mom the editor of the collected letters. Virtually all the dialogue is lifted directly from the page, and it plays well, at times authentic or bizarre, evocative and poetic, or downright funny. Motes swaps his faith in Jesus for faith in an absurdly broken-down car, and confidently proclaims "Nobody with a good car needs to be justified" as the radiator water pours straight through the rusted shell and onto the ground.

A strikingly boyish Brad Dourif is perfection in the central role, bringing an unadorned naivete that combines with a rat-like nastiness to create an unsentimental, multi-layered performance utterly suited to one of O'Connor's most uncompromising, confounding creations. (Intriguing to learn that Dourif ends up as Grima Wormtongue in Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and – this is trivia, now – the baddie in Myst III, a groundbreaking computer game). Where another actor might have "played crazy," his work is uncluttered and direct, an earnest drivenness that will not be deterred – ideal in a film that is essentially about a man on the run from his divine calling. In Mystery And Manners the novelist writes "while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted," and Hazel Motes is the ultimate embodiment of that. Even a charlatan of a blind street evangelist can smell it on him: "Some preacher's left his mark on you. Did you follow me for me to take it off or to give you another one?"

John Huston himself plays Hazel's hellfire and brimstone grandfather in lurid flashbacks, and there are other strong performances in the key roles as well as in a number of the peripheral parts. I usually find that non-professional actors detract from the believability of the scene by their self-consciousness, the constant awareness that they are acting. Here that's simply not so: the amateurs are almost without exception both authentic and believable, and add an almost documentary quality that echoes some of the photography, such as the unforgettable opening montage of billboards, gravestones and even Dairy Queen signs that proclaim sin and redemption.

These elements all remain strong decades after the film was made. Others have aged poorly. One wishes Huston had retained the 1940s setting: late-Seventies details jar, and the musical soundtrack – unremarked on in its day, as far as I can tell – is a problem. While humour is essential to O'Connor's voice – she remarks that her tongue is always in her cheek – there are times when the wacky soundtrack is more suited to Green Acres or Hee Haw than a film where the comic turns need a certain ironic, sometimes tragic bite. She's playing for keeps, but too often this music is playing for laughs: imagine the sequence where Hazel's car drives down the hill in silence instead of to the accompaniment of "ain't this cute" banjoes for a sense of the impact such scenes could have had.

Flannery O'Connor is a literary and spiritual force the twentieth century had to reckon with, and her enthusiasts – there are many – should make the effort to seek out this rare film. They won't need to be warned that it's odd, grotesque, eccentric, perhaps even unsatisfying. Lauded by critics and avoided by movie-goers on its initial release, that's just how Ms O'Connor would probably have wanted it. As she herself wrote, "Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it."


Released May 2009 on Criterion
Coming soon to Videomatica

Monday, May 04, 2009

May 6-10: TROUBLE THE WATER at Cinematheque

haven't time to dig into it right now, but wanted you to know about TROUBLE THE WATER before it's gone. seems to me there's a god angle on this one...

Pacific Cinematheque
Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - 7:30pm
Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 9:15pm
Friday, May 8, 2009 - 7:30pm
Saturday, May 9, 2009 - 7:30pm
Saturday, May 9, 2009 - 9:20pm
Sunday, May 10, 2009 - 9:15pm

Named Best Documentary at Sundance, nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, and picked as one of the ten best films of 2008 by critics at The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly and, the extraordinary Trouble the Water offers a unique first-person, from-the-floodwaters account of heroism and hopelessness during the Katrina disaster.

"What divine inspiration moved Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist [as Black Kold Madina] and toweringly self-possessed woman from New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, to grab her Hi8 camcorder and document the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina as it smashed up her neighborhood? And what grace brought Roberts to the attention of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, filmmakers who, like so many others, went to Louisiana after the levees broke? Whatever the cosmic luck, the result, Trouble the Water, is essential, unique viewing: a stunning experience of the hurricane and its aftermath, rooted in immediate personal response and emotions that encapsulate the full national catastrophe" (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly).

Time’s Richard Corliss included Roberts on his list of top ten movie performances of 2008, calling her "a real-life heroine...the star, and in a way the director, of this soul-roiling nonfiction film...Just look at the good she did, the person she is, in this movie. Amazing."

"The year’s most riveting documentary film...It is also a stirring rebuttal of the ‘objectivity’ mandate in news reporting" (Rob Nelson, Minneapolis Star Tribune). Colour, 35mm. 93 mins.

"Superb...One of the best American documentaries in recent memory."
New York Times

"Extraordinary...Has a desperate urgency that surpasses any other news and doc footage I have seen."
Chicago Sun Times

"Starkly surreal...A first-person disaster movie...An eyewitness epic of history in miniature."
Village Voice

May 8: Egoyan's ADORATION opens in Vancouver

A PSA From E1 Entertainment Canada 

ADORATION opens May 8: Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal

Winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival, ADORATION is Atom Egoyan’s twelfth feature film and furthers the themes of his 25 extraordinary years of filmmaking. ADORATION speaks to our connections---with each other, with our family history, with technology and with the modern world.

When Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), a high school French teacher, gives her class a translation exercise based on a real news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend, the assignment has a profound effect on one student, Simon (Devon Bostick). Years ago, Simon's father Sami (Noam Jenkins) crashed the family car, killing both himself and his wife, Rachel (Blanchard), leaving Simon to be raised by his well-meaning uncle (Scott Speedman). In the course of translating, Simon re-imagines that the news item is his own family's story and casts himself as the son of the terrorist standing in for his father. His resulting claims about the deaths of his father and mother stir up a storm that splashes over the edges of his own life and into communities both local and virtual.

Atom Egoyan is an Oscar-nominated, internationally renowned filmmaker. He was born in Cairo and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. He studied international relations and classical guitar at the University of Toronto. In addition to filmmaking, he has created works for the theatre and for interdisciplinary art installations, including his piece Auroras, which was part of the 2007 Luminato Festival in Toronto. His films, many of which have received several of the cinema's most prestigious awards, include Next of Kin (1984), Family Viewing (1987), Speaking Parts (1989), The Adjuster (1991), Calendar (1993), Exotica (1994), The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Felicia's Journey (1999), Krapp's Last Tape (2000), Ararat(2002) and Where the Truth Lies (2005). He recently wrapped production on the erotic thriller Chloe starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

34 Films I DO Want To See Before i Die

After messing around with the new edition of Steven Jay Schneider's "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," I started compiling a few other such lists, to see who agreed on what. The highest the brows got was the definitive 2002 Sight & Sound poll of critics' and directors' Top Ten Lists; the most populist, the IMDb Top 250 (as of April 23, 2009), which is open to anybody who feels like voting (but does pool the ratings of hundreds of thousands of viewers). In between, British film critic John Walker's 2002 volume "Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown" (because it's on my shelf), and the films Roger Ebert has so far included in his series "The Great Movies" (never intended as a definitive list, but a darn fine selection nevertheless). A new film friend also pointed me to "They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?", a director-oriented fan site that has compiled about a billion lists in an effort to come up with some sort of definitive canon - though I will say it contains as many eccentric choices as Walker's Anglo-centric thirties/forties valentine.

Thirty-four films appear on all six lists. Quite an accomplishment, given the widely varying nature of the sources. Here they are.

2001 - A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick / 1968 / UK)
The 400 Blows ("Les Quatre cents coups") (Francois Truffaut / 1959 / France)
8 1/2 (Federico Fellini / 1963 / Italy)
The Apartment (Billy Wilder / 1960 / USA)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola / 1979 / USA)
The Bicycle Thief ("Ladri di biciclette") (Vittorio De Sica / 1948 / Italy)
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott / 1982 / USA)
Casablanca (Michael Curtiz / 1942 / USA)
Chinatown (Roman Polanski / 1974 / USA)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles / 1941 / USA)
City Lights (Charles Chaplin / 1931 / USA)
The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola / 1974 / USA)
The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola / 1972 / USA)
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean / 1962 / UK)
M (Fritz Lang / 1931 / Germany)
Metropolis (Fritz Lang / 1927 / Germany)
On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan / 1954 / USA)
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock / 1960 / USA)
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese / 1980 / USA)
Ran (Akira Kurosawa / 1985 / Japan)
Rashomon (Akira Kurusawa / 1951 / Japan)
The Seven Samurai ("Shichinin no samurai") (Akira Kurosawa / 1954 / Japan)
The Seventh Seal ("Det sjunde inseglet") (Ingmar Bergman / 1957 / Sweden)
Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly / 1952 / USA)
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder / 1959 / USA)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau / 1927 / USA)
Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder / 1950 / USA)
Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick / 1957 / USA)
Taxi Driver ( Martin Scorsese / 1976 / USA)
The Third Man (Carol Reed / 1949 / UK)
ATouch of Evil (Orson Welles / 1958 / USA)
The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (John Huston / 1948 / USA)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock / 1958 / USA)
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming / 1939 / USA)

Nice list. A person could do worse.

I've seen just over half of them. And it just so happens I'm at a point right now where my Soul Food Movies book is on the back burner - well, on a back shelf of the fridge, to be more precise, or maybe somebody's even moved the darn thing to the freezer so it doesn't go bad - and I've got me a hankerin' to watch some just plain old good movies this summer, whether they're soul food candidates or not.

So I've reorganized my Videomatica queue and gettin' historical. I'll start with the Billy Wilders, since one of my movie buddies counts THE APARTMENT as his all-time fave. Then I'll hit the flicks that show up all the time on another list-making pal's quarterly Hot 100 list, beginning with RAN and RASHOMON. Then THE BICYCLE THIEF because it's high on my newest film friend's Top 100. And once I work my way through the rest of those six-out-of-sixers, I might even check out whatever catches my eye among the list 25 titles that crashed five of the six list-making parties...

Amarcord (Federico Fellini / 1973 / Italy)
L'Atalante (Jean Vigo / 1934 / France)
L'Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni / 1960 / Italy)
Battleship Potemkin  (Sergei Eisenstein / 1925 / Russia)
Breathless ("A Bout de Souffle") (Jean-Luc Godard /1960 /France)
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini / 1960 / Italy)
Les Enfants du Paradis ("Children of Paradise") (Marcel Carné / 1945 / France)
Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman / 1982 / Sweden)
Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir / 1937 / France)
Greed (Erich von Stroheim / 1924 / USA)
Jules and Jim (François Truffaut / 1962 / France)
Modern Times (Charles Chaplin / 1936 / USA)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone / 1968 / USA)
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer / 1957 / Denmark)
Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer / 1928 / France)
Pather Panchali (The Apu Trilogy) (Satyajit Ray / 1955 / India)
Persona (Ingmar Bergman /1966 / Sweden)
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson / 1959 / France)
Rules of the Game  ("La Régle du jeu") (Jean Renoir / 1939 / France)
Sansho The Bailiff ("Sanshô Dayû") (Kenji Mizoguchi /1954 / Japan)
The Searchers (John Ford / 1956 / USA)
La Strada (Federico Fellini / 1954 / Italy)
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu / 1953 / Japan)
Ugetsu ("Ugetsu Monogatari") (Kenji Mizoguchi / 1953 / Japan)
Wild Strawberries  (Ingmar Bergman / 1957 / Sweden)

My cinephile summer.

Chesterton, "Stage, Screen, and History"

"The second fact to remember is a certain privilege almost analogous to monopoly, which belongs of necessity to things like the theatre and cinema. In a sense more than the metaphorical, they fill the stage; they dominate the scene; they create the landscape. That is why one need not be Puritanical to insist on a somewhat stricter responsibility in all sorts of play-acting than in the looser and less graphic matter of literature. If a man is repelled by one book, he can shut it and open another; but he cannot shut up a theatre in which he finds a show repulsive, nor instantly order one of a thousand other theatres to suit his taste. There are a limited number of theatres; and even to cinemas there is some limit. Hence there is a real danger of historical falsehood being popularized through the film, because there is not the normal chance of one film being corrected by another film. When a book appears displaying a doubtful portrait of Queen Elizabeth, it will generally be found that about six other historical students are moved to publish about six other versions of Queen Elizabeth at the same moment. We can buy Mr. Belloc's book on Cromwell, and then Mr. Buchan's book on Cromwell; and pay our money and take our choice. But few of us are in a position to pay the money required to stage a complete and elaborately presented alternative film-version of Disraeli. The fiction on the film, the partisan version in the movie-play, will go uncontradicted and even uncriticized, in a way in which few provocative books can really go uncontradicted and uncriticized. There will be no opportunity of meeting it on its own large battlefield of expansive scenario and multitudinous repetition. And most of those who are affected by it will know or care very little about its being brought to book by other critics and critical methods. The very phrase I have casually used, `brought to book', illustrates the point. A false film might be refuted in a hundred books, without much affecting the million dupes who had never read the books but only seen the film."

Thanks to Peter Chattaway for that. And thanks to Rosie for the exact source;

As I Was Saying
By Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Published by Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1936
page 191

Friday, May 01, 2009

May 3 / Jun 6: animator Ken Priebe on faith & film

Ken is a local animator who also writes for Hollywood Jesus. Ken wrote the book on stop-motion animation - quite literally. Until I add contact info to this, if you might be interested in attending either event, email me or post a response here and i"ll pass it on to Ken.

I know it's short notice but just thought I'd let you know I'm giving the morning message at Cedar Park Church in Ladner this weekend, Sunday May 3 10:40am. It's on 'Faith & Film: Taking God's Detour' and centers around the Pixar movie CARS.

It's partly a kick-off for my upcoming animation festival, also at Cedar Park on Sat June 6. The festival will consist of workshops & family activities in the afternoon, a short film screening, then a BBQ and an evening presentation I'll be giving on 'Animation as an Act of Worship', talking about spiritual themes in movies like PINOCCHIO and THE IRON GIANT, etc.

Ken Priebe