La Vallée close (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1995-2000)
A fortuitously busy year of vocational preoccupations; collaborative cornucopia, planning, further planning, solo films and studies prevented me from ferreting out many new films, irrespective of whether they were good or bad; nevertheless, I managed to allocate some time to exhume, and in some cases, to reexamine the empyrean elegance, profundity and mystery in many older works. Furthermore, I was particularly touched by a tenuous cloud - but a cloud nonetheless - of outstanding bravery; one film in particular, which in the end, I am glad to say I supported my friend to complete.
I hope that this tenuous cloud spreads... that it augments, ameliorating the current cultural, political and pseudo-artistic milieu that we currently face. We need the integrity, the fallibility, the honesty, the subversion; the willingness to confront the spectator; the willingness to confront ourselves; the oscillation between intimacy and indeterminacy; the oscillation between ontological study and the most immense cosmic questioning; in other words, we must encourage a human willingness to fail.
But this is being squandered; dissipating into the pecuniary abyss; a cessation of creativity and existence.
I sincerely hope that the tenuous cloud I saw in 2013 does not dry out.
Exhumations and Revisits
La vallée close (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1995) - a screening that I organised at The University of
South Wales, Newport, in the late summer.
Landfill 16 (Jennifer Todd Reeves, 2011)
Ma nuit chez Maud (Éric Rohmer, 1969) - such a rigorous and enchanting work of intelligence that simultaneously emits that incorporeal, indescribable but irrefutable rhythm of emotion and mystique that seems exclusively evincible to the medium of cinema, although I can only apply this ethereal tactility to very few experiences; Werckmeister harmóniák and The Hart of London to name just two other examples.
River Lethe (Amy Kravitz, 1985)
Miejsce urodzenia (Paweł Łoziński, 1992)
Fugue Nefesh (Solomon Nagler, 2007)
Meer (Telemach Wiesinger, Wolfgang Lehmann, 2004)
Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966)
Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino (Lav Diaz, 2004)
Heremias: Unang aklat - Ang alamat ng prinsesang bayawak (Lav Diaz, 2006)
Tańczący jastrząb (Grzegorz Królikiewicz, 1977)
Khrustalyov, mashinu! (Alexei German, 1998)
Trans-Europ-Express (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1966)
Püha Tõnu kiusamine (Veiko Õunpuu, 2009) - The most entertaining film I saw in 2013.
Furthermore, I don't think I've ever seen a film so successfully consolidate such a diverse pastiche of influences.
Boundary (Devin Horan, 2009)
Le tempestaire (Jean Epstein, 1947)
Joen (Yoshishige Yoshida, 1967)
D'Est (Chantal Akerman, 1993) - Along with Tarr's Sátántangó and Bartas' Koridorius, this is the
most important film about humanity made during the 1990s.
Il deserto rosso (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) - In 2K; intensifying my view that perhaps it is the
most beautiful colour feature film yet made.
Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)
Poesie In 8mm collection (Franco Piavoli, 1954-63)
From the Notebook of... (Robert Beavers, 1998)
Branca de Neve (João César Monteiro, 2000)
Limite (Mário Peixoto, 1931)
Ruke ljubičastih daljina (Sava Trifković, 1962)
Wojciech Wiszniewski's filmography - For its sublime cinematography and evocations of humanity.
La ville des pirates (Raúl Ruiz, 1983)
Nocturno 29, Umbracle & Cuadecuc, vampir (Pere Portabella, 1968-1970)
Magdanas Lurja (Tengiz Abuladze, Rezo Chkheidze, 1955)
Hamsarayan (Abbas Kiarostami, 1982)
San zimei (Wang Bing, 2012)
Démanty noci (Jan Němec, 1964)
Dementia (John Parker, Bruno VeSota, 1955)
Yabu no Naka no Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindô, 1968)
Kamen (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1992)
Crescent (Saul Levine, 1993)
The Tears of Mary (Jean Detheux, 2012)
I Dreamed (Christopher Marsh, 2013)
Untitled ('For Jafar Panahi & Mohammad Rasoulof') - Protest Film (Anon, 2011)
Na srebrnym globie (Andrzej Żuławski, 1988)
Late and Deep (Devin Horan, 2011)
La vie nouvelle (Philippe Grandrieux, 2002)
The Scarlet Claw (Roy William Neill, 1944)
A tenuous cloud
Earlier this year, I was conversing with Jesse Richards for an essay on Remodernist film. I asked him that if he could pinpoint the cardinal aim of Remodernist film, what would it be. He sent me the following quote by Antonin Artaud:
'What we are driving at is this: that with each performance we put on we are playing a serious game, that the whole point of our effort resides in this quality of seriousness. It is not to the minds or the senses of the spectators that we address ourselves but to their whole existence. We stake our own lives on the spectacle that unfolds [...] If we did not have the very clear and very profound sense that an intimate part of our lives was involved in that spectacle, we would see no point in pursuing the experiment. The spectator who comes to our theatre knows that he is to undergo a real operation in which not only his mind but senses and his flesh are at stake. Henceforth he will go to the theatre the way he goes to the surgeon or the dentist. In the same state of mind – knowing, of course, that he will not die, but that it is a serious thing, and that he will not come out of it unscathed. If we were not convinced that we would reach him as deeply as possible, we would consider ourselves inadequate to our most absolute duty. He must be totally convinced that we are capable of making him scream.'
The quote left me stunned. It made me reevaluate the films that I thought had pushed boundaries, and the films that I, myself had been making.
Seeing (Matthew Allen, 2012-13) captures beyond doubt, Jesse Richards' hope for Remodernist film. It is Christmas Day, 2012. Nat King Cole is playing. A loved one sits alone in silence for a few minutes, unaware that the unmanned camera is recording. Quite suddenly he looks up, and equivocally proclaims that he will soon be reunited with his late wife. The film carries on. Other family members return, all unaware. The shot abruptly stops several minutes later as Matthew picks up the camera. The "film" was only discovered six months after the individual in question died. Regardless of whether my friend decides to ever release it, he has done a most courageous and profound thing; turning his pain and questions on life and beyond into something artistically profound. Perhaps, to be completely selfless in art, one has to be wholly selfish; one must creatework solely for themselves.
Scott Barley is a fine artist and filmmaker living in South Wales, UK. His recent filmography includes Retirement, Irresolute, and Nightwalk (2013). He is currently working on a collaborative avant-garde horror film entitled, Blue Noon, The Sadness of the Trees, and several solo works inspired by Vija Celmins, Martin Heidegger and Francis Bacon.