Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Film Stuff

I admit it: I am a misfit.

When I was a boy, I would, like my friends, go to the "pictures" as films or "movies" (ugh) were known at the time in England. In those days, at least in my circle, a film was usually defined by the principal actor and/or actress appearing in it e.g. "Have you seen the new John Wayne film?".

I can remember my first date: the girl's name was Diana Terry and we went to see a Gregory Peck film called "The Counterfeit Traitor." The date was a wash-out incidentally, though I do not think that Mr Peck, his supporting cast or even the director of the film (whoever he might have been) were in any way responsible for the disappointment.

At some time in succeeding years I became aware that films began (or so it seemed to me) to be identified by the name of the Director. I simply do not understand this business; I suppose that there are people who without prior knowledge, could possibly know who directed a particular film, rather as a Master of Wine could perhaps identify a year or vineyard etc. at a wine tasting. I think of a Director as a bloke with a canvas folding chair with his name on the back, a pair of riding-breeches and one of those telescope-type things around his neck. God knows what (generally) he does.

I have my favourite films of course, a number of which I have watched many times; in some cases I can name the director, but to me this is more or less a duty these days!

Anyway, one of my favourites is "The Third Man" which starred Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard and of course, its Director Orson Welles. At Christmas time I saw a documentary in two parts about Welles, and began to realise why he made such good films - that is films I enjoy.

The experience prompted me to research Welles on the Internet and whilst doing so came upon some quotes from another Director one Ingemar Bergman. Here is his opinion of Welles:

"For me he's just a hoax. It's empty. It's not interesting. It's dead. Citizen Kane, which I have a copy of — is all the critics' darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it's a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie's got is absolutely unbelievable." Source

I once saw one of Mr Bergman's films. It was dull, depressing, unintelligible rubbish and very boring, even Truffaut's "Last Metro" (one that made little or no sense) wasn't as bad; I suppose that Bergman is to films what Pinter is to plays.

Anyway the same source provides more quotes from Bergman. The next I offer is profoundly precious and makes the man a worthy candidate for Private Eye's 'Pseuds Corner':

"I don't watch my own films very often. I become so jittery and ready to cry."

Well Mr Bergman, I felt like crying too when I wasted a couple of hours on one of your efforts.

He is interesting though on Antonioni ("Blow Up" being one of my favourites):

He's done two masterpieces, you don't have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up, which I've seen many times, and the other is La Notte, also a wonderful film, although that's mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau. In my collection I have a copy of Il Grido, and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade... He concentrated on single images, never realising that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don't feel anything for L'Avventura, for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded. And I thought his muse Monica Vitti was a terrible actress

I do think though that he is profoundly out of order in using the adjective "boring" - to me he wrote the book on boring!

Until the next time.

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