Tag Archives: movies

CINEMA E PINTURA

6 maio

Neste 8 de maio celebra-se o Dia do Artística Plástico e a proximidade da data me fez pensar na relação entre o cinema e a pintura, duas artes tão profundamente ligadas, até porque o cinema, entre outras coisas, também é plástico.

Tanto é assim que quando, em 1927, o som chegou às telas dos cinemas, houve reclamações: ele, o som, estimulava a vocação narrativa da sétima arte, constituindo-se numa quebra da autonomia da imagem. Dois “reclamantes” famosos, como se sabe, foram Charles Chaplin e o nosso Vinicius de Moraes.

De fato, alguns dos filmes mudos, mesmo quando contavam estórias, como o “Aurora” de Murnau (1927), ou o “Metropolis” de Fritz Lang (1927), comungavam com a plasticidade da pintura. Agora, com o advento do som, toda a ênfase passava a ser posta no desenvolvimento do enredo. Sem coincidência as duas primeiras décadas da era de ouro do cinema clássico – anos 30 e 40 – fizeram, mais ou menos, vista grossa ao parentesco entre a pintura e o cinema.

Um quadro constante em Ford: o Monument Valley

Claro que houve as exceções, se você pensar em cineastas “plásticos” como William Wyler, George Steves, e sobretudo, John Ford. Como não lembrar as panorâmicas de Ford na paisagem do Velho Oeste americano, especialmente aquelas tão recorrentes do deslumbrante “Monument Valley”? Se você porventura não esqueceu o preto-e-branco do belíssimo “O mensageiro do diabo” (Charles Laughton, 1955), deve recordar como suas paisagens, em certos planos especiais, recriam pinturas do Impressionismo francês.

Um dos primeiros filmes americanos a tratar diretamente o tema da pintura acho que foi “O retrato de Dorian Gray”, 1945, de Albert Lewin, com o ator Hurd Hatfield no duplo papel-título. Sem coincidência, o filme levou o Oscar de melhor fotografia, trabalho especial de Harry Stradling. No mesmo ano, Fritz Lang rodou “Almas perversas” (“Scarlet Street”, 1945), só que aqui o pintor é um amador que vende seus quadros com assinatura alheia. Em 1948 William Dieterle lançaria o seu “Retrato de Jennie” (“Portrait of Jennie”), com Joseph Cotten como um pintor em crise que, ao meio da Depressão americana, procura uma musa – e a encontra, em pleno Central Park, na figura do título, desempenho de Jennifer Jones.

O ator Kirk Douglas como Van Gogh em “Sede de viver”

Até aqui os pintores eram fictícios. Nos dez filmes que, em ordem cronológica, cito em seguida, os pintores são criaturas do nosso mundo, que deixaram obras para a posteridade. Na impossibilidade de discutir mais extensivamente estes filmes, acrescento apenas rápidas notas informativas para cada caso. O número de filmes sobre pintura e pintores é, atualmente, bem maior que a minha lista e assumo a responsabilidade das escolhas:

MOULIN ROUGE (John Huston, 1952), com José Ferrer no papel do pintor Toulouse-Lautrec, vivenciando as delícias e os tormentos da Belle Époque.

SEDE DE VIVER (Lust for life, 1955, Vincente Minnelli) com Kirk Douglas e Anthony Quinn como, respectivamente, o convulso Van Gogh e o amigo fiel Gauguin.

O MISTÉRIO DE PICASSO (Le mistère de Picasso, 1956, H. G. Clouzot) com Picasso, ele mesmo, pintando em transparência e sendo filmado no ato.

AGONIA E ÊXTASE (The agony and the ecstasy, 1965, Carol Reed) com Charlston Heston na carne de Michelangelo, em voltas com o Papa da época para a pintura da Capela Sistina.

VERDADES E MENTIRAS (F for fake, 1973, Orson Welles) com o falsário Elmyr de Hory, nesse documentário irônico sobre quadros originais e imitações.

MEU PÉ ESQUERDO (My left foot, 1989, Jim Sheridan) com Daniel Day-Lewis como o deficiente irlandês Christy Brown e seus genais quadros pintados com um dos pés.

FRIDA (2002, Julie Taymor) com Salma Hayck, fazendo a sofrida pintora mexicana, sua saúde precária e sua luta com o companheiro Diego Rivera.

MOÇA COM BRINCO DE PÉROLA (Girl with a pearl earring, 2003, Peter Webber) com Colin Firth no papel de Vermeer, e Scarlett Johansson no da fictícia empregada doméstica Britt, que teria sido a modelo do quadro famoso.

SOMBRAS DE GOYA (Goya´s ghosts, 2006, Milos Forman) com Stellan Skarsgard desempenhando Francisco Goya, ao tempo em que foi réu da Inquisição espanhola, por causa da amante Inês.

COM AMOR, VAN GOGH (Loving Vincent, 2017, Dorota Kobiola e Hugh Welchman), uma fase da vida do pintor holandês em forma de poético cartoon.

 

“Moça com brinco de pérola” – quando um quadro gera um filme

Anúncios

In the fountain, with Anita

20 jan

Besides Fellini´s “La Dolce Vita” (1960), what other Anita Ekberg movies have you seen?

I asked friends and none had seen any. Some cinephiles were able to mention “Intervista” (Fellini, 1987) where, anyway, the recently deceased Swedish actress appears as herself, old and fat, with nothing of her once astounding beauty.

And, however, Anita is one of the most worshipped divas of the cinema.

6

The truth is: to be a diva a single role may be enough.

And hers was that one, I mean, the big tits and hoarse voice sensual Sylvia, the gorgeous blonde who invites Marcello into the waters of the Fontana di Trevi, in Fellini´s 1960 masterpiece.

One funny thing was, some of my friends confessed not even “La dolce vita” they had seen, and, nonetheless, (they could not explain why), they seemed to remember the Roman fountain scene.

Actually, the fact can be explained. The cinema, or rather, cinephilia, is not necessarily made of entire movies, but also of single images or scenes that sometimes impose themselves as recurring intertexts. That which elsewhere I once called “beloved images”.

For instance, recently two movies showed the Fontana di Trevi scene, by the way, not just showed, but made it the core of their fictional universe. They both told the romantic adventure of this old lady who dreams of meeting her perfect valentine and with him travel to Rome, just to recreate the emblematic fountain scene – if possible, including the little white cat and the glass of milk which is served to it.

An Argentina production of 2005, the first movie is the original one; a Hollywood production of 2014, the second one is its remake, both with the same plot and title, although not with the same artistic quality: “Elsa & Fred”.

Not to mention that, a couple of decades ago, in “Intervista”, the very same scene had been (re)exhibited, when a real Mascello Mastroiani, along with the whole film stuff, visits Anita´s farm house, and there, in the sitting room, with a fellinian magic power, reproduces the Fontana di Trevi scene, on a white sheet used as screen.

Anita and Mastroiani in Fellini´s masterpiece.

Anita and Mastroiani in Fellini´s masterpiece.

The fact that moviegoers do not recall other Anita Ekberg movies is understandable.

Although she was in 63 movies, very few, besides “La dolce vita”, are worth mentioning, “War and peace” (king Vidor, 1956), where she has a supporting role, is almost an exception.

I myself could only remember her in “Boccacio 70”, a film in four episodes, and in that also episodical bittersweet comedy by Vittorio DeSica, “Seven times woman” (1970), in which, anyway, the repeated woman is not herself, but Shirley MacLaine.

Only in checking over her filmography could I identify some of the her movies I had seen in the past: two comedies by Frank Tashlin, with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, “Artists and models (1955) and “Hollywood or bust” (1956), and the film she was making when Fellini found her in Italy: “Sheba and the gladiator” (1959), you know, one of those void Italian epics which were so often produced at that time, leading nowhere…

But, who cares? Anita Ekberg is the eternal diva whom we shall forever worship.

In the fountain, with Anita.

In the fountain, with Anita.

Tears in the dark

7 maio

People somtimes ask me if, when I am about to see a picture, I promptly take on that distant and cold attitude of a professional critic who observes, analyses and judges.

My answer always surprises those who ask me: when I am at the movie-house – or at home, playing the DVD set – I take off completely my “critic´s uniform” and surrender to the movie, body and soul, for whatever comes up. And what comes up may be any human reactions, including those too human.

Only later, as the English poet says, “recollected in tranquility”, I mentally recall the movie and, if by any chance, it was worthwhile, I do concentrate to analyze and evaluate.

I did not mention, above, the list of reactions I may have to a movie, but, I do feel the moral obligation of saying that those are the same that occur to the most naïve and unable spectator.

One of them, for instance, is crying. Yes, some movies make me cry, so much that the tears flurry, not only my vision, but also my supposed ability to discern.

Fellini´s "Nights of Cabiria": a tear and a smile in the final scene.

Fellini´s “Nights of Cabiria”: a tear and a smile in the final scene.

If you want an example, I could never watch the final scene in “Nights of Cabiria” (Fellini, 1957) without pouring tears, and even now that I recall it to write about, I do feel like crying.

I think Fellini was pretty mean to conceive that kind of denouement; mean to Cabiria and mean to the viewer. The poor woman had suffered blows after blows, and this final scene is totally unbearable. It should have been the sublime moment when, despite the blows, she had come to believe in love again, and, however, her “charming prince” proves to be a thief who, in the dark forest, near the abyss verge, runs away with her belongings. Next morning, when Cabiria meets those gay young people who play, sing and dance around her, she still can show a smile, but…

In Frank Capra´s “It´s a wonderful life” (1946) George Baily is a householder who, a Christmas Eve, can see no way out of his debts except committing suicide. As he tries it, someone else enters the scenery and the whole story takes an unexpected and strange course. Bewitched by the angel Clarence, George looks for his relatives all over town and can not find any: in this unfamiliar, gloomy new world, his wife, Mary, had become a neurotic spinster, his mother is the owner of a whorehouse, and his brother is just a name in a tomb… In a moment of total despair, not knowing what to do or where else to go, he runs towards the screen (yes, towards us) as if to ask for help. This moment chokes me and…

Un unifamiliar, gloomy new world for George Baily: Capra´s "It´s a wonderful life"

An unifamiliar, gloomy new world for George Baily: Capra´s “It´s a wonderful life”

In David Lean´s “Brief encounter” (1945) Laura is a simple housewife, with two kids, a mind-limited husband and an unimaginative life ahead. Every Thursday she takes the train to a neighboring town, where she finally meets this also married doctor who… The scene in which this woman in love is forced by circumstances to return back to the husband she does not love, and, sitting at the sitting room, after recalling a whole love story, hears the husband thank her for getting out of this “nightmare” and come back to his arms: all this under Rachmaninoff´s sound track…

I never wrote critical essays on these movies, and if I ever did, I was not at all satisfied with the results. My emotional reaction inevitably interferes with the analysis and, after all, I would rather leave them untouched. By the way, I do not even see these three movies very often, for, in my religion of cinephile, they are sacred icons for whom a constant visitation might sound like profanity.

Back into an unimaginative domestic life: David Lean´s "Brief encounter"

Back into an unimaginative domestic life: David Lean´s “Brief encounter”

Actually I should say very few movies make me cry, and the ones who do are all old movies, from the first half of the twentieth century. Modern cinema never pulled out a tear from my eyes, I wonder whether the problem is mine or its. I do not even know if it is a problem.

The crying effect is connected to a special genre, the melodrama, a genre that lost prestige with the coming of modernity.

I do not know how far the three movies I mentioned may be called melodramas, but, there is one thing I know: they are too big to fit any genre.

Poetry

8 ago

Movie criticism is full of paradoxes. Or is it the critic himself? Sometimes bad movies lead me to writing, and, sometimes, a very good movie suggests I should be silent.

A suggestion of silence – respectful silence! – has given me this excellent “Poetry” (“Shi”, 2012) by South-Korean Chang-dong Lee, which I was luck enough to watch on paid tv.

Yes, I do have the feeling that writing about this sweet and tender film is like maculating it. And, paradoxally, I write for, of course, I intend  to publicize it. Actually, if I could, instead of writing, I would get copies, and, kindly, distribute with dear friends.

poetry poster

I should begin by saying that, within this Third Millenium Cinema I happen to know, very few times I came across such a captivating and true character, so well built, as this Mrs Mija, a lady of sixty-six who, with problems of memory, enrolls in a poetry course. Going slowly through the sidewalks of Seoul, Mija makes a difference, with her elegancy and finesse – her old face is still beautiful, her body is still slim and her slightly old-fashioned white hat, which she insists in wearing, gives her a vaguely aristocratic look.

I wonder if I will be able to convey her interior beauty, but, I start with that which is obvious – whatever the plot offers me, and the plot is another enormous merit in the film.

A widow for some time, Mija would live alone, were it not for this grandson, the son of separate parents, whom she practically is forced to lodge – a hostile teenager whom she can not understand, despite the many daily efforts.

One day Mija hear the news that a young girl had committed suicide, throwing herself from the bridge into the waters of the Han river. Not only this, but, going to the hospital for exams, she witnesses a terrible scene: the desperate dead girl´s mother, out of control, crying and throwing herself on the ground like a mad woman.

poetry 2

Very soon came the worst: Mija is secretly visited by a committee of male parents, whose sons had raped the girl, and Mija´s grandson was one of them. The parents went to her because, all togehter, they are collecting a certain amount of money for an indemnity, and, of course, the Police and the press are not supposed to know about it.

Without much means, Mija does not know how to raise the money. She lives on a poor allowance and, an on eventual work as sitter. At present, she takes care of an old man who had a stroke, and lives all by himself in his middle class apartment.

All these problems – including the blanks of memory, diagnosed as Alzheimer – do not stop Mija from attending the poetry course, where the teacher ensures that everybody is able to write poems, for poetry is within every one of us. Mija has always been fond of flowers and of strange words, and this gives her the illusion she may one day be able to write a poem. She spends time with Nature, looking for an inspiration that never comes. Or  does it too late. (Should I tell the end of the story?).

Meanwhile, troubled by the girl´s death, Mija goes as far as the suicide place, the bridge over the Han river, and – sad prolepsis – the wind blows her hat, which falls down on the dark waters.

By suggestion of the parents committe, she visits the dead girl´s mother, in the field, but, the visit is aimless: the two women talk about ripe fruits, and things like these, and Mija comes back without solutions.  Except for the fact that, not knowing what to do, she steals a picture of the dead girl, and takes it home, putting it over the table, for her delinquent grandson to see.

poetry 6

Through not very honorable means – a kind of painful consented rape – Mija gets the money for the indemnity with the old man she takes care of – and, however, a few days later, inevitably, the police appear on her street, and take her grandson to prison.

By the end of the poetry course, none of the students had fulfilled the task of writing a poem, except Mija, who does not come to class, and, together with a bouquet of flowers, sends her written poem to be read – her first (remember the hat on the river?) and last one. While one hears the voice-over that reads Mija´s poem (first the teacher´s, than hers, than the dead girl´s), the camera moves toward the suicide bridge and, we then understand that another suicide occurred. Not only the frighteningly dark waters of the Han river, closely shot, tell us this, but also the strange and beautiful words in the poem we hear.

I turned off the TV set kind of choking, remembering another female victim of men´s world, one that always makes me cry: Fellini´s Cabiria.

I began this post by mentioning the paradoxes of movie criticism. An additional one is not attaining, in the composition of the text, the same level of quality as the movie discussed – which is the case here. So, dear reader, see the movie, and forget this piece of criticism.

poetry 1