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In Cannes, the annual travesty offered up by France in the name of “art”, the usual clap-trap has been available to amuse the critics – Lars von Trier announced he was the world’s best director; Quentin Tarantino announced he was the world’s best director (both thus excluding themselves from anyone’s serious consideration about anything, in case anyone previously had).  Films have rolled by, though none seems to have caused a universal wave of huzzahs.

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Wild Grass, Alain Resnais

The venerable 87 year old Alain Resnais though was present with a well received new work, alleged to be up to his best, which is a very high level indeed (Muriel, Hiroshima Mon Amour, and many others).

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The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderbergh

Meantime back home, Steven Soderbergh has released his latest so-called low-budgeter, which in a sense bears a relation to first film, Sex, Lies & Videotape.   In this case one shot if not on tape, then on a silicon chip, but in HD video.  The Girlfriend Experience, about a high-class hooker working the financial district in NY.  Hooker played by a real-life hot porn star.  It was shot on a RED, and done, so Mr Soderbergh imagines, daringly using no lights, aside from in industry-speak “practicals” (lights that are part of the actual scene).  Here’s his take on it.

As others in the industry do, the idea that one might work without the usual cinema lighting comes as an adventurous bit of innovation, nevermind that others had done so long long ago.  For example myself, in 1976, using ASA 200 (!) Kodak EF “high speed” of the time reversal stock, shooting Last Chants for a Slow Dance, and on through the rest of my films.  Or I rather doubt that some early Godard films did (Breathless, My Life to Live), and to my understanding many of his later, very lushly beautiful ones also did without.  Or Cassavetes.  Or….    Ah, but with a new faster filmstock, or with the new RED HD camera, suddenly the old is new again, though Soderbergh’s film has nothing new about it – more titillation offered up in the pose of a fake kind of moralism, Soderberg’s seemingly usual pattern.  The same thing he’s trafficked in from the start.

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Sarabande, Nathaniel Dorsky

Not to leave too sour a taste in the mouth, here’s a little interview with Nathaniel Dorsky, which should help cleanse the palate.   I think I saw the two films of his discussed here, I forget just where, perhaps at a screening in Portland, and they are very lovely.  Quiet moments of joy in the ordinary passing of life, but perceived and made transcendent by a real artist.   Nathaniel would never say he was the greatest filmmaker in the world.

Lastly a little note.  Belatedly we’ve heard from the Galway Film Fleadh, coming up July 5-12, and they’ve invited Rant, our documentary portrait of Steve Lack, and Landing in the Morning Calm, Marcella’s first film (and a nice one), and Mr Right, the film done with my students as actors last spring.  Pointedly they didn’t invite Parable, so I feel perhaps as if the baton is being passed.  I’m very happy for Marcella, and glad we’ll be going to Ireland to do a workshop and enjoy a bit of Irish beer, music, and landscapes.  And a few friends not seen in quite a while.

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