Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: May 2015

DSC03588

DSC03624

After a very early morning bus ride from Jeonju to Gimpo airport in Seoul it was on to Tokyo, so that Marcella might have a little taste of Japan, and to do a workshop, again, at the Tokyo Film School.  While here seeing a lot,  including friends, and in a few days we’ll have a meeting with Matsumoto-san, who for some years now has been dangling the prospect of coming to here to teach a class which would result in a portrait of this massive and vastly interesting city.  Find out more then.

Meantime a bit of echo from Jeonju – this review posted on-line a few days ago.  Makes me wonder which projection they saw, the mangled first one, or the second using H264 file. Or perhaps at the DVD library. Anyway glad it got some nice ink.

GENTRY CO. .Still023

GENTRY CO. .Still022They Had It Coming

But then having sent a note to Pedro Costa to say how much I liked his film Horse Money, he replied saying his French and German supporters were no more, and it was back to the real cheap film process for the next one.  Doesn’t matter how good you are, if it isn’t calculatedly “commercial,” in the present world it is deemed worthless.  What an ugly world.

downloadHorse Money

But it is our world.  Brutal – especially if you are black-skinned in America, or poor anywhere – and dishonest, as with Obama approving arctic drilling and trying to slip the TPP “trade deal” over at midnight, or other such things.  For the moment the neo-liberal-con ideology has appeared to triumph, and the world is suffocating under its grasp.  Though as with all such things, seeming “victory” tends towards over-reach, and there’ll soon be a comeuppance.  The current US weather gives a hint of this future….

DSC03778

DSC03771

DSC03901

DSC03697

 

And then yesterday, in a BIC Camera store here, I saw the new Sony 4K Handicams, the larger one costing now about $4K.  Half the price of my XDcam a handful of years ago.   To add to the avalanche of unneeded imagery drowning the world.

DSC039744K, $4k

Advertisements

maxresdefault.

Yesterday, at the Jeonju festival, finally had a chance to see Pedro Costa’s latest film, Horse Money. It follows on the heels (slow) of his Fontainhas trilogy, adding an extension, both in terms of characters, content, and cinematic aesthetics, to those three films. For me the most striking aspect of these works – Ossos (1997, shot in 35mm film); In Vanda’s Room (2000, dv), Colossal Youth (2006, HD) – is the progression in the cinematic means, in which Costa steadily strips down to the utter essentials for his purposes. He arrives at an elusive, poetic state in which the most common of conversation – shown in anything but “common” settings and utterance – take on a solemn gravity, such that the recitation of the data of a birth certificate, or the most commonplace of thoughts, become freighted with tragedy.

.

zurbaran-saint-francis-meditation-NG230-fm
 .

He accomplishes this with a mix of imagery that echoes Zurbarán, Ribera and other Spanish painters under the sway of Caravaggio, as well as of Goya in his darker passages.

.

0b2bf507d2a74adea6e9f9eb67518e54
 .

José_de_Ribera_019

.

Posed in darkened settings, shot in angles which isolate figures and monumentalize them, the light falls carefully upon them, seemingly “natural” light, but in this film clearly highly controlled and composed. Coupled with his character’s readings of the words – Bressonian in their minimalist recitation – Costa extracts from the most humble of people a stunning and deep chord of humanity, in all its mundane misery and tragedy. Horse Money, like any serious art, places a heavy demand on those who would get from it what lies in its depths. A great work by a great artist.

.

goya_disparates_550

.

goya.colossus

.

For further reviews and thoughts on this film, see these:

http://www.indiewire.com/article/locarno-review-pedro-costas-existential-ghost-story-horse-money-will-get-under-your-skin-20140813
 
http://cinema-scope.com/cinema-scope-magazine/tiff-2014-horse-money-pedro-costa-portugal-wavelengths/
 
http://www.indiewire.com/article/locarno-review-pedro-costas-existential-ghost-story-horse-money-will-get-under-your-skin-20140813
http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/horse-money

.

Riberadetail.

While here I’ve walked out of a few of the films I’ve gone to see (not many), and did manage to see, after a long wait, Wang Bin’s Man With No Name, which left me pondering a few matters, from how did he manage to get an OK from his subject, to was it a matter of the man appears a bit mentally short and perhaps did not quite understand what he was agreeing with?  Ethical matters.  While I liked the film I felt it missed out just a little, in part from aesthetic matters, like perhaps it would have been a bit more powerful if the contrast had been upped, and such technical/aesthetic matters as that.  I do think any Hollywood filmmaker intending to make a film about poor people might take a look to get an idea what real dirt looks like.

.

man-with-no-name

.download (1)

GENTRY CO. .Still042

Back in Jeonju for the festival, lost count how many times now.  The place burst from a small provincial college town I first saw in 1999, to a bustling busy city.  Likewise the festival grew, not long ago underwent a palace revolution in which the original director and programming teams all got shoved out the door or left of their own accord.  Two years ago one still felt the wobble, and personally, I felt the sudden rigid insistence of a DCP to show Coming to Terms.  I asked that they not do this, but they held firm and I shelled out $700 to get one made, at their insistence shifting 29 fps to 24 fps, inducing the totally predictable motion crap changing frame rates will cause.  This year they stuck with their DCP insistence and I went on-line and did it myself, with no means to check it out.  Sent it off a bit doubtful, hastily at their insistence.  They then didn’t look at it, and then having sat on it 2+ weeks, informed me there was a problem, though wasn’t too clear just what it might be.  It did include that there was text in the middle of film, which, as it happens there is.

GENTRY CO. .Still053

I offered to try again, though cautioning that as I have no means to check the package, I had no real reason to believe another go round would result in a proper one.  I did in fact render all the big files needed to do so but just a few days before leaving got word all was OK, and don’t bother making a new one.  So I stopped.  And then, on day of departure got an urgent request to bring new DCP!  Which I couldn’t.

Yesterday they screened the film, to a decently sized audience.  I did not stay to watch as somehow I knew carnage was in the works, and indeed, arriving for the post-screening Q&A, a friend of mine was exiting and told me the projection was a total unwatchable mess.

GENTRY CO. .Still052

Requested a few opening words, I explained the whole deal, and informed the audience they had not seen my film, but rather the result of a totally unnecessary and wrong-headed policy.  Strangely though many had clearly liked the film, despite the butchered version on offer and we had a long discussion.  I gave the URL and password to the audience so they could go on line and see what I’d actually made.

To compensate for this unhappy bit I went to see a former student of mine at Yonsei University, LEE Sangwoo, who had a film on that surely cost many multiples of my most costly.  It was, like him, a weird, vulgar, aggressive and really well made film titled SPEED.

GENTRY CO. .Still010

Today, after a not so wonderful exchange with the projection people, they let me know they would do tomorrow’s screening with the H264 file I’d included with the DCP, just in case….

GENTRY CO. .Still044

Unless there’s a real juicy enticement to bring me back, I think this is last time around for me to Jeonju.  And maybe the last time around making these kinds of films.  I kinda feel like the character up top after 52 years of this….