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Down by train from NYC, arrived to a frozen Philadelphia, a state joined by many others, dipping deep down into South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and other places where a drop to freezing was a rarity, but now our wobbly New World Weather has let things plunge to zero F.   Brittle cold, enough to force one indoors – so no visits to historical patriotic sites here in The City of Brotherly Love, which for shooting would have been nice.  However a stroll to downtown was enough to put the kabosh on further such things.  Marcella’s Southern Italian mien turns mean as her toes turn to ice.

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Was here for a screening of Muri Romani, tucked into a series of films shown at the International House Philadelphia, the de facto cinematec here, and which I’ve visited a number of times before, going back to Linda Blackaby’s time. For some time now it’s been programmed by Robert Cargni-Mitchell, who greeted us and spilled out a long and fascinating personal history, perhaps prompted by the Italian blood running in Marcella’s veins.

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After a long little talk with a “fan” (had seen Last Chants for a Slow Dance, which had me wondering if such a drastic shift as the film he was about to see would change things), was introduced and cautioned the audience of 30 or so – a number which given the weather and my sense of a much diminished existence, seemed large – about the nature of the coming film.  I had anticipated 5 or 10.    I checked the first few minutes and went to do internet stuff while it screened.  Having given the viewers a spiel that when I had finished making this film I concluded I’d finally made a work that would clean out any cinema, and was in its first public screening at the Jeonju festival much surprised to find that it didn’t work that way, I was maybe not quite so surprised to find virtually all the viewers were still there when I came back at the end.  I was told a couple left.  Ensued a long and interesting discussion, at the end of which a handful of people who’d seen clearly a number of my films, who said they loved this one, came up to talk more and bought some DVDs of other films.   The kind of thing which tempts one to slog on.

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Muri Romani

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Over a lunch the next day had a nice long talk with Peter Rose, commiserating over a compendium of seeming geezer complaints – about the dumbed-down state of students today (not their fault, but the fault of a purposeful mal-education imposed by our Market Economy system), and the fractured curiousity that seems to be prevalent among them; 3D (which he is working in these days); the demise of “the circuit” – that tiny little space where one’s work could be shown, and, if not a living, at least something could be “earned” for that work.  The places shrink, as has the modest pay, along with the audiences.  The grave beacons, so it seems.  Along with these parochial matters, we slipped in broader interests dancing around the state of the nation and the world.  The vista, matching the brittle weather outside, was grim.

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The White Dog Restaurant

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A few very modest matters came along to underline the precariousness of my existence.  Like going out to a recommended place to have some cold-weather soup, so following Robert’s suggestion we went down the arctic street to The White Dog, which on entering clearly smacked of fancy, and ordered ourselves two soups.  Marcella also had a plate of 5 oysters, nada to drink except nature’s nice water.  Leaving = minus $40, which I can indulge in once in a long while, but….   Ditto the “let’s have a coffee” at which the tab ends at $10 for two.  Marcella immediately noted that in Italy better coffee and cornetto would have come to 3 Euro.  As we hit the road in the coming month, we’ll have to tighten our belts.

In a few more hours, back to NYC for another week and then, weather permitting, on the road.   Hope to come back to shoot some when things are more amenable.  And Robert has invited us back for a screening or two, likely in autumn.  And may show a few other films in the interim.

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Here’s a note, just in, from Bill Ackerman, the fellow I talked with before the screening and about whom I wondered how he’d take the shift from Last Chants to Muri Romani.  Posted here with his OK.

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Hello Jon, You asked me to email you with my thoughts on MURI ROMANI. Well, I have to say, it took a while for my mind to stop racing, to settle into the trance that’s intended. And that lead me to reflect on how one’s mind can do that. I also noticed how often I thought I *almost* saw specific images and shapes in the patterns, and thought how that must be how many of us are wired. At some point, music drifted into the soundtrack, maybe from a passing car, and it occurred to me how different, how much more conventional, the film might be if it featured a musical score. I listen to a lot of different types of music, and ambient/experimental music is one I return to at different points in my life. MURI ROMANI reminded me of ambient music moreso than, say, LAST CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE. Your comments about the sound being too loud and the dissolves coming a little too quickly make sense to me. I loved TANTI AUGURI too! I’m trying to imagine how it might have played without your explanation of how it was created, and I’m not sure how it would work at a much greater length, but it served as a nice opening act to the main feature. Best, Bill

And, purely by coincidence of the nicest kind, is a quote from Leonardo da Vinci, that I bumped into quickly scanning FB posts yesterday.

“Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colors. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys and hills, in various ways. Also you can see various battles and figures in action, strange faces and costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form. And these appear on such walls confusedly, like the sound of bells in whose clanging you can find every name and word that you can imagine. Do not despise my opinion, when I remind you that it should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which, if you consider them well, you may find really marvelous ideas. The mind of the painter is stimulated to new discoveries, the composition of wars, the battles of animals and men, various compositions of landscapes and monstrous things, such as devils and similar things, which may bring you honor, because by indistinct things the mind is stimulated to new inventions.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks (Trattato della Pittura, Codex Urbinas)
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Here’s a little film made a few days ago with Stephen Lack, in Upstate New York, while snow fell.  Steve wrote the monologue some years back, and it lingered in his mind, something as often happens with me. For example, the opening monologue of They Had It Coming is something I wrote 20 years or more ago, and when conceiving the film, it drifted forward in my mind.  Steve and I seem similar in this process.  We also both have filthy minds.

For this he did a little re-write to fit the mode of presentation and he knocked it out in one take.  I did little aside from setting the shot, and, if you look carefully, maybe you will see what I did on the computer to intensify it.  Steve and I are thinking of some further things along this line, and I have an essay film cooking in the back of my cranium, which would use his drawings and thoughts.

https://vimeo.com/119403439

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One of the virtues of the otherwise costly nature of New York City (or many other such places) is that one can see things elsewhere unavailable. And so the other evening I went with Daniel Levine and John Murphy to go see Godard’s latest film, at the Waverly IFC.  Plunking down my $14 ($4 senior discount), grabbed my glasses and went in.

Saying “farewell to language” Jean-luc Godard pulls out all the stops, and within his particular small-bandwidth sandbox of ideas, cinematic tropes, conceits, and toys, he seemingly also says farewell to us. Adieu au Langage has the air of a terminal note, the signal of an old man, stogie permanently affixed in his mouth, playfully leaving his audience in the dust, to which he’s soon to be consigned, though film world rumor has it he is busy on another film. Here Godard as collagist deploys his cubist methods across the board: visually, aurally, spatially, intellectually. He leaves nothing at his disposal untouched by his simultaneous dyspeptic misanthropic cynicism and his joyful childlike play with his art. The combination is disarming, and begets a range of responses from “pretentious garbage” to “work of genius.”

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a322f23_adieuaulangage“the ones without imagination take refuge in reality “

In his late period manner he releases a barrage of text, passages of lush music clipped off in mid-phrase, disorienting imagery, the customary naked young women’s bodies (men too, somewhat older), binary philosophical aphorisms, and his dog snooping around, pooping, and myriad other things delivered in rapid fire pacing, at times tongue deeply in cheek, at times profoundly “serious”.  Adieu au Langage is a delirious, defiantly “unprofessional” home-movie, which cocks his cigar-smoke ringed nose at the narrow conventions of what most people think of as “cinema.” The play with 3D is particularly striking on many fronts, from the minimalist compositions that exaggerate 3D’s spatial qualities, to distended angles that make bodies seem not connected to themselves, to the two shots in which he pans one of the binary cameras to simultaneously shift from 3D to superimposed 2D.  The second of these is much better for being less obvious – from what I have read many of our critics seem not to have even seen it.   He’s been doing this kind of thing since Breathless, which of course in these days now seems almost conventional itself as its strategies long since entered the now-normal grammar of the movies. One doubts though that much of his play in this latest (last?) work will have legs outside the avant-garde/experimental world (from which he has heavily borrowed here).

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To see an old pro do his shtick with such consummate fun, is, for those those of us with a taste for such things, a profound pleasure. For myself I have found most of Godard’s work of the last few decades (yes, counting in decades now) an indigestible slog, but here there is an energy, a “joyful wisdom” that pervades those same old tropes he has deployed from the outset.  An on-slaught of quotes from famed intellectuals are played upon, binary oppositions are ping-ponged (male/female; birth/death, 3D/not3D) as Godard weaves an intricate mesh of associations in a manner more music and/or poetry than the usual ho hum of narrative cinema.  Though he persists on holding onto the hint of a slender thread of story, of theatrical devices, of boy-meets-girl, though the thread is so thread-worn that to find it takes far more than it is worth.  Like that other artist on the film radar of the moment, Turner, Godard seems unable to just let go and surrender to cinematic abstraction.  Better to skip trying to follow any “story” and simply let the images jar one’s eyes and mind, along with the willfully jagged sound that shifts left/right/stereo/silence/loud/quiet, and where the taboo’s of the professional cinema are ignored and windpops abound, electrical crackles slip through, a shot’s actor’s voice breaks up from digital mismanagement.  And this time around the tid-bits of philosophic meandering actually manage in this grand poetic gesamtskunstwerk to acquire a modest force and poignancy.  Perhaps it is the approaching end of life which coaxes this result, but here passion does indeed come rushing through the clutter of the artist’s looped obsessions.

In the latter half of the film the energy begins to run out, and Jean-luc shifts the burden onto his dog Roxy.  We see Roxy nosing around here and there, in shots less riven with creative spark, and we get a bit of pooch philosophizing, with the assertion that “dogs are the only animal that love others more than themselves.”  As with many Godardian aphorisms, from “cinema is the truth 24 times a second,” on, this one is snappy and quotable and simultaneously will not bear much examination.  It ain’t true, but that has never deterred Jean-luc from coining a snappy phrase.  While Roxy seems a nice enough dog – and I like dogs a lot – he isn’t quite hefty enough an artist himself to carry Godard’s weight on his back.   While lightly peppered with further mental meanderings, the last 15 or 20 minutes of the film begins to sag, and I ponder whether its brief 70 minutes seemed much longer owing the the opening half’s dense filling that required a sprint to absorb, or whether it was the latter part which left one with a sense of diminishing returns, which did so.  Or more likely the combination of the two.

But, if you can, my recommendation is go see.

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Notes:

“Godard was ostensibly attracted to 3-D because it remains unencumbered by any rules to speak of, but he eventually breaks its one implicit rule by drawing attention to the separation between the right-eye and left-eye images, most spectacularly in a mind-bending shot that I have yet to fully comprehend on a technical level (believe me: you’ll know it when you see it) and that actually drew a round of applause mid-screening in Cannes.”   Kent Jones, Director NY Film Festival

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Uh, there is nothing difficult about comprehending how the shot was done if you have even the most basic understanding of how 3D is shot: one of the two cameras panned, simple as that. Then it panned back.

Here’s a list of writings on the films I found of interest :

http://cinema-scope.com/spotlight/adieu-au-langage-jean-luc-godard-france/

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2014/11/13/adieu_au_langage_is_a_doggone_absurd_godard_satire_review.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2014/10/adieu_a_langage_jean_luc_godard_s_goodbye_to_language_in_3_d_reviewed.html

http://theflichttp://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/Jean-Luc_Godard.dokeringwall.blogspot.pt/2015/01/adieu-au-langage-goodbye-to-language.html

https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/cannes-2014-jean-luc-godards-adieu-au-langage

http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2015/goodbye-to-language-adieu-au-langage-2014/23566/

And here, an interview with JLG himself, talking on technical and other matters:

http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/Jean-Luc_Godard.do

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And, being in New York, serendipitously I was here for the opening of an exhibition of three “video installations” by James Benning and Peter Hutton, at the Miguel Abreu Gallery on the lower East Side (88 Eldridge St, and 36 Orchard St), which has rapidly been gentrified.  Orchard Street, where it is, is now lined with fancy-ass galleries.   I went for the opening so I could see both of them – hadn’t seen James since shooting Coming to Terms in August 2012, and Peter since maybe 2004 or 5.  The opening was the usual buzz of people, drinks in hand, saying “haven’t seen you since….” and other such things.  It was pretty full when I passed by and I am sure more than 300 showed up to socialize, get some free beer, and “network.”  Some actually sat to watch, though under adverse circumstances: openings are not a time to look at art.   I suspect most of those who materialized did not go back to see the work.   But I did.

Benning’s piece, Tulare Road, is three images from almost exactly the same place, as above, in a desolate valley in the central valley in California.  3 different days, one clouded as above, one foggy, and one with broken clouds.  The triple images make a broad sweep on the wall.  A car goes by in one; a lapse; truck in another.  Occasionally two go by on separate screens.  Owing to the atmospherics the sounds are slightly different.  The light scarcely changes under the gray cover.  I didn’t time but it is 20-30 minutes.  I sat through the whole thing.  I can’t say it was worth the time.  One the other hand I have sat through Jame’s film RUHR, which has a one hour static shot of a steel mill facility to end it, and that was worth the time.  Hit and miss.  This one missed me by a mile.  (I’d seen a glimpse of it 3 years ago I think in Jeonju where it was very poorly presented, with noise from adjacent things competing and light killing the image.)

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Peter Hutton’s At Sea

Peter had two pieces, one which I had seen in early editing back in 2004 or so – At Sea.   It then showed at the Whitney Biennial, and went on to garner lots of praise in the art world.  When I saw it way back 10 years ago, I was far from impressed.  Whether as a film on a single screen, or an “installation” in “3 channel” format, this just does not work for me.  At risk of a friendship – I hope not – I must say I find the imagery here to be, at best, pedestrian (the only sequence approaching his earlier work is where some Indian ship-breakers approach his camera).  Compared to his Images of Asian Music (much shot on shipboard), or his many amazing earlier films (July ’71 in San Francisco, Living at Beach Street, Working at Canyon Cinema, Swimming in the Valley of the Moon; New York Portraits 1&2, Lodz Symphony, Budapest Portrait, and others), At Sea is simply DOD.    Having it on 3 screens does nothing to enhance it.  The other film/installation, 3 Landscapes, suffers similarly.  3 places – Detroit, some place in the Middle East with people putting salt on camels, and then some farming area, I don’t know where.  Lackadaisical images strung together in something I could hardly call editing.  Like watching rushes from a just-competent student.

I know these are harsh words, and I know some differ with me.  But I know Peter’s early work, which was magic.  (I wrote for publication, the AFI Magazine, about his work in the early 70’s.)  And I know this recent work simply is not.  With my critic hat on, I wonder and think it was, in part, the shift from the Tri-X black and white stock, which he used to extraordinary effect (and hardly doing so properly – with my filmmaker hat on I know he drastically underexposed – 1.5 to 2.5 stops – to get a rich, dense array of very grainy grays, and an eye for what visuals would dance beautifully with the dance of the granularity and palette of black to gray), which accounts for the sudden change.  The magic relation to his medium is utterly absent in the color films, as is any sense of playing/using the qualities of those film stocks he uses now to secure some similar qualities.

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As a filmmaker I am very aware of how critics see the world, and how summary their judgements tend to be.  I think in my life, since around 1995 or so, I’ve simply been written off, mostly because almost all previously sort-of supportive critics simply haven’t seen my work since I shifted from 35mm to DV.  This has in part to do with some major shifts in our total social cultural envelope in which Market Economy Neo-Liberal/Con values have come to dominate our society.  In practical terms this means if one’s work (as a filmmaker) isn’t opening in a commercial cinema, and isn’t concerned with making as much money as possible, one won’t get reviewed.  Twenty years ago had I come to New York, to show in some non-commercial place, I likely would have gotten a review from a handful of critics – Jim Hoberman, Amy Taubin, Manohla Dargis, or whomever was doing the off-Hwd reviews for the NY Times, or even in the NY Post.  Today, nada.  Nothing.  (This is, whether one agrees or not, an ideological and political matter – see this recent blog post: on-becoming-a-non-person-part-1/ .)

In turn, one simply is written off.  In effect one doesn’t exist.   In a similar manner, there is a tendency, when and if one’s work is actually seen, to judge, like Hollywood, by the last work – was it good, worse, etc.  Is the artist failing in his dotage?   There is the underlying thought that one should on every outing make a masterpiece.  And if not, holy hell descends. One is washed up, the creative well has run dry, and crap like that – and this is bad and reflects badly on the artist.  There seems almost no consciousness that art-making is very much an organic matter, and it is not a mechanical matter with an on/off button.  Some artists make something brilliant when they are 20 (Rimbaud) and shortly disappear; some make good things and get better, and then dwindle out; some do good work when young and persist deep into old age; some do nothing of note, and at 80 do something amazing.  It runs the full spectrum.  And there is nothing whatsoever bad/shameful to burn out, whether at 25 or 85, and hang up the spurs.   What, perhaps, is bad, is the pressure that exists to continue to produce when the spark is no longer there, and perhaps to fail to see that one’s time is done.

For myself, when that time comes, I’ll write the creative obit myself and be done.  Ironically given my recent work, I’d have to say I’m doing some of my best work, hands-down, in a world which could care less because that work isn’t calculated to make the loudest noise or the biggest buck.  C’est la fkn vie.

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As the matter of income disparity sweeps not only the US, but the world, I post here a nice, concise little film, made by James Schamus, film producer, professor at Columbia University, and general real smart guy.  His heart is also in the right place.

 

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Interview with James

While most people seem to think money is something real, it is in fact merely a social construct, an abstract device to make exchanging things more easily done than physical barter.  Being abstract though, it opens a vast loop-hole into which many a con-man has walked, from the shark on the street corner, on up to the CEO of our biggest “most respected” banks.  James explains in his film some of this, and if you read between the lines just a bit, you can see the way this all works.    And you can see that your “trust” is woefully misplaced.

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 DSC01741MAS01reg__23758_zoomWhen the bottom of this vast scam drops out, and you are penniless, and suddenly “the economy” doesn’t work, and the militarized police force is brought in to suppress you, just don’t be surprised.  The writing was on the wall, clear as day.  Just as with the consequences of human-induced global warming.  The Piper is here.

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Momentarily (en)lightened in Spain, thanks to an early morning hit-the-groggy-white-haired-old-guy robbery in the Sants train station in Barcelona, I will shortly be heading westward to the East Coast,  NYC to be precise.  This minus a NEX 7 camera, some very nice lenses, my Toshiba laptop, and a mess of cash, all errantly kept together under the logic that if I had all the important things together Alz brain would not forget them.  I didn’t forget them, but the sleight of hand happened literally in front of me and I didn’t catch it until a bit too late.  Minus $6K or so in things and cash, not to mention headaches of computer info losses.  Live and learn. Getting kind of late for that!

At all events, I will be in NYC come Jan 16, with a screening of Coming to Terms at the Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria – 2 p.m., Jan. 18.   See this for more info.

I’ll be out East until sometime in late February, with a classroom something lined up in Syracuse, NY, for February 2.  If you happen to be connected to a school, or anything, that could do a screening, classroom gig or workshop, for pay, it’d help me recoup the fun in Barcelona.  If so, contact me a.s.a.p. to see if we can arrange something.  Thanks.

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Jon and cousin David, a long time ago

Currently having an exhibition here in Nijar and Almeria, Spain, of watercolors, pastels, and video things.  Which, after a US jaunt in the past Autumn has left me pondering whether it makes any sense to continue working in film.  There is no audience left, it seems, as the world has shifted with the ideological winds and pure commercialism is totally triumphant.  If it doesn’t make money, and lots of it, it is in the present world literally “worthless.”  Not that what I did in my life was ever worth very much in the eyes of the world, but now it is clearly deemed worthless, in the crude sense of the financial system which governs our societies.  And, unwilling to properly bend to the dictates of the market, as they say, persisting in what I do seems ever more senseless.  Time to hang up the spurs?  Currently writing on this for www.acinemafornone.wordpress.com.

JON A

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the end

Maybe…

Originally posted on Collapse of Industrial Civilization:

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From the acidified and plasticized oceans to the greenhouse gas-polluted atmosphere to the radioactive and heavy metal-contaminated soils, the Anthropocene Epoch will leave behind a planet radically altered in its atmospheric and biospheric chemistry. This disruption, unprecedented in geologic time for its rapidity and wide-scale destruction, is already too severe for the complex web of life that had evolved under earth’s previous life-sustaining homeostatic system. As Brian Moss (et al.) wrote in Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Ecosystems, “The chemistry of the biosphere is the ultimate sine qua non of our existence.”:

It is expected that we will have lost over half the world’s land ecosystems to agriculture or development by 2050. The urbanites may not be noticing this but the consequences will nonetheless be huge, for it is these natural ecosystems that regulate the nature of the biosphere. We have absolutely no idea how much of them can be damaged…

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In the coming 2 months I’ll be having screenings of Coming to Terms as follows:

October 14

Salt Lake Film Society

FILMMAKER EVENT

TUES 10/14/14 @ 7PM
Broadway Centre Theatre
111 East 300 South
Salt Lake City UT 84111

And then, in Tempe AZ, a class screening but open to public, at Arizona State University.  Limited – around 30 – seats available for non-class members.  It’ll include a lot of talk, and maybe screening some other things to go with it.  The next day will be an all-day workshop, which might be open to a handful of outsiders.

October 17-18

6:00 – 10:00 PM on 10/17 – the location is Stauffer B111, which is adjacent to the 10th Street Parking Structure. (Guests can’t park in that actual structure – they can park across the street – but that is the lot closest to the Stauffer building). Link to that building on the ASU map:

https://maps.asu.edu/?id=120&mrkIid=63016

And then, moving eastward into New Mexico, there’ll be this (don’t know time yet):

October 23rd

Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts

1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505

This screening will be introduced by Gene Youngblood (Expanded Cinema) and he’ll moderate post-screening session.

And after wandering the southwest and mid-west a few weeks shooting for new film (and I hope drawing and doing watercolors and of course lots of photography), I’ll land in Lincoln Nebraska where there’ll be a partial retrospective at the Ross Media Arts Center.  Films being screened on an on-going cycle from Nov 7-14, will be as follows:

Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center  |  313 North 13th Street, Lincoln NE

Friday, 11/7 – Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977) *interview with Bill and Jon

Saturday, 11/8 – Slow Moves (1983)

Sunday, 11/9 – Rembrandt Laughing (1989)

Monday, 11/10 – Oui Non (2002)

Tuesday, 11/11 – Passages (2006) / Parable (2008)

Wednesday, 11/12 – At Play in the Fields of the Lord [Nebraska] (2008) / Swimming in Nebraska (2010)

Thursday, 11/13 — Imagens de uma cidade perdida (2011)

Friday, 11/14 – Coming to Terms (2013)

There may also be sneak preview of a new film of mine, and perhaps a screening of Blake Eckard’s Ghosts of Empire Prairie, in which I acted and also shot the film.  The films will all be screened at least twice, during the week.

And then moving east, might be something at the Orpheum Cinema in Fairfield IO and/or in Iowa City.  Not yet fixed.

And finally, in Chicago:

22nd and 25th, at the Film Center, 8 pm.

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I note also that Coming to Terms will be screening at the American Film Festival, in Wroclaw, Poland, towards the end of this month.  The festival is Oct. 21-26.

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Two years ago, today, Mark Rappaport sent out a letter to a modest swath of the independent film community, mostly in America.  In that letter (see https://cinemaelectronica.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/chained-relations/) Mark told of a long unhappy story of his involvement with Professor Raymond Carney, tenured at Boston University.   I will not repeat that but refer you to the sequence of posts which I wrote and published here, under the title Chained Relations.  There are 10 of those, and a few others on the same matter – if you wish to know the entire dismal story they are there for your delectation.

I write this final notice to update you on how things stand.

Despite a petition organized by Daniel Levine, and signed by well over 1000 persons, many of them names in the film world, Professor Carney has remained adamant, and continues to hold Mark Rappaport’s property, below:

 

Rappaport's materials in Carney's lawyer's office.

Mark has in effect resigned himself to this reality, and is proceeding to have his work digitized, paying for it himself, with the help of the Cinematheque Francais in the form of their discount on lab costs.   Mark will be able to do this for Impostors, and then for financial reasons will have to stop.   Professor Carney remains in possession of the shown prints, some originals, one-inch video tapes which could be used to digitize those films, and papers, and clearly has no intention of returning them.  They were, so he says, “gifted” to him (a disputed claim he also made regarding John Cassavetes material), despite Mark’s statement that they were not, and that Mr Carney has nothing tangible on paper to suggest otherwise.    Nor, so it appears, does Boston University intend to rescind Carney’s tenure and send him packing.

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While in seeming hiding, the Professor does maintain a blog in which he excoriates BU, (http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.co.il/2014/06/ten-years-at-boston-universitya-timeline.html), and in his most recent posting there he advises he is buried in writing his opus on Robert Bresson (“… which is in something like the eighth or ninth draft, pushing 180,000 words—don’t laugh!—…”), and says to a writer, “P.S. Keep telling the truth. It matters.”   To me it is rather ironic that the Professor is writing about that most moral of filmmakers, and that his advice is “keep telling the truth,” though he himself is immoral and unable to face his own truth – that he is a conniving, argumentative, long-winded and utterly dishonest person.  Don’t take my word for it; wade through the mountains of verbiage Mr. Carney spews out to the point of being unreadable.

Ray CarneyProfessor Carney of BU some years ago

And that, sadly, is the situation regarding Mr. Carney and Mark Rappaport, whom the Professor has claimed to be one of the most important filmmakers on the planet.   My personal view is that Professor Carney is paranoid and mentally ill, as his shrill writings would suggest, and that it would be advisable for anyone to steer wide and clear of him.   Sociopaths such as he is are natural born liars.  Mostly to themselves, but also to any audience they can gather.

 

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On a happier note, Mark has available, on-line at Amazon, four books:

 

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If there’s any angels out there in the film-world who would care to help in getting Mark Rappaport’s work properly digitized so it can be shown on-screen or streamed, please contact me.  clarandjon@msn.com

 

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20140814-MISSOURI-HP-slide-LJII-superJumboFerguson, Missouri, 2014

 

In our supposed “post-racial” America, where the election of a biologically 50% black man to the office of President has loosed, under an imaginary mask, the livid bigotry which animates our culture to its core, reality has once again reared, visibly, its ugly head.  It exists all day, every day, in the most mundane and common of ways, with the on-going, never-ending oppression of dark-skinned people – economic ghettoization, cultural hypocrisy, profiled policing, a constant onslaught of prejudice fashioned as policy: where you can live, how you can live, if you can live.  The statistics of black life in America (and as well others – Native American, hispanic) are appalling, as are the simple human realities.  America has pretended to have dealt with this, but it never did.  A tiny minority of millionaire sports and show-biz “successes” have been used as a veneer to cover the daily offense which America at large heaps on people with the “wrong” color.    In Ferguson, Missouri, this disease has exposed itself yet again, with a nearly all-white police force, now armed with tools for military actions, carrying out the underlying policies of oppression which our culture enforces other ways every day, all day.   Living while black, a capital crime in America, most often kept conveniently hidden, and periodically erupting to the “surprised” populace of the non-black (or Native American, or hispanic or others) for whom everyday America is a perpetual enemy.

When will it change?  Probably never.  A dishonest, self-deluded people cannot change what they refuse to acknowledge as a problem.  That’s US(A).

 

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Addendum, August 16, 2014. 

The situation in Ferguson has wobbled, tensions heightened by an inept town police captain who released the surveillance video of Michael Brown, the unarmed now-dead young man gunned down by a police officer for walking in the middle of a residential road, against the request of Federal authorities after a day of relative calm.  This was followed by a day of rioting and looting.  A curfew has now been imposed, and tensions are once again very high.  Comments in a New York Times article on the matter received responses such as this, which were heavily approved by the enlightened Times readers:

DS
NYC 10 hours ago
I grew up poor. I never shoplifted, I never punched out a store owner. I never made excuses. I worked. I worked two jobs, three jobs, I didn’t stand on the street and yell about my rights being violated. I worked, I learned to speak proper English and read until I was literate. I feel for Mr. Brown’s family, but he was not just getting ready for college, he was breaking the law and getting ready for jail. And a community that protests with violence is no less different than a community that fails to denounce terrorism as means to attract support for their cause. This country has become a country of causes and we wonder why we are polarized. Go to work, organize, and stop breaking windows and stealing, if you want to be recognized as a viable alternative. Stop whining and throwing rocks, do something constructive.

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RS
Philly 10 hours ago
Judging from the casual and menacing way Brown strong armed the poor store clerk as he robbed him, I have to believe that it was not the first time. Not exactly the sweet and gentle child he’s been portrayed to be. The police account that Brown scuffled with the police officer and lunged for his gun is completely believeable. By the way, one of the so called witnesses supporting Brown was his partner in crime in the convenience store robbery. So much for that.
442Recommend
redstorm
Home 10 hours ago
Michael Brown looks like a thief and a bully. I believe there are two sides to this story and the officer should not get railroad to satisfy local dissatisfaction with the handling of this death. The police officer went 6 years without firing his weapon at anyone – I don’t think he randomly shot Mr. Brown. Also, I believe Mr. Brown’s behavior in the 15 minutes leading up to his death is extremely relevant and the police had every right to release it.

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And so on. (I note that DS from New York, while noting that they “grew up poor” doesn’t mention which skin-tone they have.)
Far down on the list came these:
MetroJournalist
is a trusted commenter NY Metro Area 10 hours ago

Yes, shoplifting is a robbery, but the reaction to it was disproportionate. Meanwhile, Wall Street gangsters got a way with tons of money and not one of them was arrested, let alone shot, and no armored vehicles were brought in. Just sayin’.

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Fiona
New York 6 hours ago

It would be very convenient and perhaps comforting if we could blame the events of Ferguson on a) a bullying thug, b) a racist or perhaps scared police officer, c) an apparently witless police chief, or d) outside agitators determined to loot and create mayhem. By picking one of these, we can dismiss the fundamental problems that the events of Ferguson have revealed, yet again.

We have a vastly unequal society, whether one considers results or opportunity. Racism still thrives in the United States, and is sometimes still fatal. We are deeply divided in countless other ways as well. Our justice system and our system of policing ourselves is severely flawed. We spend more time, energy, and money punishing, denying, and excluding than we do in providing hope and opportunity. A large portion of our citizens do not feel that their government is responsive to their ideas, needs, or wishes, and feel that it no longer represents them. I am sure that others could add to this list. What Ferguson makes clear is that we have a lot of work to do if we wish to live up to our own espoused ideals, and we had best stop blaming someone else and roll up our sleeves.
147Recommended

I replied to this last with:
Yes, the fundamental “problems” of America will once again be conveniently swept under the rug: racism (from the beginning), economic disparity (from the beginning); denial of our communal behavior (genocide against Indians; slavery and its aftermath); militarism (America’s answer to almost everything); that 5% of the world’s population, the USA, consumes (by strong arming and military conquest, and economic extortion) 25% of the world’s resources; etc. etc.. Nope, we’re not gonna talk about that.

security guysAlexander, Brennan, Clapper

Following the confessions of Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, and of James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, that they had, uh, misspoke, uh, lied, committed perjury and little things like that in testimony before the US Congress, comes the hardly surprising mea culpa of John O. Brennan, that he too had in such testimony, done the dirty deed.  This triumverate of the nation’s security apparatus each and every one committed a Federal crime, a felony, when, after raising their right hands and swearing “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth” they proceeded to tell falsehoods, prevaricated, mislead or otherwise lied before Congress.  The proper legal procedure for such behavior in our supposed system, would be for these people to be charged with a serious crime, be tried, and since they have more or less admitted to their crime, be convicted and sent off to a Club Fed, there to ponder their misdeeds and be “rehabilitated.”

However this is the United States of America, in the year 2014, and while elements of the lumpen proletariat (rednecks, white-trash, discolored folks of all tonalities, the economically poor and educationally disadvantaged) can be tossed for life in jail for 3 very minor transgressions of the law (like smoking a joint) under the Three Strikes & You’re Out laws which exist in many states, those on the other end of the social spectrum, have been issued a permanent Get Out of Jail Free card.   And indeed, just a day ago, our President, the famous Kenyan, declared his full confidence and trust in Mr. Brennan, and his actions with regard to the others indicates the same view of them.   While it would be sort of comforting to imagine that the roll-over-&-play-dead response to these professional snoops and liars is owing to the doubtless endless dirt they have on all our honorable politicians, I am inclined to think it is because Mr. Obama, and more or less anyone down the pecking order of our government are all essentially in support of the crimes these folks committed which caused them to commit the crime of lying about it all.  The entire cesspool of our political system is in on it all.

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At the present moment – though moves seem afoot to alter this modestly – the United States, constituting about 5% of the world’s population, houses some 25% of its prisoners.  I suppose it is no irony that the same approximate figure applies to the nation’s share of global resource use: we’re 5% of the global pop, and we gobble up 25% of the world’s resources.   Hmmm…    Need I note that the disproportion of our consumption of global wealth is rooted in what many in the world regard as great crimes.  Recall the adage:  “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.”

So perhaps it is only natural that we have evolved into a condition in which the greatest crimes – war crimes, financial crimes, or little Constitutional crimes (after all, the Constitution is, as famously described by our previous President, “just a goddam piece of paper”) such as, uh, lying to Congress in sworn testimony, are all quickly dismissed and forgotten. (Recall also the willfully unsworn testimony of the tandem duo of Bush & Cheney in the commission on 9/11?)   So in the new 21st Century America, criminality has become the norm, acts just too big for our little 20th century minds to embrace.   Criminality like letting the 9/11 attack occur since it had certain political advantages in the minds of a cluster of people who just happened to be in the government at the time.  People who had called for just such an incident, publicly, in their 1998 Project for the New American Century announcement, which they removed from the net after 9/11 and it was noted by many.

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So, lying has become – as perhaps it always was – our political and social norm.   The news is full of stories of corruption, though usually this isn’t the word applied, which itself is a kind of corruption: refusal to call things what they are.  Lies are lies; cheating is cheating; war crimes are war crimes.  But for some time now our society was wormed away from such a view:  torture is “enhanced interrogation,” war crimes are “we are not going to look back; we are going to look forward;” trillion dollar financial scams built on fraudulent loans and sliced and diced “derivatives” are called “too big to fail.”  And the higher one is in the hierarchy of power and control, the more protected one is from failure, indeed, failure becomes a mark for advancement.  Failing upwards signals total acceptance and complicity in a thoroughly corrupt system.  And so, in the current case, for sure to be forgotten tomorrow, as the rush of today’s hyper-kinetic news smears collective memory and leaves it roadkill, a thin plasma squashed against the windshield of a hystrionic now, Mr. Brennan, having said his “Gee, I’m sorry I lied to you Senators” will retreat into the black hole of our vast “security” apparatus and carry on, as have his partners in crime, General Alexander and Mr. Clapper.  Federal felonies simply don’t matter if you are high enough on the pyramid of power in the USA.  For taking your part in the vast system of corruption, you will be rewarded.  It rather reminds of the old USSR in its terminal days.

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How swiftly does time go these days?  A mere six months ago the world was enthralled with the Sochi Winter Olympics, thought to be a triumph for Vladimir Putin; a month later Russia seized the Crimea; Malaysian flight 370 went missing and remains “a mystery.”  The World Cup came and went; Malaysian flight 17 went down over the Ukraine; Israel invaded Gaza; 50,000 kids from Central America showed up at the US border (owing to things America imposed on their native countries); the Ebola virus returned – the adrenalin race of events finally exhausts, and leaves a vacuum into which the worst is drawn.

Open Carry March on March 12, 2014

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Open carry gun supporters; if you ask their politics it is very likely to run to the right: American “militia” or maybe Brownshirts.

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The private military-style contractors, Craft International, at the Boston Marathon, whom no one says were hired for anything there, though there they were, “helping” the FBI, and then vanishing.  They carried black back-packs of a kind looking just like the one which the FBI alleges held one of the bombs.  The balance of the Marathon story is so full of fishy things one must wonder.

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