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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:55 pm 
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ex-cowboy wrote:
Mr. Sausage - RE: i) I'm not saying I agree with this agument, I merely put it forward as an example of what some may argue, I completely agree with you, that this argument could apply as much to left wing filmmakers as right wing ones, I was, I suppose, being devil's advocate to some degree.

Ah. I think you read my initial question with less sarcasm than intended.

ex-cowboy wrote:
The argument relating to decorative images, in fact mainly relates to the writing of Kawabata Yasunari and in particular his novel Snow Country. It is also used to examine the sexual politics of Shinoda's Double Suicide. Mishima is discussed at great length more in relation to the ways in which his homosexuality was used politically in his writing and public persona.

Now that is surprising. I've read three of Kawabata's books and I did not pick up on any fascist leanings (granted, I'm sure a ton is lost in translation), whereas I've read one Mishima book and it definitely had the weird fetishization of essentialized, archetypal physical beauty fascism often favoured and which I understand was to dominate much of Mishima's later thinking and writing. I might have to read that book you mentioned.


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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:38 pm 
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I would say that I like the more gentle and evenhanded Truffaut we see in film to the aggression-for-the-sake-of-aggression firebrand he appears to have been in writing- even some of his more radically oriented works, like Shoot the Piano Player, have an underlying gentility and humanism that (to me) makes them more rewatchable than a lot of the more daring things from say a Chabrol. Certainly it's a trait Truffaut shares with some of his heroes- Renoir and Ray in particular clearly had no interest in sharp judgments and Manichean worldviews, and had a real love for and attachment to their characters.


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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:51 pm 
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Mr. Sausage -- agreed on Kawabata.

BTW - is it Truffaut who was attacking Kawabata -- or someone else?


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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:31 am 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Mr. Sausage -- agreed on Kawabata.

BTW - is it Truffaut who was attacking Kawabata -- or someone else?

Someone else. I don't know if it's an outright attack (as opposed to a pointed analysis), but ex-cowboy said it's from the book Polygraphic Desire - The Ethics of Aesthetics in Japanese Film and Literature.


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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:58 am 

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Truffaut's distinctions may seem a bit binary at times, but it probably helps to understand the larger picture, that guys like Truffaut, Godard, et al. were attempting to formulate a set of criteria by which films could be judged as works of art. They were merely trying to undo the bourgeois set of criteria by which it may in fact be determined that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a better film than La Nuit du Carrefour. Granted, Truffaut didn't mention Forman, but you get my drift. What counts is the body of work or the oeuvre as a whole as if that were a work of art unto itself. So maybe something like Chloe in the Afternoon doesn't stand on it's own, and mind you I love the film, but it gains its strength and takes on a whole other meaning when placed within the context of Rohmer's entire body of work. So each individual film of a given director may not seem particularly significant as a stand alone but within the context of an entire body of work they take on a whole new significance.

So while I may disagree that, for instance, the worst Godard film is superior to the best Haneke film, it remains important to understand why artist A may be more important than artist B overall. The point is to keep track of the larger picture and not get so sidetracked by the impressive one-offs that fool you into thinking Wenders and Kieslowski are equals of Renoir and Bresson. It's about reminding oneself to be frank about who the true geniuses of the medium are by examining entire oeuvres. There's nothing anti-intellectual about it, quite the opposite in fact. Not wanting to comprehend why Haneke isn't the equal of Renoir is anti-intellectual. It's the attitude of "oh they're both fine filmmakers with interesting films and should both therefore have their moment in the Sun." What it is is anti-discernment. Now I understand precisely why many on this board may be rankled by Truffaut's polemic, because it's somewhat self-effacing, and there's nothing that makes a hipster shudder more than self-effacement.

P.S. I agree that saying the worst of Ray is better than the best of Huston may be a tad hyperbolic. I'm not disagreeing with the consensus here in that regard. But the overarching point I think is that bodies of work are more important than one-offs. So artists where the oeuvre is impressive enough not to be overshadowed by any one film within that body of work tend to be superior to those where the oeuvre exists in the shadow of one or two particular works within it. Now of course it's not so cut and dry, since yes, Renoir has Rules of the Game and Godard has Breathless, but every single film by either one of those guys has something to offer whereas nobody really cares or should care about third rung Louis Malle or Nicolas Roeg. Le Feu Follet and Walkabout are both fine films, well so what. What does that prove? What does their existence accomplish besides being compelling historical curiosities? And I like Walkabout very much for the record.

Sometimes you just have to let the cream rise to the top, bow down, and forgive guys like Renoir or Faulkner for being the geniuses they are, even if it means putting your own ego aside for a moment. That's all Truffaut is saying, don't suppress genius.

Don't get me wrong, I think Jonathan Rosenbaum's more "permissive" approach has its place, as well. We need both kinds of critics. The Rosenbaums encourage us to broaden our minds while the Truffauts remind us not to get too carried away with our 'eclecticism'. Both attitudes have their place in cultural criticism, and I find them both useful. Because at the end of the day, Imamura's not Ozu, Malle's not Renoir, Cukor's not Ford, and Orson Welles for that matter is not John Milton or Shakespeare, but every single artist I just name dropped in this last sentence has something to offer at their best, even if we shouldn't lose sight of who the true greats are.

But even if it's a tad self-effacing, is that really such a bad thing, because after all, they're the ones creating great art, not us, or at least not most of us I would presume. The average Mubi or Criterion Forum poster is the one with something to prove, not Renoir or Bresson, or Nicholas Ray for that matter.


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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:48 pm 
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rrenault - True, the Cahier critics were certainly attempting to challenge the rules by which films were considered good and bad, but that doesn't necessarily explain why Truffaut was so dogmatic in his dislike of whole strains of filmmaking. Interestingly, when it comes to non-western films, Godard et al were far less disruptive in their appreciation, highlighting the brilliance of (for example) Mizoguchi, whilst not really challenging the assumptions by which Mizoguchi was considered a 'great filmmaker'. (For the record, I like Mizoguchi).

Regarding your example of Rohmer and Chloe in the Afternoon. For me that's spot on, particularly with a filmmaker like Fassbinder, where individually many of his films (even some of my favourites) don't necessarily attain brilliance on their own, but because of the body of work that they are part of. Out of all the filmmakers I love, I think Fassbinder is the one whose oeuvre as a whole imbues the individual films with resonance more than any other I can think. However, that is purely one point of view and for many that may not be the marker of what they see as good about a filmmaker or films in general.

However, this has it's problems as it can lead to a 'median' approach to film appreciation, where filmmakers who are consistently better than average are praised above those who may have had higher highs and lower lows, but as a result have a less consistent track record. In that case, I'm not necessarily sure I agree. 9 times out of 10 perhaps, but every so often there are people whose weaker efforts are still worthy of recognition. It also presupposes that the value of a film or it's director is above all in relation to the work of the director himself or to other films it is to be compared to. This argument doesn't take into account the value a film may have in challenging societal issues, for example.

PS - I'm just putting this out there, and I know this isn't technically the correct thread, but for me, whilst I am a fan of Ozu's work, I would pick Imamura over him, not only for his oeuvre, but for what he says with his films.

Mr. Sausage & jonah.77 - the comments on Kawabata are an analysis, rather than an attack per se and illuminate a fascinating aspect of his work. I won't say any more, so as not to ruin his work if you're still working through it, but glad to hear there are other enjoying his writing. RE: Mishima, as you point out Mr. Sausage, it's his later writing that relates more closely to the traditional views on fascist imagery etc. Hi early novels are more progressive in their imagery and approach to wider society.


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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:30 pm 
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Maybe we need a thread specifically dedicated to "la politique des Auteurs" (and all its descendants). ;~}

(Won't bite on Ozu versus Imamura here, I won't I won't, I won't).


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 Post subject: Re: Francois Truffaut
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 5:01 pm 

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Yes, we should have a politique des auteurs thread to which many of these comments will likely be moved, but I have nowhere else to respond but here, at the moment.

ex-cowboy-You make some very good points, and it's true there's a danger of one-offs falling by the wayside if we overvalue the notion of an oeuvre as a cohesive whole. I will add, however, that the truly seminal one-offs, think L'Atalante or M, will wind up being spoken for either way and are in no danger of being neglected. It's the Walkabouts that may wind up getting axed, but I digress. As for Rohmer and Fassbinder, there are certainly films of theirs that do in fact stand on their own, regardless of the entire body of work, such as My Night at Maud's and In a Year with 13 Moons for instance, but yes, they do still fit this model of the archetypal "experimental innovator". The most spot on example I can think of of a filmmaker who's consistently better than average but doesn't have a stand alone you could point to as a masterpiece is Claude Chabrol, but he's not at the top of the canon. That's the thing. Renoir, Bunuel, and Godard are all filmmakers who have made a few bona fide masterpieces, but everything they made still has something to offer. The same could be said of John Ford. Just about anything they made is interesting. Someone like Louis Malle, Kieslowski, Roeg, or Wim Wenders doesn't exactly fit that model. But even so, I don't think it would be particularly controversial if someone were to suggest that Lang or Vigo was a better filmmaker than Fassbinder, regardless of whether or not I would personally corroborate that statement.

The Cahiers group, headed by Truffaut, was also attempting to construct a certain narrative of cinema as "art as truth", since cinema was the one medium more capable of mimesis than any other. Thus, the medium's mimetic capacities should be fully exploited, and anyone doing anything less than that was to be lamented. This narrative of cinema as mimesis was embraced by people like Andrew Sarris and maybe to a lesser extent Jonathan Rosenbaum, and it appears to be the dominant conception of cinema within contemporary cinephile circles. And yes, there are dangers of certain one-offs falling by their wayside, since they aren't easily assimilated within this narrative. Think of guys like Antonioni, Bergman, and Fellini, or a film like The Leopard, which just winds up seeming clunky when attempting to be assimilated within this understanding of the cinematic apparatus. So how do we reconcile the dilemma of clunky films like 8 1/2 and The Leopard, or The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris for that matter. Godard, Renoir, Bresson, Ozu, Rohmer, Rivette, Bunuel, Akerman, and Fassbinder even are all easily assimilated within the "cinema as mimesis" polemic. Do we do some soul searching and rhetorically query ourselves on why Bresson and Ozu are superior to Antonioni and Visconti or do we realize the mimesis polemic has its limits and isn't applicable to thorough understanding of cinema, since it leaves out films like L'Avventura and The Leopard. Or maybe what Antonioni's attempting in his alienation trilogy isn't suitable to cinema. Or conversely, perhaps the narrative of cinema is synergistic rather than linear. So where do we place Melville or Marker within this narrative?

Then again, this 'cinema as humanism' or 'cinema as mimesis' polemic of Truffaut's may just be very Gallic in its execution, since in French culture there's certainly a tendency to shy away from the sort of "flattering" unhinged artistic expression of 8 1/2 or Walkabout or Red Desert. And maybe that's why Cahiers didn't have much to say about Last Year at Marienbad. Iconoclasm is generally frowned upon in France. Then again, maybe that's why Godard, Sartre, and Simone still rankle the Parisian bourgeoisie as well as just about any De Gaulle lover to this day. I guess you could say Truffaut was iconoclastic in discouraging filmmakers from being iconoclastic. It does seem like he wanted them to just shut up and tell the 'truth' instead of "expressing themselves artistically".

Parisian bourgeois film tastes can be summed up as follows. They love Truffaut, Malle, Chabrol, Lelouche, and Sautet, the last of whom is a far better filmmaker than Malle, but that's a whole other discussion. They tend to get a bit snarky with respect to Bresson, Rohmer, Godard, and even Bunuel, and many probably haven't even heard of Rivette. Someone like Pialat tends to get taken for granted, but surprisingly, they all seem to love Chaplin and Hitchcock, even the ones who'd get snarky about Bresson or Godard.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:48 am 
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rrenault - that is very true, that remarkable one offs get spoken for and most of the filmmakers you've listed I would broadly agree on, particualr Wenders. Kings of the Road is one of my absolute favourite films and Tokyo-Ga and Notebook on Cities and Clothes are absolutely brilliant and I hold several of his other works in very high esteem, yet I can't ever get over the feeling, that he is not quite of the highest calibre, probably, as you say, because not all his work is that interesting. Regarding the Lang & Vigo as opposed to Fassbinder argument, I suppose it depends on what you look for in cinema as to whether they can be seen 'objectively' (as I think you suggest) as better filmmakers. Although I've seen more Fassbinder than Lang, I would certainy say I think of Fassbinder as a better filmmaker, not necessarily technically, but because I enjoy and find more that interests me in Fassbinders work. With Lang, I liked Metropolis and M was very good, but I'm not hugley fussed about re-watching either any time soon. I think it depends on what criteria you view as the most important in ascertaining what makes a better filmmaker.

Regarding the cinema of mimesis, again, a very good point and as you say it goes a long way to suggesting why particualr filmmakers are held in such high regard in France and others less so. However, you could argue that far more cinema is interested in 'truth' than purely the cinema of mimesis, as this relies very heavily on an objective, realist reading of reality, that allows very little room for psychological reality and explorations of the mind, however real they may be to those who these issues effect.

I would certainly side with the idea that cinematic history is far less linear and teleological than many film histories suggest and that the politics of mimesis leads to the ignoring of vast swathes of cinema, important or not. In the west, cinema is almost always viewed through the occidental lense, where events in other parts of the world are usually described as a result of western boundary-pushing (the Japanese New Wave is one great example). Highlighting this bias and attempting to undermine it does cause issues because it suggests that not all movements, events, changes in cinema are necessarily linked or a progression of what went before it. How, for instance does one support the idea of Tarantino and his ilk as progressive in the face of all the dramatic, technical, psychological and political advances made in film over the latter half of the 20th century. Peter Greenaway once remarked; "if you want to tell stories, write novels", and whilst I do enjoy some narrative cinema, I completely agree with his comment. Film history and much of film culture is too interested in telling stories (either meta or diegetic).

Your last point, about Truffaut wanting filmmakers to tell the truth, instead of expressing themselves artistically, not only shows why I am not particularly interested in his films, but also shows a very narrow view of what art is and should be and ways in which people can tell the truth. Often 'truth' is born out of moments in films that are purely a moment of artistic indulgeance. Truffaut seems to have been incredibly inflexble in his understanding and approach to cinema.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:08 am 

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Well how exactly do we define expressing oneself artistically? While Truffaut's definition of cinema may have been narrow, at the opposite extreme people tend to narrowly define the concept of 'artistic expression', associating it with aestheticism or being an aesthete. It's not for nothing the word aesthete often has a negative connotation. In the canon of just about every medium it's always the aesthete playing second fiddle to the humanist. Why is that?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:08 pm 
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ex-cowboy wrote:
rrenault - that is very true, that remarkable one offs get spoken for and most of the filmmakers you've listed I would broadly agree on, particualr Wenders. Kings of the Road is one of my absolute favourite films and Tokyo-Ga and Notebook on Cities and Clothes are absolutely brilliant and I hold several of his other works in very high esteem, yet I can't ever get over the feeling, that he is not quite of the highest calibre, probably, as you say, because not all his work is that interesting. Regarding the Lang & Vigo as opposed to Fassbinder argument, I suppose it depends on what you look for in cinema as to whether they can be seen 'objectively' (as I think you suggest) as better filmmakers.

I really think that trying to rank filmmakers in that way is a fool's errand. What ultimately matters is the films, and if director X manages to make a film that's better than a film by director Y (in your estimation), what's the point of letting your soul be troubled by the 'fact' that director Y is supposed to be the better director?

There are a lot of directors who have made some of the greatest films I've ever seen who have also made movies that are subpar or frankly bad. And there are lots of reasons why those films were less good - studio interference, disastrous on-set chemistry, artistic decline, simple bad instincts on the part of the filmmaker, and sometimes there's no obvious alibi, but just a case of lightning not striking where it should have. There are also absolute masterpieces made by directors whose other work I haven't seen, or which is lost. In such cases an overall ranking of the auteur is irrelevant, but the masterpiece remains. If Wim Wenders had been hit by a truck immediately after he'd completed Wings of Desire, perhaps his general estimation might now be elevated, but that wouldn't change the quality of the surviving films. By the same token, if Tarkovsky had survived another twenty years making increasingly banal Europudding prestige projects, does that seriously mean that his Russian films are thus objectively less good, or that he's not actually a great filmmaker like everybody used to think? (Is Miklos Jansco the real-world example of this hypothesis? Has anybody here actually seen all of his features to judge?)

We might all be able to agree that Vigo is a great director, but if you could select only four films from the oeuvre of Jean Epstein, or Jean Gremillon, and had them fight it out, who would emerge the victor? By the same token, you could probably use Jean Renoir's worst four films to 'prove' he really wasn't all that, however you might want to think that the presumption of genius expresses itself in every metre of film he ever shot.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:17 am 

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But the point is Wenders has never made a film on par with M or Rules of the Game. He just hasn't. That was kind of my point. If you've made something that seminal you won't be overlooked regardless of the other works in your oeuvre.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:40 am 
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Well now the argument's just getting silly. So anybody who hasn't made Rules of the Game is second rate? Can't you see that these zero sum auteurist shell games are self-defeating?

And if I claim that I find Kings of the Road to be a better film than La Grande Illusion, what are you going to do, excommunicate me?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:20 am 
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zedz wrote:
I really think that trying to rank filmmakers in that way is a fool's errand. What ultimately matters is the films, and if director X manages to make a film that's better than a film by director Y (in your estimation), what's the point of letting your soul be troubled by the 'fact' that director Y is supposed to be the better director?

There are a lot of directors who have made some of the greatest films I've ever seen who have also made movies that are subpar or frankly bad. And there are lots of reasons why those films were less good - studio interference, disastrous on-set chemistry, artistic decline, simple bad instincts on the part of the filmmaker, and sometimes there's no obvious alibi, but just a case of lightning not striking where it should have. There are also absolute masterpieces made by directors whose other work I haven't seen, or which is lost. In such cases an overall ranking of the auteur is irrelevant, but the masterpiece remains.

I certainly agree with this - what has allowed the filmmaker to continue making films at a certain level? How is it possible to compare a director who made 2 or 3 films with someone who made 50 or 60? Is the director with 2 or 3 masterpieces intrinsically better than the director with 50 terrible films and then 3 that are magnificent (say redefining the film world every decade or so and then lapsing back into more routine films?).

And what is going on in the world around them that is beyond their control, and which will influence their work to such an extent that I might personally like or dislike what they are doing? (What if I don't like musicals? Then the 1930s Busby Berkeley pictures aren't going to be much subjective fun to me, I suppose. What if I only like romantic comedies? Then the 1980s slasher film genre will not appeal as much as it would to someone like domino!)

This is one of the problems I have with entirely subscribing to the auteur theory as a philosophy rather than just as a useful tool (which it is great to use on that level in order to provide a way of seeing connections between works and sensibilities running through the material), as it does seem to create a sense of complete inclusion of an entire career, including elevating average or even mediocre works to classics on a par with the director's best work, and on the other hand the complete exclusion of a director if a couple of their works just cannot be made to neatly fit in context with everything else.

The key is being able to judge on the films on their own merits and within their own contexts. I love as much as anyone throwing together my 'all time top 10' list or ranking films as an academic exercise, but the rankings and final scores are usually the least interesting aspect of a list. Do you personally care that I feel Contempt needs to be ranked two places higher than Seven Samurai, etc? But lists give a chance to talk about films (as did the auteur theory, in rescuing neglected films and arguing that they each have their place in a director's career), and explore them, and perhaps come to a better or more intimate understanding of them. To better appreciate the qualities of the perfect films as much as find the moment of interest, or beauty, or scene, or performance in an imperfect one.

Anyway, maybe Kings of the Road never intended to be the next Grande Illusion, or Wenders did not feel in competition to be one of the great directors. And whether he did or not, whether he succeeded or not is perhaps left up to each of us in the audience to come to our own conclusions about. Wenders has carved out his own niche and has left his own individual mark on cinema in a body of work quite different from Renoir or Lang (both themselves different from each other), and beautifully so.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:58 am 

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Well I'm not entirely sure if I subscribe to this view myself or not, but I think there may be this notion that a staggering one-off within a string of generally mediocre films may perhaps just be a fluke, which would in fact diminish its worth if that were true. Does Greece winning the 2004 Euro Cup make them a soccer power? Likewise Joe Namath winning the Superbowl in what was it, 1969? A work's perceived greatness needs to be made sense of, yes, 'intellectually'. A certain level of demystification is necessary, or a suppression of suspension of disbelief if you will. In an impressive, consistent body of work like that of Faulkner, Renoir, or Godard even you know nothing's a fluke, just like Brazil winning a World Cup is rarely a fluke. Now I realize athletic achievements can be easily quantified whereas that's less the case with the arts, but still, it makes for a reasonable point of comparison, even if only for the sake of playing devil's advocate. We need to force ourselves to examine oeuvres dispassionately and stop romanticizing the eureka moment.

For instance, neither Rohmer nor Pialat has a single film that's as revered as say The Battle of Algiers, but we can rely on the consistent output of first rate work of the former two for proof of their genius whereas many would posit Pontecorvo was clearly overachieving with his one canonized film. The point is most cinephiles would say yes, Fassbinder, Pialat, and Rohmer are all superior artists to Pontecorvo.

So you could say 'the auteur theory' serves to 'police' the film canon for overachievers and separate them from the true masters. Mastery is not necessarily about the eureka moment but also about consistently working at a high level. Granted, Tarkovsky and Welles were precisely the kinds of artists who would sit around waiting for the muse whereas Godard, Rohmer, and Renoir were the exact opposite. Perhaps that observation doesn't serve much of a purpose since my intention isn't to bring down people like Welles and Tarkovsky who clearly have their place in film history. But you can't deny Welles and Tarkovsky do seem a tad precious at times whereas Godard and Renoir are never precious. Some film viewers do seem to have a bias towards the self-contained, flawlessly constructed, sculpture-like artifact, and I think that's what the auteur theory was attempting to move away from, the reverence for one-offs.

So the question really is, are Bunuel, Rohmer, and Fassbinder really inferior artists to say Lang, Vigo, Visconti, or Antonioni for maintaining a certain level of consistency as opposed to having that one grand masterwork that can serve as a stand-in for their oeuvre?

Then again, maybe it's all just a French thing, this reverence for consistent dedication to craft, whereas Anglophones prefer to praise individual accomplishments. Although I was born and raised in the US, I'm half French and live in France, so perhaps that influences my bias if only to a certain degree. I do like my fair share of one-offs, but I'm just trying to look at the big picture.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:50 am 
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rrenault wrote:
...But you can't deny Welles and Tarkovsky do seem a tad precious at times whereas Godard and Renoir are never precious...

And yet, to me, Godard is always precious! Sometimes I find the preciousness appealing; sometimes not.

I feel the auteur theory works better as an acknowledgement of a particular style or approach that's consistent throughout a body of work as opposed to a way of identifying which director made more interesting films than the next guy. There are plenty of auteurs who can easily be identified by their repeated themes or stylistic choices whose films don't excite me as much as more anonymous efforts where everything seems to work perfectly. Now it's true that I will choose to watch a specific film because of my perception of who the "auteur" is whether that be the director, screenwriter or producer (maybe even the editor?). I will often enjoy those films because they contain elements that I found interesting in the filmmaker's earlier work. But I recognize this as being mostly subjective. There is a definite difference between films made by an individual with a strong voice and signature style vs. a more anonymous work but that doesn't mean the former are always better or more enjoyable efforts.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:55 am 
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This is getting really silly. I'm sympathetic to the Cahiers brand of auteurism and I think it's interesting in context, but in the present day, stating as widely known "fact" the subjective opinion that "Wenders has never made a film as good as M or Rules of the Game" is just moronic. I have seen every surviving Lang film and consider him one of the greatest of all directors, but guess what? I can think of at least three films Wenders has made that are above anything Lang produced. I don't need to nail that ultimately useless comparison on a church door, do I? You are offering bold conjecture as a form of objective proof of subjective quality, and it makes you look like a YouTube commenter


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:00 am 

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Roger Ryan wrote:
And yet, to me, Godard is always precious! Sometimes I find the preciousness appealing; sometimes not.



Well then perhaps we define 'precious' differently...


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:40 am 
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It seems to me that any film has to to ultimately stand or fall on its own merits. The auteurist perspective provides "something extra" when looking at diectors who have made a lot of films, especially when a good number of those films were "commissioned" work. It is my understanding that producer/directors were recognized as "auteurs"of their films long before Cahiers came on the scene. The French innovation was valuable in recognizing "authorship" in contexts where it had not previously been recognized. Truffaut's "auteur" worship and Sarris's list-making/rating seem to be less useful (and less interesting) mutations of the originally useful concept of recognizing that authorship had a wider scope than previously accepted.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:52 am 
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Here's how far I'm willing to go with this argument: A bad film by a great director is better than a bad (not so bad it's good, but just plain bad) film by no one in particular, because at least the former might be a piece of the puzzle toward understanding what that director is all about.

Otherwise, I agree with domino and zedz, because everything they ever say is better than anything ever said by anyone else.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:01 am 

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Wenders was an aesthete. That was part of his problem. Aesthetes will never be the best of the best in any medium. They may be very very good, even brilliant, but the greatest artists will always manage to strike that balance between humanism and aestheticism. Naturally, the work of an aesthete like Kieslowski will often be more seductive than the work of a humanist like Renoir or Kiarostami, and even I'm guilty of having fallen under the spell at times, but sometimes you need to take a step back and examine things dispassionately, asking yourself what the ultimate purpose of artistic expression should be.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:10 am 
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rrenault -- your analysis seems rather "a priori" -- the artistic philosphy followed by (held by) artists tells one very little about their level of skill or their degree of inspiration. And how many artists are _purely_ humanist versus _purely_ aesthete? Not many that I can think of.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:22 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:49 pm
All I mean to say is in certain circles there tends to be too much of an emphasis on the aesthetic aspects of cinema that tend to 'flatter' film school students, which explains why they'd be quick to praise stuff like In the Mood For Love or Apocalypse Now while not "getting what the big deal is" with Rules of the Game, Breathless or L'Atalante. It displays a severe lack of understanding of what the true essence of cinema is. Call it mimesis if you want, although that may be simplistic. But either way, it's pure ignorance.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:23 am 
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rrenault wrote:
Well then perhaps we define 'precious' differently...

"Precious" used in the same fashion as by Moliere in "Les Précieuses ridicules".


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:36 am 
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rrenault wrote:
All I mean to say is in certain circles there tends to be too much of an emphasis on the aesthetic aspects of cinema that tend to 'flatter' film school students, which explains why they'd be quick to praise stuff like In the Mood For Love or Apocalypse Now while not "getting what the big deal is" with Rules of the Game, Breathless or L'Atalante. It displays a severe lack of understanding of what the true essence of cinema is. Call it mimesis if you want, although that may be simplistic. But either way, it's pure ignorance.

Don't, nobody take the bait


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