Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#76 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:08 pm

Describing Chabrol's career as "slutty" is the best thing I've read in this thread, possibly the only good to come out of it

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#77 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:54 am

knives wrote:I don't intend to be rude, but your definition is such a word soup that honestly I thought you were going to call Akerman and Fassbinder aesthetics. I mean right there now you have to define metaphysical and transcendental since as I understand the terms they apply to Akerman as much as humanist. By memory at least this has even more strict confusion since you have someone like Ozu who (rightly) has been called a humanist and a transcendentalist. Again not to be mean, but your definitions and distinctions seem arbitrary to the extreme.
You can't be both a humanist and a transcendentalist. Humanism entails leaving humans to their own devices in the absence of some higher power or supernatural force. As for Ozu, it's hard to determine. I say he's a humanist. Others may say he's transcendental, but you can't be both. If you think so, then you probably don't understand those terms. Humanism means every man for himself. Things aren't connected by virtue of some inexplicable cosmic force, etc.

For the record, you're just putting words in my mouth. I never necessarily equated aestheticism with transcendentalism. That wasn't my point. You can be both an aestheticist and a humanist, although it's rare. Perhaps Resnais could fall into that category, and even Godard at times, but Tarkovsky is NOT a humanist by virtue of the fact his work contains supernatural elements. Humanism is rejection of the supernatural or metaphysical.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#78 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:59 am

Mr Sausage wrote:humanism has no relation to either the physical or the quotidian
Actually, yes it does. There's a reason Renoir and Kiarostami are called humanists whereas Kieslowski is not. With that said, I tend to reject the interpretation of Ozu or Bresson as metaphysical/transcendental filmmakers. If Balthazar is of course meant to symbolize the reincarnation of Christ then sure I guess so, but I still don't see it. That's not what I see on the screen. All I see is a sublime film about an abused donkey being passed from one owner to the next.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#79 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:48 am

For the record, I don't completely agree with everything I have written in this thread, although I do believe some of it to a degree. I've really just been playing devil's advocate and thinking out loud, for lack of better phrases, in order to make sense of where Truffaut and the other Cahiers critics were coming from even if they were sometimes guilty of "sometimes silly and willfully obtuse auteurist affinities". That I think is what the point of this discussion is, not "I'm right and Truffaut's approach is flawed, therefore no insights he made at that time are of any value". One shouldn't get too carried away with their "eclecticism", even if it's fine in moderation. At the end of the day, a cinephile needs to appreciate why Rules of the Game is indispensable the same way a bibliophile must grapple with the indispensability of Hamlet whether he or she likes it or not. In other words, dance to the beat of your own drum all you want but don't avoid the 800 pound gorilla in the room. There needs to be some agreed upon standard by which works of art can be judged even if it is sometimes difficult to verbalize but can still be 'felt'. In a sense, yes, I'm saying down with relativism. Otherwise, what use does artistic expression have aside from perhaps navel gazing and mere self-indulgence or what have you? I know it sounds a tad elitist and maybe even self-effacing, but so what? I'll admit it. I'm pro-canon, or at least I regard it as a necessary evil, even if the current canon is heavily flawed, so shoot me. Even Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote a book on the necessity of canons. Okay, perhaps great art can get made without the existence of a canon, considering the film pantheon as we conceive of it didn't actually come into being until the late 1950s or so, but it's still not a sustainable model in my opinion.

P.S. Just retorting it's all subjective strikes me as a lazy way of simply cutting off debate, as if under no circumstances should pro-canon arguments, by virtue of what you perceive to be their inherently reactionary nature, be entertained. They may be 'elitist', but they certainly aren't reactionary. Those two adjectives are not synonyms. People constantly attribute the elevation of Rules of the Game or Tokyo Story, or any other film of similar stature to "popularity" or received wisdom, as if people would begin to realize those films aren't all that great if they actually thought for themselves and stopped parroting their mentors, because I mean dude, Philippe Garrel made three or four films that are so much better than Rules of the Game. I'm sorry, but that's moronic, and I love Garrel by the way just for the record before people start putting words in my mouth. I'm not saying received wisdom isn't partially a culprit but to say the canon would completely metamorphose over night as a result of genuinely "maverick" thinking seems rather disingenuous to me. I get it, the canon is authoritarian and passively accepting the wisdom that Rules of the Game or Tokyo Story is the greatest film of all time is what potentially plants the seeds for fascism, since people aren't doing their job of questioning authority, but the crypto-fascist despots to be feared are not the ones canonizing Renoir and Ozu, which is why the theoretical metaphor doesn't hold up to scrutiny in my book. The fascists are the ones who would ban Renoir, Godard, and Ozu if they could. The formation of a canon is potentially fascist in its conception, so therefore we should distrust and no longer discuss and value the films in its upper echelons like Rules of the Game and Tokyo Story? If one were to dissect and research why 'Rules' is so highly regarded would one discover fascist and/or reactionary undertones in the applied reasoning for its reverence? I think not.

So at the end of the day, what's a better use of my time, attempting to understand and appreciate Kafka's importance as a writer or detective work in which I'd seek to prove that due to historical accident received wisdom has led to the canonization of Kafka but the relative neglect of Bernanos and Mauriac? I mean seriously, that's where these relativist agendas become just as pernicious as fascism itself if taken too far.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#80 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:44 am

rrenault wrote:You can't be both a humanist and a transcendentalist. Humanism entails leaving humans to their own devices in the absence of some higher power or supernatural force.
Again, you need to pick your terms more carefully.

Some notable humanists: Saint Thomas More, Popes Pius II, Sixtus IV, Leo X.

Your definition is plainly wrong, as it would also make nihilists humanists.
rrenault wrote:Actually, yes it does. There's a reason Renoir and Kiarostami are called humanists whereas Kieslowski is not.
Airtight arguing.

This is humanism: an ideology that asserts the priority of reason and critical thinking, that humanity is guided by its own agency, and that humanity, through its reasoning faculty, determines its value and its dignity. This may or may not exist in contra-distinction to religion, depending on who's talking.

Please stop arguing. You do not know what you're talking about.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#81 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:51 am

The word 'humanism', or 'humanist' for that matter' doesn't even appear once in that link you just posted. Ever hear of the concept of a false friend?

"Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."

^^From this link: http://americanhumanist.org/Who_We_Are/About_Humanism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Emphasis on "without theism and other supernatural beliefs".

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#82 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:35 am

rrenault wrote:The word 'humanism', or 'humanist' for that matter' doesn't even appear once in that link you just posted. Ever hear of the concept of a false friend?
Er, that was directed against your use of the term "transcendentalist," which ought to've been obvious, and your general tendency to misapply historical terms in misleading ways. A false friend is a word in another language that looks or sounds similar to a word in your own language but has a different meaning.

rrenault wrote:"Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."

^^From this link: http://americanhumanist.org/Who_We_Are/About_Humanism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Emphasis on "without theism and other supernatural beliefs".
I suppose you looked that up just now since, aside from the religion part, it bears no relation to your earlier definition. Notice their emphasis on (lofty) concepts like ethics, fulfillment, and the greater good and not on the natural world or on the quotidian. Also, since I already wrote: "This may or may not exist in contra-distinction to religion, depending on who's talking," pointing this out was unnecessary.

Since I haven't posted dictionary definitions in a while, the OED gives as good a definition as any:

" Any system of thought or ideology which places humans, or humanity as a whole, at its centre, esp. one which is predominantly concerned with human interests and welfare, and stresses the inherent value and potential of human life. In early use freq. with reference to humanitarian religions."

As this has long become ridiculous and pointless, I'm not going to discuss this with you any more.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#83 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:38 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:C. Don't set-up false antitheses. For instance, putting aestheticism and humanism on the opposite ends of an antithesis and then claiming that films ought to ride a narrow path between them, even tho' neither concept has much to do with the other and any film can be both wholly aestheticist and wholly humanist at the same time.
To wit: Ozu.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#84 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:45 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:What is a "non-humanist"? (not a term I've ever encountered).
Image

Now just to get the nuances of this argument straight: the Hulk could still totally kick Thor's ass, right?

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#85 Post by knives » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:47 pm

Yes.
Image

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#86 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:07 pm

Apologies for not taking in the full insanity of this thread before I started responding to bits and pieces!
rrenault wrote: I'll admit it. I'm pro-canon, or at least I regard it as a necessary evil, even if the current canon is heavily flawed, so shoot me. Even Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote a book on the necessity of canons. Okay, perhaps great art can get made without the existence of a canon, considering the film pantheon as we conceive of it didn't actually come into being until the late 1950s or so, but it's still not a sustainable model in my opinion.
Nobody here has argued against the usefulness of canons. They're a great tool and one we have devoted an entire subforum to!
P.S. Just retorting it's all subjective strikes me as a lazy way of simply cutting off debate, as if under no circumstances should pro-canon arguments, by virtue of what you perceive to be their inherently reactionary nature, be entertained.
And nobody here has made this argument either.

The problem is that your employment of auteurism and canons as bludgeons to beat down directors you deem 'lesser' is so dogmatic and arbitrary as to be moronic. And you dig yourself in deeper with every post, wherein you expose the threadbare nature of your rhetorical and reasoning skills as well as your knowledge of the filmmakers you're using as props. How many more documentaries should Kieslowski have made to secure his humanist credentials for the benefit of internet trolls? And, for that matter, why should humanism be prioritized over aestheticism in assessing art? Might that not just give us an army of well-meaning Stanley Kramers? You do realize that you got to the point where you were dismissing the formal beauty and transcendental nature of Bresson's filmmaking simply because it was inconvenient to your argument? You feel sorry for that donkey? Well hip hip hooray for your cheap climax. Isn't making us feel sorry for Jacek in A Short Film About Killing a much tougher trick for a filmmaker to pull off and a vastly more urgent humanist project?

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#87 Post by jindianajonz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:33 pm

knives wrote:Yes.
(Hulk picture)
Hulk comes pretty close to summing up my thoughts after trying to read this thread. I'm just going to go watch Transformers until there's a concensus on what metrics I should be using to determine if a movie is good or not. I'm pretty sure "More robot 'splody=more better" is the only film rule we need.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#88 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:21 pm

Not to restart any kind of craziness, but I would be interested in discussing the functional meaning of humanism as it applies to film/literature/whatever-

I agree that for it to have any meaning as a term, it must mean something more than 'seems to be a nice person', and the working definition I've always used is someone who gives each individual character a sense of agency, such that the movie or book or whatever could wander off and follow just about anybody. That tends to result in a work that has more fully rounded characters, as it does in Renoir, but I don't know that it's really necessary. That jibes reasonably well with the definition Sausage is giving- insofar as it's certainly focused on the agency of humanity- but it doesn't have much to do with rationalism or logic. So, working with that definition, I would call High and Low a humanist film- the characters all seem to 'have their reasons', and if they're not immediately explained, we'll find out about them later, and while the effects of where one exists within society are obviously of paramount concern in the film, it does not appear to believe that they result in monolithic avatars of class with no will but that of the class to which they belong. A film like Kagemusha, on the other hand- in which most characters appear to be acting out of blind obedience, and there's no more sense of individual agency amongst the color coded soldiers than there is amongst the stormtroopers in Star Wars- would not be humanist.

Does that seem reasonable? I feel as though formal philosophical terms are often used in different ways when applied to the arts, and I don't think humanist as applied to film ever has much to do with religion or with logic.
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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#89 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:26 pm

As far as I can tell, 'humanism' as it pertains to film criticism gets applied in a wide range of often vague and unhelpful ways, including:

1) your 'seems to be a nice person' formulation;
2) 'seems to care about the downtrodden';
3) 'uses well-rounded characters' (and why this characteristic should be attributed to the director rather than the writers or actors is mainly a matter of auteurist spin);
4) 'uses characters who have a semblance of agency' (ditto);
5) 'operates in a realist or neo-realist mode';
6) 'is vaguely left wing';
7) 'avoids metaphysical or supernatural material or implications in their work.'

None of those things seems to me to have all that much to do with humanism as a philosophical concept, and none of those things - for me at least - carries any implications whatsoever about the quality of the work (except maybe for 3), but only if the film is already operating in a mode where that kind of thing matters). And in some cases they can be contradictory: there are plenty of examples of films with their hearts in the right place which couldn't formulate a character of more than one dimension if their life depended on it - and some of those are acknowledged masterpieces. And it boggles my imagination how any of those characteristics has much relevance to Bresson, or at least, has any relevance to what I consider distinctive and worthwhile in his work.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#90 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:43 pm

This whole thing has been blown way out of proportion. My original intention posting in this thread was to make sense of Truffaut's theories and offer a corrective to the blind dismissal of his theories. Yes, there are limits to his analysis of film history, but that doesn't render everything he contributed irrelevant. He offered a polemic that was much needed at the time. The auteur theory is not worthless, and to suggest so is in fact ignorant. Let's bring this discussion back to the topic implied by the thread title please.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#91 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:53 pm

zedz wrote:You do realize that you got to the point where you were dismissing the formal beauty and transcendental nature of Bresson's filmmaking simply because it was inconvenient to your argument?
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough, but either way, that was not my intention, to devalue the beauty and supposedly transcendental nature of Bresson's filmmaking, but I do think it's shallow if one were to focus exclusively on the formal beauty of Bresson's work, since that would imply one's emotional investment in a work is all that matters, as if art were a wholly sensory experience. It is partially a sensory experience, but not entirely. Art can't be dehistoricized, or it would at least be superficial for it to be so. A work of art can't be separated from the social, political, and historical circumstances under which it was made. Contextualizing a work in this manner helps to make sense of its importance. Decontextualization is dangerous. The sense of place, physical place that is, lends Bresson's work significance. Formal beauty and transcendence are not the ONLY things that matter in art. Art is also history. To view art as a purely emotional or sensory experience I think is somewhat shallow. I never meant to imply Stanley Kramer was a more noble than Kieslowski. In fact, I like Kieslowski to a certain extent. I simply trying to say aesthetic devices should be used as a means to and end rather than as an end in and of themselves, or at least not always. This is all quite difficult to put into words in a measly forum post, I will grant you. So the aesthetic devices applied by Bresson, Ozu, or Godard, and others do matter yes, but the question is why are they employed? How does their application contribute to the viewer's awakening? Again, this is where things like political and historical context come in.
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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#92 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:00 pm

rrenault wrote:The auteur theory is not worthless, and to suggest so is in fact ignorant.
Please provide references for where anybody in this thread has said this. Everybody else has been very carefully responding to precisely the arguments and examples you have raised, and the only person here using the absolutist rhetoric you're whining about is yourself. At least do us the courtesy of replying to our actual arguments, and not straw man ones of your own invention.

Oh, and in future, if you don't want to be called on for talking nonsense, it's a better strategy to not talk nonsense in the first place. Playing the "it's your fault for acting as if I actually believed what I was saying" card at this stage just embarrasses you further.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#93 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:02 pm

rrenault wrote:To view art as a purely emotional or sensory experience I think is somewhat shallow.
So who are you accusing of doing this? Again, you really need to be providing actual citations of the arguments you're assuming everybody else is making, otherwise you're just jerking off at 24 frames per second.

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Re: Icarus Films

#94 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:04 pm

zedz wrote:
knives wrote:Part of Truffaut's problem as a critic, to me, is that he's so highly auteurist that if he decides to like someone's films he'll like it unless there's a major change up like the history films (and even then...) and if he decides to dislike that negativity will pervade everything beyond reason. He seems to have a very black and white view of art.
This is the main reason why I find him to be an absolutely terrible critic. I think he even wrote something to the effect of "the worst Nicholas Ray film is better than the best film by x (John Huston? Some designated 'non-auteur' anyway)" - which is the reductio ad absurdum of mindless auteurism. That's not criticism, that's fanboy brand loyalty.
Um, this^^

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#95 Post by rrenault » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:13 pm

zedz wrote:And, for that matter, why should humanism be prioritized over aestheticism in assessing art?
'Humanism' may have been applied rather sloppily as a catch-all term by myself, and that's my fault, but I just think one needs to make sense of why certain aesthetic devices are used over others, not only to produce certain emotions in the viewer, but as a result of the, yes, 'real-world' or historic circumstances under which the work was produced. Look, I'm not accusing you of neglecting these aspects of artistic creativity, but you asked that question and I'm answering it.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#96 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:24 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Not to restart any kind of craziness, but I would be interested in discussing the functional meaning of humanism as it applies to film/literature/whatever-
I'll take it up with you, matrixschmatrix. It gets used so often that it's worth clarifying.

Zedz has done an admirable job breaking down how the term is batted about so imprecisely. I think what happens is that people encounter the term and fix immediately on two things: A. the word "human", or at least the way it gets abstracted by the philosophical-sounding suffix -ism. B. the way it's always used in a positive, commendatory sense. These two things build up the idea that it's about people, by god, and is a mark of distinction. So anything vaguely humanitarian-seeming (a slippage between two similar looking terms) gets called humanism and praised to the roof, to the point of outright criticizing non-humanists.

To fix the term a bit, I'll trace the historical development of it in a (unsatisfactorily) cursory way. Humanism was first invented by the Renaissance when the passion for the books and ideas of the ancient Greeks and Romans was reinvigorated. There arose an idea that it was valuable to spend one's life in study, immersing oneself in art, literature, philosophy, and languages. And with that arose the idea that the works and products of humans were valuble in and of themselves, and that human beings were also valuable in and of themselves. So they called those products the Humanities, and those who studied and valued them humanists.

Fast-forward to the Enlightenment. The thinkers of the age of reason embraced Renaissance Humanism, specifically the idea that you could become a better person by studying the humanities (literature, art, music, languages, ect.), and added to that the ideas espoused by philosophers like Locke, Hume, Descartes, and Bacon, as well as the science of Newton. So humanism summed up what we now think of as the presiding ideas of the Enlightenment: rationalism, empiricism, skepticism, the experimental method, and the improvement--even perfectability--of humanity through learning and study. Humanism was the philosophy of developing one's own, personal faculties, rather than surrendering or debasing them.

As the rationalism and science-focused aspects came into increasing conflict with religion, humanism also came to represent secular, anti-religious values, and still does for many people. But it should be emphasized that a lot of humanists were, and still are, believing christians. Samuel Johnson was one of the luminaries of the age of reason, a man dedicated to learning, to reason, to empirical study, and yet a believing Christian for all that. The empirical philosopher Bishop Berkeley (originator of that famous example of empiricism: 'if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?') was in fact using reason and empiricism to argue for the existence of god. Auguste Comte was a religious humanist and used his beliefs to found the idea of altruism. The deists held that the divine could be apprehended through rational, empirical study of the natural world. But all these men were dedicated to the idea that personal improvement was found in the acquisition of knowledge.

Our modern conceptions of humanism follow directly from the enlightenment. So I think we're right to continue to stress that humanism is about the value of personal, individual betterment through learning, reason, empiricism, and skepticism, and is about the necessity of personal choice in what is right and valuable.

With that in mind, any artist who embodies or expresses the above would be a humanist. To use Kurosawa (often called a humanist):

-Stray Dog is a humanist movie, because what ultimately distinguishes the hero and villain is individual choice: whether to give in to despair and end up a miserable criminal, or to overcome despair and achieve something. Crucially, this is not an inevitable choice; and what bothers the Mifune character for the whole movie is how easily he could've chosen the opposite. In Stray Dog, our destiny is our choice; humans determine their goodness or their badness through moral decisions.

-Ran is not a humanist film. Not just its total despair, not just the compositions that deemphasize individuals next to the monolithic figures of the sky and landscape, but its ultimate expression of the idea that human beings do not control their destiny or forge their own happiness; they are the play things of the gods, or fate, or sheer arbitrariness, and suffer pointlessly. This is nihilism.

The above is humanism. Well-rounded characters, or an affection towards one's characters, is not humanism. Jonathan Swift was a humanist, but he was a savage one, and criticised humanity's failings viciously. Samuel Johnson composed a lovely novella called Rasselas about the use of personal choice in achieving happiness, but its characters are just mouthpieces for the ideas (don't let that turn you off tho', it's a great book).

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#97 Post by Tommaso » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:12 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:-Ran is not a humanist film. Not just its total despair, not just the compositions that deemphasize individuals next to the monolithic figures of the sky and landscape, but its ultimate expression of the idea that human beings do not control their destiny or forge their own happiness; they are the play things of the gods, or fate, or sheer arbitrariness, and suffer pointlessly. This is nihilism.
I completely agree with your round-up on humanism, and even with this description of "Ran". But isn't the whole film a protest against this state of things, and thus deeply humanistic, in line with any of Kurosawa's other works? I don't think "Ran" endorses this nihilism in any way, but is despairingly fighting against a world that has come to this.

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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#98 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:28 pm

Tommaso wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:-Ran is not a humanist film. Not just its total despair, not just the compositions that deemphasize individuals next to the monolithic figures of the sky and landscape, but its ultimate expression of the idea that human beings do not control their destiny or forge their own happiness; they are the play things of the gods, or fate, or sheer arbitrariness, and suffer pointlessly. This is nihilism.
I completely agree with your round-up on humanism, and even with this description of "Ran". But isn't the whole film a protest against this state of things, and thus deeply humanistic, in line with any of Kurosawa's other works? I don't think "Ran" endorses this nihilism in any way, but is despairingly fighting against a world that has come to this.
No, I don't think Ran is a protest. I think its despair is authentic. It is, anyway, so large that it dwarfs human attempts at correction. I wouldn't say the film is endorsing nihilism, but it seems to be saying that there is no other way to feel about the world. It brings us right to the brink of goodness winning out, only for everything to be shattered so pointlessly and meaninglessly: after all the machinations to save Lady Sue, she dies horribly anyway. Hidetora is saved from his madness and reunites with Saburo, his kingdom about to be restored, only to have Saburo pointlessly killed in front of him by some sniper after the war had already ended, after which Hidetora dies of despair. Ruin snatched from the jaws of success. All that's left is for Kyoami to vent his despair about the arbitrary cruelty of the world. We're left with an image of a blind man lost on a cliff, awaiting the sister and guide who'll never come, his last remaining consolation a scroll that he drops down the cliff face.

Kurosawa does not like this idea, but he is not telling us not to believe it, either. It's not a movie to inspire you with faith in human agency. Overwhelmingly, this is not an example of his humanism. I think he had to reach this low point in order to come back from it, and his last three films show his reconciliation with his earlier humanism. Protests ought to make us feel like we can do something to help. Ran does not offer this possibility.

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zedz
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Re: Icarus Films

#99 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:37 pm

rrenault wrote:
zedz wrote:
knives wrote:Part of Truffaut's problem as a critic, to me, is that he's so highly auteurist that if he decides to like someone's films he'll like it unless there's a major change up like the history films (and even then...) and if he decides to dislike that negativity will pervade everything beyond reason. He seems to have a very black and white view of art.
This is the main reason why I find him to be an absolutely terrible critic. I think he even wrote something to the effect of "the worst Nicholas Ray film is better than the best film by x (John Huston? Some designated 'non-auteur' anyway)" - which is the reductio ad absurdum of mindless auteurism. That's not criticism, that's fanboy brand loyalty.
Um, this^^
Huh? Is that supposed to be an illustration of knives and / or me asserting that "the auteurist theory is worthless"? They're criticisms of Truffaut's bad critical methodology, and they identify that he uses the theory as a prop for it, but they don't pass any judgement on the theory itself. Looks like you need to work on your reading comprehension as well.

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Tommaso
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Re: Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z

#100 Post by Tommaso » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:31 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: I think he had to reach this low point in order to come back from it, and his last three films show his reconciliation with his earlier humanism. Protests ought to make us feel like we can do something to help. Ran does not offer this possibility.
Well, curiously you already said what I had in mind. If "Ran" doesn't offer the possibility, then indeed Kurosawa's three late films do. I'm not sure whether his films should be seen as individual 'building blocks' of a larger project or not, but even in its despair "Ran" is some sort of passageway to the later films, an extreme darkness which could be seen as a necessary (educational) negative which is overcome by the 'acceptance' of those late films. But even in the darkest moments of "Ran" there is still an enormous emotional commitment and impression on the viewer (think of Hidetora leaving the burning castle, or the scene with the fool in the fields shaken by the wind) that for me is far removed from an unemotional dissection of the going-ons. Even if the characters are helpless victims of destructive forces, we still do feel for them. And certainly, the despair is authentic, but that is what makes it all the more humane (humanistic?) for me. And if you say "It's not a movie to inspire you with faith in human agency", then this is something I can't deny. Still, my overwhelming impression of the film is that it calls precisely to this human agency to make its voice heard.

For me, examples for 'nihilist' cinema (and curiously far more aligned to the notion of enlightenment, and its limitations) would be many films by Greenaway, where the characters and everything else are subject to the inhuman rules of numbers, alphabets or other structures which relentlessly drive the actions to their usually bad ending.

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