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July 20, 2010

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Chris O.

I know it was a rhetorical question, but did you see this Guardian piece on Lynne Ramsay back in April?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2010/apr/22/lynne-ramsay

Glenn Kenny

@ Chris O: Indeed. People always like to talk about the ways the film world has changed, and my way of being contrarian is to point out the ways it's stayed the same, but for me, one way it really has changed—and maybe it's got more to do with the filmmakers I am excited by more than anything else—is the amount of time that goes by between projects for some directors I find extremely vital. Ramsay's at the top of my list for that, and the Guardian article mentions some other notables. Back in "the day" you'd walk out of a theater showing a Fassbinder film and there'd be another one opening. Of course, that was Fassbinder. But still—in the mid-'60s Godard made two, three films a year. Buñuel was a steady producer. And so on. I suppose if I actually liked Joe Swanberg's work, the early aughts woulda been a great years for me. But I don't.

Chris O.

Thank you. I couldn't agree more. But is *part* of the problem, though -- and maybe this is me being completely cynical, and you touched on it mentioning "wealth" (along with fame and age) -- that these guys wait around for the funding for their mid to larger projects because they have pool boys and private school tuitions to consider? I'm not saying they need to martyr themselves and reach into their own pockets to fund their ambitions (Clooney/"Good Night and Good Luck" and Duvall/"The Apostle" come to mind), but why not? Coppola, for better or worse, is doing it. It's trickier than that, for sure, I realize. Maybe this mostly an American problem because some countries have more grants, state funding and whatnot that we may not. Of course, the Lynne Ramsay example refudiates (tee hee) that. I don't know. Doesn't seem to phaze Soderbergh, Eastwood and Allen, though. They perpetually have something going.

You've touched on something that interests me here. The same goes for music and the standard release model. If you wait four years in between albums (because of giant world tours, etc.)... what if that next album sucks? You're going to wait another four to give it another go? I don't like all of Jack White's music, but I respect the ethic and the potential in throwing something against the wall each year and seeing what sticks.

Stephen Whitty

I think you're both quite right. I'm eager to see more from a number of filmmakers and musicians, too. It always increases the expectation (and almost inevitable disappointment) when every work of art becomes, by virtue of its delay, an EVENT. I enjoy people like White (and Prince, I'd add) who just keep at it.

As for the movies, I don't know the particulars of Lynne Ramsay's time away from the cameras, but it does seem to me that often the directors with the longest times away from the set -- Lisa Cholodenko, say, or Nicole Holofcener, to name two recent examples -- are women. Allison Anders used to say that, while it was tough for anyone to make a first film, it was tougher for women to keep making them, for a variety of reasons. I bet that's still true.

I wonder, though, if some of this is also partly due to obsessive, American ambition. Like the novelists who were always chasing after THE great American novel, while Brits like, say, Graham Greene were just writing, year after year, in every possible form. Or the artist's determination to do something of epic sweep, rather than just a simple, solid film.

You mention the busy Eastwood, Allen and Soderbergh, Chris, and I'd agree but all of them also have a very strong sense of budget, and Soderbergh (as Glenn, you certainly know), can truly go bare bones what he wants to. It's the filmmakers who still seem to need that big expensive canvas -- and huge name casts -- who go years between projects. If there are gaps in their filmographies, in many ways it's mostly by choice.

Plenty of filmmakers, especially after a long project, talk longingly about how they just want to grab a video camera and a couple of friends and shoot something, fast. But how many do? (Whose work we'd actually want to watch, that is.)

bill

I can hardly blame the guy for not following through, given the reasons cited in that Guardian article, but I sure would have liked to see a film adaptation of THE RESTRAINT OF BEASTS.

Chris O.

Exactly, Stephen. However, the question for me more than "But how many do?" is "Why don't they?" And "If Auteur A can't make something with a video camera and some friends, should we be calling them an "auteur" in the first place? (I don't have the answers.) I believe in the idea that creativity begets more creativity and exhaustion/boredom breeds more of the same. But the hearts of these filmmakers may be in chasing Ambitious Project X rather than making something off-the-cuff just to stay active... and that's their call. Less fun for us, perhaps. At least, people like Winterbottom (Soderbergh's UK counterpart, I think) and Werner Herzog aren't sitting on their hands.

It is interesting to realize this is the longest, say, Peter Weir has gone between films. But will the same be said for Ramin Bahrani (not saying much, yet, with three films and a short in five years). If nothing else, we have the yearly Pixar offering.

Stephen Whitty

And you know, Chris, interestingly -- and completely illogically, I admit -- I've never felt the same way about actors. In fact, I liked that -- back in the old days -- you really had to WAIT for the next great De Niro or Penn performance.

It's still true, I guess, of Day-Lewis. But -- as terrific as both of them are -- I wonder if I wouldn't appreciate P S Hoffman or Edward Norton more if they weren't so ubiquitous some years...

lazarus

Back to the main subject, Glenn I appreciate the consideration given to Wenders' career, and that you were able to see the worth in Land of Plenty, which I feel was unfairly overlooked. Don't Come Knocking was indeed a painful mess, esp. considering the people involved, and the Million Dollar Hotel was an interesting curiosity but doesn't quite work.

I recently was able to get ahold of the extended, European cut of Until the End of the World, and I really think it deserves a re-evaluation, especially in light of the recent release of Inception. What Wenders has to say about dream addiction and the natural world vs. the constructed one (whether through our subconscious or technology) is explored in much more detail in this version, and I always felt the film's Chandler-by-way-of-William Gibson aesthetic never got its due.

Haice

I do think the whole Coppola/Hammett experience changed Wenders--- like an astronaut coming through a radiation belt---in some weird subtle way.

Yann

"Im Lauf der Zeit" and "Paris, Texas" are my favourite "slow cinema" films (along with "Barry Lyndon" and "La Notte"). Wenders started to loose his touch for me with "Der Himmel ueber Berlin", which has some beautiful moments, but is also way too syrupy and pseudo-philosophical for my liking ("show, don't tell" - ok, hit me over the head if you want ...) - it seems to have gone downhill from there, but I haven't really been following his career since.

Chris O.

In terms of his 2000s output, I thought "The Soul Of A Man," was the best thing about Scorsese's "The Blues" series. It's worth checking out.

James Keepnews

I'd never rule Wenders out, but I won't rush to see his newest films without alot of prior encouragement, a la BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB. I think his spin-out ultimately begins, and quite spectacularly, with UNTIL THE END OF SOLVEIG'S SMIRKING -- which is to say, it will never end, or so it seems. That said, I'd really like to give it the re-eval laz suggests, as there were many great themes lurking amid the clumsy dialogue and voiceovers, none less than the addictive dream machine. Which is, essentially, an iPad, Wi-Fi-ed to the YouTube of the mind...

LondonLee

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN becomes almost unbearable near the end, I hope Ramsay's up to it. Still, rather her than a gazillion other directors I could mention.

Like Bill, I'd love to see a movie of THE RESTRAINT OF BEASTS too. One of the funniest and oddest novels I've ever read.

lazarus

@ James Keepnews: It's certainly more of the same thing to an extent, but because those themes are actually given the time and space they need, the movie doesn't come off as just a skip through cool locations with a alt. soundtrack, and wacky clothes and set design.

That cut is easily found out there in the ether.

SeanAx

Thanks to the "Kings of the Road" Region 2 review, I hopped on to Amazon UK and picked it up, along with "Alice in the Cities" and "The State of Things" (and finally upgrading from my very old Pacific Arts VHS tapes). They arrived this morning and I can't wait to watch them.

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