At the Museum
Goings-on at Museum of the Moving Image
With naked bodies slowly twisting and writhing in a thick, inky chiaroscuro, a hazy but unidirectional light giving definition only to the rounded forms and flexing musculature of the women onscreen, it is clear that Grandrieux has painting on his mind.
"All the shots in my films are always the same, but they are different from one film to the other. In this film I did not want it to be too long. They are about fifteen seconds. It is the minimum. I cannot make this film with shots of less than fifteen seconds."
Often the idea of the avant-garde implies a somewhat detached, contemplative mode of viewing, and this aesthetic stance is kilometers away from Gagnon’s bailiwick. Of the North seems to invite rubbernecking more than any conventional audienceship.
This elegiac essay-portrait is unexpectedly timely; it concerns Portuguese cinema and its uncanny position between life and death, past and future. Its subject is a legendary film scholar, programmer, and longtime head of Cinemateca Portuguesa.
“I am not a political commentator. But as an artist, I feel that the authorities must allow dissent. There has to be a space for protest in society. There has to be freedom of expressing our disapproval of the state of things as well. This right cannot be taken away from the people.”
Pialat’s quest was to seek out something more artistically valuable and emotionally direct: a cinema of genuine immediacy and truth, a cinema from which fragments of real life could erupt from the screen, where moments could simply exist, freed from the yoke of their context or origins.
The wide-gauge format reached its greatest popularity in the 1950s amid a boom of new innovations intended to reverse the fortunes of foundering Hollywood studios; for a time, they even appeared to have done the trick. But every great reign is followed by an epoch of decadence . . .
A visual poet with a penchant for knockabout brawling, an idealist who gravitated to tales of melancholic loss, a notorious tyrant who cultivated long friendships, a nineteenth-century sensibility revered by many a hardcore modernist: John Ford, as they say, contained multitudes.
The “Sensory Stories” exhibit at Museum of the Moving Image is a playground for visitors of all ages to have personal encounters with emerging media technologies, novel interfaces, and experimental narrative forms that haven’t yet stabilized as familiar conventions.