WYLER TO GODARD

QUOTATION TO PONDER, from William Wyler:  “Someone should be on fire about any picture made, or it shouldn’t be made.  If somebody doesn’t feel that certain thing, the miracle never happens.  The trouble with Hollywood is that too many of the top people are too comfortable and don’t give a damn about what goes up on the screen so long as it gets by at the box office. How can you expect people with that kind of attitude to make the pictures the world will want to see?”  —  Of course,Wyler was not speaking about today’s Hollywood.  Or was he?  Is he?  Is there a today’s Hollywood?  (The quotation is in Five Came Back by Mark Harris, citing Pryor, William Wyler and His Screen Philosophy).

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Alphaville
written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard
1965

“What transforms darkness into light?”
La poésie.”

I cannot say much of value about this film that has not already been better said by others.

Dilys Powell (quoted in Halliwell):  “…the more disturbing for being so near the recognizable normal.”

VARIETY MOVIE GUIDE 1996:  “…choosing grubby, large tourist hotels as well as canny use of many modern buildings.  This builds up a sort of no-man’s-land between totalitarian drabness and super-modern garishness.”  (All the Variety review is enlightening.  Derek Elley, Variety Movie Guide ’96.  Variety, 1995.)

Andrew Sarris:  ”   a computer-controlled society at war with artists, thinkers, and lovers.:  “…science fiction without special effects.”  “You don’t have to be French to enjoy Alphaville.  But you have to love movies with high-minded seriousness.”  (The Sarris quotes are from a four-page booklet included with the Criterion disc.)

The camera achieves a suitably stark black and white.  Despite Alphaville‘s quiet and simplicity (or because of it?), it moves with a driving pace.  The subtleties Karina brings to her near-robotic role are impressive.  Akim Tamiroff is excellent in his one sequence.

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MOVIES ARE EVERYWHERE, especially in good books:  Graham Greene in The Lawless Roads, describing a group of men at a cock-fight in Mexico:  “…they had plump mild operatic faces; they might have come out of a Hollywood musical starring John Boles.”  ( The Lawless Roads, first published in Great Britain in 1939 by Heinemann.

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IN AKRON or near Akron ?  At the Akron Art Museum this next Sunday, the 23rd, Akron Film + Pixel and the Museum are presenting SPARK!  —  offering a selection of shorts from the New York International Film Festival and the animated feature Ernest & Celestine (12;30 – 4:00, the feature at 2:30).  At 7:00 P.M. in the same location AF + P is screening Rithy Pahn’s The Missing Picture.

NEXT POST FRIDAY MARCH 28.

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

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