Tuesday, July 14, 2009

portraits of those who watch films

Exhibit 1: John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Exhibit 2: Tsai Ming-liang.

Exhibit 3: Kiarostami

Exhibit 4: I love Mirror. Before DVDs, before YouTube, I tape the film for you as a gift. I have thought long and hard about what to give you that you will remember me by but I realise only later that what I really want is the gift of your face as I watch you watching the film.


Cheshire Cat said...

Kiarostami flag-bearer as I am, even I found "Shirin" unsatisfactory. The problem is that it becomes clear that the audience reactions do not in fact correspond to what is happening (imaginatively) on screen. I found this dissociation merely puzzling.

An even earlier (fictional) example of this sort of thing is Valery's Monsieur Teste.

Space Bar said...

Cat: I'd still like to be able to see it. The 3QD article was interesting, though, wasn't it? (Did it really not challenge you enough? I'd love to hear more.)

km said...

@Cat: I found this dissociation merely puzzling.

So if someone else were to be watching you watch other watchers watching the film....never mind, my head explodes.

Now I definitely want to catch "Shirin" :)

Yoko was something else. Not a popular opinion, I know, but you can't deny that she was deconstructing pop and art way before that trend finally caught on in the '70s.

Cheshire Cat said...

Space: The article does have some interesting insights, but these pertain mainly to older movies such as "Close Up", "Homework", "ABC Africa" etc. My experience with Shirin was a tale of two halves. During the first half of the movie, I did find the audience reactions intriguing - I tried to use them to imagine what the visuals might be like. But during the second half, it became clear that the audience reactions did not in fact corresponds to the (fictional) movie - at this point, the movie-within(or without?)-the-movie started to get more interesting too, or so the soundtrack suggested, so I switched my attention to that. But the disconnect between the audience reactions and the soundtrack remained unpleasantly puzzling, devoid of moral, resistant to reflection. Kiarostami's best work, while being formally brilliant, also has an emotional appeal that is not easily quantified - we might say it shades into sentimentality, except that it bears little relation to the sentimental as we typically experience it (Kiarostami has too subtle a mind for that). There tends to be a certain concentration of emotion in gesture - the moral, if we are fond of drawing morals, might seem facile. Yet this "moral" (the concluding image of each of the movies I mentioned earlier) serves an important function retrospectively as a animating principle for the hectic formal activity that has gone before. This didn't happen (for me) with "Shirin", but maybe I didn't deserve my reward...

km: I hope Kiarostami doesn't read your comment. Enough with the reflexivity already; the next step can only be to be presented with a blank screen or mirror.