Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Muslin



When I was a kid, I spent a few weeks each summer with my grandparents in Madras, a mere thirteen degrees north of the equator. This meant scorching days and sweaty nights, with no escape except for two hours of oblivion each evening in "The Tent" — a makeshift movie theater with a giant hood of thick gray tarp; hard, back-less benches for seats; and a beautiful white sheet of muslin for a screen. Upon this magic carpet would be projected old black-and-white flickers that seemed like they had been slumbering underground since Mahabharatan times.

All this to say that the texture of film upon its projection surface is something I've always responded to strongly. When I saw Philippe Garrel's Regular Lovers recently on a giant screen, it looked as if a rich layer of chocolate-coated celluloid had been laid carefully upon that old crisp sheet of muslin. The voluptuous black-and-white texture of this movie is a thing to behold. Furthermore, it's filmed in the ancient Academy aspect ratio (1.37:1), which deepens the feeling that it is some kind of buried object, recently unearthed.

11 Comments:

Blogger Ed Garrity said...

I clicked on a few of your Hindu terms, and about 1/2 hour later, and after an additional glass of chardonnay (this definitely) helped me achieve Moksha.

-Ed

September 28, 2005 8:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

I envy you.
Let's just say that it hasn't been quite as easy for me. :-)

September 28, 2005 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from Madras!

Ajit
http://dearstrangerfilm.blogspot.com/

September 29, 2005 1:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I'm assuming, Girish, that you've seen the film version of The Mahabharata? Back in college I watched it in connection with a Hinduism class, one of the more interesting classes I signed up for.

September 29, 2005 3:49 PM  
Blogger girish said...

You know, Brian, I never have.
It was hard to come by when I lived in India, and I haven't looked for it since I moved to the States. You give me an idea though: maybe my university library carries it...

Harry (who lives in Paris) recently saw it in the theaters there.

September 29, 2005 3:59 PM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

Great post, Girish (from a regular reader if not commentor). The texture of the images, even the credits sequence, is one of the most immediately striking things about the film.

Was it really Academy ratio, though? Variety says it is, but at least one source - http://www.reflections.it/film/L/lesamantsreguliers/scheda.htm - says otherwise (1.85!). I was very close to the screen at the NYFF, and at such proximity my ability to gauge ratios seems null & void, but I would have guessed 1.66. The image didn't seem that square to me. I'll take your and Variety's word though ...

September 30, 2005 11:17 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey thanks for commenting, Zach.
Really enjoyed reading your blog just now....shall slap it on my links list forthwith.

I liked your best films of 1971 list; it happened to include three huge faves of mine: Four Nights Of A Dreamer, WR--Mysteries Of The Organism and Two-Lane Blacktop. Doozies all. Wish the first two were on DVD in the US.

Re: aspect ratios, my friend Doug (of Filmjourney) and I saw separate screenings of the Garrel film in Toronto and came to the same conclusion (that it looked Academy size). I hadn't realized about Variety.
But one never knows. (It's always possible that our projection was messed up, though the film looked so flat-out gorgeous that the thought never occurred to me!)

September 30, 2005 11:56 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

thanks for linking me, Girish, I finally completed this review.

btw, the french distributor of Les Amants Réguliers says it's 1.33.

October 01, 2005 7:48 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Harry.
I've also put Screenville on the sidebar, and look forward to reading your reviews.

October 01, 2005 7:55 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Thanks a lot! I noticed that, and my traffic has doubled since :)
You're too kind, I'm not sure I've grasped the blog format just yet...

October 03, 2005 10:59 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh, you're very welcome, Harry.

October 04, 2005 7:41 PM  

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