It is now officially 'Adrian Martin Month' here at the blog: he's writing 'em faster than I can read 'em. In the last week, at least four new pieces have appeared. Adrian: you should think about recording one of those Tony Robbins-style infomercials for the rest of us!
Two of the pieces are in the new issue of Undercurrent, edited by Chris Fujiwara. The issue isn't large, but every single piece in it is good and worth reading. For me, one of the highlights is an exchange between Adrian and Andrew Klevan.
Adrian reviews Klevan's book about acting, Film Performance: From Achievement to Appreciation, praising and recommending it. After getting this strong endorsement over with in the first few paragraphs, the review switches tack to do something unusual: without pulling its punches, it mounts a forthright but very constructive critique of the book. The review takes the book to task for several reasons: valorizing classicism; displaying a lack of interest in cinematic modernism; not drawing from anecdotal material like biographies or memoirs; and sidelining the film director and mise en scène in favor of the actor.
Klevan's response essay replies to these criticisms with great openness and generosity, clearly outlining the rationale for the choices he made in the book. The two essays together make for a rare critical dialogue that is plain and direct in its disagreements but ever mutually respectful. (I'm wondering: Are there other examples of criticism undertaken in this gracious spirit of dialogue?).
Other Martiniana of the week:
(1) "Cruising: The Sound of Violence" in Undercurrent;
(2) "The Enigma of Gesture," a report on the Brisbane Film Festival at the FIPRESCI site; and
(3) "'Abolish All Film Magazines!'": the new Filmkrant column.
The Brisbane piece is much more than a film festival report; it smuggles in a sustained reflection on crying in cinema. Here's an excerpt on why we often sense a discrepancy between the tears of a character and what prompts or triggers that emotional outpouring:
Yet maybe it is only bad, conventional movies which have conditioned us, down the years, to expect that an emotion (as effect or release) can cleanly match or be appropriate to its cause: as philosopher Giorgio Agamben reminds us, we are always more and less than ourselves, and our emotional response (or affect) invariably occurs in the zones of the not-enough or the too-much. It is our fate. Life confirms this regularly: we find that we cannot grieve enough as we would like, or openly enough, at the funeral of a loved one or family member (with catastrophic social effects, as for Camus' immortal 'outsider'); conversely, we find that that the tiniest pretext, along a convoluted line of displacements and sublimations, can send us into wailing histrionics, uncontrollable and inconsolable.
More good reading:
-- Chris Fujiwara on the melodramas of Vincente Minnelli, at Moving Image Source.
-- The Siren on "several very famous remarks made by famous movie people that she never wants to hear again."
-- Michael Guillen on the new issue of Film International, a special on film festivals.
-- Jonathan Rosenbaum on two Jim McBride films, David Holzman's Diary and My Girlfriend's Wedding.
-- Mubarak links to an essay by Nicole Brenez called "On the Subject of Regrettable Searching - Body to Body, the Filmed Body." It opens thus: "Necessarily, the body is a source of worry: subject to accident, decline, death, it is that from which we must escape by, for example, leaving figurative traces that others perhaps will consider art."
-- Danny Kasman and David Phelps interview Lucretia Martel at the Auteurs' Notebook.
-- A characteristically epic and interesting thread at Dave Kehr's place on Japanese cinema, neo-realism and film noir (among other things).
-- Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic has an essay called "Why I Blog".
pic: "I think she's lonesome...even with all that red hair." Ron Howard to Glenn Ford in Minnelli's The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963).