Lanthimos on Tarkovsky

Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” was definitely my favourite from the recent awards season’s batch of films.

I truly had never seen a film like it, all the performances were incredible, the story was amazing, the cinematography, Olivia Coleman, everything.

I just listened to Lanthimos’ interview on Marc Marin’a podcast. He has this today about watching Tarkovsky:

“During the summer in Greece there’s a lot of open air cinemas, beautiful open air cinemas in a lot of neighbourhoods. You have a little table outside surrounded by apartment buildings, and you watch films.

So they would do retrospectives of his <Tarkovsky> films and John Cassevetes.

It was the first time seeing a different medium, seeing something new, like how an image can affect you in a different way, it doesn’t have to be a fast narrative, how poetic it can be, and how you can lose yourself in it, engage, but with your own personality. There’s an openness to it, you can bring your own stuff, and see things and understand things, maybe in a different way from how the person sitting next to you is experiencing the same thing at the same time.

It feels realistic but transcends that and you enter a different space. “

Yorgos Lanthimos, WTF podcast.

It’s definitely worth listening to the whole thing.

Here’s a notebook page of some drawing I did over some lists whilst I listened to it.

Here is the much viewed video of the wonderful Olivia Coleman accepting the Oscar for her role as Queen Mary.

Jaws (1975) – The Indianapolis Speech Scene

I recently caught Jaws on the TiVo and watched it through a few times. I hadn’t seen it through in decades. I had it on VHS as a teenager and it was one of those films I would turn to again and again. I actually made a comic book out of it, pausing the tape and writing down the dialogue. I did this with a few of my favourite films.

What struck me most I think, upon watching it this time was the lack of polish, something you get used to with Spielberg films of late. I think this was only his third feature(?) and he was still in his mid-twenties at the time. It has the multi-layered chaotic dialogue style he uses in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (a film he was writing as he filmed this one). In both cases this form of naturalistic dialogue style offsets the fantastic subject of the film. In CE3K’s case it was multi coloured UFOs and here it is the notoriously unrealistic shark. The point is though, as outmoded the effects are compared todays super CGI realism, you inevitably get pulled into the story, the film making is so strong.

One example of this storytelling is Quint’s Indianapolis speech which comes midway through the all-at-sea who is hunting who section. It provides a pause, but intensified and deepens the tension. Robert Shaw’s performance is extraordinary and there are many tales of how the speech came about.

Here’s Spielberg talking about how the scene came about:

I owe three people a lot for this speech. You’ve heard all this, but you’ve probably never heard it from me. There’s a lot of apocryphal reporting about who did what on Jaws and I’ve heard it for the last three decades, but the fact is the speech was conceived by Howard Sackler, who was an uncredited writer, didn’t want a credit and didn’t arbitrate for one, but he’s the guy that broke the back of the script before we ever got to Martha’s Vineyard to shoot the movie.

I hired later Carl Gottlieb to come onto the island, who was a friend of mine, to punch up the script, but Howard conceived of the Indianapolis speech. I had never heard of the Indianapolis before Howard, who wrote the script at the Bel Air Hotel and I was with him a couple times a week reading pages and discussing them.

Howard one day said, “Quint needs some motivation to show all of us what made him the way he is and I think it’s this Indianapolis incident.” I said, “Howard, what’s that?” And he explained the whole incident of the Indianapolis and the Atomic Bomb being delivered and on its way back it was sunk by a submarine and sharks surrounded the helpless sailors who had been cast adrift and it was just a horrendous piece of World War II history. Howard didn’t write a long speech, he probably wrote about three-quarters of a page.

But then, when I showed the script to my friend John Milius, John said “Can I take a crack at this speech?” and John wrote a 10 page monologue, that was absolutely brilliant, but out-sized for the Jaws I was making! (laughs) But it was brilliant and then Robert Shaw took the speech and Robert did the cut down. Robert himself was a fine writer, who had written the play The Man in the Glass Booth. Robert took a crack at the speech and he brought it down to five pages. So, that was sort of the evolution just of that speech.

Steven Spielberg

 

see also The Last Speech of Tom Joad.

”The Eyes of Orson Welles” by Mark Cousins (2018)

Just caught up with the Mark Cousins film, “The Eyes of Orson Welles”, a personal and expansive love letter to Welles himself.

The film shows many drawings by Welles, something I had not previously seen, it really builds an understanding of how he saw his ideas and the world around him.

It’s an unusual documentary with hardly any talking head interviews or people in frame at all really, unless they are drawn or filmed by Welles himself. But it touches on the nature of drawing, film making, film making as drawing, cameras as pens, calligraphy, notebooks, writing and creativity in all its forms, something Welles engaged with his whole life.

I don’t think it’s on the iPlayer anymore but there is a website here that has various links to different ways of seeing it.

Cinema Is a Mosaic Made of Time

“There are two basic categories of film directors. One consists of those who seek to imitate the world in which they live, the other of those who seek to create their own world. The second category contains the poets of cinema, Bresson, Dovzenko, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Buñuel and Kurosawa, the cinema’s most important names. The work of these film-makers is difficult to distribute: it reflects their inner aspirations, and this always runs counter to public taste. This does not mean that the film-makers don’t want to be understood by their audience. But rather that they themselves try to pick up on and understand the inner feelings of the audience.”

Andrei Tarkovsky

“He was a magician by profession.”

“When film is not a document, it is a dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside.”

— Ingmar Bergman