7 Arts – 7 films

for Cinetalk.net

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1-Architecture – The Fountainhead (King Vidor, US, 1949)
A surprising and accessible Hollywood film starring Gary Cooper as a stubborn and uncompromising young architect who refuse to conform. Fountainhead is a nice piece of Hollywood 40’s filmmaking.

2 – Sculpture – BLIND BEAST (Masumura, Japan, 1969)
An overlooked masterpiece of Japanese Art-House cinema, this provocative film focuses on the kidnapping of a woman by a blind sculptor who wants her as a model. Soon after, they enter in a sick game of Art, sex, violence and power shifting. The camera work and Art direction are sublime, making the overall look match the insane storyline. Forget 50 shades of Crap as it is kindergarten stuff in comparison. This is the real stuff. A great film.

3- Visual Arts – THE HORSE’S MOUTH (R. Neame UK, 1958)
Largely neglected when we write about great directors, Ronald Neame gave us some highly enjoyable films in his native England before going to Hollywood and The Horse’s Mouth is a fine example. As for his leading man, long before his portrayal of Jedi Ben Kenobi in a popular trilogy from far far away, Alec Guiness always Added depths to any given material he graced by his acting presence. And he is simply marvelous as a cynical painter so full of himself he is a bother to anyone who comes near him. This well written colorful farce shot with grace is Simply Brilliant.

4 – Music: FITZCARRALDO (W. Herzog, Germany, 1982)
The end justifies the means and that’s never as true as with FITCARRALDO, a film which earned its maker the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. Prior to this achievement it seemed everything went wrong with the making of this cursed project. On top of everything is the love/hate relationship bounding together director Herzog and its star Klaus Kinski who’s insane and violent behavior towards everyone on the set led the natives of the Amazon forest, used as extras, to plan on actually killing Kinski for the sake of the director. A ritual documented in two amazing documentaries related to the making : BURDEN OF DREAMS and MY BEST FIEND. Both should be seen as companion piece to the actual feature.

At the end of 19 century, Music lover Fitzgerald who’s name the local natives can’t pronounce (thus calling him Fitzcarraldo) is giving a shot at the flourishing rubber business only in order to raise enough money to build an Opera House in the Middle of the virgin forest… Fitcarraldo’s crazy dream of grandeur is easily match by the real life insane plans of director Herzog who,facing a mountain blocking the road of the ferryboat they’re all riding in (and also featured in the storyline), decides it is a minor concern. So be it, right in the middle of the Amazonian Forest, the crew had to lift by hand  (no CGI involved), the heavy boat up and down a mountain (it took several weeks) in order to reach a river on the other side. An insane plan that put everyone to a great deal of danger and to the limit of endurance.

The whole Fitzcarraldo adventure is equal parts about passion for music, from its characters and makers, as it is about an urgency for filmmaking and the genuine insanity of the people involved in it.

5 – Poetry litterature– HENRY FOOL (H. Hartley, USA, 1997)
The journey of an Ex-con-man-wanna-be-poet who shares his passion with a-not so-ambitious garbage man who soon surpasses him with success… As always with Hartley, dialogue are fun, sharp, poetic and clever and it is shot with stylish taste.

6- Pantomime-performing Art – MON ONCLE (J. TATI, France, 1958)
Actor, director Tati against technology! It could be any of his films I write about  here as he was one of the true geniuses of the film medium. His sight and sound approach within his study of human nature is incomparable as he leads the way (playing his famous character Monsieur Hulot) in a carefully choreographed piece of comedy. Total art and technical mastery meet as always in this ambitious picture. In Tati’s capable hands the medium of Cinema is treated like a God.

7 – Cinema – Through the Olive Trees (A. Kiarostami – Iran, 1994)
Since its beginning, Cinema likes to turn the light on itself. Though sometimes it is done with great artistic achievement, the exercise seems always quite narcissist. On the other hand, when Kiarostami does so (and often it is) there is this sense of humanity and generosity with his peculiar way to reach for real people while incorporating them into the story. It produces powerful inner story of the common people that lacks in great praised films of the genre. Kiarostami choose to explore death (he’s on the scene of a major tragedy still fresh to memory ) to talk about the value of life. In the same breath , Kiarostami never looses sight of what his medium is all about, the spectator. He offers the kind of deja vu patrons usually need to relate, taking here the shape of an impossible love story between the two (offically) non-actors he selected in the lead. But his approach of this universal theme, making them play their forbidden love in front of the camera, is as fresh as it can be. The result is a beautifully shot rarity among the numerous films on film with an amazing point of view on life and people living in it. A masterpiece of human kindness with a simple but profound philosophy.

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