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Topics/Questions/Exercises Of The Week—23 April 2010

All The Critics Love You In [Name Of European City Here]:

"It is just a little bit weird that if I appear in Europe, anywhere, and  I go often—to teach, to festivals, when and where there are retrospectives of my work (I’ll go almost anywhere I’ve never been before, because I like to travel)—that I find a great deal of interest in my work. On the other hand these pictures are never discussed, never shown, nor are the other filmmakers involved in them...in America. Which led me to develop a kind of 'Fuck America' attitude. They don’t want to have anything to do with me, I won’t have anything to do with them."

—Director Bob Rafelson, in conversation with the author, 4/9/10

"[Henri] Langlois had been struck with admiration for Hawks in 1928—in the silent days, the antiquity of film—when, at the age of 15, he saw Louise Brooks at the Ursulines cinema in A Girl in Every Port. He remembered the film vividly all his life, even if the main attraction was to Brooks and his life-long respect for Howard Hawks could almost seem a by-product, praise for the man who launched Brooks' career. A Girl in Every Port was apparently something of a cult film in Paris when released in 1928. The novelist, poet (and film editor) Blaise Cendrars described it as marking 'the first appearance of contemporary cinema' and the critic Jean Georges Auriol praised it, in La Revue du Cinema, as signalling the transfer of artistic leadership in film from France back to America, thanks to Howard Hawks, 'a veritable magician,' a director whose 'simplifying style' underlay the 'astonishing seductiveness of the images.' Looking back on A Girl in Every Port many years later, Langlois still saw it as the first truly modern film."

—Peter Woolen, "Who The Hell Is Howard Hawks?", Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film, 2002

"It used to be Five Easy Pieces, then Marvin Gardens. Lately in Europe there's been a lot of interest in Mountains of the Moon..."

—Rafelson, ibid

"The enthusiasm of French intellectuals (shared by the general public) for Lewis has given rise, in the United States, to countless lazy and patronizing jokes at his expense and that of France from unthinking, conformist pundits—gibes whose ideological nature has become unmistakable and more obnoxious than ever in a period of U.S. history that has witnessed the rebranding of 'Freedom Fries.'"

—Chris Fujiwara, Jerry Lewis, 2009

"Burt Topper has been discovered by Cahiers du cinéma as one of its little jokes on American film scholarship at the Midi-Minuit level. The joke is wearing thin at a time when American films are consistently reviled by Cahiers all the better to sing the praises of the New Albanian Cinema."

—Andrew Sarris, The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968, 1968

Apatowrama par Jean-Philippe Tessé 9
Pas drôle par Nicholas Elliott 12
Funny People de Judd Apatow par Stéphane Delorme 14
Apatow sexiste ? par Charlotte Garson 16
Du vent, des vannes par Serge Bozon 20

—From the table of contents, Cahiers du cinéma, No. 649, 10/09

Can anyone point me to the english version of those articles (if they exist) in cahiers about Mr. Apatow?
It started with Poe, probably. The whole American artist finding his audience in France has become a semi-glorious cliché, so much so that the pages of Cahiers these days read like acts of mannered desperation – not just the Apatow attachment (who I do think is an interesting director, but not the second coming of Lubitsch), but the Shyamalan fascination which persists in their year end polls. Not that they’re necessarily entirely wrong in their preferences (Shyamalan’s movies always move and look like interesting movies), though I sometimes wonder if the they’re still watching all American movies unsubtitled (they aren’t and they didn’t). The Rafelson example is compelling because it suggests the extent to which auteurism functions as means of honoring tradition, as a sifter in the manner Sarris suggested. The question is why doesn’t it work out that way in America. I mean, I guess something like the AFI or Lincoln Center is meant to fulfill an institutional function for preserving cinematic memory, but unless you’re talking about a director who still has marketable product coming down the pipeline, they might as well have never existed. Maybe it’s the tradition of the new working away at history, or maybe it’s only crass commercialism being just a little bit weird, but, to borrow the Woody Allen joke, thank god for the French. Also, it’s Wollen, not sheep hair.
“In France, I’m an auteur. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the UK, I’m a horror director. In the US, I’m a bum.” -John Carpenter

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