While we still don’t know Carney’s side (and maybe never will), this seems to go against everything he has stood for! How he has claimed to bleed and toil and perish in the name of independent American filmmakers and their art, etc.
This. It doesn’t make much sense to me.
The only reason I’ve heard of Rappaport is because of Carney but then what good is exposure if there’s nowhere I can find his movies (Canadian Netflix doesn’t have any of them)?
“By the sounds of it, the man has gone slightly insane.”
This sounds about right to me, and I’m someone who’s only ever defended Carney in the past. A real dick move if Rappaport is to be believed. This is the first time not just that one of the people he champions has come out against him, but that he seems to be doing something flat-out against the advancement of cinema.
I remember reading an interview with Carney about writing Cassavetes on Cassavetes, where he talked about finding through his research that John wasn’t always the hero that had been imagined. I feel a similar disillusionment reading about this.
So Ray Carney appears to be claiming (through his lawyer, no less) that Mark Rappaport gave him his films and writings as a “gift”, which is explicitly refuted by Rappaport himself… but we haven’t heard both sides of the story yet.
I’m interested in what Ray Carney has to say about cinema even if his fundamental approach to art bothers me. I’ve also been reading the MUBI threads about him. One thing which bothers me in relation to this thread is Aflwydd’s comments in the Ray Carney Vs. Gena Rowlands, Round 37 thread from over one year ago (and I must stress here that this is not a criticism of Aflwydd so much as a questioning of the validity of Carney’s claims about “gifts” and what he is able to do with them):
Here’s the situation again as I see it: Cassavetes gave Carney a wealth of writings and other goodies as a gift … as the writings are now Carney’s property as they were given to him, he can do what he likes with them…
Carney was given writings by Cassavetes as a gift. He’s now trying to publish them, but Rowlands and Ruban claim that the writings are their property as the executors of Cassavetes’ estate, which is total BS of course.
But he does. He was given the writings of Cassavetes so he can do what he wants with them, as sad as that may be for people who prefer to ignore any facts that get in the way of Carney bashing.
You don’t need to obtain permission to publish something you own that has been acquired legally. If Cassavetes gave Carney these writings, which he did, Carney has the right to do what he wants with them.
To simplify it: When Cassavetes gave Carney his writings, they stopped being Cassavetes’ property. As they were unpublished writings, there’s no publishing company who can claim ownership of them either. It’s Carney’s property now.
I’m not entirely sure what to think of this before all the facts are in (if they ever will be) because for all I know there may be some hard evidence supporting the claim that Cassavetes “gave” his writings to Carney with explicit instructions on what to do with them. But it seems to me that if we’re only relying upon Carney’s claims as evidence that Cassavetes’ writings were given to him as a “gift” then we cannot assume that Cassavetes necessarily wanted Carney to publish them or to even keep them in his possession, as can be seen by these recent developments with Rappaport’s so called “gifts” to Carney. But unlike Rappaport, unfortunately Cassavetes isn’t around to confirm or deny the validity of Carney’s claims… unless there’s some kind of other evidence which proves them. But even WITH Rappaport’s explicit denial of Carney’s claims of a “gift” it is still a hell of a mess for Rappaport to be in, both financially and artistically. Not to mention that we haven’t even heard Carney’s side of the story yet.
Which also leads me to Aflwydd’s comments here in this thread from one day ago:
By the sounds of it, the man has gone slightly insane.
I’m no Carney expert but maybe these are simply his true colours?
It’s all very bizarre.
I think a key difference between the Cassavetes and Rappaport properties is that Carney publicized the fact that he has the first version of Shadows and wants it to be released. To the best of my knowledge, Gena does not want the first version to be released.
Here the opposite is occurring. Rappaport wants his films back to get them out to the public, and Carney is stopping that from happening. Why, why, why? It goes against everything he’s formerly stood for.
Right, with the first version of Shadows I can see the difference in the two situations because Cassavetes never gave this to Carney, but I was referring to Cassavetes’ writings which he supposedly gave to Carney and whether or not Carney is the legal owner with the right to publish them.
Anyway, it’s clear that Rappaport wants his films to be remastered and published and so it’s certainly disappointing that Carney is stopping this from happening, I’m sure we all agree on that.
In relation to Cassavetes’ writings, if he gave them to Carney and never provided explicit instruction not to publish them (they were still in contact when Cassavetes knew he was dying so would have had plenty of opportunity to) I don’t think Carney is in the wrong to publish them and if they were given to Carney as gifts (again, Cassevetes could have taken them back if he didn’t want Carney to have them), surely they are his property?
The case with Rowlands seems to stem from the fact that the Cassavetes estate want to present a certain image of the man and Carney’s publications are not in line with it. The criterion release gives a strong indication as to how they want him to be perceived, and it’s definitely not in line with the stories contained in Cassavetes on Cassavetes.
Of course, due to the current situation, you do start to wonder if Carney is being truthful. Maybe Cass did tell him not to publish the writings? Again though, a dying man providing artistic material to a film scholar while also endorsing a biography of his life to be written after he’s dead seems to point to a man who would be happy to see his life’s work made public.
When you read about Carney’s battles with university colleagues (US universities are pretty much corporate shills these days so I am totally on his side there) and with Rowlands, you see an increasing trend in him to create a victim complex and paint himself as a lone crusader against injustice. It’s easy to imagine keeping up such a persona causing severe mental strain, and until Carney provides evidence to prove otherwise, I can only assume that he’s lost it a bit.
I’m sure he knows about this forum seeing as the thread about him on here is one of the first things that pops up when you enter his name into google last time I checked, so it would be nice if he could comment on this thread to explain what’s going on. If he’s not willing to give his side of the story here, he can’t expect anyone to reach any other conclusion other than that he’s being an unreasonable dick.
Sad this has happened – some of us are biting our tongues…. not David though !
I sent an email to (supporter of Carney’s and independent filmmaker) Jon Jost asking if he knew about this. His response:
“Yep, and I know carney and have written him 3 times trying to get a response before, tomorrow, I do a posting on cinemaelectronica and organize an international push to get him to act decently.”
cinemaelectronica.wordpress.com is one of Jost’s blogs.
Carney’s headed for the border in his Ford Bronco.
I had heard mixed things about Carney the critic on this board, but from reading the Rappaport open letter, Carney the person sounds like an asshole.
Even if he does rightfully own them, doesn’t he want a chance for people to actually see Rappaport’s movies? I mean, he champions indie directors, but when one of them gets a wider release, he has do this shit? They can’t stay obscure forever, y’know. They have to have wider release if they want to be remembered by more than one critic.
Carney’s gone Walter White on us.
Clear Carney regard posession as far more than 9/10s of the law. Apparently everything that he happens to get his hands on is a “gift.”
Moreover his melomania casts him as some oknd of cinematic savior who knows more than the artists he’s ripping off. Cassavetes is dead, but Gene Rowlands is very much alive — and the first cut of “Shadows” should be returned to her. The notes too.
Mark Rappaport is also alive and he and his lawyers are dealing with Carney — who if he isn’t careful is headed straight for the slammer.
Well, let’s imagine a hypothetical situation: Rappaport suddenly passes away.
Should his films and writings pass legally into Carney’s possession (because they were “given” to him) or into the Rappaport Estate’s possession? I suppose it would depend upon whether or not Rappaport has drafted a will and whether or not the “gift” to Carney is considered legally binding, but otherwise I would think the latter option regardless of the motivations of the two parties.
But then again I’m no lawyer ;)
Here’s a post about it on Jon Jost’s site: https://cinemaelectronica.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/chained-relations/
That’s a pretty damning post by Jost. Even Ebert is tweeting about it.
Hopefully people will still read Carney’s criticism, though. (But mostly his books. His website has good stuff but is… well… too much Carney).
From Jost’s post:
“[…]his reputation as a cantankerous and argumentative soul, who, in my view tends towards hyperbole and exaggeration, though that is a common matter among people who are in some way propagandists and fighting for transparently minority positions – a kind of necessary rhetorical flaw required simply to be heard above the din of capitalism’s worship of fashion and money-making “popular” tastes.”
“So I must conclude, in a way charitably, that Ray has slipped into some mental twilight zone, and does not perceive the damage he is inflicting, and has inflicted on himself. In some way it is explicable to me, given the stresses of his years long combat with BU, and with Rowlands. It must take its toll, and it appears it has, and he’s tipped over into terra incognito. My guess, even though I don’t actually think such things work, is that he’s in need of some dead serious therapy work.”
^That’s a pretty damning post by Jost. Even Ebert is tweeting about it.
Just to clarify, Ebert is tweeting about the controversy, not the Jon Jost post.
This man is lucky Rappaport didn’t file charges of theft against him. He probably couldn’t hold his own in a barfight, yet alone spend serious time in a Massachusetts penitentiary with Charlestown mobsters if convicted. The story has indeed gone viral and hopefully Carney will return Rappaport’s property to him without any further civil or criminal actions being taken against him.
I couldn’t have put it any better than Jost does. I expect more personal friends and acquaintances of Carney to comment on this situation in the near future. Hopefully, some of his students will be able to give us an idea of how he’s been acting recently.
If Mark Rappaport’s version of events is true then as far as I am concerned Ray Carney has not only lost his mind but his standing as a film scholar and professor. It is inexcusable for him to ignore a court order and then ask Mark to pay him $27,000 to return his own materials. How can Carney respect the films and not respect the filmmaker? His absurd and stubborn actions are the equivalent of locking up Rappaport’s films and throwing away the key. Why do it? What is the end result or benefit of such an action?
He loses a friend and prevents others from seeing the work that – apparently – he is honored to have. It’s bizarre.
I think Carney perhaps feels bitter about this whole thing- as in, he did Mark a favor by preserving his materials, and he felt honored and felt like he had achieved something by becoming the “archive” of his work. By Mark contacting him asking him to simply return his work, I’d imagine Carney may feel “used” as he felt being the “Archive” was kind of an official thing. Perhaps he feels under looked and neglected by all of his this, and in that turn is treating the whole thing very business like- hence the ridiculous storage fees he quoted.
I’m not sticking up for Carney really- in everything Carney has wrote, pretty much the only justifiable thing to do is return the materials immediately.
However, I don’t think Carney has gone crazy. I think he probably feels used or misunderstood, even if that’s not the reality of the situation. I remember feeling lost once as a filmmaker and I had emailed him asking him for advice, and he responded twice with some pretty encouraging words. I also remember at the end of each email, he had a signature that literally listed every title he had as well as every single book he wrote and who published it.
I found that a bit strange honestly, but I guess he likes to wear his accomplishments on his sleeve. Perhaps he felt “preserving” Mark’s work has been one of those accomplishments that he believes was overlooked.
If your view is correct then Carney needs to swallow his pride and rise above his petty ego. In my view, Rappaport’s work is far more important than Carney’s feelings that he is being used. As an historian he really ought to see it that way.
Conversely, if Carney was duly preserving the work, making it available and working to have the films made available online or on DVD / Blu-ray then the case would still be notable but at least he would be doing a service to the work, which as an archivist you want to do.
I met and talked with Mark Rappaport years ago at a festival. He is very friendly and down-to-earth guy. That fact too [minor perhaps] makes me wonder how Carney could deny the request.
Hey man, talk to the bowtie.
Yeah, just to be clear I was not defending Carney, just offering a possible explanation for his actions in that he personally might have felt used and slighted (this is based off of his past rants of the same nature).
I’m still 100% with everyone else in that Carney clearly needs to return the materials immediately, no matter what happened between the two of them.
“Cassavetes is dead, but Gene Rowlands is very much alive — and the first cut of “Shadows” should be returned to her. The notes too.”
You’re joking, right? Regardless of what Carney is, in no way, shape or form should Gena Rowlands have possession of that priceless film that she thinks ‘never existed’ anyway. What purpose would that serve? She doesn’t want anyone to see it. It is not like it’s a work print or something. It was a released version that many many people viewed in the freakin’ theater. If the choice of who should be in possession of it is between someone who wants it destroyed or (in the very least) NEVER seen by anyone, or a potentially looney, lying, thieving professor. I say the latter, hands down.
And just to say what needs to be said — we are still only getting one side of this other story. why, yet again, people want to jump to TOTAL conclusions after hearing only one side is beyond me. Yes, it looks pretty bad for Carney. And odds are he’s got nothing to stand on here. But, shame on anyone who jumps to judgement with one side only.
What if Mark said to Ray “Dude, don’t give me back this shit EVER, no matter how much I ask for it. I am a crack addict, Carney, I will want to cut up the negatives and sell the stills to photo archive studio for pennies that I will use for a few grams of CRACK! DON’T DO IT MAN! NO MATTER WHAT!!!”
Then y’all will be backtracking on Professor man.
Are we really absolutely sure that the first version of Shadows would NEVER be screened or published on home media if it was handed over to the Cassavetes estate?
I mean, has Gena Rowlands (or anybody from the Cassavetes Estate for that matter) ever released a formal statement outlining what she would or wouldn’t do with it? As far as I’m aware the only “evidence” we have outlining Gena’s motives is from Ray Carney himself, published on his website and in his interviews.
Whenever I search Google for more information on this I can only find quotes written by Carney himself published on Carney’s website. We also have this letter which was written by Al Ruban of the Cassavetes estate, but it doesn’t state that it should NEVER be seen or that it should be destroyed; it simply states the Cassavetes Estate doesn’t approve of its inclusion on that particular Criterion boxset.
NOTE: I am no expert on this saga and so for all I know there may be harder evidence that Gena wants it destroyed or suppressed; I’m just looking for clarification.
Peter Rinaldi: Then y’all will be backtracking on Professor man.
Haha. Well, given that Fandor has supposedly contracted to show all of Rappaport’s features and many of his short films I would think not, even if Rappaport turns out to be a crackhead.
Flani: Al Ruban has said publicly that there is no first version. Given that he must know this is untrue, I doubt his intentions are good.
The estate doesn’t want are earlier version of Faces to supersede the version that it, along with most of the rest of the world, recognizes as the definitive version. The estate believes it is representing Cassavetes’ intentions and best interests. So, whether you believe their position right or wrong, their intentions are at least as good as anyone else’s.
^ that’s a very good point, Matt. Yes, in fact, i think their intentions couldn’t be better — they are trying to protect and preserve JC’s reputation and legacy. Which I think is why the situation is very unfortunate.