12 February 2015

1 thought + 4 movies I loved

I suspect that there is no art other than so-called anti-art, for what we label art is just the thick layer of dust that has formed on anti-art over the ages. Blow off the dust of art and it is all anti-art. I mean that if art is something definable, something that can be arrived at by following rules, then anything from a master that stands the test of time will be against it. And now I let down my guard and reveal what even those who were barely listening have guessed, which is that I have no idea what I’m talking about; because art is only everything or nothing or each and every individual’s opinion. So here’s a photograph of the trinity:


The first of four movies that I recently watched and loved is called Fists in the Pocket. It is the directorial debut from Marco Bellocchio. It was released in 1965. It is an Italian film. I found out about it the same way that I found out about the third film that I’ll name here: by reading the list of movies that “touched” Atom Egoyan (another director whose work I admire). The other films on Egoyan’s list were already well-known and well-loved of me, so I thought that the two unknown titles would be worth checking out. And I was not wrong.

Just to give newcomers like myself a taste of Bellocchio’s personality, here is an excerpt from a 1967 interview:

With the young generation of Italian filmmakers, our problem is that we are not a solid group working on the same ideas and concepts. This is probably due to our egocentric Italian character. I like Bertolucci very much... [but] his subjectivism is related to the French new wave, while I myself feel more related to Buñuel. His provocative, blasphemous way of filming appeals very much to me, though I don’t feel any urge to express myself in surrealistic pictures. The wonderful thing about Buñuel is that he is an old director who even today is able to be young, and who is always faithful to himself and his ideas. Ten or fifteen years ago, important things happened in Hollywood around people like Hawks, Minnelli, and Aldrich, but today American film is dead. The only American director still able to describe the problems clearly is Billy Wilder.

The second movie that I recently watched and loved is a documentary directed by Frederick Wiseman called At Berkeley (2013). It is the first film I’ve seen by Wiseman. It is four hours long, because it takes its time to breathe and think and care about its subject: the University of California at Berkeley. I love this film with all my heart. I care about everything that it revealed. I myself never attended any kind of higher education after graduating from public high school, so my curiosity about colleges is strong. This film was a grand revelation to me.

The third of four movies that I recently loved was directed by Catherine Breillat. It is a French movie released in 2001, titled À ma sœur! I could go on and on in praise of this film. Its 86 minutes flew by like an instant. It’s about family, love, copulation, gender, and authority (among other things); and it’s utterly fascinating.

The final film, which I list last only because I’m naming these titles in the order that I saw them, is called Gone Girl (2014) directed by David Fincher. I didn’t feel much interest in Fincher’s work until 2010, when The Social Network was released: that film transfixed me; I’ve watched it countless times now and loved it more with every viewing. I found Gone Girl excellent also – if I do not seem equally excited, it’s only because The Social Network is a magic miracle that cannot be forced to reoccur. Once I made it past the first half hour of Gone Girl, I felt continually intrigued and rewarded until the very end; and then I even wished that it had continued for the duration of another feature. (I can’t remember if I’ve ever actually craved for a sequel, as I do in this case.)

I’m sorry that I wrote about movies again in this blog entry. I promise that my next entry will avoid the subject entirely.


Here is a reading that I gave from my own book Rumors of Sarah, which I describe as an embellished mistranslation of St. Mark's gospel – I posted the reading elsewhere but forgot to share it here on this blog. (My pen name is Bryan Ray.) The book is available as an individual paperback, and it is also included in the first volume of my Collected Self-Amusements.

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