May 19, 2017

TONIGHT
May 19, 2017, at 8pm



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"KINO SLANG"
A new monthly cinema series
programmed by Andy Rector

at the 

Echo Park Film Center
1200 North Alvarado St. 
Los Angeles, CA 90026


The inaugural program, a raucous double bill 
of two comedies about moviemaking, love, and work:



A GIRL'S FOLLY 
(1917, Maurice Tourneur)

with

GRANDEUR AND DECADENCE 
OF A SMALL-TIME FILM COMPANY 
(1986, Jean-Luc Godard)




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Program total running time: 3 hours
In lieu of an introduction, a short film or poem will precede the double feature.
Doors open at 8pm. $5 Suggested Donation. Program Notes will be provided at the door.

Special Thanks to Bruce Calvert, Chloe Reyes, Francisco Algarín, and Michael Witt.

"Kino Slang" is a new regular series of cinema screenings at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. This iteration of "Kino Slang" will continue the cinematographic investigations, historical excavations, proceedings by montage and association, silent alarms and naked dawns of this eleven-year-old blog. 

Notes on the program and series, documents and translations, ephemera and images, will appear on this blog both before (see below) and after this evening's program. 

Future "Kino Slang" programs at E.P.F.C.: Time in the Sun (1940, Marie Seton/Sergei Eisenstein), Mack Sennett and His Disciples, D.W. Griffith shorts, The Final Insult (1997, Charles Burnett), rare Jean Renoir.




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*

A GIRL'S FOLLY a.k.a. A MOVIE ROMANCE
U.S.A. 1917. 57 minutes. Direction: Maurice Tourneur. 35mm (screened on 16mm print courtesy of Bruce Calvert). Cinematography: John van den Broek. Script: Frances Marion and Maurice Tourneur. Assistant Director: Clarence Brown. Design: Ben Carré. Production: Paragon/World Films. With Doris Kenyon (Mary Baker), Robert Warwick (Kenneth Driscoll), Chester Barnett (Johnny Applebloom), Jane Adair (Mrs. Baker), June Elvidege (Carleton), Johnny Hines (Hank), Leatrice Joy, Emile Chautard, and Maurice Tourneur.


A Story of a Farm and Moving Picture Studio―.......Mary Baker, a pretty country girl, longs to get away from her humdrum existence. A moving picture company takes pictures near her home, and a chance meeting with the leading man gives her the desired opportunity. She goes back to the city with him. Everyone is taken with her beauty, but she fails to register in her trial picture and, rather than return home, consents to let the leading man take care of her...... Did Mary ever regret this decision?  Did she ever go back home? See "A Girl's Folly" at this theater and learn the outcome of Mary's adventure. This plot, which does not reflect any too much credit upon the moving picture actor, is assisted materially by its comedy situations and by the care given the production. The cast is of unusual strength.

―Edward Weitzel, Moving Picture World, 1917

The story is worked out very cleverly, and it is full to overflowing with comedy. The public should be greatly interested in seeing how moving pictures are made― It is all here.
―Variety, 1917

The characters are all pleasingly grey, all possessed of weaknesses as well as likeable qualities, and there's a satisfying humanity to their motivations and actions...... (Tourneur was) the most sophisticated director working in films in this country in 1914 (though D.W. Griffith was certainly the most dynamic), and his films exhibited not only craftsmanship and skill, but a great deal of taste and charm as well...... their pictorial values were often superb...... (Here Tourneur is) still unobtrusively meticulous about all his light sources...... It is a film about filmmaking in New Jersey, and Fort Lee in particular, at a time when it was only just losing out to Hollywood as the American film producing centre. The virtually documentarian coverage of film productioneverything from studio and location shooting to lab processingis both fascinating and valuable historically and it is indeed sad that no Hollywood film performed the same function. Too, it is rather odd to find a film already debunking the "myth" and "magic" of moviemaking even before those traditions had really been built up. 

― William K. Everson, 1975 & 1979

One man who is seen on the screen in "A Girl's Folly" has been working in motion picture studios for the past ten years and yet this is the first time he ever acted in a play before the camera.  He is one of the very efficient carpenters appearing in several of the studio scenes in this production. 
In "A Girl's Folly" Miss Doris Kenyon takes the part of a young girl who runs away to a movie studio.  The girl is given a part in a picture and she expects it to be a wonderful production but......
"I know how it feels to wait for the first showing of the first picture in which you appear" said Miss Kenyon.  "I know with what tremblings I waited for the first showing of my first picture.  It was a thrill that will come only once in a lifetime to me."
The lunch hour scene in "A Girl's Folly" is so very realistic because the scene was taken at the lunch hour when all the actors at the studio were participating in the noon day meal.  No special poses were made for this picture -- outside of the acting done by the stars.  Consequently the lunch room scene is an actual reproduction of the actual happenings every noon in the studio.
"This picture ought to give hundreds of thousands of film fans a perfectly correct idea of what a movie studio looks like and the way that a picture is taken," said Maurice Tourneur, who directed the production of "A Girl's Folly."

―The World Film Herald, 1917


*


GRANDEUR AND DECADENCE OF A SMALL-TIME FILM COMPANY a.k.a. RISE AND FALL OF A SMALL FILM COMPANY AS REVEALED BY CASTING ACTORS FOR A PUBLIC TELEVISION FILM BASED ON AN OLD NOVEL BY J.H. CHASE

Grandeur et décadence d'un petit commerce de cinéma a.k.a. Chantons en choeur. France. 1986. Direction: Jean-Luc Godard. Video, telefilm, broadcast in the "Série Noire" series on TF1 in May 1986. Script: Jean-Luc Godard, from the novel The Soft Centre by James Hadley Chase. Cinematography: Caroline Chapetier. Sound: François Musy, Pierre-Alain Besse. Editing: Jean-Luc Godard. Producer: Pierre Grimblat. Productoin: Hamster Productions/TF1/Télévision suisse romande/RTL/JLG Films. Music: Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Arvo Pärt, Béla BartókWith Jean-Pierre Léaud (Gaspard Bazin), Marie Valéra (Eurydice), Jean-Pierre Mocky (Jean Almereyda), Caroline Champetier (Herself, as cinematographer), Françoise Desportes, Anne Carrel, and the unemployed of the ANPE (National Agency for Employment).

  
SYNOPSIS

We said of cinema that it was a dream factory...

On the factory side, there is a director: Gaspard BAZIN who is preparing his film and making tests, recruiting for small roles and extras.

On the factory side, there is Jean ALMEREYDA, a producer who's had his moment of glory and now has greater and greater difficulties raising the capital to run his business. 

Between them there is Eurydice, ALMEREYDA's wife, who wants to know if she can become an actress.

While ALMEREYDA searches for the money to complete the financing of his film, and at the the peril of his life--the money promised to him smells fishy--Gaspard tests with Eurydice. 

The cinema is as much the art of looking for a beautiful face to put on film as it is finding the money to buy the celluloid. 

"Grandeur and Decadence" tells a bit of this story. And it's also a painting of the extras, the technicians, and all those who work for the darkened theater, and now for television.

Jean-Luc Godard


​​
What we have here is one of Godard's most vital films of the 1980s, if not his entire career. For it's the film where Godard stuck closest to his avowed subject: the cinema at work, unemployment, the human face. After seeing a cut of Godard's earlier Every Man for Himself a friend was happy but bemoaned to the director "Jean-Luc, when are you going to make a real movie?" ― this is his real movie. Jean-Pierre Léaud I say without hesitation gives his most intense and precise performance in this practically unseen made-for-TV movie. The extent to which the picture  shot on broadcast video  shows its own cinematographer, here the great Caroline Champetier, in the process of working and suddenly as a fictional character, is unprecedented. The centerpiece of the movie and one of its Corinthian achievements comes after Leaud's character, having just endured and condemned the obligatory use of a stale text during screen tests, tells an aspiring actress "I'll give you a test, but first I must test humanity" There follows a 12-minute sequence of a large group of extras stepping in front of the camera one-by-one, as in a chain, and reciting, each with just a couple words, and completely out of order, one long sentence from William Faulkner. Each utterance and all humanity is "a wave"  the actress, and we, are asked to "recreate the ocean". The question remains: can we?     (Andy Rector)



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*


BITTERNESS,
PERSEVERANCE, 
AND YOU


Excerpts from "Meeting the Public Demands" 
by Maurice Tourneur

(...)

Making pictures is a commercial business, the same as making soap and, to be successful, one must make a commodity that will sell. We have the choice between making bad, silly, childish and useless pictures, which make a lot of money, and make everybody rich, or nice stories, which are practically lost. Nobody wants to see them. The State rights buyers wouldn't buy them; if they did, the exhibitors wouldn't show them. 

I remember how delighted I was when I read what the reviewers had to say about my The Blue Bird. Do you know, amongst the hundreds of exhibitors in New York, how many showed it? To my knowledge Mr. Rothapfel and a few fellows uptown.

Those of us who are familiar with the productions of the articulate stage know very well that every time we go to see a show we sit before the curtain in a thrill of anticipation, waiting for the magic moment to come, feeling certain that we shall get an excitement of some sort or other. The orchestra plays, the footlights go on and the curtains part.

But what do we see if it is the screen? A sneering, hip-wriggling, cigaret-smoking vampire. She exercises a wonderful fascination upon every man that is brought anywhere near her, and so far as I have been able to judge, the only reason for this strong fascination is the combination of the three attributes I have already mentioned. They are good enough to apparently kill any man at fifty yards.

If it is not a vampire, it's a cute, curly-headed, sun-bonneted, smiling and pouting ingenue. She also is full of wonderful fascination. She runs thru beautiful gardens, (always with the same nice back-lighting effects), or the poor little thing is working under dreadful factory conditions that have not been known for at least forty years. Torn between the sheer idiocy of the hero and the inexplicable hate of the heavy, is it any wonder that her sole communion is with the dear dumb animals, pigs, cows, ducks, goats--anything so long as it can't talk. 

If it is not either a vampire or an ingenue, it is a band of cowboys, generous-hearted, impulsive souls. They never do a stroke of work; they couldn't--they have not got time. They must be hanging around the saloon, ready to spring into the saddle and rescue the heroine, whether she is a telegraph operator or a lumberman's daughter, or a school-teacher up in the mountains. I saw all that many times, but I have yet to see a cowboy looking after a cow. 

(...)

I would rather starve and make good pictures, if I knew they were going to be shown, but to starve and make pictures which are thrown in the ash-can is above anybody's strength. As long as the public taste will oblige us to make what is very justly called machine-made stories, we can only bow and give them what they want. 

(date unknown)





...and Godard, several years 
before GRANDEUR AND DECADENCE OF A SMALL-TIME FILM COMPANY:


May 1, 2017








venez m'aider

m'aider

mayday

may day

May Day














































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The Witches (Chimera?) / danièle to J.-M. S. / out of friendship for the Cahiers
EYES DO NOT WANT TO
                                                CLOSE AT ALL TIMES
"Don't be stupid, go see Othon"
                                                                                    FROM THE DEPTHS OF A SHIPWRECK












Othon, by Jean-Marie Straub

by Marguerite Duras


Let's take the risk of plunging into film without asking permission. Let's invent our own standards and trust only in spontaneous criticism, which does exist. There are quite a few of us who believe in nothing else. Quite a few of us see the names Carl Theodor Dreyer or Jean-Marie Straub on a poster or a flyer and go to see their films. They are filmmakers whose films the professional critics forbid us to see. That alone is reason enough to go and see them. 

In 1964 one of the great film masterpieces, Dreyer's Gertrud, was killed and buried by the critics (it played in Paris for one week). Who was responsible? You, who believed the critics. Too late. 

Attention! Othon,* the fifth and latest film of Jean-Marie Straub**, opened on 13 January in Paris. You have two weeks to see it. When that time is up, if the box office receipts aren't high enough, Othon will close. Attention! It is difficult to believe that professional critics are capable of judging Othon. Very likely they can neither see nor hear nor perceive in any way the nature of Straub's project and work. This is a kind of film they will not recognize. A text of pure intelligence that they will not recognize. The choice is theirs, and from their judgment there is no appeal. But they shun the freedom they've been given. Don't be stupid, go see Othon.

I am speaking to you, people I don't know. I do not know how you will respond to Straub's film. My only reason for speaking to you about Othon is to do what I can to make sure it won't suffer the same fate as Gertrud

What I, Marguerite Duras, see is this: Othon has been exhumed from the tomb in which it has lain since 1708; Straub has traveled back in time to restore it to its nascent state. Miraculously I see the man from Rouen [Pierre Corneille] in a rage against the authorities as he writes his play. I understand why it was no accident that, between 1682 and 1708, the Comédie Française performed the play only thirty times; I understand that it is a play about power and its internal contradictions. I did not know this. I used to think that Corneille, Shakespeare, and Racine (excepting Planchon's [version of Racine's] Bérénice) slept covered with dust, drowned out by the sempiternal maunder of "culture", so that their voices could no longer be heard, their dramas no longer seen. When I saw Othon, the violence of the play was such that I forgot Corneille and Straub. That's the first time such a thing has happened to me. 

To call a work obscure is just as disastrous as to call it a masterpiece of clarity: the text becomes burdened with a prejudice that prevents the reader from relating to it directly. The work is imprisoned. Straub has opened the doors of both prisons. Othon appears liberated from all visions prior to your own. Corneille's spectators are not accustomed to such freedom. Some will mistake it for a difficulty of Straub's work. Here the text is not recited to please the spectator. It is spoken neither well nor badly: it is the inner voice that speaks. Here the versification does not serve to puff up or intoxicate the actors; they do not use the words as mouthwash. 

The text is a dialectical development, a respiratory rhythm, a white space. This suggests that theatre is everywhere where there is speech. And that beneath the surface of the political texts that seem least poetic — Saint-Just or Marx, for example — there lies the beat of the Cornelian contrabass. All accents are allowed except that of the Comédie Française, that accent of camouflaged meaning, of authority. The framing here is done by words. The ceremonial inherited from tragedy, the emphatic gestures, have all been eliminated: here there is nothing useless, everything is to the point. The universality of the meaning is recaptured. Straub has traveled through time to rediscover Corneille. He has broken the link between tragedy and its literal historical meaning, established once and for all by rationalist culture. 

In other words, he has restored tragedy's subversive dimension. His work is an extraordinary work of healing, of resurrection. For three centuries Othon has been the victim of a crime. Here is Othon restored to youth. Subversion there is, outside as well as inside. Now that the film is finished, one can see this. On the Palatine hill in Rome in the year 69. This high ground plays a part in space and time. The scenic space is circumscribed by the automobile traffic of contemporary Rome: an imperturbable flow that gradually comes to seem a pure movement, like a river or lava flow. We hear this heavy traffic. Is there any place where one could read the text and not hear it? It would be a mistake not to hear the traffic in parallel with the text. Timeless, sacred space no longer exists. Corneille must be read now or not at all. 

The power denounced here exists, just like the automobiles. As Lacus says, as men of government always say: "Let's make ourselves secure and laugh at the rest. There's no public good if things go against us. Let's live only for ourselves and think only of ourselves." 

Beneath the leaden mantle of power, one free man has read Corneille: Straub. 


* The full title of the film, which is directly inspired by Pierre Corneille's play, is Les yeux ne veulent pas en tout temps se fermer ou Peut-être qu'un jour Rome se permettra de choisir à son tour (Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times, or Perhaps One Day Rome Will Permit Herself to Choose in Her Turn).

** Jean-Marie Straub is French. His films (including Chronique d'Anna Magdalena Bach, released in Paris), are German. Because Straub refused to fight in Algeria, he was forced into exile. The army still dogs his footsteps. He is thirty-eight years old. Such is the situation of the man whom many of us regard as today's leading filmmaker. 




Originally published in Politique-Hébdo on January 14, 1971
Translation: Art Goldhammer 

















*


"What also interests us in the films we make is to leave the various layers, not eliminating anything. This is the contrary of a whole Western artistic tradition, bourgeois of course, which consists in destroying, in effacing the traces and destroying these layers. There are other traditions. Western civilization is only a little drop in the whole. For example the Bible, of which Brecht said when asked what had marked him most: 'Don't laugh, it was the Bible' and he of course meant the Lutheran tradition. It's a question of epochs--instead of taking away one adds; the things written five hundred years earlier are not removed, they're left. In a film what interests us is the stratification, like in geology."































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