The Great Beauty / La Grande Bellezza
Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino
Cinematography: Luca Bigazzi
Cameras: Arricam LT, Arriflex 435, 535, 535B, Zeiss Ultra Prime, Lightweight and Angenieux Optimo Lenses
Format: 35mm (4-perf, Kodak Vision3 500T 5219)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Jep Gambardella’s birthday party
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2014)
Onscreen, appearance is (nearly) everything. What are your choices when you don’t resemble any of the types that typically grace the screen?
Artwork: Brianna Ashby
An entire issue focused on the films of Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson.
(Go, read, subscribe!)
Bright Wall/Dark Room, April 2014: The Magnificent Andersons
Letter from the Editor (free)
No, Man, It’s Not Evil. It’s An Illusion.
Elizabeth Cantwell on Boogie Nights
A Film in a Minor Key
Andrew Root on Magnolia
Like I’d Never Seen Before
Michael Arbeiter on Punch-Drunk Love
I Just Wanna Feel Everything
Alexandra Tanner on Violence, Love, and Emotion in the Films of Wes and Paul Thomas Anderson
Growing Up with Bottle Rocket
Daniel Reynolds on Bottle Rocket
Les Enfants Terribles
Karina Wolf on The Royal Tenenbaums
I’m Trying to Tell You the Truth About Myself
Bebe Ballroom on Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson is Looney Tunes
Michelle Said on The Grand Budapest Hotel
Is This the (Hyper) Real Life?
a comic by Marieke Pras
It’s good to be a movie character embodied by Catherine Deneuve. The director Arnaud Desplechin attributes to Deneuve the mark of an auteur. In regarding her, the camera takes on the quality of her gaze: her serenity that clashes with impatience, her froideur that conceals a nervous or sentimental nature.
And then, as Desplechin notes, there is the fact of her direct beauty, which knocks a film out of its narrative orbit unless the story manages to engage her singular pulchritude. These days, Deneuve’s characters do not seek goals or attempt to redress old griefs. Rather, as though sprung from a Jungian acausal framework, the unresolved pays her a visit and makes a plot happen. Convention (as in the current release On My Way) finds her in comedies of re-marriage, or love renewed; so while her character is confronted with the shadow elements of her nature, she is rewarded and her story concluded with romantic or filial love. (The notable exception to this trend is in Desplechin’s films, where Deneuve is not comfortingly maternal or melodramatic, but persistently competent, sharp-tongued, even inhospitable.)
Perhaps this tendency reflects the anxiety of filming a great star as she ages; when she is timeless in her Platonic memory (celluloid) but subject to time in her mortal form. A star’s currency derives from her command of the viewer, from the successive attachments audiences have forged with her in other roles. The star’s physical self is a kind of Kabuki mask, a symbol on a symbolic journey rather than an individual consciousness reflecting emotional exploration (that’s the charge of a great actor, emotional verisimilitude).
I’d make the distinction: a great star appeals to the senses; a great actor appeals to the emotions. There is, of course, overlap between these two categories; but perhaps a star is measured by the thrall compelled by her image. I can forgive Anthony Lane’s slavering praise of Scarlett Johansson as an intellect attempting to confront a star, for great stars bypass and subvert human intellect, like any element of the sublime. Johansson’s image, like Deneuve’s, supersedes any individual role she’s in. Neither is particularly emotional labile as a performer. Johannson’s strength, like Deneuve’s, is knowing how to be used; how to let someone play with her image, even as she’s a skillful artist within the composition.
Emmanuelle Devos in Comment je me suis disputé (ma vie sexuelle) (Arnaud Desplechin, 1996)
On the problem of irresolution and unsent letters.