1966 Filmmakers rally in support of Henri Langlois
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The Cinematheque francaise celebrates the centenary of a co-founder, Henri Langlois 1914 ✠ 1977

Portrait d’Henri Langlois, DR © Collection La Cinémathèque française. Auteur inconnu

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Throughout April 2014, the Cinémathèque française celebrates the centenary of its co-founder, Henri Langlois 1914 ✠ 1977, with several special programs. Langlois was a “larger than life” character. What he accomplished in France in fostering cinema culture — an insistence that the cinema is an art the equal of any other — changed moviegoing around the world, for the better, and for all time. A giant of the cinema, who never made a movie; one of its greatest champions. Read a nice article in “Les echos” by Marc-Antoine Hartemann:

  • Langlois bonus: For his centenary, a special program pays homage to Henri Langlois, the father of the Cinémathèque française — article translated into English by Google; or
  • Sus à Langlois : Pour son centenaire, une programmation spéciale rend hommage à Henri Langlois, figure tutélaire de la Cinémathèque Française — in the original French.
  • Henri Langlois Centenary at the Cinémathèque. In English — translated by Google
  • The Langlois Affair, by Louis Menand, published in the New Yorker, casts a spotlight on the man, and on the nature — and magnitude — of his accomplishment.

The Langlois Affair began on February 9, 1968 when Henri Langlois, the director of the Cinémathèque Française, which he had established, in the mid-thirties, with his friend Georges Franju, and dedicated to preserving and exhibiting movies from all periods and countries, was relieved of his position and replaced by a man named Pierre Barbin. Barbin was an obscure and relatively inexperienced film-festival organizer, and Langlois was a culture hero, a status recognized even by his adversaries. One of the men who engineered his dismissal, Pierre Moinot, called him “a ragpicker of genius.” Langlois was also, as it turned out, a fox, and his confrontation with French officialdom is one of the great stories of a year whose meaning, like the meaning of 1789 and the meaning of 1848 and, someday, probably, the meaning of 2001, is a forever deepening mystery, even for — especially for — the people who lived through it. READ MORE

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G.W. "Billy" Bitzer and D.W. Griffith
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The Society of Camera Operators: “We see it first!”

The Society of Camera Operators is an honorary organization of several hundred woman and men around the world. It recognizes and nurtures excellence in camera operation and related crafts. It sponsors an annual Lifetime Achievement Awards banquet honoring outstanding camera persons, along with Technical Achievement Awards which are presented to companies. Membership is open to camera operators of any nationality; associate membership, to directors of photography, camera assistants, and still photographers. It was founded in 1979 in Los Angeles as the Society of Operating Cameramen. Its motto: “We see it first!”

 Follow @soc1979 — the Society of Camera Operators status updates on Twitter

 The Society of Camera Operators Facebook page

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Picture of typewriter in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S
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CLOSEUP: Paul Varjak’s typewriter. From George Axelrod’s screenplay for BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

Picture of typewriter in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S

From George Axelrod’s screenplay for BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, adapted from a story by Truman Capote.

 Closeup of Paul Varjak’s typewriter. Frame from the film, photographed by Franz Planer for Blake Edward’s 1961 feature.

 Watch the scene, in which Paul Varjak’s (George Peppard) writing is interrupted by the singing of his neighbor, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn).

 Read all about the making of the film in Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Aud­rey Hep­burn, Break­fast at Tif­fany’s, and The Dawn of the Mod­ern Wo­man, by Sam Was­son. It is the first-ever, com­plete ac­count of the mak­ing of the film. With a cast of char­ac­ters including Tru­man Ca­pote, Edith Head, di­rec­tor Blake Ed­wards, and, of course, Hep­burn her­self, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. im­merses us in the Amer­ica of the late ’fif­ties, be­fore Wood­stock and birth con­trol, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Hol­ly Go­lightly raised eye­brows across the na­tion, chang­ing fash­ion, film, and sex, for good. With de­licious prose and con­sider­able wit, Wasson de­livers us from the pent­houses of the Up­per East Side to the pools of Bever­ly Hills, pre­sent­ing BREAK­FAST AT TIF­FANY’S as we have never seen it before — through the eyes of those who creat­ed it.
Recommended: The author’s for­mid­able know­ledge of the film­makers, and thor­ough re­search give the read­er the con­text to ap­preci­ate the de­tails of the writ­ing and pro­duc­tion of this re­mark­ably in­flu­ential fea­ture film. Sam Wasson’s pre­vious book was A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards.

 Also: BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion, by Sarah Gristwood, foreword by Hubert de Givenchy.

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DR STRANGELOVE
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Advertisements injected directly into skull using bone-conduction audio

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Advertising agency BBDO Germany proposes to inject advertisements for its client, Sky Deutschland, directly into the skulls of train travelers. A passenger who leans against a window would hear a voice inside her head, exhorting her to download the Sky Go App.

Bone-conduction technology, ordinarily used in hearing aids — and lately in Google Glass headsets — would transmit signals through the glass in train windows, to the bones of the inner ear, producing the sensation of sounds coming from within the head. The signals are otherwise inaudible.

“Welcome to the advertising world of MINORITY REPORT”

“This is how future advertising will look,” the agency threatens, continuing, with minatory candor, “Welcome to the advertising world of MINORITY REPORT.” The 2002 movie shows a dystopia where government and media have direct channels into the minds of their subjects, and where there will be no way to escape the media’s omnipresence. Its director, Steven Spielberg, observed, “The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy.”

Guided by voices

A description (subscription required) of the project for the 2013 Cannes Lions festival boasts, “Here we don’t rely on any given media channel. We create our own.” The document does not talk about asking commuters for permission. Nor does it address the question of whether a method which mimics auditory hallucination — a symptom of mental illness — would create a favorable impression of the client’s brand.

Although BBDO claims “highly encouraging reactions from commuters,” reactions on YouTube are less favorable. “The last thing you would want if you’re trying to rest or relax with your head against the window! Relaxing music maybe but more advertising — No thanks!” remarks ecodigitography. CSILin is more direct: “Fuck you — If these are installed on the trains in my hometown Aachen (which is shown [in this video]), I’m gonna destroy every transmitter and I don’t care if they sue me. It’s unsolicited advertisement I don’t need. Period.

The technology

Conduction of audio through the skeleton has been around since the mid-twentieth century. A German firm, Audiva, which specializes in bone-conduction audio for persons whose hearing is impaired, has produced transmitters which can be attached to windows.

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The film of tomorrow
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The film of tomorrow will be an act of love

The film of tomorrow appears to me then, to be more personal than a novel; it will be individual and autobiographical, like a confession, or an intimate diary. Young filmmakers will express themselves in the first person and tell us what’s happened to them — it could be the story of their first love, or their latest; their political awakening; a travelogue; an illness; their military service; their marriage; their last vacation — and it will almost always be enjoyable because it will be true, and new.

A film that costs three hundred million francs must appeal to all social strata in all countries in order to make back its investment. A film that costs sixty million francs can make its money back in France alone, or by reaching smaller audiences in many countries.

The film of tomorrow will not be directed by professionals, but by artists for whom shooting a film is a challenging — and thrilling — adventure. The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who shot it — and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has.

The film of tomorrow will be an act of love François Truffaut “You are all witnesses in this trial: French cinema bursting under bogus legends,” in Arts magazine, May 15, 1957

Reprinted in “Pleasing to the Eye,” Cahiers du Cinéma,1987, pp. 223-224.
[François Truffaut critique]

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Truffaut - le cinéma de demain
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Le film de demain sera un acte d’amour

Le film de demain m’apparaît donc plus personnel encore qu’un roman, individuel et autobiographique comme une confession ou comme un journal intime. Les jeunes cinéastes s’exprimeront à la première personne et nous raconteront ce qui leur est arrivé: cela pourra être l’histoire de leur premier amour ou du plus récent, leur prise de conscience devant la politique, un récit de voyage, une maladie, leur service militaire, leur mariage, leurs dernières vacances, et cela plaira presque forcément parce que ce sera vrai et neuf.

Un film de trois cent millions pour s’amortir doit plaire à toutes les couches sociales dans tous les pays. Un film de soixante millions peut s’amortir simplement sur la France ou en touchant de petits groupes dans beaucoup de pays.

Le film de demain ne sera pas réalisé par des fonctionnaires de la caméra, mais par des artistes pour qui le tournage d’un film constitue une aventure formidable et exaltante. Le film de demain ressemblera à celui qui l’a tourné et le nombre de spectateurs sera proportionnel au nombre d’amis que possède le cinéaste.

Le film de demain sera un acte d’amour

François Truffaut « Vous êtes tous témoins dans ce procès. Le cinéma français crève sous les fausses légendes », Arts, Paris, 15 mai 1957

Reproduit dans « Le plaisir des yeux », Paris, Cahiers du Cinéma,1987, pp. 223-224 [François Truffaut critique]

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Painting - A Philosopher Giving a Lecture at the Orrery, by Joseph Wright of Derby
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Explainers: Would somebody please improve the Wikipedia article on “visual effects”?

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — This publication supplements its stories with explainer links, because so many persons work in the movie business, in so many different specialties, that it is not reasonable to assume that everyone knows everything. For example, directors and cinematographers may know what “a practical” is, but a publicist, or a screenwriter, or someone whose English is not fluent, may not grasp to what, exactly, that term of art may refer. The same obtains for “visual effects.”

Recently, Cinema Minima published an item about the visual effects business. For the benefit of those readers who do not ordinarily read about such things — and for those sixty percent of Cinema Minima readers for whom English is not the mother tongue — an “explainer link” was offered, pointing to a nice, concise article at <showwatcher.com>.

I had first turned to Wikipedia for a concise reference for the explainer link, because Wikipedia is a well-known and convenient place to look for such things. A link to an article on Wikipedia can be made very easily (guessing the subject title, and replacing spaces with underscores usually works). Another benefit of pointing to a Wikipedia article is that it frequently offers versions in several languages, which is valuable for a publication with many readers for whom English is a second language, such as Cinema Minima.

But I couldn’t use its article on visual effects. What I found was, in my opinion, junk: grammatically correct, perhaps; but hardly more useful for the general reader than, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” Here is the first sentence …

Visual effects (commonly shortened to Visual FX or VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot.

… which, while not inaccurate in a narrowly technical sense, is entirely unsatisfactory as an explanation for the general reader. It is at once vague — “various processes” and “imagery” — really? and yet, too specific — “live action shot.” The problem is, the sentence does make a certain amount of sense — if you already know what “visual effects” is; and thereby, it may pass a cursory inspection as adequate; but the general reader deserves something more concrete — more easily apprehended — than this opaque declaration.

A person who may not be already familiar with visual effects in movie making — and its argot — may come away from reading the Wikipedia article, not really any better informed than before. The entire article treats its subject with abstraction. It talks around the subject, without ever saying what it is, and without examples which would clarify the plain meaning, and focus the discussion. Moreover, it does not offer a basic and simple clarification of the difference between special effects and visual effects.

Wikipedia is — sometimes — a useful reference, but such junky, substandard articles make it an unreliable one. That’s a pity, since <wikipedia.org> is handy.

I wish that someone who is not only expert in the art of visual effects, but who can also use words to tell a story well, would login to Wikipedia, and give the article an overhaul. Wikipedia’s readers would benefit from some clarity and precision, and visual effects artists would benefit from a popular representation which would be accurate.


Explain This: “Compiling the best explainer journalism on the web,” is a useful — and entertaining — website by journalist Lilah Raptopoulos.

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