August 16, 2009

"Truly doing movie criticism"

As part of the FILMVERMITTELNDE FILM Project Tag Gallagher has been interviewed about his video criticism, the why and the how of it.

"And the clearer my own ideas are, the fewer words I need. On paper, three paragraphs might make a point. On video, three words are better."

In addition to insights into his current video practice and the atmosphere in which it's done , Tag, who has always worked with the image, gives a wonderful little history of the use of frame-enlargements in printed articles.

At the end of the interview an invaluable filmography of Tag's is included. One wishes that dvd source information were also included, i.e. which commercial dvds include Tag's videos as "extras"; nevertheless, with the proper titles and dates one can usually locate them by searching online. And failing that, Tag is imminently approachable, via his website.

What is the translation of Filmvermittelnde film? Film mediating films? For now, it's clear that this is an extremely well mounted project by Volker Pantenburg, Stefan Pethke, and Michael Baute ( et al.) through the Vienna Filmmuseum (et al.) that thoroughly documents and explores film films, movies about movies. There are dossiers in German on Harun Farocki, Gustav Deutsch, Jean Douchet, Alain Bergala, pedagogical series, movies about movies on DVD (e.g. Janet Bergstrom on Murnau's 4 DEVILS, Jean-Pierre Gorin on PIERROT LE FOU, Bernard Eisenschitz on THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, etc) -- among others.


1 from Tag's DREAMING OF JEANNIE (2003, on Ford's STAGECOACH), -- just as he begins a complex polemical aside (his videos are capable of that in addition to "three words are better") against Nick Browne's dead letter theories about Ford's camera and the spectator. Tag deploys superimpositions, moving repetitions, inventories of society in Ford, and camera position/axis graphs in his case against Browne's "Spectator-In-The-Text" (1975), showing that Ford gifts empathetic distance with the characters rather than (what Browne's text, through a questionable version of "suture" theory, assumes is) a submitting of the viewer to passive identification via a manipulative camera . This is part of a long standing debate about how the way-station scene in STAGECOACH works; Gilberto Perez also threw in his bit in a page-long footnote in The Material Ghost.

1 from Alain Bergala's movie about movies and Marseilles D’ANGELE A TONI (1998, FROM ANGELE TO TONI). "In 1934, two films, important in cinema history, were shot almost simultaneously around Marseilles : Angèle, the first feature film of the renowned young French author Marcel Pagnol; Toni, shot by Jean Renoir in Martigues at Pagnol’s invitation. Toni, which can be considered as the forerunner of the neo-realism movement. Both films were closed: based on the art of dialogue, love for direct sound, small-scale cinema with a taste for liberty during the shooting, and a familiy-like crew...Yet, they drew two diverging lines in the history of cinema: from Angèle to Toni, you step from Pagnol to Renoir, from a traditional vision of the Provence to a more contemporary vision of an area changed by industry, from Pagnol’s dramatic narration to Renoir’s documentary realism."

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