February 28, 2012

I myself no longer know whether I am a living person or a diagram. I've forgotten how to talk with people, how to speak in public, forgotten how to write ever since I noticed that words do not express my thoughts at all. I speak, listen to, and check myself. The words do not convey the thoughts. I should stop writing right now because I'm not writing what I'm thinking at all.
I'll stop.

My thoughts are most easily conveyed in film, through montage; but I am asked not for a film of thoughts but for a film of incident, event, adventure, and so on.

I could think on celluloid, if such an opportunity should again present itself...

- Dziga Vertov, May 19, 1934.

February 24, 2012

February 18, 2012

of early cinema

The scent of eucalyptus, oranges, and sagebrush filled their nostrils
that at least I know.

February 14, 2012

February 7, 2012

February 3, 2012


On Tuesday January 31st, 2012 the restoration of Nicholas Ray's WE CAN'T HOME AGAIN (1972-2011) premiered to a small audience at UCLA as part of the "Melnitz Movies" program at the James Bridges Theater.

After the screening there was a panel and audience questions. The panelists were:

Bill Krohn (Film Critic),
Charles Bornstein (Editor and Crew Member),
Janet Bergstrom (Professor of Film History, UCLA),
Christa Fuller (Actress, Activist, wife of Samuel Fuller),
Richie Bock (Actor, Crew Member, Filmmaker)

Under discussion: the panelists' experience of WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN and the era in which it was made (late 60s, early 70s); the multiple versions of the film; the restoration work; Nick Ray's "rolling thunder" at Harpur College (Binghamton University, NY); Ray's orchestration of the film's multiple-image form, etc....

Janet Bergstrom begins having seen the film in a different version in the 70's at UC Berkeley with a question on the film's work-in-progress state at that time...

Throughout the video "Cannes" is referred to; this specifically means the Cannes Film Festival in the year 1973 where WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN was first screened in its most complete version (the restoration was based upon this version). The completeness of this version, indeed of any version, is indirectly debated by the panel.

Also throughout, the panelists refer to "the documentary"; this is Susan Ray's excellent documentary DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH (2011), also shown that night. It includes much context and footage of Ray and his students at work on WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, present-day interviews with cast and crew, and astonishing audio recordings of Ray's talks on acting, filmmaking and life.

Christa Fuller is deeply moved by WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN and finds it full of the same insecurity, rebellion, lost friends and terrible times that she experienced in the United States in the 70's. She tells a story of her own similar to the traumatic tomato scene (much referred to that night) in Ray's film. She does not find the film "failed", nor does Bill Krohn, and compares it to Godard's FILM SOCIALISME.

Krohn speaks of the film's influence on Godard, and the film's place in Ray's oeuvre, of Ray as a character, as a fiction in the film, and WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN's ending as a re-writing of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE...

An audience member speaks on the film's humor and the technical miracle of Ray and crew's successful filming of multiple projections on film, the camera and each projector having its own shutter thus 50/50 chance of black, the high chance for disaster, the harmonious result...

Editor Charles Bornstein explains his transition from shooting with Nick to the editing room as one of physical reactions which began his career as an editor (he later edited Carpenter's THE FOG)...

Richie Bock recalls Ray's arrival at Harpur College as a kind of storming, with Ray interrupting the study of "avant-garde movies, individual people making beautiful films of leaves falling from the trees and here comes this guy with all this footage from 60's, with confrontation, and 'where-are-we-now?', and all this emotion...He stirred up a lot."

Bornstein and Bock detail what Ray showed them (THEY LIVE BY NIGHT) and didn't show them (his other films), the footage of the '68 Chicago riots, dressing up as cops, the feeling that "adults are the betrayers of the youth", the copious amount of unused narration Ray recorded for the film, some of which was newly used in the restoration...

Finally, Bock shares with us Ray's assigned reading selections for students, and his fondness for a certain Charles Laughton film....


Thanks to Samuel B. Prime for screening the film and organizing the event, to Richie Bock and Charles Bornstein (and of course Susan Ray) for their dedication to Nick Ray and the film in those years, and to Bill and Christa for sticking up for the film today.

February 2, 2012