Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Attn: Mormons interested in films discussing Mormons: The Tulse Luper Suitcases

Unfortunately this will only be applicable to readers in the US. I posted this on the AML boards, but hope that it will get more traffic here than what's going on there. I'm posting it now rather than later because it is time sensitive:

Peter Greenaway (with other links here, here and here) is a British filmmaker whom I had initially written off as ultra pretentious and vile (he uses full-frontal nudity in long-shot often in his films, though not always. I should mention that it is rarely meant to incite eroticism, but nudity is nudtity). I have since very much changed my opinion about him, though he is still pretentious, and you could argue vile as well.

He is one of the few truly painterly filmmakers living today (meaning he tries more than anything to draw from the history of paining rather than the history of film in his composition and subject matter). His most recent feature, which I saw in a theater this year, Nightwatching, is lesser, but still an interesting study of Rembrant as a painter and icon. Though I'm repulsed by some of his work (less now than at other times), some of his features are truly inspiring and beautiful (for the strong stomached). His adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest starring John Gielgud is incredibly profound. And The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is a favorite of mine and our branch's Relief Society President.

He began as a structuralist filmmaker, the style of which can be seen in most features.

If nothing else his filmmaking should be of interest for his use of composition and music (frequently working with one of the two greatest film composers alive, Micheal Nyman, in my opinion).

I am posting this because a series of his films deals with 'Mormons' in Moab, I believe, who are polygamous (therefore excluding them from membership, of course, but they, I believe, are referred to as 'Mormons') and that series, which will in all likelihood never receive a home video release anywhere in the world, let alone the US, will be screened on the Sundance channel this month.

Part One - The Moab Story
Thursday 7/3/2008 at midnight
Sunday 7/27/2008 at midnight

Part Two - From Vaux to the Sea
Thursday 7/10/2008 at midnight
Sunday 7/27/2008 at 2:15am

Part Three - From Sark to Finish
Thursday 7/17/2008 at midnight
Sunday 7/27/2008 at 4:15am

Again, I haven't seen these films, but I assume they might be of interest to those of you with access to them.

(Also, anyone with access to record them for those of us without access is welcome to contact me).


Adam K. K. Figueira said...

frequently working with one of the two greatest film composers alive, Micheal Nyman, in my opinion

Out of curiosity, Trevor, who do you think is the other one?

whitney said...

I recently saw The Pillowbook and thought it was pretty amazing. Yeah, a little pretentious, but also uses nudity in ways that I think are completely appropriate. I don't know...I've always been far less opposed to nudity than unnecessary violence. But, as you know, I'm pretty open to most everything. Anyway, more Ewan McGregor nudity is what the world needs. Trust me.


Trevor said...

The other one would be Tan Dun, though now that I think about it, I'd still place Nyman above Tan Dun for his versatility and music's independence from the film text.

I'm starting to regret such a hasty statement though. Krzystof Penderecki is pretty amazing... pretty outrageously amazing. Then again, I don't know nearly enough about other national cinema's to make such an outrageous statement.

For instance, though it would fall under a different category, I picked up the MoC edition of Dreyer's Micheal where two scores accompany the film. One by Pierre Oser and the other by Neil Kurz. I know nothing of either accept how moving I found their scores. But it goes to show how unwarranted a comment that was by me.

What I should of said was 'no other film composer comes to my mind that would equal Micheal Nyman's contribution to the medium.'


I've abstained from the Pillowbook as of yet, though the university faculty here consider it the only feature of his that matters (What is going on in this country?!).
And while I disagree with your assertion that the world needs more nudity in film (McGregorian or not), I will say that the imdb link I included gives a worthwhile anecdote on the topic.

I do appreciate your 'nudity' versus 'unnecessary violence' axiom. I wonder about the word 'unnecessary.'

Also, I'm inclined to suggest that there is a kind of violence done to the audience in the inclusion of screen nudity (especially in a Greenaway fashion). I find his claim that it is to bridge the gap between subject and audience—to overcome the screen, so to speak—interesting, but overall hokey and artificial.

whitney said...

When we were discussing The Pillowbook in class the nudity was essential to the nature of Greenaway's films and this film specifically. We were discussing films in terms of aesthetics: what this film can actually do to the body. We found that by making bodies into objects, Greenaway actually achieves beauty, which seems to me to be the usual opposite of objectification. And what is refreshing here is the inclusion of male nudity. Whether or not you agree that nudity should exist in film, you admit that there is far more female nudity than male, and it is used for more nefarious purposes usually (i.e. objectification). Here the male body is transformed through a female's pen into a work of art. Very interesting.

Trevor said...

I was going to write you about this a while back because I saw your post on the topic, but I guess I'll just do it here. Though I would NEVER find it appropriate to use in anything I worked on, the most cathartic or poetic or beautiful inclusion of male nudity that I know of is in Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies at the end of an extremely brutal scene. The things that were said by that could not be said any other way, I don't believe.

Anyway, I recommend you (Whitney) see the movie if you get the chance. Though I remember reading that you wrote you didn't care for Russian Ark, and Tarr is, like Sokorov, a disciple of Tarkovsky, so you may not care for it. But for that scene, it's amazing.

You're right in suggesting that we be more sensitive to how nudity is used, and what gender the nudity is. I've often thought about that (anyone whose seen Campion's films, I think, has to consider that). You're also right that the way Fassbinder uses male nudity is very different from Greenaway's nudity. But just because female nudity is more prevalent than male, doesn't mean the remedy is to increase the male.