True Television

True Detective, season 1

I have got to see the True Detective with huge delay. I am glad I didn't skip it all together. It is a fantastic piece of television. At times. I was riveted by the main positive characters. On the other hand the bad guys were way too cartoonish and I was bored by the rest. TD2 layered by male death wish of its three characters seemed way too predictable and simplistic in its psychology.

In TD1 A concept of “psychoshpere” as the playground for ritual conducting alchemists (hopefully not being true) on a purely narrative plane deserves a more sophisticated set of tools, props and procedures than those offered. Even if they are scapegoats.

Both series proved that it’s easier to stage breathtaking fights and suspense sequences than to give justice to the - I assume - complex realms of occult and psychology. If our inner and outer mysteries are so vulgar as the show wants us to believe and on the nose, than we are indeed in huge trouble. On the other hand it’s only television and as such it was a hell of entertainment.

The TD1 famous six minutes tracking shot is incredible so is the TD2 shootout. The action still rules.


Explosions in consciousness

A festival triumph of "Fire at sea" 
by Gianfranco Rosi

Indeed an amazing achievement.  Simple yet sophisticated.  Relevant and moving.

Rosi said that his filmmaking is based on giving "less and less", on removing the obvious and (paraphrasing) on not hitting the viewer over the head.  He contrasts this method with that of Michael Moore.  The "less and less" method actually elongates the working of the film.   It allows the story to engrave itself in the viewer's mind.  At least in this viewer's mind:

I experienced several well.... explosions related to that film.

First the strongest and the most surprising  happened half way through the screening.  There is a moment when finally the underlying POV of the director leaped out of the screen and colored everything before and after.   The revelation that the two levels of the narrative are after all actually intermingled was only possible because at first the filmmaker played with viewers saying "the locals and the refugees are not connected".   The effectiveness of this directorial maneuver worked because he assumed (unfortunately quite right) that we entered the cinema with a low level of consciousness, understanding, empathy and care.

Other explosions of rage, sadness and helplessness keep happening every time my consciousness returns to the subject of the film.



Miles Ahead, directed by Don Cheadle

I found this movie totally captivating. It is a bold and successful attempt to enter psyche and creativity outside of a linear, cause and effect, “let’s examine the evolution of talent” approach. Watching it I felt that the makers capitalized on many cinematographic techniques but pushed them further. For example blending of scenery and morphing it to reflect the inner state of a hero has been done before but here it’s done with power, sometimes with fury, which almost allows to forget the trick and be immersed in the inner life of the hero.

The way scenes are shot (or is it the result of some inspired editing?) uncover feelings rather than present action, which is a result of the former. And that’s how the storytelling should happen, shouldn’t it? The film seems fresh also on a structural level. The hook of the story turns our attention into a state of being that does not easily fall into a Joseph Campbell formula. Although there are obligatory car chases and gun swaying and shooting. Still they all feel like rather insignificant nods to the market requirements while the film breaths its own way forward anyway.

The drive and the anguish of the main character is so palpable and the directing so inspired that I don’t even mind the tired and a bit boring script devise of “a reporter enters the life of the hero and we get to know it through his eyes.” Every time I see something like that it screams “we don’t know how to tell the story so let’s bring in a front character who will do it for us”. Please! This clumsiness is however quickly forgiven partly due to the great acting and mostly because of the overall directing and cinematographic riffing.

After the encounter with such a splendid “bio picture” one should be thinking twice before telling the story of a real person just surfing through his or her life events.

If we start telling stories focusing on things that are outside of the aristotelian schtick, would


Cats need respect too.

Nine lives, dir. Barry Sonnenfeld

Amazing.  How could they manage to fail so badly on so many levels? And the premise was delicious and the names involved promised a high end entertainment.  Why did it collapse?  I suspect nobody really cared.  Doesn't anybody there live with a cat?   

Oh well, some consolation can come from reading reviewers having a blast with this flick.  Pretty funny.  "Cat-asthrophic" is my favorite.   


Bronislaw Baczko

Bronisław Baczko 

I was privileaged to meet Bronislaw Baczko while working on a documentary.  Here is a small part of the interview from that encounter.    


Are revolutionaries in reality conservatives?

Young George Lucas

The classic “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood” by Peter Biskind is a fascinating read. It brings close the characters and personalities of the key players of one of the best decades in film making anywhere. Interestingly there is very little about the essence of their contribution to the film making craft, besides emphasizing their understanding and connection with the zeitgaist. Maybe that’s what makes or breaks the film. Still, we learn more about the shortcomings of Coppola, Spielberg, Scorsese and others as humans than about the reasons why their film were so revolutionary.

The phrase “saved Hollywood” seems to have a double, ironic meaning. Many of the characters point out that it is Lucas and Spielberg who changed the film industry into its present, blockbuster, comic book based mode.

In this light the Lucas’ remark "Popcorn pictures have always ruled. Why do people go see them? Why is the public so stupid? That's not my fault.” sounds particularly chilly. I’ve read the book carefully but didn’t register this particular sentence. Maybe it was a denial on my part. Only later I found it on the amazon page for the book.



Warsaw, July 2016.  Polish Academy of Sciences

I enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones at the XI World Congress of ISUD.  Here is a video I produced from that event.  

Once you are there you may check the Warsaw Congress Playlist with additional 34 clips from the event.