6/21/2018

Encounters in Berlin



 from the upcoming "The Body Philosopher" - 
a documentary about Richard Shusterman.

meanwhile, something that was meant purely as a preparatory step for the documentary above keeps making rounds:

https://www.cineplex.de/event/16684/berlin-neukoelln/

the real documentary is coming:-) 

5/23/2018

ABOUT SIEMEK/WOKÓŁ SIEMKA


Grzegorz Miecugow 
remembers Marek Siemek

While researching/producing a documentary about professor Marek Siemek (The View from a Cathedral - the VOD links are in the previous post) I recorded about 30 interviews with his Polish, German, Swiss and Italian friends.

Because I chose a subjective, "creative" style and focused mostly on one relationship (with Siemek's Teacher - Bronisław Baczko) not all interviews were included, and those which were appear in short fragments.

This unused (or used sparingly) material is so valuable that I want to make it accessible to all interested in professor Siemek.  Hence the "Wokół Siemka/About Siemek" Internet project.

The interviews will be successively uploaded on You Tube.  For now Polish, German and Italian will be presented without subtitles.

Here is the link to this work in progress:
You Tube Playlist

5/22/2018

The View from a Cathedral - on VOD

The documentary is now available as VOD on Vimeo:

THE VIEW FROM A CATHEDRAL

and its version with only Polish subtitles:


WIDOK Z KATEDRY
VOD Polish version

4/10/2018

More Ove

A quote from the film:

"If the saying that your fate is the measure of your stupidity is true...... "

3/27/2018

Are we a suffering film crew?

“Disaster Artist“

In this film things get intriguing after the end.  Shouldn’t that be the beginning of the story?

The Disaster Artist would be interesting if it was at least one step removed from 1:1 re-creation of what happened during the production of “The Room”.  The question is not why Wiseau pulled it off?  Or where is he from?  Or how low can one go humoring an idiot.   The question is why on earth James Franco would dive into this project.  Or rather why would a pretty good (excellent perhaps) actor feel compelled to tell the story of a super ridiculous vanity project.  What was the push for such recreation?   As is, watching a series of grotesque moves by the hero gets quickly boring and irritating.   Too bad the space between truly bad and wanting to recreate it was not addressed. 

On the other hand perhaps such a straightforward maneuver chimes with our psyche.

Perhaps people hype this film because in its earnest re-creation of moronic and untalented it hooks into the zeitgeist of our time.   Aren't we paid by people who have no clue?   Haven’t we found ourselves suddenly in the hands of incompetence, ignorance and delusions of grandeur?

3/26/2018

Life as a train ride

 
A man called Ove

I am trying to design a story that somehow chimes with this tale of a man “negotiating” his past.  Maybe because of my current efforts I really appreciate the storytelling brilliance in the film. 

It is amazing how this sentimental and melodramatic story with wonderful actors and strong staging successfully navigates pitfalls of the genre.  There are many elements to the film’s effectiveness.  For example:

As I was watching I was torn in my reaction to the film.  At first the flashbacks felt too easy a maneuver to explain the hero’s predicament.  Yet, my reservation evaporated with the appearance of Sonja.  The way it was done and the wonderful quality of the actress in a flash validated Ove’s inner state.

From that point forward (and backward) all made emotional sense.  And a train compartment metaphor is just brilliant.

3/21/2018

Mind tease?


 mother! by Aronofsky

Maybe it’s because I am studying Michael Haneke at the moment, or maybe it’s just the gut reaction coming from deep within: I just saw and hated mother! by Aronofsky. 

It’s painful to acknowledge since I am a huge fan of “Requiem for a dream” and “Pi”.  (In my workshops I frequently analyse Requiem as an example of superb filmmaking and often point to Aronofsky as an almost genius of cinema.)  Yet his latest I found so pretentious, so boring and so irritating that it matches only my reaction to the Hostel series.  

While Hostels were in my opinion correctly labeled “torture porn”, the biblical/philosophical efforts  of Aronofsky (already Noah was borderline unwatchable) I would call “mythological porn”, or maybe a more apt term would be “pseudo-depth teaser” or “pseudo - profundity porn”, or just "mind tease".  I am actually searching for a term that would hook sexual “teaser” - as in cock-teaser- to the same mechanism of arousal without fulfillment in the realm of intellect.  So far no apt term comes to mind.

On the other hand porn detonates the focused, stripped down gratification of desire, the delivery that vulgarities and cheapens that which is being delivered.  In case of mother! it’s not that we are given stripped down nitty-gritty of the mythological and religious.  That wouldn’t be bad, whatsoever.  Instead, we are faced with many unclear, tired suggestions and references to the act of creation, creativity, love and biblical mythology.  The problem with all that lumped together is that the film being so specific by its nature can’t handle too many abstract statements dressed in concrete images and sounds.  And they are always specific, hence the dificulties with philosophizing on the screen.

One abstract statement stretched into a full movie could probably work in the hands of a very gifted technician and the technique for each shot and each scene in mother! is impassive, the actress is phenomenal and all that.  But when the metaphors start overlapping and film history references start pushing against each other all I can perceive is the barrage of bad taste, lack of originality, confusion of the story teller and intellectual gibberish.

If the film is supposed to be also about an artist, price of talent, fame and abuse of those around him it does not advance beyond cliche and grotesque.  A satire?  Maybe, but then why so absurd, primitive and surface based?  Isn't Aronofsky taking himself too seriously?  Doesn't he need a strong producer to slap him around?

Haneke says that “reduction is the most important tool of an artist.”  He quotes Brecht that “it’s simplicity that is most difficult” and then comments “it’s much more difficult to be simple than to be complicated.”

With all due respect to Blake, profound on the screen does not come from excess. 

3/19/2018

best of 2017

The Florida Project

Some time has passed since I made the list so without re-watching the films I am relying on my memories and these elements that struck me the mostCould be (is) quite subjective: 

"The Florida Project" amazes me because its aesthetics communicate social matters in an unusually powerful way.  The oppressiveness of kitsch evokes economic entrapment.   Never before the ugly was so painful.  Perhaps because the ugly was conceived as pretty and inviting by its makers and it screams on screen both with intent, it's hypocrisy and failure - all in one.

"Twin Peaks" refreshes the narrative in a strong and nonchalant way.  Not all has to be nicely tie up and connected and logical.  Well, that's an understatement in this case.  I like the fact that action and mood and mystery are equally important there.  And it's wonderful to experience total freedom of the storyteller who at the same time fully commands our attention. 

"I am not your Negro" - for its power and clarity.  Also it's impressive that the director Raoul Peck manages to be a fabulous documentary filmmaker, a pretty good feature film director and in addition a mister of culture.  Wow!

"Birds are singing in Kigali" - a very disturbing and innovative work.  I am shocked that it didn't get more recognition.  The stylistic restrain and "space off camera" techniques are right on in telling this horrifying story. 

"The Square" - I love the way the space and the rhythm there strengthen moral ambiguities and hypocrisies discussed.  Already the "Force Majeure" made me sit straighter because of its elegance (and cruelty) of form.  "The Square" seems to take it one step forward.  Watching it (twice on a big screen) I had a feeling of the pulsating, ironic, dramatic energy projected.

1/11/2018

Karma 2.O

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

In the next several posts I will share my 2017 discoveries.  These are the films that moved me and or inspired in one way or another.   Here they come.  In no particular order.  

Naming the new Lanthismos' film one of “best of” somehow does not sit well with me. The film is so disturbing and challenging that I am inclined to say “I hate it”. Can I hate it and name it among the best of 2017? I hate it and at the same time I tremendously appreciate it for its audacity, technical dexterity and the questions it posses.  

The questions:
How, if at all, do we take responsibilities for our actions?
Can we afford to be oblivious to our actions?
How mindful are we in our lives and work?
Do our actions return to us?  Do they have to?  
If so, how?
How do we pay for our mistakes?
Where is the border between the private and the social?
Can we will justice on others?
Do children posses moral radars that we have lost?

The story is quite troubling. It's troublesome irk comes from a combination of two techniques: the first is a preposterous assumption thrown into a reality and then treated with utter seriousness. The same happens a lot in Kieslowski's films – for example in Double Life of Veronique.  

The second comes with externalizing and visualizing (and making audible) that which is about to happen. The result of which is the unnerving feeling that the boy on the screen is an exemplification of something bigger. Or that his fury is foreshadowed and somehow made subconsciously known to the main character.  (The first possibility narrows down to certainty if we follow the myth of Iphigenia.  But I assume that not everybody pays attention to the clue and that furthermore not everybody remembers the myth.)

There are many decisions of varied degree of subtlety layered in the film.  For example most of the time Collin Farell speaks fast as if trying to put a spell on reality. He can't. Nobody can. Our deeds will hunt us until we will have to pay for them in full conscience.  Hence karma 2.0