Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Great Cinema: Lesson 1 - Cinema Can Be Art

Good evening. Some may tell you of their recent fascinating experience at a local cinema hall. She may describe to you the action and suspense encountered, the emotions felt or the fear conveyed, all through the big screen. I will be seriously discussing those ideas and far more but to a depth and breadth intended to educate and illuminate any serious cinephile.

For the past 44 years I have made it my personal goal to understand the great movie makers. For me this includes actors, directors, camera operators, sound, special effects and costume people though I will focus my lens primarily on directors and actors. This will not only be a discussion of Alfred Hitchcock, Frederico Fellini or Akira Kurosawa and those who worked alongside these people, no, no. While they are listed among the great directors there are many others that deserve not just mention but discussion at length.

Toshiro Mifune, Audrey Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart will be praised at great length. The performances linked with great directors like Max von Sydow mostly in Bergman films, Takashi Shimura with Kurosawa, Jean Gabin with Renoir, and Ruth Chatterton with Michale Curtiz are well-worth exploring at length.

At times you will hear me elaborate on likes of G.W. Pabst, Mizoguchi, and Bergman. The wonderful French directors Jean Renoir and Robert Bresson, the striking German director F. W. Murnau, Austrian Fritz Lang and the more recent Russian director Zvyagintsev will certainly fall within the scope of this discussion. I will not avoid controversial figures or movies like the Reifenstahl's or Polanski's of this world. Please write me questions or invite me to your university lectures, I am eager to participate in real discussions, while I am still able to do so.

My motivations for screening all these movies were not just about snuggling up against the warm body beside me. For these same 44 years I have been a still photographer and writer. In order to improve my talents I decided from the beginning to conduct a parallel study of the arts . Exploring Degas, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cezanne and Monet originals in the world's great art museums alone would not suffice for me, though I do so. I have always mentally placed Fellini, Kurosawa, Welles, Satyajit Ray, Ozu, Lang and Bergman in the same great halls.

I go to great lengths to find works of art. I do not typically view a masterpiece just once. I cannot tell you how many times I have screened La Strada, The Hidden Fortress, Through A Glass Darkly and many, many others. I try as hard as I can to find and watch every movie made by Ozu, Hitchcock, and yes, Spielberg, Kubrick, Scorsese and Allen.

Many question how such a thorough study could possibly accomplished by one man alone. My life is composed of many live human experiences, of that have no doubt. I have lived and worked in New York City, Kolkatta, Port au Prince and Washington, D.C.. I have dear companions who also enjoy movies. I still work and sleep a total of 80 hours most weeks. I will be brutally honest with you about life itself throughout these cinematic discussions. I am able to closely study tens of thousands of hours of classic cinema because I do not watch modern television programming and because I was taught how to manipulate time itself. There will be more about that skill at a time appropriate.

In the days when I still could, I stopped the projector, rewound the movie and played back a scene. Ever since being able control the DVD, I review the credits to learn the names of the crews, I stop critical scenes and ponder the camera angle and I play the movie with different soundtracks, listening to the actors in Japanese, French, Russian, Bengali and English. I also listen to the critics and directors as they watch their own movies.

Much like the movies themselves, there will be an ending to this discussion, no doubt. But that will only come with my unfortunate demise, whenever it happens to occur. My associates have assured me that I have digested and extensively explored too many thousands of hours of classic cinema to take it all to my grave. I sincerely hope you enjoy the show.

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