Friday, July 29, 2005

One day later...

I rambled about The Conformist yesterday. Today
Armond White takes it on and it's... well... smashing as always. A sample:

Three geniuses teamed up to create The Conformist: director Bernardo Bertolucci, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti. Their 1970 collaboration was as momentous as the work of Welles & company on Citizen Kane, showing a new generation how to look at movies... Bertolucci, Storaro and Scarfiotti worked with the belief (now gradually eroding in the digitial-video age) that cinema was, foremost, a visual art form; that its richest meanings and distinctive impact were the result of images. Images designed to amaze, ideas expressed through illustration, emotion conveyed through the tonalities of light. All that is now taken for granted through today's barbaric video practices where indie films look like home movies. Watching The Conformist is, more than ever, like being a starving man widening his eyes at a king's feast.

Go read it. (And don't miss the bottom section, which contains a plug for a presentation he's giving on music videos. In classic Armond fashion he names the Mark Romanek/Jay-Z collab "99 Problems" the Best Film of 2004.)


At 3:54 AM, Blogger girish said...

Ben, I saw "The Conformist" several years back on crappy pan-scan VHS and (predictably) it didn't do anything for me. After reading what you wrote, it so sounds like a big screen movie.

And I'm curious what you think of Armond's "star" ratings in Film Comment? The man's gone loop-de-loop, I think to myself, everytime I see those...I'd never have started reading him if it wasn't for your links. Interesting guy. Crazy, but interesting.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Girish, The Conformist is very much a big screen movie. For whatever reason it's tied up in a legal rights nightmare, so it's notoriously difficult to see in an optimum setting. (If you can track down a tape / TV showing that's letterboxed it's almost always dubbed, if you can find it in Italian, it's pan & scanned, and on and on...) If you ever get the chance to see it projected, make it a priority.

As for Armond-- Actually, I think I first became aware of Armond through his star ratings in Film Comment. (Where he gives nearly every movie currently being shown a rating of "Poor" or "Bomb.") Then I tracked him down online a few years ago and initially I was amused (He's so unrelentingly combative and his opinions are often so odd--his unwavering love of The Color Purple, his esteem for the music of RuPaul, his belief that Sahara is one of 2005's best films) and then I really came to respect him. It might be bizarre (and wrong) to claim Sahara as one of the year's best, but Mr. White is going to lay out the case for it with that crazy intensity and skill. (At which point I'll then wonder if I really missed the boat by not forking over ten bucks to see Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz run around the desert, blowing shit up.)

At 2:12 PM, Blogger girish said...

Yeah, I see what you're saying.
I like that "crazy intensity" quality in filmmakers too.
Like, Manny Farber once called Sam Fuller "comically unselfconscious". That is such an accurate description. Fuller can pull off the nuttiest, looniest scenes because he doesn't even know he's being nutty. (In fact, the entire movie "Forty Guns" falls into that category. It's totally oblivious of its own hilarity). There's something touching about Fuller because of that.

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