Friday, October 30, 2015
Sunday, October 25, 2015
"Au hasard Balthazar is the world in an hour and a half" -- Jean Luc Godard
Mouchette (1967) and Au hasard Balthazar (1966) are the two darkest, and most Catholic, great films ever made. In both works, innocents -- a girl and a donkey -- suffer their own Stations of the Cross -- beaten, raped, whipped, abandoned, slapped, burned -- and then die. Both works are anthologies of sadism, ending in moments of Transfiguration; one in a pond, the other on a hillside; both to pieces of sacred music. However, little is divine. We are faced with a hard, physical world of muddy fields and of things and of objects; and forces of control and imprisonment. Director Robert Bresson's double miracle turns a suffocating austerity into endless plenty; so oblique and concentrated are Mouchette and Balthazar, they become the walls of a collapsing hell. And then home.
Bresson was interviewed in late 1966, between the making of the two movies.
Posted by EJK at 10:04 PM
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Mr. Rob Clark (The Lone Gunman) with the finest and deepest understanding of Lee Harvey Oswald I know of, in print or audio. Here Rob blows open a door which is usually kept shut by the community, of whatever take. Too many people look at 11/22/63 with a cold eye, despite it being one of the most monstrous acts of the 20th Century. A young man, the most famous and powerful man in the world, seated next to his wife, both of them the parents of two small children, has his head blown off. FROM BEHIND. (So they say.) That is not the act of a nut, of a political ideologue, of a closet homosexual (Norman Mailer tended toward that nitwit interpretation), or of a lovelorn husband. It is the act of a monster. The act of someone capable of child murder, of mass murder, of Auschwitz. Of course, that sort of evil is not too hard to find within the US National Security State, a sort of death-worship which was the daily bread for the likes of Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, David Phillips, David Morales, Tracy Barnes, Des FitzGerald, and many others. As it is in our own day with the monsters who blow up women and children and wedding parties from within their air-conditioning drone-strike studios somewhere in Virginia or Nebraska or the Oval Office. But where is there any evidence of this sort of psychopathology in the life of Lee Harvey Oswald? Oswald, as Clark details, was never alone. He was a man who loved his family. Loved his wife, however difficult a time she seemed to give him. And who dearly loved his daughters. Baby daughters, the youngest one only weeks old when JFK was killed. So Oswald that day was not only killing Kennedy, he was killing himself, and the lives of his children as well, destroying lives that had only just begun. There is NO EVIDENCE he was that sort of man. None. Mr. Clark reminds us of that in a brilliant, funny, passionate, and unique way.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Oswald.
Posted by EJK at 4:00 AM
Friday, October 16, 2015
"That little Kennedy, he thought he was a God." -- Allen DullesThe most important political history in many a year was published this week by HarperCollins: David Talbot's The Devil's Chessboard. Talbot -- author of the magisterial and deeply moving Brothers (2007) -- uncovers the life and enormous power of the most evil American of the 20th-century ('though Ronald Reagan comes close), capitalist gangster Allen Dulles. Dulles, flat-out WASP Nazi and little girl molester, spent his diabolical career destroying democrats and democratic movements across the world (and most certainly at home). A short list: through Sullivan & Cromwell, he bankrolled the Third Reich's extermination of home-grown and international anti-Hitler conspiracies; helped destroy the post-World War II freedom movements in Greece, Italy, Spain, France, and West Germany; overthrew (or tried to) anti-capitalist governments and leaders in Laos, South Vietnam, Guatemala, Cambodia, Iran, the Congo, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Korea, India, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq. Dulles's crowning achievement: the murder of the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy; and two days later Kennedy's accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
David Talbot speaks with Amy Goodman.
Posted by EJK at 3:00 AM
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Friday, October 9, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015
When the great Robert Hughes died in 2012, he left behind a body of criticism unmatched by any other English-language art critic of the 20th- (or 21st-) century: in print (The Fatal Shore, Nothing If Not Critical, Barcelona, American Visions, Things I Didn't Know); in lectures; on screen (The Shock of the New, American Visions, Goya). His love and understanding of hundreds of years of Western creation were exceeded only by his genius at putting us inside that love. And by his despair. Hughes's first and perhaps greatest masterpiece was the 1979-80 book and television series The Shock of the New. Even in those early days Hughes fears and warns us about what is to come: the commodification of not only all forms of human art, but all forms of human life. He saw it coming; and it came, worse than Hughes or anyone else could have imagined. And it broke his heart.
2008's The Mona Lisa Curse was his swan song, a hymn of despair for all that had been lost: a faith in the power of art to make things better, to change the world, to change men's souls, to heal and to sooth, to take us out of ourselves rather than to drive us back into separation and confusion, art's desire to know and to tell the truth, its unremitting earnestness. As it would turn out, Hughes would tilt at capitalist windmills the whole of his marvelous career, because even in 79-80 (before Reagan!) all these things were already going, going from our hearts, paving the way for the Time of the Assassins: Koons, Schnabel, Basquiat, Richard Prince, Salle, Baudrillard, Damien Hirst, Mapplethorpe, Longo, the Whitney. Worse was to come, of course, yet Robert Hughes kept tilting for us, kept reminding us.
Forty or even thirty years ago anyone, amateur or expert, could spend an hour or two in a museum without wondering what this Tiepolo, this Rembrandt, this de Kooning might cost at auction. Thanks to the unrelenting propaganda of the art market this is no longer the case, and the imagery of money has been so crudely riveted onto the face of museum-quality art by events outside the museum that its unhappy confusion between price and value will never again be resolved. It is like the bind in the fairy tale: At the bottom of the meadow a treasure lies buried. It can be dug up -- under one condition: that while digging, you do not think of a white horse.