philosophy in film

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Re: philosophy in film

Postby iambiguous » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:40 pm

Two points...

1] Fueled by testosterone, all men come into the world with the potential to be beasts.
2] When women choose to interact with men, they are taking their chances.

And it's been all over the news of late, hasn't it?

But it is obviously more complicated than that. After all, any number of women have been known [some famously] for being beasts themselves.

So there's the part that revolves around biological imperatives and the part where that gets configured and then reconfigured in any number of different directions out in a particular world experienced in a particular way.

And doesn't that sound familiar?

Also, the post-modern beast is able to sink [slink] down into the scenery with considerably more ease. Given that there are so many more options to choose from in a world where it is far easier to disguise the darker parts that are deeper down. Everyone more or less dons a mask in order to interact out in the world with others. We greet each other's personas, never really knowing for sure who we might meet around the next corner. On the other hand, particular beasts can take advantage of the fact that in a "small isolated island community" they may not be expecting this at all.

And then there's this part: Is he even a beast at all? Or this: Is he the only one?

Of course there are a zillion "psychological thrillers" of this sort made. So what most of us are looking for is summed up by a reviewer at IMDb: "Just when you think the crime genre has run out of original ideas along comes Beast with its entirely fresh take on a seemingly conventional story."

I agree.

at wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_(2017_film)
trailer: https://youtu.be/eyQLM5S__QU

Beast [2017]
Written and directed by Michael Pearce

Moll: I was obsessed by killer whales as a kid. They almost seemed to be smiling. You know, they travel a hundred miles a day in the ocean. But in captivity, their soundwaves bounce off the walls. They become deaf and dumb. Some even go insane. I read about one whale that broke all its teeeth trying to break free. It just got too much for him. He didn't want to smile anymore.

Right from the start [one look at her face] and we know she is not only talking about whales.

Pascal [looking down at where Moll had cut yourself]: You're wounded. I can fix that.

...

Moll: Isn't that illegal?
Pascal: Can you keep a secret?
[Moll smiles and nods]
Pascal: Then I'm okay.

...

Hilary [Moll's mother]: Who is that?
Moll: Oh, he just gave ne a lift the other night.
Hilary: I could smell him a mile off.

...

Reporter [on TV]: Everyone is hoping for the best but there it is, of course, speculation that Melissa's disappearance is connected to the unsolved abduction and murder of three other girls over the past five years.


The beast, in other words.

Hilary: You went off with that Pascal, didn't you?
Moll: We just went for a drive.
Hilary: Sophie Healey's daughter is missing. There's a killer stalking this island, and you abandoned Jade because you wanted to go for a drive? She's family. Families are supposed to look after each other, but the only thing that seems to matter in your world is you.
Moll: That's not true.
Hilary: So you must be plain stupid then, is that it? You don't know the difference between right and wrong?
Moll: I know the difference.
Hilary: So you're selfish.

...

Pascal: So, "wild one"?
Moll: That was a long time ago.
Pascal: You've got to give me something.
Moll: I hurt someone. When I was 13, I stabbed a girl.
Pascal [intrigued]: What?
Moll: I was bullied at school, and then one day in class this girl came at me and, well, I can't really remember what happened but one minute I'm holding some scissors, and the next, they're sticking out of her.

...

Moll: They tried to beat the bad out of me.
Pascal: You're a good person Moll.
Moll: You don't know me.


And that's the point in this day and age: who can we ever really know?

Pascal [to Moll]: It's a shortcut.

...

Clifford [a detective and Moll's brother]: How long have you known Pascal Reouf?
Moll: A couple of weeks.
Clifford: And what's the nature of your relationship?
Moll: We're lovers.
Cifford [after a pause]: This isn't easy but I have to ask you about your love life. Look, Moll, I'm the last person in the world that wants to ask you this, but we're dealing with an extremely dangerous individual. So it's important for me to know if there is anything out of the ordinary.
Moll: It's not ordinary. It's amazing.

...

Moll: You gonna tell me what this is about?
Clifford: Pascal was on a short list of suspects a few years back. Now his stories always checked out, but I was never convinced.

...

Clifford [showing Moll Pascal's file]: Pascal Renouf. Previous convictions. Three counts of vandalism. Six accounts of dangerous driving. Two of a fray. Illegal poaching, countless times. At 18, he was sentenced to 12 month for indecent assault on a minor. She was 14.
[Moll says nothing]
Clifford: You might want to rethink how amazing he is.
Moll [leaving the car]: Keep up the good work, Cliff.

...

Hilary [to Moll after she rebuffs Pascal]: That's my girl.

...

Moll: Clifford questioned me. It was about you. About your past....He thinks you're the man who has been killing these girls.
Pascal: Do you think it's me?
[Moll just stares at him]
Pascal: What the fuck do you want from me?!
Moll: I want you to tell me that you didn't do it!

...

Pascal [to Moll]: Look, if you know what's good for you, you'll turn and walk away...but I didn't hurt those girls.

...

Hilary: You need to put a leash on him.
Moll: He's just playing with Jade.
Hilary: He's ruining the grass.

...

Moll [at the country club]: I'd like to make a toast. To my family. For everything you've done for me. I forgive you.
Hilary [enraged]: Get out!

...

Pascal [after Moll bashes in the head of a rabbit she just shot]: You okay?
Moll [evenly]: Yeah.

...

DCI detective Theresa [showing Moll a photograph]: Do you know this man?
[Moll shakes her head]
DCI detective Theresa: Are you saying you've never met him?
Moll: No not to my knowledge.
DCI detective Theresa [showing her another photo]: Here you are engaging him in conversation.
Moll: Well, I was drunk. I can't remember everyone I met.
DCI detective Theresa: He said you danced all night together.

...

DCI detective Theresa [showing her photographs of Melissa's corpse]: She died from suffocation. He filled her mouth with earth.
Moll: Why are you showing me these?
DCI detective Theresa: He doesn't love you Moll. He can't love. And you can't appeal to his humanity. He doesn't have any.

...

DCI detective Theresa: You weren't popular in school, were you?
Moll: I was bullied.
DCI detective Theresa: So was I. So are lots of people. But you tried to kill a girl.
Moll: It was a mistake. I was defending myself.
DCI detective Theresa: You see, it makes me wonder. Are you protecting Pascal bercause you think he's innocent? Or is this just another way of taking revenge on the world?
Theresa [lunges forward and graps Moll by the wrists]: You think because you sing in the choir, and you help look after your father, you can fool people into thinking that you're someone else?


So, another red herring or not?

Moll: I need to talk to you.
Tamara [the girl who Moll had stabbed]: About?
Moll: About what happened.
Tamara: It was 14 years ago.
Moll: I know. I just wanted to set things right.
Tamara: So you came to my shop?
Moll: I'm so sorry for what happened. It was a mistake. I'm a good person.
Tamara: What's wrong with you?
Moll: Nothing is wrong with me. I was defending myself.
Tamara: What? Are you saying I deserved this?
Moll: No. No, no, no, I'm not.
Tamara: Get the fuck out of here. GET OUT!!


By now, there are three things you don't know. 1] what happened in the past 2] what's happening now and 3] what's about to happen.

Clifford: We got him. Nuno Alvarez. Portuguese man. Worked on the farms. He finally made a mistake. I just wanted you to hear it from me. And to apologise for everything I've put you through.
Moll: What? It's over.
Clifford: Yes. It's over.


Nope, not even close.

Pascal: What would you have done if it was me?
Moll: But it wasn't.
Pascal: It must have crossed your mind.
Moll: I believed in you.
Pascal: Would you still love me?
Moll: What? Why are you asking me that?

...

Moll [looking at herself in the mirror]: It's over.

...

Moll: We could just run away. We could just go somewhere really hot or cold, anywhere. Just somewhere.
Pascal: I've got a life here. I've got a business, a house.
Moll: I can't live here, Pascal.

...

Moll: I gave up everything for you!
Pascal: Yeah, well, I didn't ask you to give everything up.
Moll: I lied for you!
Pascal: And I appreciate that. But you can't just break my life apart because you don't like the weather.
Moll: You're hurting me.
Pascal: Good. Maybe it will sink in and you'll keep your fucking mouth shut.

...

Moll: I lied. I didn't see Pascal at the Wipeout.
Clifford: You think it's Pascal?
Moll: Why are you smiling?
Clifford: You know I was always there for you, but you wanted a bit of rough.
Moll: You're a monster.
Clifford: So, I'm the monster?! You're the one who lied during a multiple murder investigation. What's wrong with you? Hm?
Moll: Nothing's wrong with me.
Clifford: Do you want to go to jail? Is that it?

...

Pascal: Look, if you still want to go away, to leave this place, I'm in.
Moll: You'd do that for me?

....

Moll: I need to tell you something. I know it was you.
Pascal: What?
Moll: I know it was you.
Pascal [after a long pause]: It's a wind-up.
Moll: You're sick. You had a sickness and it overpowered you. And you fought it for a long time. And now you're better. And I need to hear you say it. I need us to be absolutely honest with each other.

...

Pascal: You need help.
Moll: I'm not who I say I am. That girl I stabbed, it wasn't an accident, it was revenge. I tried to kill her.
Pascal: You tried to kill a girl. Why are you telling me this?
Moll: I'm telling you because I know you understand. Whatever you've done and whoever you've hurt, I can understand because we're the same. And so, from the deepest part of who I am, I accept you.

...

Moll: i want you give you all of my love, as deep and as powerful as a human can give another human. But...I need you to tell me that it's over.
Pascal [after a long pause]: It's over....They were nothing to me.

...

Moll [to Pascal]: Kiss me...


Cue the next twist.

Pascal: Wait...wait. We're the same.
[Moll shakes her head and chokes him]
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: philosophy in film

Postby iambiguous » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:45 pm

Some of us still put our eggs all in one basket. We find or stumble onto something in life that just seems to take over. All of our waking hours seem devoted to it. And we certainly imagine it going on far into the future.

Then for one or another reason the basket gets upended. All the eggs fall out. Smashed to smithereens.

Then what?

Here it's more horses. Charley Thompson meet Brady Blackburn. Only Brady is considerably more intertwined with them than Charley ever was. He just doesn't walk them around and around in a circle. He rides them in the rodeo.

In fact, he has invested much of his manhood in being a rising star on the rodeo circuit. What then does it mean to be a man "out in the heartland" when that is no longer a viable option?

In the first scene, we see him gulping down a handful of pain pills; and then pulling staples out of his head. Then wrapping his head in cellophane. It doesn't look good for him.

And then into this falls all the other characters in his life. Him pushing them in various directions, them pushing him right back. Just a portait of one particular man living one particular life in one particular context. Then [as always] it's up to us to make of it what we will. This is basically a self-contained "world all our own" in which contact with "the rest of us" is more or less kept to a minimal. It's all about being who they are: cowboys.

Or what's left of being one these days.

One thing though. Like most of us, there's the part about money. You gotta have enough of it just in order to subsist from week to week. So that sometimes involves doing any number of things you'd really rather not do.

Me, I've never been on a horse in my life. But I have had a couple of baskets upended. Lots of broken eggs.

IMDb

Writer and director Chloé Zhao first met Brady Jandreau during her research for her earlier film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015). She visited the ranch where Jandreau was working and he was teaching her how to ride a horse. She wanted to put him in one of her films, and when he had the accident that left him with life changing head injuries, she decided to base the script for her next film on his story.

The character Brady Blackburn is based on actor Brady Jandreau, who suffered the kind of head injury shown in the film after a fall from a horse.


at wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rider_(film)
trailer: https://youtu.be/AlrWRttLTkg

The Rider [2017]
Written and directed by Chloé Zhao

Cowboy: What the hell are you doing here? You're supposed to be up there in the hospital. I seen Tanner at the bar, he said you escaped, huh?
Brady: Told you to check me out.
Cowboy: Well, doctor said you're supposed to stay up there.

...

Wayne [Brady's father to his mentally challenged daughter Lilly]: You're as stubborn as your brother. Look how he ended up. Big old gash on the side of his head. I told him not to go over there and ride that son of a bitch anyway.
Brady: Well, I would have won the rodeo if I would've got her rode.
Wayne: Whole point of it is, is I told you to stay home. I had a bad feeling the whole time.

...

Brady: You should lay off that horse's face a little bit, and he wouldn't be putting his head in there like a goose.
Cowboy: Well, you can tell me what to do when you're riding the son of a bitch. Too bad you went to the rodeo and got all fucked up and you ain't showing him.
Brady: I was doing what I needed to do.
Cowboy: Well, I'm doing what I need to do. Finishing something that you should be doing.

...

Brady [at his mother's grave]: I was tough, Mom...

...

Brady: You know what they do when they do surgery?
Lilly: What? What do they do? Got broke.
Brady: Yeah. I broke it. Broke my skull.
Lilly: Yeah, "broke my skull," right.
Brady: And then you have to cut it with a knife. And then they put a plate in there. And then they sewed it up.
Lilly [stammering]: But you said, "Not gonna, either"?
Brady: Not gonna what?
Lilly: Bucking horse anymore.
Brady: Uh, maybe.

...

Brady [to his cowboy friends]: That horse I got on in Fargo was...Everything I heard about her was shit, but I got on her and said, "Fuck it," and...She was good out there for a while, and... Until the whistle, she got real trashy and started turning there by the fence, sucking back, and I went over the front of her. She stepped on my head, popped me out. Didn't knock me out until they got me back to the hospital there. I had a seizure and went into a coma.

...

Cat: Yeah, I been going for 10-plus years, you know? Probably had 10-plus concussions. I probably should... I mean, by NFL standards, I should be dead, you know what I mean?
Cowboy: Got kicked in Kadoka at Rodeo Bible Camp. Went out the back door. That wasn't so bad. It was kind of a stinger there for about a week, but...Started riding and it loosened up a little more.
Tanner: Got on this big, gray mare. I was getting pretty stretched out towards the end, and thank God I heard the whistle blow. But, anyway, right at the end, she slammed me down in the dirt. Hardest I've ever been slammed before. Brady over there told me to get on my short-go horse even though my ribs hurt like a son of a bitch. Ain't that right, Brady? You don't let no pain put you down. You ain't gonna be turning out horses left and right just 'cause your head hurts a little bit now, are you?
Brady: I'm not...I'm not drawing out of anything. I'm just taking some time off. Your brain's a little different than your ribs.
Tanner: Yeah, I know, but it's all the same to a cowboy. Ride through the pain. You gotta make sure this head of yours don't get you scared. I know how that goes with some guys. They get scared to get on again, and then they end up becoming farmers.

...

Cat: Want to say a prayer for Lane. I mean, be best if we say a prayer every day, you know... Yeah. For the guy, 'cause he sure could use it. But I just want to go ahead and say...Pray to God that he takes in all the strength from all his friends across the nation. North, south, east and west. 'Cause we all know he's got friends all over this country. Pulls through. Hope he gets to ride again. Feel the wind hit his back and watch it flow through the grass. We are him, and he is us. We're all one in this together.

...

Brady [to Lane in a wheelchair, his arms twitching back and forth]: Hey, brother. How you doing? Long time, no see, brother. I missed you. Feeling better? You're looking good. Looks like they're doing a lot for you here. How you feeling? Feeling good, huh? It's a pretty good place here.
Lane [who is only able to communicate by forming letters with his fingers]: H.. O... W...S
Brady: How's...How's my head?

...

Lane [from a video]: Name's Lane Scott. I'm 18 years old, and I'm from Kennebec, South Dakota.
Announcer: Lane, he's young, but he's really good. Best bull rider to come out of South Dakota, for sure.
Lane: I mean...I mean, I'm not trying to imply anything, but me and Superman have never been seen in the same room together.

...

Lane [on the video]: I was about three years old when my dad introduced me into the rodeo world. There's nothing that really can beat it. You get on a bull, make a good ride, everybody... Everybody in the stands stands up for you, yells, cheers. Um...your adrenaline's going, you... You just can't stop but smiling. There's nothing like strapping yourself onto a 2,000 pound animal and just going with it. That's what I wanted to do, and I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

...

Tanner: Hey. Wake up, Grandpa. Falling asleep over there. You entering Water's Rodeo on the 17th?
Brady: 17th?
Tanner: Yeah. Should be ready to roll by then. Yeah, man, it'll be good to see you back out there, scratching 'em.
Woman: Come on, now, Tanner. He has a metal plate in his head.
Tanner: So? Metal's strong. It's supposed to not break. He'll be fine. He's not a little bitch.

...

Woman: Do you have a resume?
Brady: No.
Woman: Any job experience?
Brady: I'm a horse trainer.
Woman: You can't do that right now?
Brady: Well, I would, but I can't ride for a while since I'm laid up, so...
Woman: Any high school? GED?
Brady: No, ma'am.

...

Victor: Wow, Brady. What are you doing here?
Brady: How you doing, Victor? Good.
Victor: All right. So you work here now?
Brady: Yeah. Guy's gotta do what he's gotta do, I guess, huh? I don't know.
Victor: It's none of my business, but when you start getting comfortable, you know, you need to get back to them horses and rodeos and stuff.
Brady: Yeah.

...

Brady: What was that all about? What was Todd doing here?
Wayne: Had to sell him Gus, Brady.
Brady: Sell him Gus? What do you mean, sell him Gus? You can't sell Gus.
Wayne: You want 'em to haul the trailer away? You want Lilly to not have a place to live? Gus is part of the family. I guess it's his turn for us to make a living.
Brady: Well, where's all your money going? It costs a lot to live. Well, maybe you should've thought about that when you were putting money in the slot machines, going to the fucking bars and casinos. That's where all the money went.
Wayne: Fuck you, Brady. I don't need to hear your shit. It's not like you can fucking ride anymore.

...

Brady: My dad sold Gus today.
Cat: Damn. Really?
Brady: Yeah. Todd bought him.
Cat: Well, at least he's going to a good home.
Brady: I wish I could ride him one last time, though.

...

Brady [with Gus]: God, I just ask you to take care of Gus on his travels, Lord. Just be with him all the time and protect him. Keep him safe, God. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

...

Pawn shop owner: You know what? I see a lot of young cowboys come in with their saddles. A lot of 'em get rid of 'em. You can't be rodeoing forever, right? Okay, partner, what... What'd you say your last name was?
Brady: You know what, man? I think I changed my mind.

...

Brady [to Apollo]: Good boy. Come on. Let's go for a cruise. How does that sound, bud?

...

Brady: You know, Lil...It's hard not rodeoing anymore.
Lilly: I know it's hard, but can't you please more careful?
Brady: I know I need to be more careful. At least I can ride again now. Train horses.
Lilly: I know. We'll seize this time.
Brady: I can take in a whole bunch of colts, make some money, and maybe get you all those presents you want for your birthday.

...

Doctor: What's going on with your hand is called a partial complex seizure. The brain is sending these signals too fast, and your hand can't keep up, so it just stays clenched. And your dad says you haven't been resting at all? Is that right?
Wayne: I told him to rest. He never listens, though.
Doctor: If you don't stop, your seizures are gonna get worse. And you can't afford another head injury on top of the one that you have. Think about it, okay? No more riding. No more rodeos.


Back to Dakotamart.

Wayne: You know, I'm your dad. You can talk to me. Well, Brades, we have to play the cards we're dealt. Sometimes dreams aren't meant to be. It's too bad your mom ain't here. You and her could be stubborn together.

...

Cat: You know, I...I know about your hand. I know you ain't supposed to be rodeoing or anything like that. Must be tough. But you just gotta learn to let it go. Move on. Or else it'll eat at you. But it's gotta be tough. I mean...I understand.
Brady: You don't understand.

...

Wayne [with a gun in his hand]: I'm sorry, Brady. This is all there is to do. Whistle for him when you walk away, please.

...

Brady: You know, Lilly, Apollo got hurt, and we had to put him down.
Lilly: Nope. Nuh-uh.
Brady: It's not fair to the horse. He can't run and play and do what he wants to do. She doesn't go on. You know, I got hurt like Apollo did. But I'm a person, so I got to live. If any animal around here got hurt like I did, they'd have to be put down. You know, Lilly, I believe God gives each of us a purpose. To the horse, it's to run across the prairie. For a cowboy, it's to ride.

...

Wayne: Where are you going with that?
Brady: Where does it look like I'm going? I'm going to the rodeo.
Wayne: You fucking crazy?
Brady: I'm gonna ride. I figured you were coming to watch.
Wayne: What the fuck would I wanna come for? Watch you kill yourself? You're just stubborn as hell. You won't listen to nothing anybody tells you anyway.
Brady: Oh, I don't listen? I always fucking listened. I listened to everything you fucking said to me. What happened to "Cowboy up," "Grit your teeth," "Be a man"? What happened to all that, Dad?
Wayne: You don't need to go ride today. You don't need to fucking go ride.
Brady: Bullshit. I'm going. I'm entered, and I'm riding.
Wayne: Go kill yourself, then.
Brady: I'm not gonna end up like you.

...

Cowboy: Let's go, Brady
Cowboy: Let's go, man. Come on, Brady. Come on, Brady, your horse is in.
Cowboy: Your horse is in the goddamn chute!

...

Brady [to Lane]: Come on. Look up at me, brother. Grab your reins. All right, wheel him around to the left. All right, now to the right. All right, go ahead, stop him. Back him up. You're on...You're on big old Gus again. Loping across there. Remember that wind on your face. Through the badlands, chasing them cows out of the trees. You excited? You bet, brother.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: philosophy in film

Postby iambiguous » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:25 pm

For those of us who are not artists, imagine trying to narrow the gap between viewing art and creating it. Is it even possible?

Or are there just too many variables involved [technical and otherwise] to create a narrative that is both lucid and comprehensive?

Some look at particular works of art, figure a kid could do it, and scoff at the idea that it is even art at all. And what of those who haul a urinal into a museum and exhibit that as art?

Are there creations that truly are art? Then this: Are there ways in which to decide if any particular creation is among the "great works" of art?

Imagine then trying to get into the mind of an artist who goes about the business of creating a work of art. Why choose this and not that?

Here we have the story [a more or less true story] of the American critic [and art-lover] James Lord choosing to pose for a portrait. A portrait painted by the artist Alberto Giacometti. Then the exchange between them. The parts in particular that revolve around "the beauty, frustration, profundity and sometimes chaos of the artistic process".

And, after all, in this world what must one possess in order to be described as an "artistic genius"? Is this actually something that can be understood? And then explained to those of us who look at art...but not much more beyond?

Giacometti's life is portrayed exactly as you would imagine the life of the artist. And, so, any up and coming artists today now know how to model their own life. So, is this but one more rendition of art imitating life imitating art imitating life.

Bottom line [mine]: I still don't get it. That gap between what the artists think that they are after in their work and what I imagine that actually means to them. I lack the technical skills to judge, but I suspect it goes beyond that: an artistic "sensibility" I was simply never able to acquire.

In other words, when they talk about their art it all still goes over my head.

The closest someone like me can get to it are those moments when I'm grappling to find just the right words to express what I think I mean about what I think I feel about something.

IMDb

Alberto Giacometti was born in Borgonovo, now part of the Switzerland municipality of Bregaglia, near the Italian border. He was a descendant of Protestant refugees escaping the inquisition. His brothers Diego and Bruno would go on to become artists as well. "Pointing Man" sold for $126 million, $141.3 million with fees, in Christie's May 11, 2015 Looking Forward to the Past sale in New York, a record for a sculpture at auction. The work had been in the same private collection for 45 years.

The filmmakers meticulously recreated Giacometti's studio, using archive photos and footage. The Giacometti Foundation in Paris assisted the production, on the condition that any artworks created for the film would be destroyed after production was completed.

According to the website of the art auction house Christie's, the portrait of James Lord sold in November 2015 for $20,885,000. Painted in 1964, it was 45 ¾ x 31 ¾ in. The painting was called "James Lord." Christie's writes: "The result of this intense exchange between Giacometti and James Lord, the artist and his sitter, is a superb head whose eyes flash the penetrating gaze of a Byzantine icon, a seated figure that displays the assertive presence of an Egyptian pharaoh, and a lambent corona of silvery grey paint that projects the aura of a Christ en gloire, en majesté.


at wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Portrait
trailer: https://youtu.be/sRsiW5c29Sk

Final Portrait [2017]
Written and directed by Stanley Tucci

James [voiceover]: In 1964, I was a young writer living in Paris. I had written a few articles about Alberto Giacometti, who was one of the most accomplished and respected artists of his generation. I had become good friends with Giacometti and his brother, Diego. And one day, after an exhibition, he asked me to sit for a portrait. He told me it would take no longer than two to three hours. An afternoon at the most.

...

Annette [Alberto's wife]: Okay. I'm going to Le Dome. Would you like to join me?
James: I would, but we're about to start...
Annette: Ah, yes, you're my husband's next victim.

...

Alberto: You have the head of a brute.
James: Gee, thanks.
Alberto: Yeah. You look like a real thug.
James: Thank you.
Alberto: If I was to paint you as I see you now and a policeman was to see this painting, you'd be thrown in jail, like that.
James: Perhaps we shouldn't continue.
Alberto: No, no, no. It's all right. Because I'll never be able to paint you as I see you.
James: Are you sure?
Alberto: Yes, of course. It's impossible.

...

Alberto: Just so you know, it is also impossible to ever finish a portrait.
James: What do you mean?
Alberto: Well, portraits used to be finished. They had to be. They were necessary. It was a substitute for a photograph. Now, portraits have no meaning.
James: So, what we're doing is meaningless?
Alberto: Mm. And impossible. And I'm not even doing it. I can only ever try to do it. So on that note, shall we stop for the day?

...

James [voiceover]: Each night, after working with me, Giacometti would work with Caroline, a prostitute with whom he'd been openly carrying on a relationship for three years. Are you done? She'd become his primary model, his nighttime companion...and his obsession.

...

James: Have you always been like this?
Alberto: Like what?
James: So doubtful of your own ability.
Alberto: Of course. It gets worse every year.
James: But you become more successful every year.
Alberto: What better breeding ground for doubt than success?

...

Alberto: It's what I deserve, I suppose, after 35 years of dishonesty. That's what I am. I'm dishonest. I'm a... I'm a liar.
James: Dishonesty? How do you mean?
Alberto: All these years that I've been showing things. They were all... they were all unfinished. Probably shouldn't have been started in the first place. Then again, if I hadn't shown them, I would have felt like a coward, so...Ugh! I don't know. I'm neurotic.
James: Well, I understand that. I had a friend who was so neurotic, he ended up committing suicide.
Alberto: I'm sorry.
James: Hmm. Do you ever think about it?
Alberto: Suicide? Mm. Every day. Of course. It's not like I feel life is bad. It's just that I...I think death must be the most fascinating experience, you know? I'm just...I'm just curious.

...

Alberto [to James]: I hid it in the toilet. Not in. Up.

...

James: How did it go?
Diego [Alberto's brother]: He made out like a capitalist.

...

James: So, what did you give them?
Diego: Drawings that were like hundreds of others he's done.
James: And they were happy?
Diego: Happy? Of course they were. They know those are what sells. Those are "Giacomettis"!

...

Alberto [examining James's face]: Front on, you look like a brute. Side on, you look like a degenerate....One way you go to jail. The other, you go straight to the asylum. I'll probably meet you in there.

...

Annette: How do you like posing?
James: I like it. I do. But it's, you know, it can be exhausting. He makes me nervous sometimes. The way he yells at the canvas when things aren't going well. But what's really disturbing is just how the portrait itself seems to come and go as if Alberto has no control over it whatsoever. Then other times, it just disappears entirely. I feel like this could go on for months.
Annette: Sometimes it does.
James: There's nothing anyone can do about it?
Annette: No.
James: Even Alberto?
Annette: Especially Alberto.


This is the part that goes far over my head.

Alberto [more to himself than to James]: Yeah, the nose is in place now. That's some progress.

...

Alberto: Have you ever wanted to be a tree?
James: Um, no.

...

James [voiceover]: I was glad when that day's session was over. Giacometti was miserable and his mood was pervasive. I was to find out that evening that Caroline had gone missing.

...

Diego [of the missing Caroline]: He's too attached to her. He goes crazy without her. He makes himself go crazy.
James: Yeah, why?
Diego: My brother can only be happy when he is desperate and uncomfortable in every part of his life.
James: Well, he should be very happy, then. But it's like he's determined to remain completely unsatisfied.
Diego: No, not completely, just perfectly.

...

Alberto: Have you ever killed anyone?
James: No. Why do you ask?
Alberto: I think you're the sort of person who's capable of doing anything, and I mean that as a compliment.
James: Thank you. What about you? Have you ever killed anyone?
Alberto: Mm. In my mind, I've killed many people.
James: Who are these poor souls?
Alberto: Just people. Women. Before I could go to sleep, when I was young, every night I'd fantasize about killing two women. After I raped them.
James: Oh. And... and this helped you fall asleep?
Alberto: Yes. It comforted me.

...

Alberto: Cezanne was right.
James: About what?
Alberto: Squaring everything. Everything is a cone or a cylinder or a sphere...Cezanne was the last great painter. It was just too bad the Cubists took him so literally.
James: The Cubists produced very pretty things.
Alberto: Oh, who needs pretty? Then they realized they'd reached a dead end and gave up. Picasso and Braque were the really guilty ones.
James: Yes, but Picasso moved on.
Alberto: Oh, yes, so that he could copy every great artist that ever lived.
James: I know, but every artist copies.
Alberto: Yes, but you do it as an exercise. It's just an exercise.
James: Oh, Alberto. I think you're being a bit harsh.
Alberto: No, it's true. I'm telling you, I promise you. Picasso could be so pompous. "I was unable to reach the top of the scale of values, so I smashed the scale." Oh, that's bullshit.
James: He really said that?
Alberto: Of course he did. Who else would say it? Picasso's always making statements like that, you know. At first they sound like they're so full of wit, but they're full of shit. They have absolutely no meaning.


This is the part where I get stuck.

James [voiceover]: I decided to take up swimming as a way to relieve not only the physical strain of posing but what was slowly becoming a psychological strain as well. One morning after my swim, I was invited to see the ceiling of the opera house that Chagall had just painted. The magnificence of the work left me feeling lighter than I'd felt in days. Then, I went to sit for Giacometti...
Alberto [in the studio at the canvas]]: Oh, fuck! Oh, fuck! Look at this. It's hopeless. The head is all lopsided. It's a mess!

...

Alberto [muttering aloud more to himself]: Chagall. Opera. Fucking house painting. You can't compare that to what I'm trying to do here.

...

James [after 12 days of posing]: Oh, my God.
Diego: What?
James: How much longer can it go on like this?
Diego: It could go on forever.
James: He says a portrait can never be finished.

...

James: Well, at any rate, I can't keep doing this. It seems like we pose for hours and hours and nothing happens.
Annette: That's the reason why I don't pose anymore.
James: Why?
Annette: Because your whole life can be swallowed up.

...

Alberto [staring at the canvas]: It's gone too far. At the same time, not far enough. I'll never find a way out of this.
James: Well, we could always just stop.
Alberto: No, we can't stop...I have to stop.

...

James [looking at the canvas]: Wow. It looks really good. What'd you do?
Alberto: I have no idea.

...

James: I wish that I could see things the way you do.
Alberto: That's all I'm trying to do. I just want to show how things appear to me. But I'm unable to do that.
James: No, that's not true.
Alberto: When I was young, I thought I could do everything. When I grew up, I realized I could do nothing. That's what kept me going. Four more sittings. How does that sound?
James: Thank you.
Alberto: You don't have to do that. We've worked on it together. I don't know.
James: That's...I guess that's true. I certainly don't feel how Madame Cezanne did.
Alberto: What do you mean?
James: In the end she said she just felt like an apple.

...

James [at the studio which had been ransacked]: Oh, my God. What happened? Did they take anything?
Diego: No, no.
James: Well, shall we call the police?
Alberto: No, no, no. It wasn't thieves. They came for me.
Diego: It was Caroline's pimps. It's a warning.

...

Pimp: It's going to be the same price. Whether you sleep with her or she just sit in front of you.
Alberto: I see. Same price for both. Mm. You don't want to charge me more for one?
Pimp: What?
Alberto: Which one would you charge me more for?
Pimp: For fucking her. We could charge you more for both things. We can take more for both. Alberto: Okay. Okay. I don't mind.
Pimp: Okay. So...so we can get a lot more in that case. Another 10 per hour for each.
Alberto: Good.

...

Alberto [putting a pile of money on the table]: This pile is all retroactive.
Pimp: What?
Alberto: It's payment for the last six months that I've spent with her. And this pile is in advance for the next six months.
Pimp: Ah. Cheers.
Alberto: Cheers!

...

James [after the pimps leave]: It looks like you made them happy.
Alberto: Please. I would have paid ten times that amount.
James: What do you mean?
Alberto: She's given me so much.

...

Alberto: Oh, fuck!
James: What are you doing?
Alberto: Negative work. I have to do this. Sometimes, you know, to do something, you can only do it by undoing it.
James: Yes, but how many times?
Alberto: Mm? How many times? Good question. It's not always as easy as you think.
James: What isn't?
Alberto: The undoing of something.
James: I thought the portrait looked really good.
Alberto: When?
James: Earlier, when we started.
Alberto: It can be very tempting to be satisfied with what's easy. That happens a lot when people tell you something's good. There. That's good.


You can just imagine what he means by that here.

Alberto: What's the matter?
James: Nothing. It's just sometimes it feels like there's very little hope.
Alberto: Hope? Is that what you want? Hope?
James: Well, it'd be nice. Hm. We've been doing this for a while now.
Alberto: Yes, but, you know, for me, whenever I feel the most hopeful, that's the time that I give up.


And it's precisely this sort of "explanation" that most exasperates those of who are not artists. We're just not sure how much of it is bullshit. Next up: Day 17

James: You know when he uses the big brush with the grey paint and he undoes everything he's already done?
Diego: Uh-huh.
James: It's normally after that that he grabs a black brush with a fine tip and he starts to construct the head all over again from nothing for the 100th time, right?
Diego: Yeah. Basically, yes.
James: Then he's onto the highlights with the ochre - and the grey and all.
Diego: The grey. Yes.
James: And then he finishes with the final touches of white. Then he gets that big brush again...and obliterates everything he's already done.
Diego: Right.
James: That's when I'm gonna stop him.
Diego: What do you mean?
James: I mean I'm gonna try to stop him.
Diego: Okay. Yeah. You're very brave.


That's the plan. It works.

James: I don't know how to thank you. It's been an honor to pose for you.
Alberto: Are you out of your mind?
James: I didn't say I wanted to do it again.

...

James: The next day, Giacometti and I went for a walk and said our goodbyes. He told me he would have liked to accompany me to the airport, but he was hesitant to ever get back into a car any time soon. The portrait was shipped to an exhibition in the States and I returned to New York for an extended stay. Giacometti and I wrote often but never saw each other again, as he was to die a short time later. In his last letter, Giacometti told me how much he enjoyed painting my portrait and that he hoped I would come back soon so that we could start...all over... again.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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