PRACTICAL FILMMAKING vs AUTEUR THEORY

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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:22 pm

David,

By the unique and ambiguous definition in film, you are misdefining "auteur" when it comes to this medium. It doesn't come down to "he wrote it ALL himself". In film, it can't be interpreted THAT literally. Kurosawa worked out the process of the material the same way so many other artists did, while anchoring the material and his co-writers with HIS voice and vision.

There's nothing inapplicable about it in Kurosawa's case at all. To put it in Harlan's terms, he is among the few who legitimized the credit "a film by" - a credit, to Harlan's frustration, abused and misused in the majority out there.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:46 pm

robochrist wrote:David,

By the unique and ambiguous definition in film, you are misdefining "auteur" when it comes to this medium. It doesn't come down to "he wrote it ALL himself". In film, it can't be interpreted THAT literally.



Actually, I don't believe I ever defined it. As is often the case, I'm not taking any hard positions in this matter; mostly what I do, most of the time, is to caution, "It Ain't Necessarily So."
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:13 pm

...well, you did say, in essence, that you mocked the notion that Kurosawa could be called an auteur...if I interpreted you right.

For me, you see, the bottom line can be found in the director's own quotes:

"Look for ME in my films"

and

"My films emerge from my own desire to say a particular thing at a particular time.

In his autobiog he interspersed stories about fellow professionals and self-realization, and he delves into the creation of his films and his screenplays.

These are, in my mind, in ABSOLUTES, the mark of an auteur.

Hence, my question mark in response to your earlier post.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:01 pm

robochrist wrote:...well, you did say, in essence, that you mocked the notion that Kurosawa could be called an auteur...if I interpreted you right.


Don't interpret! Just read what I write: "...Kurosawa as an exemplar of the auteur -- which I would not argue against, mind you" ought to make it clear that I would not dispute the notion that Kurosawa was an auteur.

The fact that he didn't write his screenplays alone, or that he evidently did not direct masterpieces "in spite" of a brilliant -- or piss-poor -- screenwriter, suggests to me that, once again, this auteur theory is not as simple as or all it's cracked down to be.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:37 pm

"The fact that he didn't write his screenplays alone, or that he evidently did not direct masterpieces "in spite" of a brilliant -- or piss-poor -- screenwriter, suggests to me that, once again, this auteur theory is not as simple as or all it's cracked down to be."

That's exactly what DOES make him an exemplar.

rich

Postby rich » Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:36 pm

I'm sorry, what is time again?

or

What was the part in the middle?

or

Do what?

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:42 am

Speaking of Kurosawa, as part of the ongoing Shakespeare in Washington festival the local AFI theater is showing movie adaptations of the plays and also "interpretations" as well. This of course leads us to THRONE OF BLOOD, 蜘蛛巣城, "Spider's Web Castle", Kurosawa's 1957 adaptation of MACBETH.

Although it follows the plot of the play pretty closely it is not an attempt at a literal translation, but boy howdy does it truly capture the spirit of the play.

Has there ever been a more terrifying portrayal of "Lady Macbeth" than Isuzu Yamada as Lady Asaji? And Toshirō Mifune's intenstity as poor doomed Lord Washizu's bloody world closes in on him and crushes him. ("Fool!")

Holy Shit what a movie!

Next week... RAN.
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Postby David Loftus » Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:51 pm

David Loftus wrote:(Oddly enough, while looking for something else last week I ran across the library listing for Modine's book about his experiences during the making of "Full Metal Jacket" and placed it on reserve. I actually kind of liked him in "Married to the Mob," too; not in a class with Michelle Pfeiffer, Alec Baldwin, or even Oliver Platt, but adequate.)



I got the book out of the library. It's got a great cover design: looks like metal -- a shiny tin or aluminum wrapping that makes it heavy. Not sure what effect the words "PRINTED IN THE CHINA" on the back cover have.

Quick read, lots of photos. Cool layout.

Really makes Kubrick seem both fascinating and very strange. He sounds unnecessarily thoughtless and cruel toward his actors. I liked Modine better than I have from his work onscreen.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:44 pm

I knew about that book for a long time but never got around to it.

Kubrick was generally playing mind games with his actors to get something from them emotionally he probably didn't feel they had talent on their own to tap.

Unless you were a talent of the magnitude and uniqueness of Peter Sellers, George C Scott, James Mason, Malcolm McDowell, or Jack Nicholson (or even Timothy Carey) you were sure to be on a ball-and-chain, and a crushing emotional rollercoaster.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:27 am

Interesting about Kubrick and actors. I understood that Kubrick had occasional conflicts with his writers but I wasn't that aware of Kubrick's relationship with his actors.

The best book about Kubrick I've ever read is Jerome Agel's THE MAKING OF KUBRICK'S 2001 which, sadly, is long out of print but occasionally shows up in used bookstores and seems readily available on the Internet (BookFinder, Alibris, etc).
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:10 am

"I understood that Kubrick had occasional conflicts with his writers"

Not REALLY.

Nabokov is the closest example I, myself, can recall from my knowledge banks; and that was only a matter of the author - whom Kubrick contracted to CO-WRITE Lolita - NOT knowing that the director was altering so much of the author's actual writing in the script; Kubrick didn't want Nabokov to know, though I forgot all his rationalizations. I do know one issue was that Nabokov's script was WAYYYYY over-long. But the author actually admired SOME of the results in Kubrick's film; cinematic ideas he conceded he wouldn't have thought up. Thus, author never disowned the film, though he was - of course - disappointed about SOME things; Kubrick, on the other hand, was VERY disappointed by the elements he was forced to take out due to censorship codes - later saying had he known at the time HOW much he'd have to water down and alter, he wouldn't have done the film adaptation at ALL.

Personally...I don't give a shit about the arguments out there...I'm GLAD Kubrick didn't bow out. I really like the film a LOT.

But nothing else - as I recall - brought friction between Kubrick and writers he brought in. He disowned Spartacus - that was Kirk Douglas' film.

Paths of Glory went REALLY well.

Clarke had total respect for Kubricks points and choices...even when he kept getting the drafts back from Kubrick in the mail with endless notes challenging some of the stuff Clarke had written, or suggesting changes here and changes there, or just plain rejecting something outright.

Dr. Strangelove came off brilliantly - without ANY grievances at ALL.

And on everything else Kubrick pretty much scripted on his own. Burgess went around Britain and the U.S. - along with Kubrick - to "explain" the approach to the violence in the film version of Clockwork Orange, which Kubrick and scripted entirely.

Stephen King had nada to do with The Shining. He simply didn't LIKE it.

And with ACTORS...Kubrick never had "scrapes" or bad relationships with them (I'm not saying that's what YOU were saying; it's just a side note). In fact, he made grand relationships with those whom he urged improvisation; it was the others he kept on a chain, controlling them almost like animatronic puppets. No friction. Many just didn't enjoy his methods - only to realize later, many of them, anyway, that he was deliberately trying to provoke them, frustrate them, anger them, or break them down to get specific emotions - REAL emotions - up on the screen (contrasting the blank stasis he often used to freeze "time", or contrast other elements in the movie. In 2001, for instance, Bowman and Poole are DELIBERATELY kept emotionless and empty to contrast HAL - making the computer, ironically and whimsically, the ONLY human character in the story. We passed on our humanity to our own creations; the astronauts were the droids).

No book about Stanley Kubrick surpasses in scope, detail, and clarity the directors biography by Vincent LoBrutto. It's so detailed that it reads like a filmmakers manual - detailing every technical decision Kubrick made on his sets and behind the camera. It's out there. Easy to find on Amazon.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:01 pm

Article in the NY Times about Edward Albee. Interesting in itself for his remarks about creativity and writing in general, but for the purposes of this thread, note especially the final quote:


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/theat ... ref=slogin
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

rich

Postby rich » Fri Oct 05, 2007 4:30 pm

robochrist wrote:"And with ACTORS...Kubrick never had "scrapes" or bad relationships with them..."


Shelley Duvall may take issue with that. By all accounts, Kubrick treated her with something akin to contempt. (Of course, Rob, you later say that Kubrick kept actors on a "chain, controlling them almost like animatronic puppets...many just didn't enjoy his methods..." which indicates that there WAS friction between Kubrick and some actors.)

Matthew Modine also took some issue with Kubrick while working on Full Metal Jacket, but used the "genius" excuse to rationalize the behavior.

I think Kubrick looked at his actors the same way he looked at the camera: a tool to be used in any way possible to get what he needed. George C Scott was pissed when Kubrick used Scott's broadest takes for Strangelove.

I think there was definitely some friction between director and actor, but I agree with Rob that writers didn't seem to have too many problems with him (other than Spartacus when every actor on the set seemed to think he was a writer, which is one among probably many reasons Kubrick didn't like studio projects).


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