Tag Archives: independent film

8 1/2 Revisited

A superb postmodern screenplay and performances in a rare directorial handling of the material combining emotional and intellectual intelligence. The photography, editing, sound and music, art direction (film after all is a combination of all these), the way Fellini dealt the cards in a largely ‘uneventful story’, critiquing the making of it in the story of making it is mesmerizing.

We love hate admire despise and ultimately accept and ignore the protagonist simultaneously. The greatest dramatic artists understood the utterly useless side to main characters, that a protagonist can ultimately be plagued by so many paralysing weaknesses that they sit like tubs of glue at centre of their stories – Achilles, Hamlet, Lear, Bloom.

The train of imagery is as staggering as it is effortless, in a brilliant use of lighting and camera with the spaces and movement of players. No one handled a crowd like Fellini, a director, filmmaker who understood that altogether simple theatrical relationship of foreground to mid-ground to background. The transparency of tones at times in the B/W photography, the use of natural and artificial light in concert, all makes this film a visual and dramatic masterpiece for me, probably the greatest film made in my years at least, that began consciously in 1963. It just so happens 8 1/2 came out early that year as well.

I won’t compare it to other fine films – comparisons to me are meaningless because all works that succeed, succeed for different reasons and on different levels, but the big films that are often quoted to either equal or better 8 1/2 to me feel so forced and constructed set against this, the best of Fellini’s work.

8 1/2 anticipates and describes postmodernism still yet to happen when the film was first released. Fellini prefigured a whole movement – as Joyce did with the contemporary novel, Fellini did with film.

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Easy Rider is back in Cannes

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It might be raining on the Cannes parade, and security out of hand, some of the films, well…

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…but there’s still one bright note on a gray, spitting Riviera first festival friday. The bike of the film, Easy Rider, forty one years old this week, is back inside Vogue territory once more, back at the festival where the film and cast – Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and Karen Black – won a vital reprieve from festival goers and organisers.

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The master builder of the easy rider Captain America replica….Jack Lepler, is here too.

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The prequel, Easy Rider II, is back. The secrets behind the film, the legend behind the story (what Jack doesn’t know he isn’t telling, not about the bike nor the original film no how, it aint worth saying or knowing). Cannes played more than a bit part in the history of the original. If it weren’t for the 22nd festival in 1969, the year after the student held-up Cannes, the original Easy Rider might not have seen the light of day. American distributors wouldn’t touch the film, were embarrassed by it.

Easy Rider was a big part of the independent cinema rebirthing of Hollywood, after years of studio failures and excesses. And it was Cannes that gave the story behind the bike its traction, gave the new, influential, film its market tread. Easy Rider was a key independent American sixties production, one of several that created a trend that in effect saved Hollywood from a crippling decline.

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