The School for Postmen
is a 16 minute short film from 1947 by French director and physical comedian Jacques Tati. It's being shown on The Guardian's website and is introduced
by their film critic Peter Bradshaw. The film is about a postman in rural southern France trying to finish his round on time.
He invented or popularized
a startling array of the fundamental elements of film: the dissolve, the fade-in and fade-out, slow motion, fast motion, stop motion, double exposures and multiple exposures, miniatures, the in-camera matte, time-lapse photography, color film (albeit hand-painted), artificial film lighting, production sketches and storyboards, and the whole idea of narrative film.
By 1897, in a studio of his own design and construction – the first complete movie studio – his hand forged virtually everything on his screen. Norman McLaren writes, "He was not only his own producer, ideas man, script writer, but he was his own set-builder, scene painter, choreographer, deviser of mechanical contrivances, special effects man, costume designer, model maker, actor, multiple actor, editor and distributor." Also, his own cinematographer, and the inventor of cameras to suit his special conceptions. Not even auteur directors such as Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, and Stanley Kubrick would personally author so many aspects of their films."
Inside: 57 films by Georges Méliès, the Grandfather of Visual Effects
. [more inside]
"You can fool everybody, but landie dearie me, you can't fool a cat. They seem to know who's not right".
The psychoanalyst calmly explains to his patient that her idea that she is turning into a member of the cat family
is a fantasy; she silences him with fang and talon.
made his name as a producer with the horror film Cat People
, produced for RKO on a minuscule budget
and directed by Jacques Tourneur
. The star? French actress Simone Simon
, who died today in Paris aged 93. More inside.
Detailing the impossible. Louis Feuillade
made more than 800 films
covering almost every contemporary genre
: historical drama, comedy, realist drama, melodrama, religious films. However, he was most famous, or infamous, for his crime serials: Fantômas
(1913-14), Les Vampires
, Judex (1916), La Nouvelle Mission de Judex (1917), Tih-Minh
(1918) and Barrabas (1919).
Critics panned his crime films
, often savagely, because the preoccupation of French critics and film-makers in the 1910s and 20s was to elevate cinema -– and, ironically, back then the French saw their own films as lacking the artistry and sophistication of American ones, by Griffith or DeMille – to the level of art. It was years before Feuillade's films
escaped the label of aesthetic backwardness. Now, critics have realized
that what Feuillade has done is to offer us an alternative cinematic mode to Griffiths', one that continues in updated variants throughout cinema. It is predicated on a principle of uncertainty, that questions our understanding of the real. It is as fluid and elusive
a tradition as a cat burglar
, dressed in black on a night-time rooftop
It all comes down do one question: Must France stay in Algeria? “If the answer is yes,” he says, “then you must accept the consequences.” Gillo Pontecorvo
's "The Battle of Algiers
", now out
on a Criterion dvd
, is a film of quiet
power. The mix of subjective and documentary techniques
holds the viewer's trust so authoritatively that many scenes come close to sneaking out of the mental "movies I saw" box to mix with the viewer's own memories. No matter how complicated or fragmented the action becomes, Pontecorvo gets the pace, tone and rhythm exactly right, filling the screen with eloquent details.
(Last year, Pontecorvo's masterpiece was discussed here, too. More inside)
Underground French Cinema (literally) Three days later, when the police returned accompanied by experts from the French electricity board to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: "Do not," it said, "try to find us."
A secret underground cinema is found in the Catacombs of Paris
, "You guys have no idea what's down there."
Perhaps it's the work of a group of cataphiles
called the "Perforating Mexicans".
French culture in crisis ?
After the Vivendi Universal
french CEO Jean-Marie Messier
chairman Pierre Lescure yesterday, many questions arise
. Will Vivendi, through Canal+, continue to help French cinema the way Canal+ did in the past ? Is this the last straw in a long series of acts and declarations from Vivendi's CEO against "Franco-French cultural exception" ? Has The Man finally won in France ? What's to happen in all the other countries were Vivendi (or any of the BigCo) basically owns
the culture through local companies ?