Sunday, May 20, 2007

"To Each His Own Cinema"

The 60th Annual Cannes Film Festival is in full swing in the south of France right now. I've been quietly following the buzz, but have yet to blog about because A), well I'm not there, and B) I've been too busy with my acting work right now to do anything but quietly follow it.

However, the film that has most piqued my interest is To Each His Own Cinema, a collection of 33 short films made by 35 of the world's greatest directors (2 were made by two filmmakers, the Coen Brothers and the Dardennes Brothers). The article in Variety nearly made me cry:
The melancholy came at the press meet, as David Cronenberg expressed pessimism about the future of cinema-going.

"I believe the cinema is no longer the cinema. The form of the cinema is a thing of the past," he said. His short film was about the last Jew in the world who holds a gun to his head in the last movie theater in the world.

The "Chacun" shorts features a recurring theme of empty and/or derelict movie theaters, presaging the decline of movie-watching as a collective experience in theaters.

Despite that, the over-arching theme was one of love for cinema, and the emotions it stirs. Asked at the press confab about his personal rapport with the cinema, Atom Egoyan opined that in the not distant future huge halls and movie palaces, the few that are left will be preserved just for "the latest franchise," a la "Spider-Man," and certainly not for classics.

In short, few will ever have the opportunity to see something like Carl Dreyer's "Joan of Arc" on a big screen. His short in fact is a rift on the changes technology is bringing us, showing a young person watching the Danish auteur's classic in a theater and sending images of it over to a friend's mobile as he watches another movie in another moviehouse.

Maybe it's because Carl Dreyer's 1929 silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc is my favorite film that the article got to me...bringing me into a kind of wistful nostalgia for a period in film that I wasn't even alive for. Maybe it's because I have gotten to see it on the big screen, and it was one of the most emotionally overwhelming experiences of my life. But just the very idea behind the film has really gotten to me, just by reading that article.

I agree with Cronenberg about the current state of cinema. And it makes me sad. Blockbusters are indeed destroying cinema as it once was. I know there are deeper thoughts about this issue in me somewhere, but that is for another post. Perhaps after I have seen the film.

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