Friday, February 15, 2019

605 - The Age of the Medici, Part 1, Italy, 1972. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Friday, February 15, 2019

605 - The Age of the Medici, Part 1, Italy, 1972.  Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Part 1: The Exile of Cosimo de Medici.

Rossellini is in the final stages of his life.  He was born in 1906 and will die in 1977.  He made his groundbreaking neo-realist films in the 1940s and 50s.  Now in the 70s, and he in his 60s, he wants to give back to his viewers by bringing them the history of the great civilization in which they live.

Thus, he has devoted himself to making teaching films.  The purpose of these films is to help provide the viewer with a classical liberal arts education, to fight again the narrowing of specialization, and to help liberate the viewer to live a broader, more all-encompassing life.  He is putting together a Great Books of cinema.

His production values are as rich and vibrant as ever.  As you watch this film, it is a marvel to realize that it was made for television.  Especially in a time when many people still have small, square, black-and-white TV sets.  It is rich with color.  And with exquisite wardrobe.

As with yesterday's film, Blaise Pascal, we have people standing around talking.  The focus is less on the art of living the part and more on the art of literature and history delivered orally and in performance.  People make speeches.  Sometimes they are aware of the camera and the audience.  The camera is often still, sitting on a tripod, and in a wide shot.  But the artistry is not necessarily less excellent for it.  It is just focused on different things.  It is a kind of a hybrid between acting and a history lecture--an engaging and informative history lecture.

While learning history, one is also exposed to science and art, philosophy and medicine, painting and sculpture, architecture and music, mathematics and civics.  The humanities.

Through the lives of the Medici.

The great director Vittorio de Sica's son, Manuel de Sica, composed the score to this film.



Thursday, February 14, 2019

604 - Blaise Pascal, France, 1972. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

604 - Blaise Pascal, France, 1972.  Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Since today is Valentine's Day, we shall make you aware that it was Blaise Pascal who said, "The heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of."

And yet, if we do that, then we shall also make you aware that he was not talking at all about some sappy romantic sentimentality.

He was talking about the limits of reason and the need for humans to go beyond it in acquiring understanding.  He was talking about matters of faith.

Blaise Pascal was a great reasoner.  He had one of the greatest minds in the history of Western Civilization.  He began his career as a mathematician at age 16 and continued work as a scientist and inventor before eventually turning to theology, the Queen of the Sciences.

He worked with conic sections, vacuums, and pressure.  He invented calulating machines.  He developed Pascal's law in fluid mechanics, Pascal's theorem in projective geometry, and Pascal's triangle in pure math.  Then he developed Pascal's wager in philosophical theology.

His most known work is the book published in 1670 called Pensees, which means Thoughts.

Roberto Rossellini filmed, among other things, stories about historical figures, so it was natural and appropriate for him to film a take on the life of Blaise Pascl


Etienne Pascal is the new Royal Intendant of the Rouen Province.

He arrives and sets up his office.

He is a devout man.  Before work he reads.

"Moses was tending his flock on the mountain of God and the Lord appeared to him as a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.  He saw the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.  Then Moses said, "I will see this great sight,  why the bush is not burnt." - Exodus 3:1-3.

Etienne's secretary was corrupted by a merchant of Rouen.  So he fired him.  Now he needs someone to help him bring the tax register of Rouville parish up to date.

His 17-year-old son Blaise is good with numbers.  He hires him.

Blaise calculates the tallage quickly.  His father is surprised.  He warns him to be careful.

Father Marsenne has sent a book.

Rough Draft of Attaining the Outcome of Intersecting a Cone with a Plane.  By a Lyonnais geometrician named Mr. Girard Desargues,  Scholars find the work to be obscure.  So they refer to it as the Lesson on Darkness.

Blaise will not find the work to be obscure. 

Blaise wants to read it.  His father tells him that he will not understand it.  But he understands it.  And he masters it.

While other family members do their chores outside, Blaise stays upstairs in his room calculating.

His sister Jacqueline wonders at his work.  He is spending hours in his room.

She declares, "Your calculations will never rival the beauty of God's creatures."

He replies, "Aren't these also part of creation?"

He stays up all night.

His father is concerned for his health.  And warns him that success could fill him with delusions of grandeur.  Blaise assures his father that he understands the need for humility.

"Father, I know a man is truly great when he knows he is nothing."

"Hold fast to that idea and you will prosper."

His father likes geometry too.  So he takes Blaise's work to study it so that they can discuss it together.  He loves his son and wants to spend time with him.

After reading the work, Etienne secretly sends it to Father Marsenne.

Father Marsenne admires it and intends to publish it.


Mouline, the master tanner of Rouen, comes to call on Etienne.  Mouline cannot pay his tallage.  The townspeople have decided his maid is a witch.  They have stopped buying his tanned hides.

Mouline believes it is a valid accusation due to the spell cast on his son.  The authorities have already arrested her, but there are so many witch trials already scheduled that it will take months before her case comes to trial.  By then he will be ruined.

Perhaps, Etienne Pascal can help move the trial forward and help spare Mouline.

We see the witch trial.

Roberto Rossellini plays it straight.  He does not present the judge, or the jury, or the prosecution, as religious fanatics or hypocrites but as otherwise reasonable people who are stuck in a world of superstition, attempting to find justice according to the limited understanding they have.

He presents the trial itself as absolutely ridiculous.  It is shocking how they think and what they do.  But they are earnestly doing the best they know how.  Blaise himself is confused by it, and his attempts to understand these strange traditions lead him to a more rational approach that dispenses with unfounded superstitions.

Blaise has drawn up plans for a calculating machine.  He has given them to the cabinetmaker in order to build the machine.  He shows his father.  His sister is not interested but his father is.

"God does not condemn those who seek to understand Nature's marvels in order to share them with mankind."


Chancellor Seguier is awakened by his attendant, who then reads to him.

"O righteous Father, the world hath not know thee, but I have known thee., and these have known that thou hast sent me.  And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast love me may be in them, and I in them." - John 17:25-26.

His servants wash his feet.

Father Marsenne has arrived, along with the geometricians, Etienne and Blaise Pascal.

As he is putting on his socks, he has them show them in.

They have brought the calculating machine.  It performs addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of all whole numbers without error.

Chancellor Seguier is impressed.  He will show it to his majesty the King.  Who himself is the most excellent craftsman in all the land.  When the gunsmith Pomerol retired, he showed his secrets only to the King, whom he believed was the most worthy to learn them.

Seguier has heard of the young Pascal, who wrote the treatise on conic sections, and he says that Cardinal Richelieu has heard of his sister Jacqueline, who has a gift for poetry and acting.  She had been under the patronage of the Duchess of Guillaume when she was 12 or 13 and enchanted Cardinal Richelieu with one of her performance.

Then he states that she thereby obtained from the Cardinal a pardon for her father, "who had lost our favor."


It is because he is too zealous in his studies.  It has gone to his brain.

Though we are experts at fixing broken bodies, a science learned on the battlefield, we know nothing about such humors.

He is given, while ill, the letters of Saint-Cyran, a disciple of Jansen.

He works on his idea for the vacuum.  Mercury tube.  Air pressure.

He discovers the value of dipping one's feet in brandy, of applying heat to the feet.

Then he turns to philosophy.

"If I seek a void in nature, it is to discover its mirror in the heart of man."

Can you know or love someone through reason alone?

Not the God of the philosophers but the living Christ.

Read the Gospels.

There is an infinity in things beyond our grasp.

Take that away and try to be less superstitious.

"But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken by God, saying, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'"  [God is not the God of the dead but of the living.] - Matthew 22:31-32.

Blaise's sister Jacqueline goes to the Convent of Minims.  Blaise is at first skeptical of their motives, but they prove true to him.  Later he goes to hear Rene Descartes, who is the invited guest.

Pascal and Descartes exchange ideas while there.

He presses through reason to faith.

He will go on to write his Thoughts, as he gets sicker, takes the viaticum, and eventually dies.

The film itself is deceptively simple and straightforward.  Passing from point to point in Pascal's life.  And for a director known as the father of Italian Neo-Realism, there is a bit of a lack of realism in the period costumes.  It often looks like 20th century people dressed in 17th century clothes.

Yet Rossellini wisely takes the time to trust actor Pierre Arditi to speak long passages from the Pensees as extended monologues and soliloquies.  In context.  While grounded in physical behavior.  So that the viewer can witness this mind on fire as he contemplates important ideas.

If you have never read Pensees, take some time to check it out and get to know Pascal for yourself.  It is worth your time.  And check out the movie.

And see a man born into a superstitious society, rejecting it for a life of science and math and reason, who, now free of superstition, through that reason most reasonably returns to the faith of his heritage.

Peace to this house, and to all who dwell therein.


*                              *                              *                              *

Reason seems unsure in its place in the world.

It isn't a chain of reasonings but intuition.
They are not quantifiable.  They are infinite.
But the infinite universe we live in will never cease to be infinite.
The geometric method

Is it not better to begin with the infinite and move down to the simple?
Only God can know them because only he is infinite.Christians profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason, and even declare that any attempt to do so would be foolishness.
Certainly, it is in lacking proofs that they are not lacking in sense.
What do you mean?
Since God is infinitely incomprehensible, then understanding him by means of reason is a contradiction in terms.  It is not because our reason is limited that we should have a limited idea of God.  God is, or he is not.  Reason can decide nothing here, except to admit there is an infinity of things beyond understanding.  You are not a skeptic, because skeptics know man has a deep need for certitude, and a man like you would not be satisfied with less.  Nor dogmatic, because we all know that life is uncertain and in constant flux.  Where does that leave us?  God is, or he is not.  To which side shall you incline?  Since this game could be played forever without outcome, you must wager.  It is not optional.  You are embarked.  But neither to the reason nor to the heart is it satisfying to wager on what is finite.  Why?  Because if you wager on what is finite and limited, and you win, you gain nothing, and if you lose, you lose all.  If instead you wager on the infinite, if you win, you gain all, and if you lose, you lose nothing.
But aren't we still uncertain?
Yes, of course, but you hope.  And instead of counting only on your own strength and risking despair, you place your hope in the reality of a superior existence.
And if I lose?
You will have fought the good fight, and will have become a charitable and sincere friend.  And, in the meantime, God might reveal himself to you.

"The year of grace 1654.  Monday, November 23, feast of Saint Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology.  The eve of Saint Chrysogonus martyr and others.  From about half-past 10:00 in the evening until about half-past midnight.  Fire.

God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob.  Not of philosophers and intellectuals.  Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace.  God of Jesus Christ.  Deum meum et Deum vestrum.  Your God will be my God.  Forgetfulness of the world and of everything except God.  He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels.  Greatness of the human soul.  O just Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.  Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.  I have cut myself off from him.  Dereliquerunt me fontem aquae vivae.  'My God wilt thou forsake me?'  Let me not be cut off from him forever!  This is eternal life, that they may know you and the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ.  I have cut myself off from him.  I have run away from him, renounced him, crucified him.  Let me never be cut off from him.  He can only be kept by the ways taught in the Gospel.  Sweet and total renunciation.  Total submission to Jesus Christ and my director.  Everlasting joy in return for one day's effort on earth."

Hear us, holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, and be pleased to send thy holy angel from heaven to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all those who dwell in this house through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

May almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins and bring you everlasting life.  Amen.

May you be pardoned and absolved of all sins by almighty God.  Amen.

Receive, brother, the viaticum of the body of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May he keep ou from the malignant foe and bring you to life everlasting.  Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

O holy Lord, Father almighty and eternal God,  we pray thee in faith that our brother may benefit from the holy body of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy son, which he receives as an everlasting remedy for body and soul from him who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

May God never abandon me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

603 - Personal Shopper, France, 2016. Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

603 - Personal Shopper, France, 2016.  Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Unknown:  I know You

Maureen is alone.  She works as a personal shopper for a fashion model named Kyra.  But she rarely sees her, and they rarely talk.  They text.  And Kyra leaves Maureen notes for when she drops off her clothes.

Maureen is good at what she does.  She knows Kyra's tastes.  She buys her dresses, pants, accessories, jewelry, and shoes.  She knows what Kyra will like.  She knows what Kyra will love.  She knows what Kyra will despise.  And she makes quick decisions that prove to be right.

But Maureen is also alone in that she has lost her twin brother Lewis to death by congenital heart disease, a disease which Maureen shares.  She and Lewis promised each other that whoever died first would return to leave the other one some sign of the afterlife.

Lewis considered himself a medium.  He was sensitive to spiritual forces.  So Maureen followed him and claims now to be a medium herself.  Though she is less confident.  The couple who wants to buy the house in which Mauren and Lewis grew up has hired her to test the large, empty, dark place for the presence of spirits.  They do not wish to purchase a haunted home.

So Maureen goes and spends time there alone.  Searching for Lewis.  She senses something.  She hears strange noises.  Creaks and moans.  And water faucets seem to turn themselves on.  Yet when she does finally see the spirit in the house, it is not Lewis.  It is a woman.  Who emits ectoplasm.  Who is angry.  Who seems lost.

Whose presence scares Maureen.  Induces fear in her.  Causes her finally to flee.  Leaving her lost in Paris, not going to Oman to visit her boyfriend Gary, holding on to her "stupid job" so that she can stay and wait.  Hoping to find her brother.  To seek and sense the sign he might leave for her.

Until she finally finds a companion.

Sort of.

In the person named "Unknown."

Who begins texting her.

You know Unknown.  He is kin to Anonymous.  You yourself have received his texts and calls.

It is just that this Unknown knows her.  Knows her whereabouts.  Knows her actions.  From Paris to London.  Aboard the train.  Around town.  And back from London to Paris.

Giving Kristen Stewart the opportunity to showcase some of her finest acting.  With her cell phone.

She lays bare her soul.  Delves the deeps.  Exposes her vulnerabilities.  Invites the audience to love her as she embodies the unguardedly human.

As The Devil Wears Prada suddenly morphs into The Talented Mr. Ripley.  Before it turns into The Shining.

As this motorscooter-driving, leather-jacket-wearing, deadpan-talking, cynically-minded pokerfaced smoker faces her deepest fear.

A fear far greater than spending the night alone in a large, dark empty house with an angry spirit.

The fear of facing herself.

And finding herself. 

And trying to decide if she likes herself.

By crossing the threshold into doing the forbidden.

As her Unknown companion encourages her.

Practically pushes her into it.

Maureen wants to be someone else.  Wants to be feminine.  Wants to be pretty.  Wants to be elegant.  Wants to be attractive.  Wants to be desirable.  Wants to be loved.

She indulges her desires.

We are not necessarily saying that Maureen does to Kyra what Tom Ripley did to Dickie Greenleaf.  Nor that Ingo functions as her own Freddie Miles.

After all, Ingo himself may be . . . well . . . we will let you see it and decide.

Though we might throw in for good measure that there may be a bit of Swimming Pool in here as well.  Or that Maureen might have a beautiful mind.

If only she could hear from Lewis.

He has the answers she is looking for.

Of who she is.

And what there is to come.

Unless . . .

Unless.


*                              *                              *                              *

It's extremely difficult to find a portal into the spirit world.  That's just the way it is.

Her works were made before the creation of abstract art.  But Hilma af Klint kept her art secret.

In her will she decided that the earliest they would be viewed would be 20 years after her death.  So 100 years ago, Hilma af Klint painted for the future, and that future is now.

The idea that there is a world beyond our world.

You already have a stupid job.  It wouldn't change a thing, but the pays is better.

Love?  It never crossed my mind, no.  It's just physical.

I'm a medium.  He was a medium.  I'll just know it.

Lewis thought they were spirits.  I'm less sure.  But yes, somewhat.  I mean, there are invisible presences around us always, and whether or not they're the souls of the dead, I don't know.  And when you are a medium you're just attuned to a vibe.  It's an intuition thing.  It's a feeling.  You see this door, slightly ajar.

I have to give his spirit, or whatever you want to call it, a chance to prove him right.
That's why I'm still waiting.  Then I guess I'll live my life and let it go.

I need more from you.  I'm gonna need more from you.

You're not my brother.  You're not my brother.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

602 - Clouds of Sils Maria, France, 2014. Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

602 - Clouds of Sils Maria, France, 2014.  Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Cloud Phenomena of Maloja.
Its harbingers.
The clouds wind up the Maloja Pass.
The so-called Maloja Snake.

Rosa is showing Maria footage from the 1924 silent documentary film Cloud Phenomena of Maloja by Arnold Fanck, with subtitles.  Maria's personal assistant Valentine looks on while leaning in the doorjam behind them.  She shows interest.  She moves forward to get a better look.

The baroque orchestra plaintively plays Handel's Largo de Xerxes underneath.

Rosa explains to Maria, "Wilhelm was fascinated with this film.  He used to marvel at the fact that  the true nature of the landscape revealed itself in these images."

Rosa is Wilhelm's recent widow.  The playwright Wilhelm Melchior.

Wilhelm Melchior gave Maria her first big role twenty years ago.  He gave her a career.  He made her a star.  She has always felt grateful.

So grateful, in fact, that when they hear of his death, Maria and Valentine continue on to Zurich anyway, for Maria to give a speech in his honor and to receive an award on his behalf.

Henryk Wad is present.

Henryk is a man Maria cannot stand.  She says.  She slept with him when she was 18 and they were working on a film together.  But she later felt she was too young to understand what she was doing, and he took advantage.  A few years later, she says, they working on a film together again.  By the time the third film came around, she was a star and suddenly he was interested

But Maria loved Wilhelm Melchior.  He gave her her career.  He was a warm and generous man, as well as a genius.  She reveals to Valentine, after they have been drinking, that she was in love with him but she knew that their professional, working relationship was too important to risk losing over desire.

If only he had lived.

Valentine has invited hot young director Klaus Diesterweg to meet with Maria.

He meets with her.

He offers Maria to play the older woman Helena this time around and to allow a newcomer to play Maria's original role, the character Sigrid.

The newcomer will be Jo-Ann Ellis, a girl with classical training and a theater background who has just done a superhero movie.  She respects Maria Enders and is willing to give up her other commitments to work with her.  He says.

Rosa invites Maria and Valentine to stay in the Melchior house, in the hills above the Maloja Pass, while Rosa leaves to grieve away from home and its memories.

Valentine proves to be a good rehearsal partner as well as a personal assistant.  She too memorizes her lines.  The women speak them during both formal rehearsal times and while going hiking and swimming.  They move back and forth between the lines and their own speech so that the distinctions between characters and real people become blurred.

They are living their roles.


And as Jo-Ann arrives to play Sigrid, Valentine transforms into Helena

As the clouds roll by.


Juliette Binoche had her break-out role(s) in 1985 in a movie Olivier Assayas co-wrote.  She played Nina / Anne Larrieux in Andre Techine's Rendez-vous.

23 years later she worked with Assayas again, in his ensemble drama Summer Hours (2008).  Which we have seen.

Now nearly 30 years after their first movie together, Ms. Binoche is starring in Olivier Assayas' film Clouds of Sils Maria.

Kristen Stewart has had a stellar career in a short amount of time.  Everyone knows her as Bella Swan from the Twilight series, but she also had a career as a child actress and has played a wide range of characters in a good number of independent and studio films.






*                              *                              *                              *

I'm sick of acting hanging from wires in front of green screens.

He chose an unknown 18-year old actress.

In two months of shooting he gave me everything I needed to build a career on.

The cockroaches must have taken a later train.

I have to say my first reaction was to turn right back.

I can't deal with this; it's impossible.

So he was like in love with you or something?
Not at all.  He was just furious I didn't gie in to him.

Look it up in the internet.
I thought we despised the internet.

But I try to be more elegant today.

The less he understands, the better he is.  When he understands nothing, he's excellent.

We had an affair when we were shooting Maloja Snake.
Yeah, I couldn't tell.
I was 18, kind of dumb, and he really took advantage.  After the shoot I never heard from him, and it destroyed me.
I'm sure you've run into him since.
We made another film together afterwards.
Which one?
Oh, you don't want to know.  Tolstoy adaptation.  German producers.  Who cares?  About ten years later I was famous.  Then he was interested.  And he kept harassing me, calling me in the middle of the night.  I didn't give in, and that he hated, and he made me pay for it every single day of the shooting.
He was really amazing in that one movie, um, what was it called?  He plays a Soviet defector with missile codes and s---.  Do you know it?
No idea.  No, I don't know.  Never heard of it.
He's great in it.  So intense.  Especially in the more physical scenes.  That stare.  He is like, I like him.
Yeah, I kind of got it.
I mean, as an actor I really like him.

It's great to celebrate his work, especially today.

I played Sigrid in Maloja Snake when I was 18.  For me it was more than a role.  In some way I am still Sigrid.
That's my point.  Sigrid seduces Helena.
And it has nothing to do with being a lesbian, by the way.  I've always been straight.
That's not at all what I meant.
Sigrid is free beyond everything, and most of all she is destructive, unpredictable.
I know.
And right or wrong, I've always identified with that freedom.  It's a way of protecting myself.

And for you, Helena embodies that opposite?
Helena's 40.  She runs a company.  She falls head over heels in love with a girl who doesn't love her.  And commits suicide.  Yes, she's completely the opposite.
But, what is it that attracts Helena to Sigrid if they are so different.
It's obvious.  Her youth.
'
If you're telling me I'm Helena's age now, yeah, you're right.  It's true.  But that doesn't mean I can play her.
The way I see Helena is totally different.
She's not the epitome of order.
Sigrid revives tis hidden violence in Helena.
Was it hidden or tamed?  Time's gone by and she can't accept it.  Me neither, I guess.
There's no antagonism.  It's the attraction of two women with the same wound.  Sigrid and Helena are one and the same person.  One and the same person.  That's what the play is about.  And because you were Sigrid, only you can be Helena now.
You know as well as I do that William Melchior had been working on a sequel for years.
Yes, but it was about Sigrid at 40 years old.
No, it was about Sigrid 20 years later became Helena.
So, who's gonna play Sigrid?

The role scares me.  The role scares me.  I'm in the middle of a divorce.  I feel alone and vulnerable.
If you refuse, I understand, but it will be a missed opportunity, especially for William.
I should get going.

I have another reason.
Susan Rosenberg.  She played Helena with me.  She died in a car accident a year after.  It's a superstition.  I've always associated her death with a Helena suicide.
She was a lousy actress who didn't understand a thing about the role, and her conventional style of acting highlighted the modernity of your performance.  You should be grateful to her.

Helena's love for Sigrid makes her stupid, and blind to what everybody in the audience can see right away. . . .
I think your reading is simplistic.  I know Sigrid, and believe me, she's more interesting than that.  Yes, she takes advantage of Helena.  Yes, she fascinates her, and she knows it.  Well, you can decide not to look any further, but I had to because I played her.  You're just talking about what's on the surface.  The play is about what attracts them to each other, and it's harder to see and it's more profound and truer.  The impossibility of their relationship is as cruel for Sigrid.
I'm sure she'll get over it.
What do you know?
Time.  Youth.  She has her life ahead of her.
Well, Helena's young too.  I mean, she's not old.  She has her life ahead of her too.  But she decides to give it all up.
Helena's not used to be turned down.  She discovers her own frailty and she can't accept it.

I had a dream we were already rehearsing and the past and the present were blending together.  I'm confused.
No kidding.

He is a sick director.  Jo-Ann's a superstar.  It pays well.
I don't need the money.

Stay as long as you want.  I like the fact that you are working on the part here where it was written.
You promised no ghosts.

Is that the Maloja Pass, right there?  The snake?

I was fine with just feeling attraction. . . . Anything more would have endangered our relationship, which my intuition told me was much more important than desire.

Maybe I only remember what suits me to remember.

There are werewolves involved, for whatever reason. - Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart.

I didn't know you at 18, but I'm almost positive Jo-Ann's a lot worse.

I think she probably got jealous of Hollywood trash.  TMZ deemed her the A-list actress that dreampt of making it to the Z-list.

You could have told me sooner.
You despise internet gossip.
This is not gossip; it's information.
It's celebrity news.  It's fun.
I thought you liked her a lot.
I do.  I love her.  She's not completely antiseptic like the rest of Hollywood.
You just said she's a self-destructive crazy girl.
I didn't say that.
Sorry, I must have misunderstood then.
She's brave enough to be herself.  At her age, I think that's pretty f-ing cool.  I think she's got a bright future.  In fact, I think she's probably my favorite actress.
Oh.  You mean more than me.
No.  I didn't mean that.

Defeated by age, by her insecurities.

This poor woman is ready to kill herself before the play even starts.  She's using Sigrid as a weapon.  That's how.

I'm Sigrid.  I want to stay Sigrid!
Sigrid is 20.
I don't care.  I know I'm right.  It doesn't interest me anymore.

If you find my view uninteresting, I don't really know what I'm doing here.  I can run lines with you, but I don't really see the point.  You can find anyone to do that.

All I'm saying is that thinking about a text is different from living it.  It's nothing against you.

You hate the play and you hate her.  You don't have to take it out on me.  I'm just doing my job.

I don't know why I should be helping to bring it to life.
I bet you weren't saying stuff like this when you were playing Sigrid.
I was a kid when I was playing Sigrid.  I wasn't asking those kinds of questions.
Like Jo-Ann and her science fiction film?
Yeah, probably.
Don't you want to get that innocence back?
You can't get innocent twice.
You can.  If you just accepted Helena the way you accepted Sigrid.  Obviously, it's easier to relate to strength rather than weakness.  Youth is better than maturity.  Cruelty is cruel.  Suffering sucks.  She's mature and she's innocent.  She's innocent in her own right.  That's what I like about her.

You didn't answer me.  You have your interpretation of the play.  I think mine's just confusing you.  It's frustrating me.  It's uncomfortable.  It's not good.
Stay.
No, no.
Please, stay.  I need you.

Monday, February 11, 2019

601 - Carlos, Part 3, France, 2010. Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Monday, February 11, 2019

601 - Carlos, Part 3, France, 2010. Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Budapest, 1979.

Carlos and Magdalena set up shop.

Hungary is a socialist nation.  They tell him he can receive friends and move about Hungary as he pleases.  But he has no right to set up operations there.

He goes to Tripoli, Libya.

He goes to Aden, Yemen.

Syria protects him.

He works with other countries and regimes.

Libya.

Romania.

Nicolae Ceausesu.

He sets up deals.

He smuggles guns.

He makes lots of money.

Until it all come crashing down.

Communism falls.

The Berlin Wall is dismantled.

Carlos must leave Syria.

He goes to Sudan.

He loses his supporters.

He watches as an outsider.

He gets ill.

He is captured.

Nothing lasts forever.

Not the least the life and work of a communist terrorist.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

600 - Carlos, Part 2, France, 2010. Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

600 - Carlos, Part 2, France, 2010.  Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Vienna, December 21, 1975.

The red and white tram turns the corner and comes to a stop.  Sonderzug.

Carlos and his men get off.  He smokes.  He walks.  He looks around.  He wears the black jacket, the sunglasses, the beret, of his uniform.

Is the conference still on?

Yes.

They go upstairs.  They unpack their bags.  There are six of them.  Including Nana.

They enter the conference room and shoot up the ceilings.  As well as the first couple men who try to stop them.  Carlos shoots one, a Libyan delegate.  Nana shoots another.

The world's oil ambassadors lie on the ground below the tables.

Nana shoots a third one.

Youssef straps explosives to the table legs.

Khalid: find Yamani?
Not yet.

Khalid does find Jamshid Amouzegar, the oil minister of Iran.

Carlos finds Dr. Hernandez Acosta of Venezuela.  He appreciates the position of his government.  "We are on the same side."

Then Carlos finds him:  Ahmed Zaki Yamani, oil minister of Saudi Arabia.

Search them all.  And confiscate any weapons.

The police get into a firefight in the hallway with a couple of Carlos' men.  One of his men gets shot in the abdomen.

"I'm wounded.  The situation's under control.  One of the cops was hit.  The others ran.  Joseph is still in position."
"You have nothing to fear.  Just sit hear; keep an eye on the hostages, okay?"

The neutral countries in the back to the left:
Gabon, Nigeria, Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia.

The friendly countries in the back to the right:
Iraq, Libya, Kuwait, Algeria.

The others are the enemies of our cause.  In the center, quick:
Saudi Arabia, The Emirates, Qatar, Iran.

Carlos dictates a letter to a secretary.
To the Austrian authorities,
We have taken the OPEC Conference delegates hostage.  We demand that the enclosed communique be read on Austrian state radio and television within two hours, and then at regular intervals every two hours.  A bus with curtains at its windows will be provided to take us to Vienna Airport tomorrow morning at seven o'clock.

Carlos' wounded colleague falls to the ground.  He has lost plenty of blood.

Belaid Abdessalam, oil minister of Algeria, is a doctor.

There a DC-9 and a three-man crew will be ready to take off to carry us and our hostages to our final destination.  Any delay, provocation, or unauthorized attempts to approach us will endanger the lives of our hostages.
Signed,
The Armed Wing of the Arab Revolution,
Vienna, December 21st, 1975.

The secretary goes out to deliver the communique and the letter to the police.  Along the way, she lifts the wounded policeman and helps him make it outside to get help.

Dr. Abdessalam says the wounded colleague's wound is serious.  He needs to be operated on immediately.

Otto Roesch, Minister of the Interior, Home Secretary, arrives by helicopter.

It seems Qaddafi is furious.

Carlos lets it being

President Carlos Andres Perez.
who nationalized the oil industry as well as the mines.

He redistributed wealth to the needy.  Considered education the third world's main weapon.



*                              *                              *                              *


"Sit down.  I'm going to kill you.  Not yet.  You're a smart man, and you know the ins and outs of politics the same way I do.  You know that at the end of the day we're just pawns in the game of history.  Aren't we?  Me, I'm a soldier.  I don't have a home, not even a tent.  My only mission is to lead my men to victory.  Today, I have 40 commando groups around the world, ready to act as soon as I give the order.  They are men with determination, and they're ready to sacrifice themselves for the cause and for the final victory.  That's who I am.

"As for you, you are a strategist.  And the chessboard you played on is as big as the planet.  And I totally respect that, because actually you and I have found ourselves many times on the same side.  The side of the anti-imperialist struggle and the Palestinian cause.  But unfortunately, today, we are not on that same side, because by lifting the oil embargo you betrayed our cause.  You sided with Washington.

"There always comes a time for a man to take responsibility for his acts.  And that time, Sheikh Yamani, has come for you today.  You are going to have to pay for Saudi Arabia's political decisions.  And you know what's the treatment reserved for traitors--death.  Now you pray.  You know what?  I'm going to be straight to you, because you and I are men of the same caliber.    You and I know that if the Austrian Government doesn't respect our ultimatum, I will have no choice.  And with no hesitation, I will execute you personally and throw your body out the window.

"But I also know that a man of your intelligence won't hold that against me, because you know, after all, our struggle very well.  You are aware of its greatness and nobility."


"Relax.  Only Amouzegar for Iran and Yamani for Saudi Arabia will have to pay.  The others will be spared."

"It is now clear for everyone that the crucial Arab cause concerning he Palestinian question and subjected to its consequences is the object of a major plot aiming to legitimize Zionist existence on our land and to consolidate division, weakness, and dissension in the Arab world, and particularly in the region neighboring the occupied Palestinian territory in order to allow the aggressive Zionist state to execute its expansionist projects.  In addition to these maneuvers aimed at forcing Arab and Palestinian recognition regarding its legality, the Zionist state . . . "

The doctor who examined your colleague said he cannot be moved. . . . He will die during the journey.
Dead or alive, I don't care.

"Don't you think what the revolution needs is money and not corpses? . . . Your hostages are more valuable alive than dead."

"I am very well paid.  I have nothing to gain by sparing these dogs."








Saturday, February 9, 2019

599 - Carlos, Part 1, France, 2010. Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

599 - Carlos, Part 1, France, 2010.  Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Mohammed Boudia awakens with his girlfriend and gets dressed for the day.

His car explodes.


Mohammed Boudia worked for the PFLP.  The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

He was targeted by MOSSAD.  The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations.  A counter-terrorist unit from Israel.

Which was itself responding in part to the Black September bombings at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

If you have seen Steven Spielberg's movie Munich (2005), then you have witnessed a telling of that story.  This story overlaps with that story just a little bit here in the beginning, and follows the action forward and from the point of view of the other side.

Time to replace Boudia.

The leader, Waddi Haddad, brings the new man from Jordan to London to see if he is ready.

Ilich Ramirez Sanchez is the man for the job.

Sanchez hails from Venezuela.  He was born in 1949.  In 1951 his brother Lenin was born.  In 1958 his brother Vladimir was born.  His father apparently had a thing for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.  Sanchez received Communist training first in Cuba and then in Moscow.

He gets his assignment.  He goes to London.  He informs people that his name is now Carlos.

Carlos is a strong leader.  He consolidates power.  His early missions fail but he makes adjustments.  He goes to France.

The head of Carlos' unit, Michel Moukharbal--Andre--betrays Carlos by fingering him to the police.  Carlos gets away by shooting himself out of an apartment.

He retreats to Yemen where at first he lets himself go.  But then Haddad makes him go back into training for a new mission he has for him.  In Austria.

Carlos now leads a team in Vienna, where they take hostages during the OPEC meeting.


This film is a grand project for Olivier Assayas.  It runs 5 hours, 39 minutes, and its characters speak in 8 different languages  English, Arabic, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, and Japanese.




*                               *                               *                               *


This film is the result of historical and journalistic research.

Because of controversial gray areas in Carlos' life, the film must be viewed as fiction, tracing two decades in the life of a notorious terrorist.

His relations with other characters have been fictionalized as well.

The three murder on Rue Toulier are the only events depicted in this film for which Ilich Ramirez Sanchez was tried and sentenced.

The Drugstore Publicis bombing is still under investigation.

Paris, June 28, 1973