DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Alain Resnais Day *

* (restored/expanded)

 

‘Perhaps more than those of any other modern director, the films of Alain Resnais are synonymous with European art cinema. Hailed as groundbreakingly innovative and intellectual, his films are also lampooned as elliptical, poetic, and populated with impeccably dressed characters adrift in inexplicable existential dilemmas. In truth, Resnais’s legacy – soon to be displayed in a traveling retrospective – remains intact.

‘Often crowned the theoretician of the French New Wave, Resnais was in fact the most schooled in actual film production. While his cohorts – Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer, et al. – were busy raving about their favorite directors for Cahiers du Cinema, Resnais had been working as an actor, editor, screenwriter and assistant director on industrials and occasional features throughout the ’40s and ’50s. And his early films were odd 16mm, black-and-white documentary shorts focusing on art and artists, such as Van Gogh, Guernica and Gauguin.

‘Rarely revisited, these shorts, Resnais scholar James Monaco suggests, “strangely mirror the features he was later to shoot in the ’60s,” foreshadowing his complex treatment of documentary, time, memory, postcapitalist imperialism and, most importantly, the role of the artist. Throughout his career, the artist – and, by extension art itself – remains a central concern, either in the form of homages – in On Connaît la Chanson to Dennis Potter, in La Vie Est Un Roman to three French filmmakers, Melies, L’Herbier and Rohmer – or as character ( in Providence); or in the form of creative collaborations (with poet Jean Cayrol in Night and Fog and Muriel, novelists Maguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet in Hiroshima, Mon Amour and Last Year in Marienbad, respectively, or cartoonist Jules Feiffer in I Want to Go Home).

‘While Godard and others attempted to rewrite cinema through the style of Hollywood B-movies, Resnais’s obsession with memory, time and psychological subjectivity continues a French tradition expressed in both the philosophy of Henri Bergson and in the novels of Marcel Proust. In his documentary short Night and Fog Resnais leads a hallucinatory journey into the Nazi Holocaust through use of archival footage and a poetic subject. In his first feature, Hiroshima, Mon Amour, he turned his technique around, using a faux-documentary style to examine the real and ethical aftershocks of the A-bomb’s blast. By the time of Resnais’s 1961 masterpiece Last Year at Marienbad, history has collapsed into the fashionable relics of the European spa in which his nameless lead characters rewrite the story of their relationship (as well as any expectation of a coherent cinematic syntax) with each new scene.

‘In the almost 40 years hence, Resnais has continued to challenge our comprehension of film language. And the force of his early innovations led the way for many filmmakers to push their own boundaries and assumptions.’ — James Monaco

 

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Stills







































































 

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Further

Alain Resnais @ IMDb
Alain Resnais @ The Criterion Collection
‘Alain Resnais on the death of cinema’
‘How the 90-Year-Old Alain Resnais Preserves the Past’
‘Alain Resnais: vive la différence’
‘The Discreet Obscurity Of Alain Resnais’
Jonathan Rosenbaum interviews Alain Resnais
‘The Game’
‘Alain Resnais and Cahiers du Cinema 1951-1968’
Alain Resnais’s films @ Mondo Digital
Alain Resnais @ TSPDT
‘Alain Resnais and the Enigmatic Art of Memory’
‘Meet the Argentine Jew who shared a nightmare with director Alain Resnais’
‘Cinema After Alain Resnais’
‘Alain Resnais: Time and Thought, Past and Presence’

 

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Extras



Alain Resnais interview (1961)


Cinéma selon Alain Resnais: L’inclassable


Recut Alain Resnais – Blow up


Attendees at the French director Alain Resnais funeral in Paris

 

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Interview






 

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18 of Alain Resnais’s 51 films

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Alain Resnais & Chris Marker Les Statues Meurent Aussi (Statues Also Die) (1953)
‘The film was commissioned to Marker and Alain Resnais by the journal Présence Africaine in 1950. According to Resnais, the original intent was not to make an anticolonial film, but only a film about African art. However when the filmmakers started to do research, they were struck by the fact that African art was exhibited at the ethnological Musée de l’Homme, and not the Louvre like art from elsewhere. As research continued, the disintegrating effects of colonialism became more prominent in the filmmakers’ approach to the subject. The film first premiered in 1953. In 1954 it received the Prix Jean Vigo. Because of the sensitive subject, the sharp criticism of colonialism urged the French National Center of Cinematography to censor the second half of the film until 1963. The first time the full version was publicly screened in France was in November 1968, as part of a program with thematically related short films, under the label “Cinéma d’inquiétude”.’ — collaged


the entire film

 

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Night and Fog (1955)
‘François Truffaut once called Night and Fog “the greatest film ever made.” If you don’t believe me, here is the exact quote: “The effective war film is often the one in which the action begins after the war, when there is nothing but ruins and desolation everywhere: Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero (1947) and, above all, Alain Resnais’ Nuit et brouillard, the greatest film ever made.” Certainly it is one of the two or three most powerful and intelligent nonfiction films ever made (I hesitate to call it a documentary, for reasons that will follow); and it is also, among those many movies that have taken on the loaded subject matter of the Holocaust, perhaps the most aesthetically sophisticated and ethically irreproachable. Night and Fog is, in effect, an antidocumentary: we cannot “document” this particular reality, it is too heinous, we would be defeated in advance. What can we do, then? Resnais’ and Cayrol’s answer is: we can reflect, ask questions, examine the record, and interrogate our own responses. In short, offer up an essay. Moreover, by choosing to compress such enormous subject matter into only a half-hour (think, by contrast, of Claude Lanzmann’s over-nine-hour Shoah, [1985]), the filmmakers force themselves into the epigrammatic concision and synthesis of essayistic reflection.’ — Phillip Lopate


Excerpt


Alain Resnais interview on ‘Night and Fog’ (1955)

 

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La chant de la styrène (1958)
‘This cinematographic project is as poetic as it is technical in its depiction of the realm of plastics from its extraction from Nature to its final product in modern Civilization. The narration, thanks to R. Queneau, reminds of a mid 50’s news real, as featured prior to blockbuster films in France, depicting the glory of Babylon lending a mechanical hand to the so-called imperfect aboriginals. Although this movie is closer to a dry documentary than anything else, a philosophic mind appreciative of essences and existenz will admire the exhaustiveness of the subject matter as well as the keen eye for detail. The film was an order by French industrial group Pechiney to highlight the merits of plastics. The commentary, narrated by Pierre Dux, was written by Raymond Queneau, all in alexandrines.’ — collaged


the entire film

 

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Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
‘“I think that in a few years, in ten, twenty, or thirty years, we will know whether Hiroshima mon amour was the most important film since the war, the first modern film of sound cinema.” That’s Eric Rohmer, in a July 1959 round-table discussion between the members of Cahiers du Cinéma’s editorial staff, devoted to Alain Resnais’ groundbreaking first feature. Rohmer’s remark is in perfect sync with the spirit of the film, which, as he says later in the discussion, “has a very strong sense of the future, particularly the anguish of the future.” Read nearly half a century later, this “anguish of the future” describes the peculiar sensation that runs through all of Resnais’ films, before and after Hiroshima. In fact, it’s the anguish of past, present, and future: the need to understand exactly who and where we are in time, a need that goes perpetually unsatisfied.’ — Kent Jones


Trailer


Excerpt

 

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Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
‘So much critical ink has been shed over Last Year at Marienbad that one might wonder if the flood of commentary, once receded, would take the film along with it. Alain Resnais’ second feature has been lavishly praised and royally slammed; awarded the Golden Lion at the 1961 Venice Film Festival and nominated for an Oscar, but also branded an “aimless disaster” by Pauline Kael; lauded by some as a great leap forward in the battle against linear storytelling and a worthy successor to Hoffmann, Proust, and Borges, dismissed by others as hopelessly old-fashioned. The ambivalence is understandable. Marienbad blatantly toys with our expectations regarding plotline, character development, continuity, conflict, resolution—all those elements we’ve come to expect from a satisfying motion picture. Like its nameless hero, the film relentlessly pursues us with a barrage of assertions while giving us little to hold on to as convincingly true, until in the end, we, like Delphine Seyrig’s equally nameless heroine, have only two choices: remain steadfast in our resistance to the seduction or just plain submit.’ — Mark Polizzotti


Trailer


the entire film

 

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Muriel (1963)
‘At a press conference at the Venice Film Festival in 1963, Resnais said that his film depicted “the malaise of a so-called happy society. …A new world is taking shape, my characters are afraid of it, and they don’t know how to face up to it.” Muriel has been seen as part of a ‘cinema of alienation’ of the 1960s, films which “betray a sudden desperate nostalgia for certain essential values”. A sense of disruption and uncertainty is constantly emphasised, not least by the style of jump-cutting between events. “The technique of observing absolute chronology while simultaneously following a number of characters and treating even casual passers-by in the same manner as the main characters gives rise to a hallucinatory realism.” At the centre of the film lies the specific theme of the Algerian war, which had only recently been brought to its troubled conclusion, and which it had hitherto been almost impossible for French film-makers to address in a meaningful way.’ — collaged


Trailer


The final scene

 

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Je t’aime je t’aime (1968)
Je t’aime, je t’aime is a 1968 French science fiction film directed by Alain Resnais. It was listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, but the festival was cancelled due to the countrywide wildcat strike that occurred in May 1968 in France. As with Chris Marker’s La Jetee, a man is selected to participate in time travel experiments to his personal past. However, due to equipment malfunction, he experiences these events out of chronological sequence, cause and effect.’ — ARF


Trailer


Excerpts

 

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Stavisky (1974)
‘With its high production-values and the popularity of its star actor, the film was enthusiastically received by the public in France, whereas, perhaps for the same reasons, it drew a cool response from many critics who felt that Resnais had betrayed his reputation for intellectual rigor. A British reviewer expressed several of the doubts which were felt by critics: “No one could fail to respond to the elegance of the fashion-plate costumes, the Art Deco interiors, the gleaming custom-built cars, the handsome grand hotels, and so on, all paraded before us to the tinkling thirties-pastiche foxtrot music of Stephen Sondheim… But Resnais’s and Semprún’s Stavisky is just not a very interesting figure… what he represents to the film’s authors is not clear… What the picture does not do is use the Stavisky affair to make any larger comment upon the drift of twentieth-century life, or capitalist society, or even human gullibility… One’s ultimate impression of the film is of an immense gap between the sophistication of its technique and the commonplace simple-minded notions it purveys.”‘ — collaged


Trailer


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Providence (1977)
Providence is no less an affront to the conventions of classical storytelling than, say, Last Year at Marienbad, but the story at the film’s core is disarmingly simple. Over the course of a single sleepless night, a cantankerous aging novelist imagines parts of his next book. These bizarre imagined scenes, starring the same four principal characters, make up the main body of the film. We realize, gradually, that the novelist has modeled these characters on members of his own family—his sons, Claude (Dirk Bogarde) and Kevin (David Warner), Claude’s wife, Sonia (Ellen Burstyn), and his own deceased wife, Molly, who, in this fictional fever-dream, is recast as Claude’s mistress, Helen (Elaine Stritch). The internal narrative, on shaky ground from the start, grows increasingly fractured and febrile as the night goes on. The author commentates on certain shots in gruff voice-over, sounding less like a narrator than a grouchy, confused old man recording DVD commentary for a film he hasn’t seen. The wrong characters suddenly intrude upon scenes like actors bungling their cues. Sets change from shot to shot. Ellen Burstyn’s character, Sonia, a bored housewife at the center of a limp love triangle, delivers ponderous lines like, “Kevin, I’m not overawed by the universe” with deadly intensity. At one point, in a surge of emotion, Sonia moves her lips, but the novelist’s gruff voice comes out like a bark. The jig is up; the strings on these character-puppets are brazenly visible.’ — Gus Reed


Trailer


the entire film

 

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Mon Oncle d’amerique (1980)
Mon Oncle d’Amérique is an exhilarating fiction that takes the form of a series of dramatic essays about three highly motivated, extremely mixed-up persons. They are René Ragueneau (Gérard Depardieu), a successful textile company executive who is suddenly faced with the loss of his career; Jean Le Gall (Roger Pierre), an ambitious politician with a desire for total power, both private and public; and Janine Garnier (Nicole Garcia), Jean’s mistress and a would-be actress who makes a noble sacrifice only to find that, like most noble sacrifices, it’s a self-defeating gesture. Mon Oncle d’Amérique is a chatty movie, rather like the kind of nineteenth-century novel in which the author is always chiming in to comment on what’s happening and to make observations that instruct and amuse. In this case, the author is Dr. Laborit, whom we see being interviewed in his laboratory by Mr. Resnais. The doctor, one of the people responsible for the development of drugs to control the emotions, is the wise, literate, unflappable host, a sort of Gallic Alistair Cooke, and Mon Oncle d’Amérique is the show.’ — Vincent Canby


the entire film

 

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Life Is a Bed of Roses (1983)
‘At a glance, Alain Resnais and Jean Gruault would appear to be incompatible collaborators. Gruault worked as a young writer with François Truffaut on Jules and Jim, and subsequently wrote four films for Truffaut during the 1970s, before scripting The Bronte Sisters with Andre Téchiné in 1979 and Mon Oncle d’Amérique with Resnais in 1980. Though Truffaut and Resnais are incomparable filmmakers given each of their disparate styles and thematic interests, Gruault’s pen works for each of them, which is attributable to the writer’s knack for conceiving fantastical circumstances concerning flesh-and-blood folk. After all, what is Jules and Jim if not a whimsical foray into the harsh realities of self-sacrifice during the throes of youthful passions? It’s a film that would be fantasy and escape were it not so intent upon locating how time’s passage doesn’t heal all wounds, but simply opens new ones. Adults are merely adolescents that have gotten bigger; it’s a point further reiterated by 1970’s Gruault-scripted, Truffaut-directed The Wild Child. Children remain at the core of Life Is a Bed of Roses. Nevertheless, its characters are constantly in a state of disbelief or, more to the point, playing pretend. When Simon (Pierre Arditi) appears to have died one evening, Elizabeth (Sabine Azéma), his short-time lover, is overcome with panic and grief, before suddenly realizing that Simon is actually alive and appears to be unharmed. She has no explanation for this; it seems Simon’s heart may have stopped, then started beating again. The specifics are unclear. Equally uncertain are the terms of their relationship, which is revealed to only be two months underway, though the pair acts as if they’re been together for years. Resnais poses these points indirectly; at least, there’s no character designed to provide the exposition up front. Yet neither is there a character of any sort truly in step with what’s unfolding. When the pair meets their close friends, both of whom are clerics, at an archeological dig site, one of them states, “You’re a weird couple.” Resnais might agree, but then the point seems to be that coupling, as an idea, is weird and forces its participants into time warp, where past and present bleed together.’ — Slant Magazine


Trailer

 

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Melo (1986)
‘On its release the film met with a largely hostile reception from both critics and the public in France. Resnais attributed the film’s failure to the unfamiliarity of the public with the world of the comic-strip and its personalities, which made it difficult to appreciate the confrontation of values which the film explored. The film failed to get distribution either in the United States or in Great Britain. Variety described it as a “stillborn satiric comedy”. The producer of the film, Marin Karmitz, registered a substantial financial loss from the film’s commercial flop, and was unable to engage in further production work for the next 18 months. He nevertheless continued to declare his support for what he regarded as one of Resnais’s most important films, describing it as “a great film about death, and about the death of certain cultures”. I Want to Go Home was shown at the 1989 Venice Film Festival, where it won awards for Alain Resnais and Jules Feiffer. The appearance of the film on DVD two decades after its original release led to some more sympathetic assessments, and recognition of its “blatantly nutty” humor.’ — collaged


Excerpt

 

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Smoking/No Smoking (1993)
‘”Smoking” and “No Smoking” are two segments of the film which are based on closely connected plays. The original plays covered eight separate stories, which have been pared down to three each for these movies. At a certain point in the story of each segment, the five female characters (all played by Sabine Azema) and the four male characters (all played by Pierre Arditi) have their lives skillfully recapped in terms of “what might have happened” if they had made or failed to make certain choices. For example, “No Smoking” focuses chiefly on the relationship between the mild-mannered Miles Coombes and his infinitely more aggressive and ambitious wife, Rowena.’ — collaged


Preamble


Alain Resnais discusses ‘Smoking/No Smoking’

 

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Same Old Song (2003)
‘Resnais’s film is a faithful adaptation of the operetta by Barde and Yvain. Its original dialogue was retained, even when outdated, and characters are unchanged except in one instance (Arlette); four of the original musical numbers were omitted because they were felt to slow up the action. Orchestration and some additional music was provided by Bruno Fontaine. The entire film was shot in a studio (in Arpajon). Jacques Saulnier, another of Resnais’s longtime collaborators, provided elegant and sumptuous set designs, which together with the glamorous costumes designed by Jackie Budin complement the theatrical style of the acting, and frequent use of long camera shots enable a fluid staging of the musical numbers. Various cinematic devices are used both to intensify the characterizations (especially with close-ups and direct-to-camera asides), but also to distance the film spectator from the theatrical experience (e.g. dissolves to achieve characters’ exits, overhead camera shots for some of the ensemble numbers).’ — collaged


Trailer


Excerpt

 

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Not on the Lips (2003)
‘It is tempting—and many critics had done so—to become dismayed over the fact that experimental Alain Resnais chose in 2003 to film a 1925 French musical, keeping it pretty much faithful to the original. Not only does the film seem odd coming from such a grand experimenter, but the work itself contains basically silly patter lyrics (generally rhymed in the English subtitles), and the music (the original score by Maurice Yvain) is seldom very interesting. André Barde’s original libretto seems like a lightweight Feydeau farce, yet having little of the frothiness of the boulevard comic author. Like any wealthy Parisian socialite, Gilberte Valandray (Sabine Azéma) loves her business husband, while flirting with several admirers, including the older and rather foolish Faradel (Daniel Prévost) and the young Dada-Cubist-Surrealist artist Charley (Jalil Lespert). Her husband Georges (Pierre Arditi), knowing of his wife’s flirtatious nature, is unworried about the consequences since he is under the strange notion that it is always the first sexual partner that defines a woman, convinced obviously that he is wife’s first lover. Let us just note that this work was quite popular in France, while attacked as mindless froth in England. It had no distribution in the US.’ — Douglas Messerli


Trailer


Excerpt

 

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Coeurs (2006)
‘Resnais has always been an expressionist, using his settings and compositions to evoke the inner states of his characters. Here, tying expressionism to social critique, he becomes an improbable but unmistakable blood brother of Carl Dreyer.’ — Jonathan Rosenbaum


Trailer

 

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Wild Grass (2009)
Wild Grass is about an unlikely and fateful chain of events that to a young person might seem like coincidence but to an older one illustrates the likelihood that most of what happens in our lives comes about by sheer accident. This is the latest work by Alain Resnais, who may have learned this by experience: There’s a springtime in your life when you think it should add up and make sense, and an autumn when you think, the hell with it, anything can happen. Resnais has been making films since the dawn of the New Wave: Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) and Last Year at Marienbad (1961). Now he’s 88. Preparing to write, I decided not to mention his age, in fear that some readers might think a director that age couldn’t possibly be engaging. But praise must be given. Wild Grass is carefree and anarchic, takes bold risks, spins in unexpected directions.’ — Roger Ebert


Trailer


Excerpts

 

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You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (2012)
‘Mr. Resnais, who recently turned 91, has been exploring the slippery line between truth and illusion for a very long time, in playful and in somber moods. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet has a little of both, and is a testament to the filmmaker’s undiminished vitality. The title evokes a piece of ancient, almost mythic film history: that surreal, Orphic moment, associated in the popular mind with The Jazz Singer, when pictures began to talk. It also has a more primal meaning. The world and the people in it might grow old, but the imagination has the power to make everything new. And what look like artifacts of the past — literary chestnuts, archaic stories, half-forgotten recordings — are actually signs pointing toward the future.’ — A.O. Scott


Trailer


Interview with the actress Sabine Azéma

 

 

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p.s. Hey. I’m really sad about the death of John Ashbery. Not only was he an unspeakably great poet and my favorite living writer, he was more. For a writer like myself who grew up and developed as a writer with his work out there in the world as a kind of high water mark, a thing unreachably singular and full of unsolvable genius, he and his poetry were a kind of force field for me and for a lot of writers I know, both poets and fictionists. It’s hard to believe that he’s not out there anymore always setting the most stratospheric of standards. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Thanks for your words to Alistair. ‘Cinema Novo’, thanks. I like Ghost. I think I’ve had them in a gig here or two. Very interesting thought and analysis re: them. Thank you. I’ve heard some of Zeal and Ardor. Thus far I think I would say I find them conceptually impressive, but their music’s gel, or maybe lack of gel, hasn’t pulled me very far in, so far. ** Nick Toti, That’s great about the showing of your films! Fantastic! Wow, Dubai. That’s a place I can’t begin to imagine re: what it would be like to actually live there. It almost seems like an unrealistic place or something. How does your friend like it? I’m good, back heavily at work on the film. Oh, yes, I’m waiting for a green light to talk about the big news. Basically, waiting for it to be officialized in ink with signatures. Very soon, I think. Great day to you. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Alistair’s book is fantastic, guaranteed. There used to be a ‘Green Lantern’ TV series back in the 60s circa the ‘Batman’ series. I think I only sort of half-watched it. Bring back campy TV series! I hope the blood test reaps the best rewards. Let me know, okay? ** Sypha, Hi, James. Yeah, it’s so good, right? ** Tosh Berman, Hi, T. Thanks for talking about/to Alistair. You’ll love the novel, I’m pretty damned sure. ** New Juche, Hi, Joe! Great to see you, bud. Oh, thank you, but we’re just submitting the film to Sundance. Anybody can do that. If it gets accepted, which I presume is a real long shot, it’ll be party time. I’m not sure when the festival is, actually. More weirdness with the blog’s behavior? I sense that something is off here but I can’t tell what it is, and I called my host, and they said everything seems fine on the technical end, so I don’t know what’s up. Sorry. Thank you very much about the recent GIF stack. ‘Buffalo sacrifice’: that’s quite a topic. Impressive. I hope you get something sweet and golden out of Bangkok before you head back. Take care, man. ** Matthew Doyle, Hi, Matt!  I’m sorry about the email/radio silence. I think that my plans are going to be too up in the air to do a reading while I’m there, unfortunately. I don’t think I’ll know when I’ll get there or will have to leave until very shortly before. I wish I could. I hope we can do that another time when I won’t be there in such an in-between way. Maybe we could meet up for a visit or something at least, if you’re around and want to. Cool that you’re teaching at Loyola Marymount. That’s excellent! And your class sounds fascinating. I’m honored that you want to include my GIF novels, thank you so much. And thank you about ‘Guide’. I think that’s probably my most LA novel, whatever that means. Yeah, I think I can say it’s always been like that there. Well, since I was old enough to be attentive. I haven’t watched the new ‘TP’ ‘cos I haven’t had any brain space. I’m saving it for post-film work, and I’ll just gorge on the whole thing. Survive the heatwave and the smoke. I guess they’re both finally dying out? I’m sorry again about my logistics making a reading too difficult, but thank you ever so much for wanting to do that. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Great photo of you and your work! I’ll seek out the Maxwell Sterling LP. Thanks a lot, man. Best Monday. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Lucky you to get to go to Alistair’s reading. I miss Skylight Books. ** Alistair, Hi, big A! Thanks are entirely, utterly, and vastly all mine, man. It was great! I’m so happy to have had the opportunity. We didn’t end up going to the park. We will, though. The film work is in its final stage and going really well so far, thank you. Yes, the heat there, God, ugh. I can feel the misery long distance in my bones. ** Kevin Killian, Kevin, maestro! Thank you so, so much for gracing us and talking/with to Alistair. And I’ll get to see you in not so very long at all! Love, me. ** Kyler, Hi. Cool you can make it to Alistair’s NYC gig. Thank you about the GIFs. Me neither. They got me pumped. Have a swell Monday. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Thank you for the crossed fingers. Everything’s good. We’re finishing the credits and stuff today, and then we start on the sound tomorrow morning. Editor Note in the bag, great! Oh, no, don’t be discouraged at all. The form that Alistair’s post used is a great form that works really well and is helpful and fun for people who read it too, and yours will be inherently different. No worries whatsoever. Oh, Aarhus. I spent a few days there when Zac and I did our big Scandinavian Theme Park Exploration road trip a few years ago. It’s near three parks, so it was a good base. Nice city, very friendly and cool. Yes, we went to Copenhagen too. I loved Copenhagen. We drove all around Denmark and, honestly, liked everything very much. My weekend was good, productive, just heavy at the end because of John Ashbery’s death. How was Monday in your neck of the woods? ** Bill, Hi. Yeah, a heatwave in SF! What in the world?! That’s, like, terrifying to imagine. Has it faded? No, I don’t know that book. Huh. It does sound very intriguing, and translated by Mr. Evenson, huh. I’ll try to get it, cool. And what a curious looking trailer. Total news. You’re so good and finding great seeming stuff I don’t know about. You get the blog’s gold star. Thank you! ** Jamie, Hi, howdy, ho, Jamie. Thank you for talking to Alistair. I’m good. I sure hope the blog’s bug goes away. It’s very mysterious. Very, very glad that you’re feeling better. Yeah, I mean, it’s sad that wonderful Paris ended up being a toxic hell for the brief duration. Yes, come back, and we’ll set to greatly repairing its functioning and image. And if you guys are still up PA then, I definitely am. My weekend did the trick that I intended it to do, work-wise. Today things begin to be busy-busy and will be so for the rest of the month. I think I’m ready. I hope the feverish in your writing ends up being an otherworldly gift to it. May your Monday lift you upright and declare you the sprightliest guy within a million kilometers. Erased expiration date love, Dennis. ** H, Hi. Yes, indeed. I’m crushed. And I’m sure you are as well. ** Jeff J, Hi. Thank you for the wordage to Alistair. Yeah, I was feeling sad about Walter Becker, as I think Steely Dan is one the all-time great bands, and then I heard about John. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to spend time with John and call him a friend, mostly in the 1980s when I lived in NYC. To say he was a massive hero of mine is massively understating it. Can’t believe he’s gone. I want to see the new Safdie Brothers film. The soundtrack, which I have heard, is terrific, no surprise. Thanks, Jeff. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. I’m glad you got home safe and sound, and I hope Paris gave you beaucoup pleasure during your last day here. Yeah, terrible and sad about Ashbery. It’s really shaken me. He was kind of a god to me. Big hugs to you, and I know Zac would send his as well if he knew I was sending mine to you. Love, me. ** Arne, Hi. Oh, okay, thank you. My email address, if he needs it, is denniscooper72@outlook.com. ** Okay. I restored and updated the old, recently dead Alain Resnais Day. He’s great. ‘Providence’ is one of a handful of my favorite all-time films. Enjoy the post. See you tomorrow.

21 Comments

  1. Dennis, a great post on Alain Resnais. Hmm. I’d recall, you, Mike, and Deleuze (through books, of course) invited me to his work. Your favorite is Providence, right? I love his, but it’s very hard to watch it. My thought wave changes drastically every time I see his. Haven’t watched any of his post-90s films yet. But will have to. Thank you for the amazing post.

    Ashbery’s death hit me very hard. His work’s been a heart of everything I pursue and dream. He is why I wanted to relate myself to American innovative poetry and criticism, which is very transnational yet strangely American thanks to his dedication to a different imagination of American prose. And I loved his generous, playful and humble heart as well. And yes, he was, is and continues to be a literary God. I truly wished him to live forever. Do I make any sense right now?

    I haven’t got back to your kind question about my interest in Abigail Child. I have words ready here, but I don’t want to say it today. As a small person, I feel self conscious and shy to repeat, but again, I feel lost in hearing about Ashbery’s death.

  2. Hi!

    Incredibly sad news about John Ashbery indeed. A profound loss.

    Thank you, that’s a relief! I mean about the post. Is it okay if I send it to you sometime this week?
    This is so nice to hear, both about Aarhus and about Denmark in general! I’ll tell Anita to keep an eye out for the parks when she’s got some time to explore the nearby areas too!
    I’m glad your weekend proved to be mostly good and productive! How was today?
    Today on my end – it’s been awesome! The first issue of SCAB is now officially out and can be viewed/downloaded for free here: https://scabmag.wordpress.com/issues/
    God, I’m so happy and excited!!
    I hope you have a lovely day, too, Dennis!

  3. David Ehrenstein

    September 4, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Ashes’ Death is an occasion of great sadness but his life and work are filled with joy. And they were built to last.

    Alain Resnais was also built to last. As You know “Providence” is my favorite. But Resnais has touched my life in countless ways over the years. Atth end of the 60’s and the start of the 70’s he was living in New York with Florence Malraux (sometimes referred to as his first wife though I don’t believe they were ever married) It was at this time he became a bigger Sondheim obsessive than I am. He didn’t just go to see “Company” and “Follies” over and over again. He cast Elaine Stritch in “Providence” (one of the greatest film performances of all time) because of “Company” and got Sondheim to score “Stavisky” because of “Follies.” Calling Sondheim’s great score “tinkling thirties-pastiche foxtrot music ” is Beyond Assinine . And speaking of scores, all of his late period films were scored by “Mark Snow” — my old Communist Martyrs High compadre Marty Fulterman. All of Resnais is essential. But besides “Providence” I am especially superfond of “Muriel” “Je t’aime Je t’aime” and “Pas Sur La Bouche” (with the lovely Lambert Wilson)

    Yes this WILL be on the “final.”

    • fascinating to know how Sondheim and Stritch got connected to Resnais. I always wondered about that. I love the score to Stavisky and was my personal soundtrack in my head the first time I went to Paris. Paris at night to me was the music of Stavisky.

      • Hi Dennis, I think I might have said that before…my memory these days, jeez. But yeah, Stavisky was my soundtrack to Paris. I didn’t sleep at all hardly on that first trip in 1973, which reminded me of that Harrison Ford movie (Frantic) where he stayed in the first place I stayed (The Grand Hotel) – to me, that was a movie about jet lag in Paris. Providence was one of my all-time favorites ever since I saw it at the Quad Cinema years ago. I’ll try to watch it again tonight – thanks for including the whole film here!

  4. Hey biggest D, that felt kinda weird haha since d is just slang for dick now.. hey dennerino, hope you’re having a good day! i haven’t been around the blog for a while, was kinda down at the end of last school year and then very busy and happy this summer in stavanger on the farm and living with my best friend and all the cats in her house. cool you’re submitting to sundance! good luck, fingers crossed! one of my teachers Mike Sperlinger (the guy who told me about the london pub thing u did) works/does something at the Oslo cinematek (which showed LCTG this summer if i’m not mistaken) told me to tell you that if you and zac were interested in PGL playing there and maybe for you 2 to come here for that even that that could probably/totally be done! it’d be so weird if you were here in oslo haha, but in a great way! you still editing? i’m back at school, got the biggest, greatest, most-windowed studio space i could possibly get, all to myself, can’t believe my luck! i’m so happy here. i’ve hung curtains and stuff. i really can’t wait for you to watch twin peaks and to hear about it after. i’ve been painting twin peaks stuff allll summer. laura is such a big deal to me (mostly from FWWM and the secret diary) so i’ve kinda been in her headspace. send big love to zac from me! big big hugs kier

  5. Resnais tends to be remembered only in the U.S. for NIGHT AND FOG (alas, it’s the only short I’ve seen – someone should do a DVD compiling all of them), HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR & LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. Film Forum, which seems to make a lot of money doing week-long runs of new prints of French New Wave films, constantly shows MARIENBAD. But he kept on making great films. JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME is one of the great examples of arthouse science fiction. STAVISKY, PROVIDENCE & MON ONCLE D’AMERIQUE are masterpieces too. As late as WILD GRASS, he managed to make a film that landed on my top 10 list. At least I’ve seen all his features except I WANT GO HOME, which has a pretty low reputation.

    Over the weekend, I downloaded Ghost’s POPESTAR EP, which contains “Square Hammer” and a bunch of religiously themed covers like the Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man,” and their “He Is” EP, which includes several excellent remixes of the song. The Haxan Clock remix preserves its melody but turns it into ambient music, stretches the song out for almost twice its length and doesn’t introduce the vocals till three minutes have passed. There’s also a remix by HEALTH that is more straightforward dance music, but quite good. “Square Hammer” was the song that converted me from thinking “this band is conceptually interesting but a bit wimpy” to “this band are excellent songwriters and know exactly what they’re doing.”

    To be honest, I’ve been searching out music that uses Satanic and occult imagery in an intelligent way because I was really pissed off by the “Nashville statement,” a declaration by hundreds of right-wing Christian preachers that true Christianity is inherently anti-LGBT and it’s heretical to express alternate views. To their credit, some liberal Christians did speak out against this. But every time a Muslim commits terrorism, tons of people call on the rest of the Muslim world to condemn his acts. I think liberal Christians don’t do nearly enough to fight back against the Christian Right, which has totally weaponized the religion. I’ve talked about this with a friend who is a practicing Christian and attends an extremely progressive church in Brooklyn, which has a banner outside saying they support Black Lives Matter and LGBT rights. As far as I can tell, the church’s politics and the sense of community he feels from attending it on a weekly basis are its main attractions; he’s never really talked about a passionate belief in God. I realize I have a weird perspective because I’m Jewish and I’ve been an atheist since I was a teenager. Also, it’s not uncommon or considered contradictory for American Jews to simultaneously say “I’m atheist” and “I’m very proud of being Jewish,” since it’s also a ethnic and cultural identity; Christianity and Islam, the only other religions I know anything about, are very different in this respect. But I was in a “fuck Christianity, atheism rules” mood when I sought out music like Ghost and Zeal & Ardor.

    • David Ehrenstein

      September 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      “I Want To Go Home” doesn’t quite work, though it’s about comic strips (a major Resnais Passion) was scripted by Jules Feiffer ad stars Adolph Green. Worth seeing nonetheless.

  6. Wow I wrote a huge reply here, and my internet connection took a nap, and bingo, lost the comments by me.

    Great blog today. I Share your thoughts regarding John Ashbery. A giant among us. My post is not that hot, compared to the longer post I posted but got lost. Technology is over-rated!

  7. R.I.P. John Ashberry.

    I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know Resnais was making films into this century. I’m totally overdue to revisit the old favorites.

    It was actually still pretty hot yesterday. So that’s my excuse for being only minimally productive. But it feels more normal today, and I’m sure the gold star will inspire, thanks!

    That David B book is turning out to be a bit rambling, though entertaining.

    Saw Marjorie Prime last night; very nice. Good luck with the Sundance submission…

    Bill

  8. Big D! Very sad about Ashbery. I hate it when people die, especially when they’re older. Kind of proves that everyone has to die. But yeah, a great loss. The work will always be there.

    I couldn’t find that 60s “Green Lantern” show anywhere. Ugh. Lots of “Green Hornet” shit, though.

    Yes, I’ll let you know right away what the results of that blood test are. They usually come back pretty quickly.

    Went to my friend Erin’s for a cookout yesterday. Spent most of the day playing with her kids, who wanted me to spend the night and not leave, hahaha. Her 8-year-old son told her, “Why can’t all adults be cool and like video games like George?” Hehehe. Funny stuff. I don’t know, like I told you before, kids take to the Wineses for some reason.

    Next weekend is my friend Beth’s going-away party. She’s off to Japan for 2 years. Her husband’s getting stationed there (Navy pilot). That’ll be bittersweet.

    And then on the 16th, it’s Arcade Fire with Kayla and LPS. Unfortunately, I’ll miss the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition, which is streaming live and free on Amazon again this year. But it’ll be worth the miss.

  9. Hi Dennis,

    I’ve never dug very deep into Resnais, but I’ve been curious. I saw Marienbad a long time ago and got to see Je t’aime je t’aime in a theatrical re-release a few years ago. I should watch more!

    I honestly can’t say how my friend likes living in Dubai. We haven’t been super close since we were in college together. He’s a corporate lawyer who specializes in some sort of international law and his wife works for the U.N. Needless to say, our lives are probably pretty different! I’m sure when we’re traveling together I’ll get a much better sense of what his daily life in Dubai is like.

  10. Hello Dennis, how are you?
    I’m continuing the recovery and may well be in France again this time tomorrow. I got test results back from the hospital and it seems I had a pretty bad case of food poisoning, which affected me more than it should have because I’m taking three different medications that suppress my immune system. It’s kind of good to know as it means I wasn’t reacting to a new medication I’ve been put on as apparently that could be really bad.
    Great Alain Resnais post. Thank you. I’ve only seen Providence and Hiroshima… and now badly want to see more. I’m going to start with that short about plastic because I love plastic.
    Shit, I’m going to have to stop as my arms are too tired to type. If I get away tomorrow I’ll be offline for a few days. Hopefully catch up on Saturday. Hope all that hard work is as joyous as possible and everything’s good with you.
    May your next few days be healthy and vigorous!
    Campylobacter resistant love,
    Jamie

  11. Hi Dennis, these aren’t necessarily your usual abandoned spaces, but thought you might like? http://www.boredpanda.com/abandoned-places-before-after-pablo-iglesias-maurer/

  12. Nicholas Jason Rhoades

    September 4, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    I have a brief knowledge of Resnais’ work. I was too young to compute most of what I saw, though my mom was a big fan. I need to learn. The interview with Gideon Bachmann is particularly interesting. Resnais tells us a lot about his films. I’m fascinated and grateful.

    RIP John A.

    More to say about other stuff, but not now.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on Alistair’s book!

    Be well, all. Njr

  13. Hey,

    How’s it going?

    I’m in bed. Don’t think I’ll be getting up at all today. Pain issues. But, most importantly, no real reason whatsoever to do so.

    Good day,

    A.

  14. Dennis, thanks for the beautiful Resnais day–I’ve never seen Providence, but reading its description has sent it to the top of my list. It sounds incredible. Your words about Ashbery and his loss and your heavy heart were very beautiful. Sending you love as you and Zac head into sound edit land, Axo

    Hey everyone, thanks again for the kind words about my book and post. I responded to a bunch of people on the day. Here’s my responses to everyone else who posted after me:
    Kevin, hey, I didn’t know that factoid about Ros Russell and HC. I should declare that no one write a book about hc longer than mine! Hope the SF heat isn’t drving you too crazy!
    Kyler, thanks so much and that would be awesome to meet you at the Dixon place launch!
    Dora, thankyou! Dennis’ blog is always so inspiring so glad I could contribute to that!
    Bill, thanks so much, I appreciate it!

    Thanks so much Jamie! Yeah, I played MM –that track—over and over again, as I was thinking about tonality.
    Jeff , hey thank you SO much. Hearing you’re enjoying it from a writer as awesome as you makes me really happy!
    Thomas Moronic, thanks so much for the kind words about this and my first book. Sometimes I wonder why I bother writing ,but your words reminded me! I gota get back to London one day!

  15. I never saw a right lot of Resnais, maybe just Marienbad, but will add his collected films to my DVD rental list. That set’s just got Melo and I Want to Go Home on it and I’d really like to see them.

  16. Sadly I’m not familiar with John Ashbery’s work, though I did read his translation of Rimbaud’s “Illuminations” that came out back in 2011.

    I sent Alistair my thoughts on “The Disintegrations” in a private message on Facebook a few weeks ago, where I went more in-depth about what I liked about the book. One of the things I wrote to Alistair he said I should save and use it in a story. I can’t think of a situation where such a need would arise, so I’ll just post it here for now:

    “On page 87 you wrote, ‘…it’s better not to shine so bright. That makes it way too easy for death to find you. Safer to give off a dull steady glow.’ Reading that reminded me of Antonio from Dennis’ blog. I’m sure you must remember him. It didn’t shock me that he died so young, as he burned brighter than almost anyone I’ve ever known: I’m convinced the light generated by his soul would have escaped the event horizon of a black hole. How could Death not have missed him?”

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