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struggle for unreachable words


Tilda Swinton, from her second State of Cinema address, San Francisco, 2006:

Can I be alone in my longing for inarticulacy - for a cinema that refuses to join all the dots? For an a-rhythm in gesture, for a dissonance in shape? For the context of a cinematic frame, a frame that - in the end - only cinema can provide. For the full view, the long shot, the space between... the gaps... the pause... the lull... the grace of living…

The figurative cinema’s awkward and rather unsavoury relationship with its fruity old aunt, the theatre, to her vanities, her nous, her beautifully constructed and perennially eloquent speechifying, her cast iron – corset-like - structures, her melo-dramatic texture and her histrionic rhythms. How tiresome it is, it always has been. How studied. The idea of absolute articulacy, perfect timing, a vapid elegance of gesture, an unblinking, unthinking face. What a blessed waste of a good clear screen, a dark room and the possibility of an unwatched profile, a tree, a hill, a donkey...

How I long for documentary, in resistance - for unpowdered faces and unmeasured tread - for the emotionally undemonstrative family scene - for a struggle for unreachable words, for the open or even unhappy ending? The occasionally dropped shoe off the heel, the jiggle to readjust; the occasionally cracked egg; the mess of milk spilt. The concept of a loss for words. For a State of Cinema - as the state of grace that it affords us - in which nothing much happens but all things are possible, even inarticulacy, even failure, even mess...




tilda swinton painted by john byrne

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Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
gregvaneekhout
Oct. 28th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
John Byrne????
_stranger_here
Oct. 28th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
He's a Scottish artist and the father of Swinton's two children.
gregvaneekhout
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
Ah. I was having a hard time envisioning Nightcrawler done in that style.
(Deleted comment)
_stranger_here
Oct. 28th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
For me she can do no wrong.
peebles
Oct. 28th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Oh!! I didn't know she was so smart.

Okay. I forgive her for Constantine now.
_stranger_here
Oct. 28th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
She's tremendous. And even when she's in bad movies, her performance is always taking place on a higher level.
porphyre
Oct. 28th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
She's one of my favourite human beings on the entire planet, that woman. I suspect she always will be.
_stranger_here
Oct. 28th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
Mine too. She's leading an amazing life.
Ted Chiang [myopenid.com]
Oct. 29th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
Is there some blogosphere of theater aficionados that became abuzz with outrage over her remarks about the medium's "tiresome" qualities? Because if she were talking about anything related to a speculative-fiction genre, you know that's what would have happened.
_stranger_here
Oct. 29th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
You would think! Although maybe theater traditionally enjoys enough artistic cachet in comparison with film that they don't have the same kneejerk defensiveness. Or else the people working in theater simply didn't respond online, preferring to express their outrage through a series of articulate, histrionic one-act plays currently showing off-Broadway.
_stranger_here
Oct. 30th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
I just thought of an alternate explanation, which is that everyone who heard her speech immediately nodded their heads in sage agreement, quite confident that it applied not to their own graceful works but to some other, more figurative, cinema.
Ted Chiang [myopenid.com]
Oct. 30th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Compare that to the speculative fiction genre, where if anyone says something disparaging, all sorts of people take offense whether it was directed at them or not.
_stranger_here
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
Well, that only happens because everyone keeps picking on them and stealing their lunch money.

Speaking of which -- I imagine it's easier to shrug off glancing criticisms of your work's artistic merit if that work has made you filthy rich, or if you even have expectations that it will. Conversely, what we see in speculative fiction may be a kind of cognitive dissonance: SF hardly ever makes much money, and it's barely respectable, so everyone involved gets mighty defensive about justifying exactly why they're doing it.
haddayr
Oct. 29th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, she's so awesome.
spudofdoom
Oct. 30th, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
She'll always be the awesomest White Queen to me. And that's enough.
spudofdoom
Oct. 30th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
... witch. White Witch.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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