Tuesday, November 13, 2007

By way of introduction (hats off to Herzog)

In August 2004, I started a blog on 20six called MovieBuff. I reviewed every film I saw on the big screen, as well as tossing in the occasional diary entry.

In June 2006, the administrators of 20six changed the operating software: the layout reverted to a bland standard form template, my link list disappeared and I found myself needing a password to access my own blog. Along with many other 20sixers, I jumped ship for Platform 27, setting up the somewhat self-reverentially titled MovieBuff Redux.

I continued posting reviews of everything I saw at the cinema, in the meantime neglecting to write about any number of cinematic gems I’d discovered only on video or DVD. I continued throwing in occasional diary entries, some of them striving for mundanity and just missing. I blogged book reviews, too, just in case the blog wasn’t unfocused enough.

Just over a week ago – with the twin concerns of moving house and an increased workload at the office accounting for much of my time and energy, with the readership and sense of community on Platform 27 rapidly dwindling, with my reviews becoming increasingly by-the-numbers – I posted my last entry. I was intending to call time on any blogging activities until the New Year, once the home/office situations had settled down.

Over the weekend, I started reading the Faber film book Herzog on Herzog, edited by Paul Cronin. I’ve been gripped, challenged and re-invigorated by it. I’m already working my way through the Herzog/Kinski box set, revisiting their fraught but brilliant collaborations in chronological order. These will be the subject of my first entries on this new blog.

Something became clear to me reading the book. To contextualise, here’s a few Herzog quotes:

It is the moving image per se that is the message in these kinds of films [ie. movies that do not try to ‘pass on a heavy idea to the audience’], the way that the film simply moves on the screen without asking you questions. I love this kind of cinema … Someone like Jean-Luc Goddard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film.

The images that surround us today are worn out … The biggest danger, in my opinion is television because to a certain degree it ruins our vision and makes us very sad and lonesome. Our grandchildren will blame us for not having tossed hand-grenades into TV stations because of commercials. Television kills our imagination and what we end up with are worn-out images because of the inability of too many people to seek out fresh ones.

Film is not analysis, it is the agitation of the mind; cinema comes from the country fair and the circus, not from art and academicism.

Blogging straightforward reviews of everything I’d seen meant I’d wasted time and words and blog-space on a lot of films that were at best average if not outright crap. Also, I’d been too analytical. I’d used words like ‘aesthetics’, ‘denouement’ and ‘mise en scene’. I’d been picky and sniffy when I should have been enthusing about the movies that really matter, never mind that I might only ever have seen them on the small screen.

Vielen dank’, Herr Herzog, you have given me a direction for this new project: the appreciation, not the analysis, of film; a celebration of its wonderful idiosyncracies, not a dissection of its mundane failures.

4 comments:

Scene-Stealers said...

I agree! Herzog is one of the most interesting and provocative filmmakers around. If you feel the need for a Herzog heavy metal-logo T-shirt, look what I found: http://www.scene-stealers.com/blogs/famous-movie-director-heavy-metal-t-shirt-designs/

-Eric

Neil Fulwood said...

I don't know which t-shirt I like the most. The Herzog/Danzig is fantastic, but the Fassbinder/Metallica is just inspired!
Thanks for your comment. I've just posted an appreciation of 'Aguirre, the Wrath of God'; hope you find it interesting.

Walrus said...

Great introduction! Herzog is fine material for inspiration, though I'm not entirely convinced about the Godard dis.

I'm very excited to catch up on your posts. I think I'm already sold on the Bogarde boxset (if you think his fame has faded in the UK, try talking to people in St Louis, USA), as I've only seen the material from the "controversial" half of his career.

Oh, and you have at least one person looking forward to the Argento marathon. Keep up the good work.

Neil Fulwood said...

Thanks, Walrus. I quoted the Godard comment not because I necessarily agreed with it but because of the sheer balls-to-the-wall Herzog-ness of it. I can't imagine anyone else coming out with something like that!

Glad Bogarde's fame is alive and well in the US (given that he never made a film in the States apart from 'Song Without End' and a TV biopic of Patricia Neal). Needless to say, the controversial half of his career encompasses the most interesting films, but there are still intriguing little pointers in this direction in 'The Blue Lamp', 'The Sleeping Tiger' and 'Victim'.

The Argento marathon might have to be put on hold since my Amazon order has got lost in the post and I'm currently haggling for a refund ...