News to Me: Jean-Luc Godard, Dee Rees, Brian De Palma
Jean-Luc Godard’s Next Project
Buried amid all the Cannes hoopla was the news that Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film The Image Book would not be his final word on the many ideas, and images, and sounds, presented over the course of this rich and dense work. In fact, the movie will be followed by an exhibit—tentatively to be presented in galleries in Paris and elsewhere—which will be its own beast rather than an adaptation.
“The film and the idea of [an exhibit] are two different things,” Fabrice Aragno, the DP of The Image Book and Goodbye to Language 3D, told Film Comment by e-mail. The new idea arose during the years of making The Image Book—“It’s normal, when you work on something for four years”—but the resulting exhibit will have its own process of creation and realization.
The scale of the exhibit will encompass over 500 square meters of space and will be interactive. Aragno, however, is careful to qualify that oft-deployed word “interactive” and expresses skepticism of the notion of “immersive” endeavors.
“Art, music, dance, painting, sculptures, literature, from rupestre fresca to cinema, the result is an interaction with feelings, emotions. So ‘arts’ means interactive,” he said, explaining that it’s not a matter solely of “technical” methods. The arts, in his vision, are “the opposite of immersive,” which he dismissed as a totalitarian impulse.
The Image Book, which premiered in May in competition, presents a dense pastiche of sound and image, paging through a profusion of archival film clips but also blooming with sequences of vividly shot new footage. In Aragno’s telling, the Cannes screening resembled a site-specific work: “Somehow, the film in Grand Théâtre Lumière in Cannes was, in a way, a temporal exhibition.”
“The film was made in a room scale . . . Bringing the room scale (3-4 meters) to another kind of room scale (30-40 meters) of the Grand Théâtre Lumière in Cannes was, somehow, an interesting work.” Part of that work was the effort of replicating the “deep blacks and the vivacity of colors” achieved in the studio.
The artistic aspirations of Godard’s new project will be somewhat different, and as with any such ambitious undertaking, financing remains the biggest challenge. Aragno, who will join forces with Image Book co-producer Mitra Farahani, emphasized that it was still early on in the journey. (“Ask Mr. Future. He will give answers,” went one playful response.)
But Aragno regards the images and sounds that will comprise Godard’s exhibit as another chapter in a greater endeavor: “For me, it’s still cinema.”
Films on the Horizon
Dee Rees’s The Last Thing He Wanted will co-star Willem Dafoe and Anne Hathaway. The story, which Rees will adapt from the 1996 Joan Didion novel and direct, concerns a Washington, D.C. journalist who gets caught up in an arms deal originally undertaken by her ailing father, at the height of the Iran Contra Affair in the 1980s . . . Angela Schanelec (The Dreamed Path) received further funding for I Was at Home, But…, which traces the aftershocks when a missing schoolboy unexpectedly reappears . . . While doing press for the French release of Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s documentary De Palma, Brian De Palma revealed that he is in the middle of writing a horror film about a sexual aggressor in the film industry.
✸ Over 700 audio recordings from the historic Flaherty Seminar, founded in 1955, were made available online by the Fales Library & Special Collections at NYU. The in-depth discussions feature Satyajit Ray, Agnès Varda, Mira Nair, John Cassavetes, and Yasujiro Ozu, among many other luminaries of nonfiction.
✸ Why not continue celebrating Agnès Varda’s birthday with this interview alongside Susan Sontag for Camera Three, recorded nearly 50 years ago, on the eve of the 7th New York Film Festival.
✸ While we’re on birthdays, the centenary-plus-11 of Rosalind Russell reminds us of the His Girl Friday star’s career in radio.