John Cassavetes: A Primer

In a Cassavetes film, everything is an event. The way someone enters a room, a scene, or a shot. The way that the drama rises or subsides. The framing of an image, the way it moves. The play of light and darkness, colour and hue, the grain of the film stock. The interplay of views from multiple, simultaneous cameras (one of them frequently worked by Cassavetes himself). The violence of the soundtrack, open to waves and intensities of every kind of voice, noise or musical note. And the amazing work on editing, to which Cassavetes and his collaborators could literally devote years...

Double or Nothing: ‘+1’ (Dennis Iliadis, 2013)

According to a logic that especially marks genre cinema – whereby the fantastic, the horrifying and the paranormal appear as symptoms or bodily manifestations of hidden desires, fears and traumas – here the threat of the doubles who advance in time is perfectly linked with the problematic of the relationship between Jill and David: it is, at once, a sharp psychoanalytic deconstruction and a perfect allegorical dramatisation of the female fear of replacement and stagnation.

The Bear Attack and the Talking Fish [II]: ‘Siberia’ (Abel Ferrara, 2020)

In my previous text I discussed the bear attack happening early in the film; here, I'll concentrate on the last scene of 'Siberia' with the talking fish. It is highly significant that, at the end of the film, Clint finds his post destroyed. The storm of fantasies that is 'Siberia' has knocked down the walls of Clint's refuge; his psyche is raw, tender, naked and exposed. The defenses to which he clung in order to keep the unconscious at bay have been severely weakened...

The Bear Attack and the Talking Fish [I]: ‘Siberia’ (Abel Ferrara, 2020)

There are only a few episodes in 'Siberia' that can be unmistakably traced to Jung's 'The Red Book' (its source of inspiration). Neither the scene with the bear, nor the scene with the fish, are among them. But, since everybody seems to agree that 'Siberia' is a trip to the unconscious—and since the unconscious speaks in symbolic language—I'll attempt here a psychological interpretation of these two scenes (influenced by Jung's discussion on symbols and archetypes), while offering a close analysis of their filmic form.

Desire as Pedagogy: ‘The Academy of Muses’ (José Luis Guerin, 2015)

In 'The Academy of Muses', pedagogy is portrayed as the circulation of desire between teacher, students, and texts—while becoming also the trigger of the central dramatic conflict: Rosa, Raffaele’s wife, starts to feel that her husband’s teaching philosophy is a threat to their marriage… Desire is not just the literal (and literary) object of study in Pinto’s seminar; it is the force that propels the whole film.

‘A House That A Guest Has Entered’

I guess one makes films with what one has. Some people have ideas, money, ambitions, heroes, well-meaning intentions, a positive message, virtuosity, a voice, friends to call forth, stories to tell or to steal, attachment to a genre, striking images, charms and spells, subterfuges. I have none of these things. This film is made with my suffering, with words that came to land in my heart, with music and images that rose from the pool of my tears.

Prefiguration and Apparition: ‘A Burning Hot Summer’ (Philippe Garrel, 2011)

The most haunting image of 'A Burning Hot Summer': Angèle naked, on her back, lying over the blue linen of the marital bed. She turns her face toward the camera, extends her right arm, and mutters a word that we can't hear because the sound of this fragment has been suppressed. Where does this image come from? Is it a memory, a vision, an hallucination? The stillness is only broken by Angèle's rhythmic breathing, by the movement of her head and lips, and by a gesture (her arm extended forward, in a pleading attitude) enacted, almost exactly, twice in a row.

Blood Ties: My Most Wicked Childhood Act

Once, I told my brother that he was adopted. I might have been around 12 or 13—my brother being three years younger than me. During that time, I was facing an important quandary in my life: I wanted to become an actress, but this is something I never dared to express aloud. There were two things that stood in my way and that I couldn't overcome—two things that made of my wish a secret that I was even ashamed to entertain...

Out of the Blue: Remembrance of Dresses Past

The only memory I keep from kindergarten is from Carnival day. We were all gathered at the playground, waiting for our pictures to be taken. A girl came toward me and, out of the blue, slapped me in the face. I remember her name: Natalia. I remember her princess costume: a silky dress in royal blue and dark turquoise. And, of course, I remember her brutal slap—and not just for its violence (that still stings) but, above all, for its arbitrariness (which hurts even deeper)...

Notes on Film Criticism (V): A Free Replay

There was a time when Marker's essay was the latent theory behind everything I wrote. I don't think 'Vertigo' would mean for me what it means today if it weren't for Marker. To my knowledge, I've properly quoted 'A Free Replay' only once before; but its sentences return to me again and again, claiming their place in my heart and mind—sometimes in the form of ideas, images, or literal expressions that inscribe themselves quite naturally in my writings. These disguised quotes become signposts conjuring a world full of meaning, but mysterious and elusive...

‘As Tears Go By…’: Marianne Faithfull & Anna Karina

In this audiovisual essay, Anna Karina and Marianne Faithfull talk to themselves and to each other across six different films. Bitterly, blatantly, brutally: they muse—using words written by men and songs composed by men—on what it means (for all of us: there ain't escape from the culture) to perform, inside and outside the fiction, as women invented by men...

‘Smile’: Jean Epstein & Stephen Dwoskin

Why Jean Epstein and Stephen Dwoskin? Because of their mutual obsession with the close-up; with the drama of proximity, intensity, hesitation, imbalance; because "even more beautiful than a laugh is the face preparing for it"… How to do justice to Epstein's incessant leaping back and forth, to his moves from the general to the particular, to his effects of anticipation, suspension, staccato, acceleration, contraction, release? That's what editing (both on the audio and image level) was made for...

Souvenir: ‘Proximidades y resonancias’

During the latest edition of SACO 2022, Adrian Martin and I had our first museum exhibition ever: from 10th to 20th of March, 'Proximidades y resonancias', a videoinstallation of eight of our audiovisual essays, was playing in loop at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Oviedo. We spent four days there and saw it all happening with our own eyes! Since this is something rare and worthy of celebration, I'll scatter here a bit of memorabilia for the grandchildren I won't have…

That Cube Caught My Fantasy…

Some months ago, I found in YouTube this wonderful video of Carl Gustav Jung at his Bollingen Tower. The footage prominently features a stone that he carved and put in his garden, next to the lake, as an offering for his 75th birthday. Following the trail of two sets of image-associations, this essay goes from Telesphoros (the bewitching figure carved in one of the sides of the stone) to Nicolas Roeg's 'Don't Look Now' and Krzysztof Kieślowski's 'Dekalog I'.

Dreams I Don’t Have

A few years ago, I read C. G. Jung's autobiography, 'Memories, Dreams, Reflections'. At that time, I was purposefully trying to remember my dreams. Instead of just fantasising myself into oblivion (which is my most natural attitude when I go to bed), I attempted to get into a state of receptiveness and relaxed attention (quite an endeavour for a person like me!). I don't know how I came up with this idea: I guess it seemed more respectful with the unconscious than just trying to control every thought by driving it exactingly where I wanted it to be...

Three Tiny Films: ‘Enjoy the Rain’, ‘Astral Body’, ‘Echo’

Lately, I've been doing some tiny films that are experiments with overlays. I've become quite fascinated by this kind of layer-work. But, sometimes, it just feels redundant to put into words what I'm trying to make in sounds & images. So I'll just introduce my latest three miniatures with stolen quotes. These quotes are not about me, or about my films, obviously; but such is life… Some people inspire others to write; some people inspire others to quote them; some people just put themselves in the quotation's place…

Launching our ‘Multimedia Lectures On Film’ series

What we do in these videos are in-depth analyses of major films in film history  ('major' meaning, simply, that we love them: bear with us and you might be surprised by some of our future choices, since the only canon we'll follow is that of our own desire). There are no windy, textbook generalities about genre, auteur or historical context; we go straight to the material details that (in our view) illuminate the films, how they work and how they feel...

‘Birth’ (P.S.)

This is a post-scriptum to my previous entry (which includes my latest film). I've never done one of these before, but when there are discoveries triggering such effusions of belated emotion and refracted recognition, it's only fair that one acknowledges them. Thanks to a beautiful book on translation by Kate Briggs, I've come upon a brief essay by Elena Ferrante about a sentence in (Gustave Flaubert's?) 'Madame Bovary' that has pursued her throughout the years since, at fourteen, she read the novel in the original French...

‘Birth’

This is the first film I've made using, entirely, digital superimpositions. I guess you could say that this is a film about my birth. My mother told me once that my father became another person the moment I was born. I believe her because, if I try to remember a time when I might have felt any connection with my father, I can't: it's as if there was never any. I've heard details about that period before, but I've never had a full-on narration by her to which I could re-listen...

‘Playing’

It's a little known fact that Adrian Martin enjoys playing the keyboard and that, sometimes, I enjoy filming him. Normally, what I'll do is listen from another room because our house has great acoustics and, when he plays, the music spreads across the space beautifully. But, occasionally, I get inspired and flutter around with my phone—or, as some people like to say (especially of women): I dabble...

‘The Burning House’

Last summer—when I was at my most depressed and in the midst of a long relocation process—I painted, over black cardboard, a blue, female figure standing at the threshold of a house already in flames. In my mind, there's no doubt that the house is in flames because I am in flames, and that I stand at the threshold of a future already ravaged, already lost...

Le moi et le je: ‘Jane B. par Agnès V.’ (Agnès Varda, 1987)

Singing a Gainsbourg song isn't easy. He likes his syllables unnaturally stressed or flattened, lengthened or sharpened; he enjoys writing with unequal, undulating metric; he's fond of enjambements that break—across different verses—single sentences and, sometimes, even single words. Many of his lyrics frolic in wordplay; they delight in polysemic and homophonic terms—disseminating multiple meanings and messing with similar sounds...

Brain Massage

Usually, I would have cringed in disbelief and horror at the mere suggestion of a vague link between "what I feel" and the state of the world at large. (It's a long story, but to make it short: if you've lived feeling acutely the separation between you and others, between you and a world without a place for you, this idea just does not make much sense; in fact, this idea is deeply offensive.) I've learnt that this belief in the separation between oneself and the world is a quite common delusion. But knowing I am delusional doesn't stop me feeling how I feel...

The Long Road: ‘Liberté et Patrie’ (Jean-Luc Godard & Anne-Marie Miéville, 2002)

The 'and' functions to always carry the links forward—but it also operates across each pair ("freedom and fatherland, fatherland and freedom": the visual and aural back-and-forth is a constant in the film). It's the movement effected by the 'and' that frees the terms from themselves, and frees the pairs from themselves—threading relations that multiply and amplify, that give substance, background and meaning, that constellate a veritable cosmos out of those two initial notions...