Two of my favorite photographs by Hashem el Madani. You can see more his moving photographs right now at the New Museum’s Here and Elsewhere Exhibition, which features contemporary art from and about the Arab world.
"Unlike most of the New Wave directors, Varda was trained not as a filmmaker or as a critic, but as a serious photographer. Try freezing any frame of the scenes in her apartment and you will find perfect composition—perfect, but not calling attention to itself. In moving pictures, she has an ability to capture the essence of her characters not only through plot and dialogue, but even more in their placement in space and light. While many early New Wave films had a jaunty boldness of style, Varda in this film shows a sensibility to subtly developing emotions."
"The critics and the public wanted the pathos of M. Hulot’s Holiday and Mon oncle. They got Playtime, a comedy entirely devoted to space, in which Tati, as Hulot, hovers at the periphery of his own creation and has the elegance, which very few comedians share, not to put the spotlight on his own mug. The public and the critics turned against Tati. They were of course wrong, and the film is one of those few that get better by the year. It’s a silent film with sound; its color scheme is in a narrow band between gray and blue that aggressively underscores the painterly logic of Tati’s conceit. The film gives itself the luxury to reinvent choreography and as such dazzles with the megalomania of its enterprise and the diabolical precision the filmmaker had to conjure up to pull it off.”
"I always take as my motto what Robert Bresson said: you don’t have to make images that are beautiful, you have to make images that are necessary. And Bresson is a filmmaker who was, first of all, a painter.”
"Looking at a Cassavetes movie should persuade any viewer that there are no bad actors but only bad directors, and that acting has more to do with the strategic setting of gestures in space than it has to do with a trip to the flea market of emotions. The miracle of Cassavetes’s craft lies in that he makes the emotion surge, while obstinately refusing to illustrate it. No wonder his actors look always as if they were documented."
One essential characteristic of your films is the rejection of the theatrical.
The theatricality that I reject, or rather, that I try to reject, because it's not that easy, is expression by means of facial cues, gestures, and vocal effects.
But you seem to be looking for some kind of anti-expression. Not only do you not want acting, but you don't even allow realism. It's as if you make the actors blank, less expressive than in real life.
I don't think so. I try to draw them towards the automatism that occupies such a large part of our lives.
But can you see how people might think you're turning your back on what audiences want to see?
I don't think so. It's not something I'm aware of. I don't think I'm turning my back on audiences, or that they're turning their backs on me. I rely on my experience, and after making a film, I sit in the audience and try to feel what they're feeling, and experience my original feelings too.
“Bicycle Thieves is a good picture. I like very much. But some concession to sentimentality. A little concession. Umberto D. never. Nothing. Without compromise. But it was too early. Many pictures of mine this way. Now is a great success. Then, nothing. Oh, a little. The intelligentsia accept Umberto D. But the audience — no, nothing.”