Liv Ullmann

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“When I decide to portray a part, I can never completely hide who I am, what I am. At the point of identification, the audience encounters a person, not a role, not an actress. A face to face. It’s what I know about women. It’s what I have experienced, what I’ve seen. That’s what I want to share with you.”

Liv Ullmann
Born December 16, 1938

A Roger Ebert quote from his review of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking soundbites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, ‘that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘The Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machinegun?”

The obscure 1995 Leonardo DiCaprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. Kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, “The NBC Nightly News” and other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them.

The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

Olivier Assayas on Robert Bresson

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The truth of my feelings about the cinema of Robert Bresson is very simple. When walking out of a screening of Pickpocket as a young man, with close friends who hadn’t understood a thing about the film, who had missed what seemed so incredibly obvious to me, I felt, deeply, that it had let me see into the inner beauty of cinema in a way that would someday allow me to make films myself.

There are a lot of filmmakers I admire: Bergman, Fassbinder, Cassavetes, Visconti, Mizoguchi, Rohmer, Scorsese, Dreyer, Rossellini, Pasolini, Renoir, Tarkovsky, just to mention the few that most naturally come to mind.

But Bresson is, for me, in a category of his own. He is what keeps me faithful to what cinema can achieve. In moments of discouragement, he reminds me how great films can be…

And I don’t think I would be making films if not for him, or certainly not the same films.

The Sacrifice

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“Erland going up and down the ladder like a firefighter, grumbling that he had never in his life had to work out as much as during the shooting of Tarkovsky’s film and complaining that he would soon have the biceps of King Kong. Kerstin Eriksdotter suggested that we rename the film The Ladder. ‘Why not? The Ladder sound rather good,’ Andrei agreed, adding: ‘Gogol asked for a ladder before he died.’”

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“For a long time, Sven Nykvist was puzzled by Andrei’s constant peering through the lens. It even bothered him, until Andrei explained to him that only after looking through the viewfinder of the camera was he able to visualise the mise-en-scène .”

The Sacrifice

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“Alexander dreams he is picking small coins out of sticky mud. ‘When you see money in a dream, it portends tears,’ Andrei would say. Apparently, it was a recurring dream of his.”

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“Russian filmmakers have a custom: on the first day’s shoot they smash a bottle of champagne (like when a ship is launched). Andrei reassured the worried Swedes that his intent was not to consume it, but to break it for the success of the film. On the first attempt, the bottle would not shatter. ‘It’s a bad omen,’ Andrei whispered to me, requesting me not to translate it into Swedish… Yet, the significance of the moment was not lost on anyone present.”

 

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Krzysztof Kieślowski

Krzysztof Kieślowski

“My part of the work is to make the film. Your part is to find something in the film, or perhaps not. For me it’s always important to hear viewers’ interpretations. They turn out to be very different to my intentions. I don’t hide my intentions. I speak about them – but not about my interpretations.”

Krzysztof Kieślowski (June 27, 1941 — March 13, 1996)

François Truffaut

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February 6, 1932 — October 21, 1984

“I saw my first two hundred films on the sly, playing hooky and slipping into the movie house without paying—through the emergency exit or the washroom window—or by taking advantage of my parents’ going out for an evening (I had to be in bed, pretending to be asleep, when they came home). I paid for these great pleasures with stomachaches, cramps, nervous headaches and guilty feelings, which only heightened the emotions evoked by the films. I felt a tremendous need to enter into the films. I sat closer and closer to the screen so I could shut out the theater. […] At that period in my life, movies acted on me like a drug. The film club I founded in 1947 was called—somewhat pretentiously but revealingly—the Movie-mania Club (Cercle Cinémane). Sometimes I saw the same film four or five times within a month and could still not recount the story line correctly because, at one moment or another, the swelling of the music, a chase through the night, the actress’s tears, would intoxicate me, make me lose track of what was going on, carry me away from the rest of the movie.”

Søren Kierkegaard

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This is what is sad when one contemplates human life, that so many live out their lives in quiet lostness; they outlive themselves, not in the sense that life’s content successively unfolds and is now possessed in the unfolding, but they live, as it were, away from themselves and vanish like shadows. Their immortal souls are blown away, and they are not disquieted by the question of its immortality, because they are already disintegrated before they die.