Good Scene / Bad Scene

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The Independent Culture

THE GOOD: Vivre sa vie, Jean-Luc Godard, 1962

The film is about a woman who is becoming a prostitute. It's a very touching story because of the way she retains her personality and integrity. This is shown particularly in a humiliating scene when Nana (played by Anna Karina) has been caught and is giving her name to a police officer. She looks directly at him, and it's wonderful how she uses her eyes. She's shy, but at the same time a little provocative. I like that ambiguity. She's a wonderful actress who is stripped by the director to very minimal actions, but gives a lot of herself in that scene. The best scenes give the whole story - and this one contains the entire plot of the film. In my own film-making, I believe in the strength of the scene, even that it should have priority over continuity. I would even say that a scene can be more important than the complete film.

THE BAD: Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999

This came to my mind immediately, particularly the scene when hundreds of frogs drop out of the sky. I hate it for its sheer vulgarity. I'm a big fan of surrealism, but this is a cheap bombardment of the senses. I don't have any idea of or interest in what the frogs represent. I work with surrealism and I try to juxtapose elements subtly so that I am questioning the very language of film: What is image? What is sound? What is the function of music? I like to play with these things. I also like the surrealism found in life everyday . I live in Haiti and life there is full of surreal scenes, which I try to film. I also like early surrealist movies by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. Which brings me to a point about Magnolia and film-making in general - it's behind the times compared to other arts. Surrealism in movies hasn't developed.