Monday, 21 September 2009

Angelism and rage: Sally Potter links

Sally Potter is exceptional among directors in having made both successful commercial features and experimental films. Besides filmmaking, her career incorporates dance, choreography, music and performance art; these elements are interwoven in her films, all of which - while very different from each other - confront issues around performance, gender and genre and appeal to the significance of musicality and movement in a medium which is in essence non-verbal.
Annette Kuhn

On the surface a satire on fashion, Rage is an indictment of the very market logic that forces stars to parade themselves on the red carpet in Berlin’s inevitable snow. It’s a reclamation of beauty from the bankers, and central to its ravishing struggle is Jude Law as Minx, a Russian-American supermodel. Minx refers to herself in the third person as “she” but the film leaves open the question of how Minx understands this pronoun for herself.

While not as centrally queer as Orlando, Rage is deeply concerned with that queerest of themes: what we say of ourselves and what (secretly) we cannot say but long to. Its compassion is amplified by its stunningly simple visual style; shot in tiny photographers’ studios using greenscreen, the film is also a message to budding filmmakers who think their projects are unlikely to get funding. Potter, a friend of Derek Jarman’s, is one of the few filmmakers committed to his mission of: make things with what you have.

Sophie Mayer

In a brilliant article discussing the role that other media play within film ("The Film Stilled", Camera Obscura 24, September 1990), Raymond Bellour recently suggested that these singular moments of eruption or invasion can point in two quite contrary directions. On the one hand, there are moments of video in film that point backwards, regressively, to a lost, even archaic past. Here, video becomes a sad, deathly emblem of nostalgia in the lives of people who are finding it hard to get themselves together. This occurs in the current release Falling Down, where the relentless camera movement into Michael Douglas' family video in the final shot expresses the complete disintegration of his identity. But, in a completely different spirit, video moments can point forward to utopian, transcendent, sometimes mystical states and experiences. Bellour gives this trend in cinema the curious name of 'angelism' - and what's most curious about it is that he coined the word before seeing Sally Potter's Orlando, where, in its final vision, video texture fills the screen as a child's video camera [that of Orlando's daughter] discovers an angel hovering in the sky, singing.
Adrian Martin

On the day that Rage, Sally Potter's new film, embarks on its 'multiplatform, interactive' release-week (today begin the mobile phone episodes), Film Studies For Free (a big Potter fan of old) is delighted to premiere its own selection of choice, openly accessible, scholarly links to Potter resources:

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