domingo, 23 de março de 2008

The scenes between Ventura and Vanda in her room are the convergence of old and new

The scenes between Ventura and Vanda in her room are the convergence of old and new. Vanda repeatedly mentions the brand-name of diaper and Ventura does not comprehend this; Ventura, (witness to past times of palpable solidarity and community) is attentive in silence while a TV yammers on for attention and domination; we watch Vanda's constant and mortal coughing and her million songs of experience next to her daughter's quiet youth and song of innocence.

As COLOSSAL proceeds and it is evident that Costa is mixing the naturalistic gait and words of Vanda with Ventura's more stoic exchanges, Vanda and her room begin look like a mixture of Walter Brennan/Monument Valley and one of Godard's TV documentaries. Ford often mixed acting styles and tones (MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, THE LONG GRAY LINE, 7 WOMEN), contrasting the colloquial and homespun with the grand responsibilites and fates of a new landscape. And Godard has been one of the only ones to convey and critique the din of domestic TV presence by means of the cinema, to discover the labyrith of social relations created by a blarring TV (NUMERO DEUX, FRANCE/TOUR/DETOUR/DEUX/ENFANTS).

As these articulations intermingle in Costa, it raises the issue of modernism and traditionalism (over and underdetermined in both Godard and Ford). I must leave this to those who are much better at distinguishing such things, where they need be distinguished. As both issues have bearing on the perceived "enterability" of Costa's work I must say that distinguishing is probably less important than engaging with the subject (which this post may show, is hard to do in it's absence). Costa has taken huge amounts of time to do this himself. Some critics are so cynical they consider Costa's practice a kind of MacGuffin (David Walsh). His films can be dismissed with a few words like "for a small fan-base". (The first half of that Goethe line is: "Whoever wants to accuse an author of obscurity ought first of all to have a good look at his own inward self and see whether it is really light in there.") . Meanwhile, whole countries are turned to dustbowls by global capitalism. Like the Straubs, Godard, and even Gehr before him, Costa is charged with elitism; but (as Gilberto Perez points out) what could be less elitist than making films with means that anyone could take up (16mm in OTHON [Straubs], a pocket 16mm camera in NOONTIME ACTIVITIES [Gehr], video in HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA [Godard], video again in IN VANDA'S ROOM and COLOSSAL)?

Andy Rector in