Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Nick Ray on Cinema Viewfinder

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nick Ray on Cinema Viewfinder


Now that my blog is reactived, I'll put up a new post every Monday, usually in the morning although today I'm a little late. I'll also post during other days of the week, so stay tuned. This brings me to today's entry: the kickoff of Tony Dayoub's "Nicholas Ray Blogathon" on Cinema Viewfinder, which I will be contributing to at some point over the next few days.

This will be the third of Tony's filmmaker blogathons I've participated in, following last year's analysis of the two versions of The Fly, and 2009's video piece on Brian De Palma (which is still my personal favorite online work).

For now I'm keeping the subject of the forthcoming Ray entry's up my sleeve (very far up my sleeve, but that's another story). In the mean time, you can check out the submissions appearing on Tony's blog, as well as links he'll provide to Ray pieces across the blogosphere (including, I believe, two of my own, linked here as well: In a Lonely Place and Bigger Than Life, both from 2008).

Additionally I've included some brief reflections on the filmmaker below:


Ray is an interesting director. Martin Scorsese came up with several different terms for filmmakers in Hollywood: the illusionists, the smugglers, and the iconoclasts. In this system, Scorsese classifies Ray as an iconoclast - someone openly challenging the status quo in terms of subject matter and style. But to me he's a bit more ambiguous, dwelling in a kind of no man's land between the smuggler (who subverts Hollywood from within) and the iconoclast.

His famous films from the 1950s clearly exist within the framework of Hollywood conventions - a filmgoer at the time could attend a Ray movie without being startled and taken to an entirely personal universe, the way a Welles or Kubrick film was bound to do. Yet no doubt, there must have been a lingering sense of unease, moreso than with the strong but concealed personalities of a Ford or Hitchcock ("concealed" in terms of genre and entertainment devices providing cover for personal expression).

Ray's films are works of slow emotional exposure, potent enough to reach and affect the viewer but restrained enough to to break the fabric of the film, maybe to saturate it. That's a rather abstract definition of concrete effects, but hopefully I can rectify that with my upcoming piece.

See you then.

No comments: