I saw two movies about movies within three days. Not quite intentionally. Both were by the high priests of cinema (auteurs, maestros). One from Italy and one from Iran. The first is called ‘8 and a Half‘ and the second ‘Salam Cinema’ (, , , ). If you are a movie buff (of the serious or the artistic kind), you might have heard of them.
How to describe these two movies? Disturbing is one word. Voyeuristic is another. Redeeming can also be tried. Both of them take a good look at cinema and the making of cinema and the people involved in cinema. And they do it quite mercilessly. The risks that both the directors take clearly show their confidence: obviously their kind of courage is not due to ignorance. It is because they know they are good. Lesser mortals won’t try things like these.
In style, the two movies are very different. While the first is still a proper feature film, even if it is a film about films (and one fictional film in particular), the second one is almost a documentary, though not the usual kind. There are other differences too. The first one focuses more on the director, while the second one focuses more on the actors. Or would be actors. Actually, about the mostly would never be (or could never be) actors. As a digression, I can also mention here (shameless showoff!) another movie which focuses mainly on the viewers: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso by yet another maestro, Giuseppe Tornatore. (I will hopefully write about another one of his movies in a later post). Of course, all of them cover the world around the director and the actors too. Still, the real focus of both the movies is cinema itself.
When language is used to talk about language itself, we call it Linguistics. What should it be called when cinema is used to ‘talk’ about cinema? Should it be Cinemistics? That sounds like Cine-Mystiques.
Many movies have been made about cinema, but these two are surely among the best. But only the patient ones will be rewarded with the pleasure (and the good kind of pain) that can be obtained from these movies.
(To be continued…)