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From Facebook posts written by the director Paul Schrader since 2021.

an observation about film economics. The post-nickelodeon decision to monetize motion pictures (squeezing large numbers of patrons into unair-conditioned rooms with—for a time—intermittent vaudeville acts) worked like a charm, for decades. Then came TV. Yet movies survived, and became exploitation pix, women’s pix, prestige pix, horror pix, genre pix, realist pix. They were bigger in scope, racier in subject matter: newsreels, serious dramas, art films, European films—in air-conditioned cinemas. Now comes film’s third phase: the growing desire of audiences to see in-theater entertainment become like home entertainment, and a shift from the stand-alone two-hour drama inspired by literature to ongoing episodic dramas inspired by crime serials, telenovelas, expanded documentary and biographical sagas, which strip storytelling of its ability to compose concise narratives that land like a punch in the face.

In early films, violence was pretend: dramatic staggers after being shot, shots miraculously fired from a gunslinger’s hand, wounds healed after a quick wrap. In the era of televised Vietnam violence, it became gruesome: explicit squib hits, open wounds, the walking wounded. Now, in the digital era of video games, we have returned to pretend violence: digital muzzle flashes and bullet hits, heroes impervious to guns, wounds that vanish.

For cinema, there was before Godard and after him. For years he disassembled cinema and reassembled it until it became his personal Rubik’s Cube. He and Dylan are the quizzical lodestars of their time. Godard was a trick master of quotes, so he’ll appreciate this Marlene Dietrich line from Touch of Evil: “He was some kind of man. What does it matter what you say about people?”

there is a new cinema language. Films in the international lineup make clear that multitasking, video games, and digital filmmaking have changed the language of cinema. What was once considered experimental in style and narrative has become normative. How is it possible to teach directing? You can teach time management, working with actors, lenses and lighting, but there are no longer directing rules.

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June 2024

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