Rob Tregenza's TALKING TO STRANGERS
In the Dialogues section of the 1996 Toronto International Film Festival Jean-Luc Godard was asked to write about a film as part of the "Talking With Pictures" section. He selected TALKING TO STRANGERS and Norman McLaren's BLINKITY BLANK.
"If the 'Cahiers' still existed, and I did too, this is what I would say about Rob Tregenza's first film, composed, we all know, of nine scenes, each made up of one shot ('plan sequences'). Four of these scenes are remarkable and at times astonishing, that is, softly and strongly imbued with the marvelous: The Streets-- the Bank-- The Priest-- The Water Taxi. One of the scenes The Photographer is rather interesting. The rest less so.
"Well so what? cries the gentle reader. 'Why these mores and lesses?' Because they are the source of the fascination of this wonderful, half-sucesssful film--remember , reader, that in its time we praised Becker's film on Modigliani precisely for its failures. Because here reality walks hand-in-hand with fiction. The great Levi-Strauss would say: the elementary structures of kinship between fiction and reality. And I would add that fiction, the slut, trips up reality as soon as reality wants to posess her.
Theirs is not a heterosexual marriage. Reality and fiction are man and woman at the same time, and each reproaches the other for what she or he is, not for being what he or she is not. And this film only could be made in America, which --as we have known since Giraudoux-- sees an enemy in only that which it resembles-- in its failings. There is a great tradition in solitary America of being in love with reality, from Thoreau through MAN OF ARAN and FACES. And Rob Tregenza belongs to that tradition-- that of speaking and listening to our daily reality. Not simply of loving life-- not the candid camera, no, a reflective camera.
The third scene -The Bank- is in this respect an absolute model that all so-called film schools should show to all their so-called students, to let them see how the horror of invented fiction is redeemed by the grace of an offered reality. The camera continuously gives back what it is taking. Tregenza's two hands like the Samaritan's- taking and offering in a sort of operation by which haughty fiction is redeemed by the humble poverty of looking and hearing- Oh my Jane Campion, why did you let them drop the piano on you? And that the last -The Art- is a total failure- even more so that the proceeding two -The Bus and The Woman- because in them fiction is divorced from reality and is no longer needing the visible, and above all having to play the whore by tugging at our heart strings like a..., or a....
Or instead, we ask the only blind filmmaker, Norman McLaren, to shoot BLINKITY BLANK, and like all wonderful films, it will be the most wonderful of films. "
Jean-Luc Godard 1996
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