The cardboard of the arts

Image: Jornal de Resenhas / Thyago Nogueira


Commentary on three or four films

Who was kind enough to reach the end of my little article about the film Match Point, posted on the website the earth is round []

certainly realized that he has a narrator, and that narrator is a left-wing buffoon... Barbarian Invasions (but miserably without the same luck, alas! with life's heroines).

After the years, and morigerously sober thanks to the throbbing of gray hairs, if not the life of a dog that we are enduring, we can return to the two interpretations, sometimes more, sometimes less developed in the set previous. The first unfolds naturally from the analysis: since, at the heart of the City London, a warhead is embedded, the spectacular Gherkin,[1] and like all warheads — explosives, the film asserts, loud and clear, that this wonderful world, invested and coated with art and culture, rests on brutal crimes.

This in itself justifies the so unreasonable virulence (in such a refined world) with which our executive warhead exploded, shooting down — with a hunting rifle, his mistress, pregnant with him, and the old woman, her neighbor. And it was for no other reason than to explain it aesthetically, so revolted were we when we saw it for the first time, that we began our pursuit of the heinous crime. How to understand such ferocity?

The second interpretation is risky, with a somewhat swampy support, but since I don't let go of this desire to sink, let's sink. The strategy of playing with genres, as we know, is formally relevant to the universe it deals with, saturated as it is with culture. Very well, as my supervisor of the late doctorate said (oh, pain!), almost rubbing his hands with contentment: suspicion about him, however, aroused when we find, in the end, that the thesis is false, given that the ring/little ball falls on this side of the river/net, saving our handsome protagonist from jail, makes you rewatch the film with different eyes. False only the thesis?

Doubt obviously spreads. The romantic melodrama slides into the naturalist, beyond all the clichés… Or does anyone think that this whole thing was filmed seriously? Has anyone seen love in the rain at the movies? and torn clothes on the bed? and tie blinding lover? and oil on burning backs? The naturalistic melodrama descends, in a Strinbergian way, into symbolisms of paintings and settings; tragedy, however much it threatens to burst our warhead into tears, carries no noble motive; Comedy is not about mistakes but successes...

Fake the whole movie, or post-modern? No, as long as, having verified the generic manipulation, we try to take a step back. And critical distancing, in order to appreciate the film well, constitutes an aesthetic requirement, imposed by the game of genres itself. Finally, if one insists, because of this gap, we can even say that he is Brechtian.

At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the role of the arts in this enchanted world. Beyond literature and opera, which can serve as steps to social climbing, deliberate or not, because, in an attempt to humanize the ogive, exposing certain cracks in it, the film becomes ambiguous, — beyond literature and the opera, in short, which can act as a ladder in this non-classical career path, beyond the ostentation of status, beyond the art market, the symptomatic sequence takes place in a gallery, let us remember, when Chloe and her friend exuberate in chiacchierating without mercy, cackling blasphemy after blasphemy — oh, blasphemies! mixing everything, paint tubes and test tubes, palette and eggs, sperm with paste, a horror.

This paper to which the arts are subjected, with decorating the world so indecorously, bears a name, so shameful: cardboard.

Very, very well... Woody Allen's film, so glamorous in itself, wouldn't it also fulfill a role?

You may think that I'm exaggerating, that art, good art is in no way consistent with this disenchanted world, but that's in the air, that's it. And it's hard to break up, it's so dissolute that it walks!

If we thinkThe Barbarian Invasions,[2] the melodrama in which the son of the dying left-wing buffoon pontificates as a spiritual cousin (?) of our warhead, we notice a substantial difference. There we also found work auctions, sacred statuary praying, but not even with divine help, for a little spot on the market, the commodification, in short, of sacred art — a topic today, so innocent, silly.

Apart from the lapse of the left, (of those who lose the fur but not the skin) in accusing that the barbarian invasions do not come from outside, but from within the very City London, from the very bowels of the Empire, since it is not the “prince of the barbarians”, in the person of the successful stock exchange operator, who goes out buying god-and-the-world without the slightest ceremony, opening his wallet and destroying institutions, hospitals , trade union, university and what else lay ahead? — a flawed act that, between us, redeems the melodramatic, art, mere merchandise, and treated laterally, as if in passing, does not constitute an organic theme in the film.

To feel the bitterness of the contrast, just think of the Argentine The Man Next Door.[3]

Let's not talk about the perversely Machado game with our cultural and class prejudices. After all, as good neighbors that we are, we naturally tend to overlook the repugnance of the elegant, cosmopolitan and artistic designer before the menacing presence of that figure that came out of who knows what cave. Coarse, tacky, vulgar, victorious to the last hair of his twat, who could bear to live alongside a man?

Let's not say that the comical shit-who-plays-macho does everything he curses in the neighbor: lies, spies, mistreats journalists, slanders friends, tramples on students, sings a student at the first opportunity, and so on. Even less are we going to claim in defense of the entrudão that he just wanted a little ray of sunshine, that he also cultivates his art there, his sculpture, of bullets, it is true, but isn't this the material that our wild boar hunter had at hand? as much as his antics, his cooking, the delicious finger ballet, which he was heroic in saving Lolex from the house robbery, no. That Victor, well! that all these loser people stay whole for the anthropologists, who are the ones who like the poor.

But let this be clear — this is not a question of segregation, no, nor of discrimination, far from us, who also have our indigenous NGO and who just don't publicize it out of scruples that all discreet people will cherish. It was culture that opened the abyss, an impassable gap today, but which, who knows, one day…

Nor am I going to even mention that, in the end, the film, I think it was engulfed by so much high-tech scoundrel, buried, by closing the window of discord, burying us together with the unfortunate. Victor is dead, but so are we, we who are on this side of the canvas and neighbors are, by cultural and/or class contiguity, the sophisticated armchair designer. (Did he know, by the way, that a chair is architecture, but a sofa, well, a sofa is bourgeois cuteness?!)

I won't even mention the circumstances surrounding the death of the scumbag, a victim of double urban violence. Is not our neighbor a living example of the urban being? The sophisticated designer, certainly intuiting with his refined artistic sensitivity the imminent death of the brute, was not going to divert public assistance from more serious and urgent calls, come on!

I'll just mention that the man's dull agony, painfully slow, absolutely frontal, takes place on a wall in Le Corbusier,[4] on the wall of an art whose vanishing point, remember? sparked human emancipation.

The Swiss architect's famous disjunctive, architecture or revolution, simply promised, based on the utopia of progress, a peaceful revolution, as if by the lapse of time from Enlightenment reason.[5] What is curious, rather depressing, is that the film, burying once and for all any redemptive perspective, if it had not already buried itself on its own, when facing the “end of the line” (wall?), the architectural modernization program and social, — the Argentine film, in short, puts side by side, sarcastically, the two forces that Le Corbusier considered at the time more active, more transforming, more revolutionary: the intellectual and the worker.[6]


One more cardboard?

No, the hyperbole is not mine, it's Lars von Trier's. What it says The Director of Everything?[7] The comedy, ingenious, triggers not only the director of the company, but also the director of the theater, who inspires the ham actor, and the director of the film himself, reflected there from the opening scene. Detail: good or bad, we are in the vanguard field. The company belongs to Information Technology (TI), the theater director, AntonioStavroGambini, is the famous author of the three-hour monologue, in a single act, of the chimney sweep in a city without a chimney, from the classic The Hanged Cat, from 1969, and our film director is not far behind, he is a publicly recognized avant-garde author.

And it's no use objecting to me, please, that the automavision filming technique (avant-garde?) dispenses with human intervention...[8] Do I need to say that the director kept the characters' jumps — self-evident? and that the little jumps, seemingly erratic but self-evident, as we can see, don't the little jumps justly and ironically testify, when left to itself, the limitations of the technique?

Or is he, Lars, sweet Lars, suggesting that actors are just automatons?

In any case, technical innovation underscores, self-sardonically, the film's major theme: the functionality of the avant-garde. Economical functionality, to top it off, because there is no doubt.

More than its ridicule, with its vanity, its servility, its silliness, the film shamelessly shows, under the amusing manipulation of the ham actor by the owner of the company, how profitable the vainglory of the avant-garde can be for the market. And the mark on the forehead, a mark of soot, of a chimney sweep in a city without a chimney, attests, much more than the stupidity of self-baptism, or the apparent uselessness of the trade, attests — the fiction of origin. The self-proclaimed avant-garde is far from descended from the historical avant-garde...

News? None. It just seems to me...

“Avant-garde of the market!? exclaims a talking cricket next to my foot, vanguard of the market!? rustling with laughter, vanguard of mer… but I just smashed it.

It just looks like, as I've been saying, and I'm sorry if I put my foot down, it just looks like soda, that's what it is — soda! in the midst of the desert of hegemonic cinema, the grace with which the aporia of someone who gets involved in making reflective, critical, (avant-garde?) cinema in the commercial circuit is treated.


In another take…

Uneasy with the delay in signing the contract, the irascible Icelander calls the endless negotiations “absurd” worthy of Gambini, the famous author of the three-hour monologue, in a single act, of the chimney sweep in a city without a chimney, of the classic The Hanged Cat, from 1969, in addition to suggesting in a low voice to the interpreter, something of an expert on the subject, the possibility of the feliginous tragedy being from 1968... The slip makes the flea jump behind the ear: he too — actor? he was also hired to pose as the owner and buy the Danish company?

Yes, it could be... the first sentence that Icelandic utters, during the presentation of both "presidents" of the companies, coincided word for word with the sentence that the canastrão directed by Ravn, the owner of the company acting as author and director, should say of theater…

But wait! Come to think of it, aren't they all actors?

If so, wouldn't Lars, sweet Lars, be the director of it all?

Of course, in an attempt to defend himself, he could accuse the producer of the director of the director of everything, who on his side, fulfilling the logic of the film itself, would appoint director of the director of the director of everything the investment, the market, etc., etc. ., and so on until we reach the role of the “automatic subject”, the last or first or only director of everything, or of the whole — das capital.[9]

Keeping up with the self-improving — self-visioning? would the director of everything then be implying that, not only the actors, but also us, all of us, in this universal comedy, which is what remains after the catastrophe, are nothing more than automatons in the hands of the automatic subject?

I prefer to heed your recommendation that comedy is not for reflection and a quick answer to the question that has been suspended since the beginning: are American films, and Argentine films, and Danish ones too cardboard? It's not because they thematize the impasses of art in the contemporary world, (to put it with academic elegance) it's not because they are also aware that they are also entangled in the mythological mass machine that is cinema, we deserve to turn to them, lightly and heavily, the same weapons.

“Art films”, as Market, the productive critic, calls them, or too glamorous, in the moody judgment of many, fulfill, in my opinion, exactly the opposite role – honorable. In the circle of capital in which they struggle, I think they happily do what they can, and with rare happiness.

*Airton Paschoa is a writer, author, among other books, of see ships (Nankin, 2007).

Published in Rebeca n.º 6, Jul/Dec 2014 (virtual magazine of the Brazilian Society of Cinema and Audiovisual Studies — Socine), under the title “Three films and a cardboard (the final point)”



1] I heard on the news this 10/11/14, another day of glory for the country, that we just bought the cucumber for the trifle of 3 billion reais. This country fills me up more and more, I'll end up bursting — with pride! New national heritage... private, right, but who's going to have everything? I am intimately convinced that the Safra family, the British woman's spiritual twin, only did it for the love of the arts.

[2] Directed by Denys Arcand, the Canadian film is from 2003.

[3]The Man on the Side, from 2009, with a script by Andrés Duprat, was directed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat.

[4] The film takes place at Casa Curutchet, surname of the doctor who commissioned the project from Le Corbusier in 1948.

[5] “Modern Architecture is an exemplary case. Let’s see: from the beginning it was thought of as the main ally in the solution of the great antagonisms of capitalist society, which it would be able to reorganize through a reordering of space — which, according to Le Corbusier, would prevent revolution” ( Otilia Arantes, End of line urbanism and other studies on the collapse of architectural modernization, São Paulo, Edusp, 1998, p. 29). Its “end of line”, in Otília’s view, in controversy with Habermas, has nothing to do with “deviation” or “categorical error”, but with the depletion of its utopian energies, when fully complying with the rationalization program that it announced .

[6] See Le Corbusier's “Architecture or revolution”, final chapter of the book for an architecture (translation by Ubirajara Rebouças, São Paulo, Perspectiva, 2013, 7th ed.), whose first edition dates from 1923.

[7] From 2006, and translated by The Big Chief, Direktoren for detHele (literally, The Director of All, according to Dr. Google) brings the “o” from the Danish word “director” cut diagonally downwards from right to left, and which we were unable to reproduce on such a primitive keyboard. Too bad that Portuguese, archaic, archaic, still uses the acute accent, when more serious languages ​​already make it fall exactly in the middle of the “ozinho”. Hello ABL, are we going to do a serious renovation or not? Isn't it enough that they shot down the flight of the word "flight"?

[8] Went also today (7/11/14), driven by automavision, see dr. Google: “The filming concept of El Jefe de Todo Esto// Automavision is a camera (and sound) system developed to limit human influence and leave the door open to chance, in order to provide the work with a vision 'without ideas', free from the force of habit and aesthetics./ / Once chosen by the director of photography, from an artistic point of view, the best possible position to place the camera, a program compiles a list of applicable corrections: tilt, pan, focus, aperture, vertical and horizontal position; there is another of possible corrections for the sound: filters, levels, etc., which will be applied when the sound engineer has placed the microphones. After studying the various parameters, the director, cinematographer and sound engineer evaluate the modifications and may decide to scrap the shot. But each time the camera stops rotating, the random selection via Automavision takes place again. In order to make the most of these frames and sound shots for the final copy, the shots are not processed, other than a simple montage in a previously chosen order. In other words, no color changes are made, the image is not manipulated or the sound is mixed, since the material is transferred directly to the final copy.// In the case of El Jefe de Todo Estothe use of lighting other than that of the exterior or interior scenery was also prohibited.// Each scene of El Jefe de Todo Estois performed according to the rules of Automavision, with the exception of four small inserts with the director's comments, which do not follow the rules” (, in addition to naturally consulting your free and enlightened lady, Dr. Wikipedia: “automavision is a technical innovation in cinematography that uses a fixed camera with no operator behind it.// The camera is controlled by a computer that decides, completely casually and apparently without any guidelines [guidelines], what shot to make, whether you zoom or pan, a close-up or an American shot. Proceeding in this way, it is not uncommon for actors to appear with their faces cut off, or part of their heads, in framing. With this technique, therefore, the blame for any mistakes or shots that follow aesthetic canons, to say the least, debatable, are entirely attributable to the computer.// The first director to use this method of shooting was the Danish director Lars von Trier ( founder of Dogma 95), who used it for the film The big boss” (

[9] “Capital is an automatic subject because it replaces, as a result of its own movement, the assumptions that give rise to it. Once capitalist production is carried out, the monetary capital necessary for the acquisition of the means of production and labor power, the first assumption, is restored to the capitalist. The wage paid, lower by definition than the value that the consumption of labor power produces, therefore replaces the wage earner as a wage earner, or the labor force as a commodity, the second assumption. The purpose of this movement is the appreciation of value, which is confused, from a logical point of view, with the very definition of capital” (Leda Paulani, professor at FEA/USP, carving roast chicken between bites of Puligny-Montrachet).

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