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Cinematic Reveries

Gestures, Stillness, Water


Linda C. Ehrlich

The 29 prose poems in Cinematic Reveries: Gestures, Stillness, Water provide distinctive points of entry into a select group of films through attention to evocative gestures, a sense of stillness, and images of water. These original writings offer film criticism in a new form, with a tone that is at once exploratory, familiar, and elegiac. They explore the precious nature of water; they point to gestures both eloquent and obscure. They offer us moments of arrested motion as well as longer contemplative sequences in films from Asia, Europe, New Zealand, and the U.S. To cite a sentiment expressed by filmmaker Raúl Ruíz in his Poetics of Cinema 2, these are tributes to great films that «recognize [us] like an old relative». The reader is encouraged to explore Cinematic Reveries as a portrait of the cinema which is at times lyrical, sometimes comic, and often tinged with pathos. This celebration of the art film is richly illustrated, with suggestions for further readings and viewings.


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In Praise of Water


50 Introductory Notes: In Praise of Water Every drop of water you drink has a long history (Gallant: 34). The cinema, currently one of our most fragile art forms, has offered us haunting images of the intimate relationship between humans and their environment. The writings in this section reflect a growing awareness of our limited access to fresh water, and how we are all stewards of the gift of water. The title of this section, In Praise of Water was inspired by the title of Japanese writer Tanizaki Junichiro’s 1933 extended essay In´ei raisan (In Praise of Shadows), in which the Japanese novelist explores the evocative nature of shadows in Japanese traditional aesthetics. The prose poems in this section remind us about the precious nature of water as a limited natural resource that (paradoxically) appears endlessly abundant. These poems explore water as a source of celebration and as a potentially destructive force. Traveling from Italy to Korea, France, New Zealand, and on to Hollywood, these writings present water as a site of release and cleansing, as an invitation to adventure, and as an offering. In each case, water plays an essential role in a moment of transformation. Shape-shifting water. Sudden tropical rain showers. Irrigated fields. Monsoons. Flooding. Depictions of Shiva with the Ganges in his hair, of Venus born from the ocean´s depth. Biblical images of women precariously carrying jars of water on their heads for miles. Unfortunately, the note of concern in these writings also reflects first-...

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