Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (2001, Pedro Costa)

“You can’t trust cinema” – Straub

Costa brings his In Vanda’s Room minimalist shooting style into the editing room where Straub and Huillet are working on Sicilia!. I thought it sounded like a bore, but liked it a lot, surely more than Vanda itself. Guess I was interested in the process of it, and in rethinking Sicilia and learning about the filmmakers – the documentary aspect more than Costa’s aesthetic work, though seeing something so similar in look to Vanda made me reconsider Costa’s style too. So, a lot to think about, though I’m not sure about it being “maybe the best movie ever made about making movies” (Senses of Cinema possibly quoting Thom Andersen).

Huillet (below) is the quiet one, doing her work while Straub showboats and pontificates, talks about destroying truth, calls a matching shot “the most idiotic thing in filmmaking,” and quotes favorite films of his (of theirs). They take their editing job very seriously – Costa says they completed five cuts a day. They stop to screen and introduce some films, including The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, for a meager group of students, part of the deal they made to get free editing time at a university. Seems to be a documentary made for and by people who need no introduction to these filmmakers; an advanced course in their methods and personality. Funny that Costa points out his own sound design in this doc as “completely fake, anti-Straubian.”

More choice Straub quotes:

“Some people have the impression – because we reject verisimilitude and TV-style cinema, Dallas and all that shit, and even Woody Allen and Cassavetes, etc., that there is no psychology in our films. But that’s not true. All this is psychology. There is no psychology in terms of the performance of the actor because there is a dramatic abstraction that goes deeper than so-called verisimilitude. But it’s there, in between the shots, in the very montage and in the way the shots are linked to each other, it is extremely subtle psychology.”

“When you make films, you try not to say stupid things. You work hard to avoid them. You destroy cliches, go back, correct, abandon or add things. And then, in real life, you do talk nonsense. You end up destroying some of the work you do and the films you made.

“You cannot expect form before the idea.”
“First there is the idea. Then there is the matter and then the form. And there is nothing you can do about that. Nobody can change that!”

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