The Cineaste

FYI: What follows is an extract from a piece of writing that was printed in @ 1994; it's still applicable and functional, and introduces to you one of my passions (besides books and writing). In case you're mystified by the cinema names, they're in Vancouver, BC - where I live until I discover where I'm going to settle ....if I do.... You can also read my rantings in the Letterboxing forum....anyway:

Lest you go scurrying for a dictionary, I'll save you the trouble. Cinéaste means Lover Of Film.

By nature, Cinéastes watch a lot of film. They also know the names of the filmmakers, usually attending a favourite's works frequently, and exploring the work of other nations and unknowns.

I attended The Ridge and The Hollywood to find the great and the unusual. The films not on film I'd find on video.

The joy of foreign cinema is access to another culture, to see the world through a different set of eyes. While I'm sad to say that I've not travelled much, I've been around the world on tape. "Salaam Bombay" took me to the poorest streets in India. "The Icicle Thief" took me to Italy and two time periods: the post-war period when there was no work, and modern times.

For a long time I've wondered why Python humour doesn't work in Canada, and why so much of it is lost on the Americans. What I've worked out is that the humour carries an implied understanding of the culture it's making fun of. In Britain and Europe, everything is much more compressed and more entrenched. Here, it's all spread out, people aren't as obligated by culture as they are abroad.

Carried culture is what makes foreign films work so well. The American <The Man With One Red Shoe> isn't funny, while the French <The Tall Blonde Man With One Red Shoe> that it's based on is hysterical. The same holds true for <Three Men And A Cradle>, the original French <Three Men And A Baby>. In this case, the whole point of the story was changed to make the characters likeable for Americans. <Point Of No Return>, the American version of <Le Femme Nikita> is yet another one (I was asked by a chap I used to work with, why wouldn't I see Point when it came out. I said I'd seen Le Femme Nikita, and why should I see a pale imitation when the original was there and so much better?).

The reason, according to the makers of Point is that, like it or not, there are people out there that will not watch subtitled films. Five years ago, I could've seen that. The titles were usually white typing on white backgrounds, impossible to read. Today, they're usually yellow, or in the case of Laserdiscs, the film is letter-boxed and the titles are in the band below the image so both are clearly visible and neither interferes with the other.


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Fruitbat (Eric the)

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