Craig Hubert's ArtInfo piece on the ongoing shitshow between film scholar Ray Carney and filmmaker Mark Rappaport provides a good précis of the tangle over Rappaport's materials and has me even more keen to read the rumored Boston Globe investigation into the matter. That said, I'm still rooting for the comet colliding with earth in this one, for strictly personal reasons.
The only film of Rappaport's I've seen is From the Journals of Jean Seberg, which I caught at the pre-Cuban Kendall Square Theatre with Jennifer MacMillan and thoroughly enjoyed. Until, that is, Rappaport's post-screening Q&A. I can count on my fingers the times where the affect of a filmmaker has soured me on his work, and this was one of those occasions. That night, Rappaport recounted with glee how he'd secured much of the footage in his film from European broadcasts. Now, no one needs me to tell them how the Mickey Moused copyright laws in the United States are bullshit, but Rappaport's nonchalance about doing right by the makers then feels like the set-up to the present-day karmic asskicking he's on the receiving end of now. And left me uninterested in the rest of his oeuvre. It happens.
As for Ray Carney, I met him for the first time on the occasion of his second "American Independents" series at the Harvard Film Archive in July 2007. (That would be pre-the whole self-congratulatory IFC program later that summer, for those of you scoring at home.) My friend Daniel McCord was visiting New England for the first time and wanted to see Mike Gibisser's lapidary beauty Finally, Lillian and Dan on the big screen. (We also saw Quiet City and Hannah Takes the Stairs.) Furthermore, he was a fan of Carney's site and his Cassavettes book. So when Ray generously invited us to tag along with some of his young filmmaker cadre for post-screening beers, I was down. Here's what I wrote soon after:
At the confab after the next night's double feature, the cinetrix was called upon as the lone female to weigh in on the female protagonist of Hannah Takes the Stairs. [Story of my life.] Realistic or a male fantasy--yes or no? Days later, the jury's still out. Yes, sirens like Hannah exist in real life, albeit usually not with the amazing amber eyes of Greta Gerwig, but to me the film and its story was the most familiar of the lot, perhaps because of the presence of Andrew Bujalski again holding down one angle of a tortured love triangle. More fun for me was trying to scope out the spines of the VHS tapes behind the actress during an intense conversation. I spotted 81/2 Women, Savage Beauty, The Unbelievable Truth, and Doom Generation. And there're tub scenes that resonate with 2 ou 3 Choses and Les Reves des Anges.
What I didn't say was how shamefully Carney ignored Daniel that night, even as the filmmakers [the Safdies, Aaron Katz] avidly quizzed him on his then-day job of designing truck tires for Michelin. He's a gifted filmmaker, too, as it happens. Yet only I counted, somehow, because I taught film at a university, and Daniel got nothing but air. It's caught in my craw ever since. So, yeah, that comet.