TIFF 2023 | Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World (Radu Jude, Romania/Luxembourg/France/Croatia) — Wavelengths 

By Jordan Cronk.

Published in Cinema Scope #96 (Fall 2023).

Where for many filmmakers the pandemic discouraged production or curbed creativity, it only seems to have inspired Radu Jude. Always impossible to peg, the prolific 46-year-old Romanian director has grown especially wily and provocative in recent years, embarking on a new phase in his career in which contemporary image culture and the sociopolitical absurdities of our time have become both subject of meticulous analysis and object of equally attentive ridicule. Like his Golden Bear–winning Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021), Jude’s latest, Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, which recently won the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno Film Festival, feels like it has burst spontaneously from the global unconscious, a space where the real and the virtual mingle with increasing consent. 

Miles away from his late-2000s origins as part of the Romanian New Wave, Jude is today working in a register closer to anarchic satire or essayistic fiction, which itself is far removed from his playing with the form of the Western with Aferim! (2015), his dalliance with the period piece in Scarred Hearts (2016), or his ongoing investigation of Romania’s checkered history in the archival documentaries The Dead Nation (2017) and The Exit of the Trains (2020). If something broke in people’s brains during COVID due to the enforced isolation and attendant rise in social media discourse, fear-mongering, and fascism, Jude’s recent films reflect this break in both form and content, assuming a bricolage aesthetic in which a dialectic of themes and ideas freely interfaces across a diverse spectrum of storytelling modes and image-making traditions.

Centred on issues of labour in the era of the gig economy, the ruthlessly funny Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World is told in two parts. The first follows Angela (Ilinca Manolache), an overworked production assistant tasked with filming casting interviews with injured factory workers for a work-safety video commissioned by an Austrian corporation, whose marketing director is, naturally, Goethe’s great-great granddaughter (and played by Nina Hoss). Filmed in 16mm black and white, this section—set over one day and, at 125 minutes, the far lengthier of the two chapters—at times resembles a city-bound road movie, a likeness Jude underscores through the shrewd incorporation of footage from Lucian Bratu’s 1981 colour feature Angela Moves On, a Ceaușescu-era production about the life of a female taxi driver that Jude juxtaposes with similar scenes of his protagonist driving around Bucharest. 

Whereas Bratu’s Angela is a helpless romantic, Jude’s is a hardened cynic. Zipping between interviews, she blasts Romanian turbo-folk (sample lyric: “Give me that money /Show me that money”), gripes about her boss on the phone, furiously downs energy drinks, and deflects sexist comments from other drivers; at one point, between meetings, she picks up her mom so they can relocate her grandmother’s remains before a construction company digs up the cemetery. In Angela’s world, there is literally no such thing as free time: everything can be monetized. In the film’s most brilliant running gag, Angela adopts an online edgelord alter ego à la Andrew Tate. With her identity hidden behind a face app, she spews hate speech and vulgarities across social media, seemingly to find release from the pressures and microaggressions of the workaday grind, but also probably to make a little coin. (In a fun moment set on a studio lot, German director Uwe Boll, playing himself, takes a break from filming a giant killer bug movie to make a video with Angela and take a few shots at his critics.)

As night falls and Angela’s day comes to a close, the rough-hewn look of the film’s first half gives way to a shorter but more rigorous second chapter, in which Ovidiu (Ovidiu Pîrsan), the injured worker chosen for the safety video, is forced to change the details of his story and accept partial responsibility for the accident. Shot in high-definition colour in a single fixed take, this extended set piece, filmed outside the factory where Ovidiu was paralyzed, assumes the perspective of the production team’s camera; as the director calls from offscreen for tweaks in phrasing (“Don’t mention Russia”) and set decoration, various crew members, including Angela, crack jokes and wander into the frame while Ovidiu and his family sit dumbfounded. Among the many quips and asides are a couple of telling references to silent cinema, and in particular La sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon (1895). 

Like the Lumière brothers, Jude is interested in the documentary value of cinema and the ways in which reality can breach the fictional frame. You can see this near the end of part one, when a conversation about a treacherous highway introduces a silent montage of crosses commemorating those who have died on the road in auto accidents; in the footage from Angela Moves On, which Jude occasionally slows down to focus on some of the less idyllic details of Romanian life under Ceaușescu; and, to equal and opposite effect, when, in a delightful coup de cinema, the original Angela, Dorina Lazar, makes an unexpected appearance opposite her present-day counterpart. It’s just one moment among many in this freewheeling, unpredictable movie that reminds us that, while hope for humanity’s future may be futile, it’s still worth expecting something from cinema.

Cinema Scope: So, I’ve seen the movie twice now…

Radu Jude: I apologize.

Scope: No, it’s appropriate because your film deals with labour and workers’ rights, and between my two viewings the SAG-AFTRA strike began. Have you been keeping up with what’s going on?

Jude: Apart from symbolically supporting it from afar, not really. The Hollywood system is so far removed from our experience in Romania. I haven’t seen Barbie or Oppenheimer [ed. note: Jude has since seen Barbie and Oppenheimer], but they feel like they’re from another planet. Whatever we do is something else; they should have another name for what Hollywood does. That said, when I say I’m supporting it, it’s because sometimes, after many years, these ideas make their way from Hollywood to the periphery—even to Romania. One of the issues of the strike is the studios being able to use the digital image of someone in perpetuity. That’s already happening when they multiply actors’ bodies in scenes with lots of people. I can imagine if and when that’s possible in Romania, they’ll also want to use it 100% of the time.

Scope: Your film doesn’t deal with AI per se, but the credits do note that the film is “personally written and directed by Radu Jude.” How do you define personal filmmaking in 2023?

Jude: That’s actually a small joke. You know who used “personally written and directed by?” Erich von Stroheim in Greed (1924). So that was a roundabout nod to him. It was just an impulse I had while doing the credits. And I think I was also drinking a little bit…

I’m actually not interested in personal filmmaking. I think that word is pretty much abused, especially in arthouse and European cinema. You always have to be “personal” in order to be considered relevant, or even to get financing. There are some financing applications that ask, “What is your personal relationship with your subject?” And then people write, “Oh, it’s the story of my grandmother,” or “This happened to me while I was on vacation.” My take is that you don’t have to be personal in this way. I strongly believe—and I know it’s an auteurist perspective—in what Bresson said in Notes on the Cinematograph: make the film in such a way that there will be something there that couldn’t appear without you. This can be if you’re making a television film, a commercial film, an arthouse film, or an experimental film—you can leave your imprint on anything. Maybe it’s changing with digital tools and AI, but for me the possibility afforded by cinema to record reality and transfer it into an image is very powerful. And that’s not personal. I used to work in television and advertising, and there was a personal vision there as well. It was just the personal vision of your boss. 

Scope: Has the gig economy had an impact on your filmmaking at all, or have you perceived any changes in the European production model as a result of the increasing reliance on freelance labour in the post-COVID world?

Jude: Well, we have to remember that from country to country Europe is quite different—even within the EU. The story of the production assistant in the first half of this film actually came from my experience working many years ago as a PA, and then later as an advertising director. So the stories I’m telling here are personal, in the sense that I encountered them. As it pertains to privatized labour, Romania developed a system that didn’t give much care to workers, whether it was people working on a construction site, at a supermarket, or as part of a film or advertising crew. It was understood at that time that you should be grateful for your job and basically allow yourself to be exploited.

Before the revolution, the public discourse was, “Well, if we privatize everything and we have corporations and business owners that we work for, then that’s going to save everything,” and that’s because the country was impoverished and almost destroyed by the Communist dictatorship. Now, the thought is if we go to a neoliberal model and we have a free market with no state intervention, then it will be paradise. I’m not against the free market—I think it can bring about positive changes, but only if it’s controlled. I say this because when I was 22, I was an assistant and second unit director for foreign films shot in Romania, and it was not exceptional to work 28 continuous hours. Or sometimes 45 hours. I think the maximum I did was 50-something hours—basically two continuous working days. And if you complained, people would say, “What do you want? This is how it should be. A shooting day starts and you never know when it finishes.” That was like a mantra, and I believed it. I wanted to be in good standing within that model. I worked many years like that. After a shooting day of 30 or 40 hours, you need three or four days to get back in shape. For many people, this kind of exploitation affected their health and their lives. Angela’s storyline is inspired by a case concerning a production assistant that, after working many hours, said to his boss, “I’m tired. I need a break.” And the boss responded, “Drink a coffee. Drink a Red Bull. Just two more hours.” And that person died. He was a very young man.

That said, I do think cinema can be fuelled in a good way by these more wild attitudes. I think this uncivilized nature needs to exist in some form. When I was young and reading all these stories about Herzog shooting Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) or Coppola shooting Apocalypse Now (1979), it sounded so heroic. In the early days, when we were supposed to work 20 hours and then drive to another location, it felt magical and sort of heroic. I don’t see it quite that way anymore. You can fool yourself into thinking this way as a filmmaker, but for the people working around you, it’s not like that at all. They don’t care if your movie is going to win an Oscar, or if it’s going to be a piece of crap. They just want to finish the shooting and go home.

Scope: Based on this film and Bad Luck Banging, I get the feeling that you engage with social media differently than most people. Can you talk about the research you did on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to create Angela’s alter ego? Did Ilinca Manolache bring anything personal or specific to the character that wasn’t in the script?

Jude: Ilinca has acted in smaller parts for me before. I deeply admire her as an actress and as a person, and I’ve always wanted to work with her on a bigger role. While I was developing this script during the pandemic, she created this avatar and started doing these Instagram videos where she would impersonate this stupid kind of man—exactly what you seen in the film. It was interesting to see the reactions to the videos: some of them were encouraging—with people saying, “Oh, that’s funny”—but others were antagonistic and very much against what she was doing. There were professional actors, theatre directors, and critics saying things like, “This is not how an actress should talk. This is not the kind of thing an actress should create.” But she responded, “Well, we’re in a pandemic, and this is a way for me to do my work. I’m creating small films.” When I realized that the Angela character could do something similar, it was in that moment that I phoned Ilinca and said, “I think this is an opportunity for us to work together on a bigger part, but I want to cast your avatar!”

Her dialogue in those scenes mix things I wrote and what Ilinca had already done in her videos. She considers those performances a kind of feminist act, but it’s feminism in a caricatured style—a character by way of extreme exaggeration. For me, what was interesting was thinking about how this avatar gives a new perspective on what is a character, what is fiction, what is reality, what is documentary—and, of course, what the relationship between images and reality is in this new era of social media platforms and AI, which is making things more complicated than ever. I’m fascinated by that. Maybe you’ve seen this page on Facebook called AI Generated Nonsense. I saw a video on there called “Mickey Mouse Takes Acid.” It’s made by an AI program and it’s hilarious—it’s beautiful. I think we can learn from that.

Scope: Do you spend a lot of time on social media, or was this mostly done for the film?

Jude: I have all the social media apps. I don’t post much, because it takes a lot of time to post. It’s work. I don’t have that kind of energy. I guess it’s true that I’m doing research, because I’m always developing more than one project, and I need to get things into my system as I go through the process. It’s like Auguste Renoir said: “Before you light a stove, you need to put firewood in it.” In this way, yes, I need to feed myself. At this point I don’t see much of a difference between a Facebook post, a tweet, or an Instagram image. Sometimes I save ones I like, so I can have them, and maybe this quote or this image can be used for this project.

My biggest discovery last year, which I made just before starting the film and which maybe infused it in some way, was Bern Porter, who invented or theorized the idea of found poetry. He was a physicist, and I think he was also part of the Manhattan Project. His books are filled with things like math equations that he invites you to see as poetry, to force your mind to see things in a certain way. All of a sudden, when looking at things from this perspective, you can see things online, on Twitter [ed. note: X], as a kind of poetry. Same thing when you scroll on Facebook or Instagram—sometimes the images and text merge or overlap, and you have a kind of Eisenstein montage. I try to see things through this kind of frame, like a moment of cinema. Most of the time it’s bad or junk cinema, but sometimes it’s brilliant. Maybe it’s because of the algorithms, but they can create funny or really fascinating things. I was listening to Messiaen’s “Catalogue d’oiseaux” on YouTube one time, and it was broken up by a commercial for a chicken sandwich. That was a brilliant montage, a wonderfully edited moment in time.

Scope: Can you tell me a little about Angela Moves On? When did you first come across it, how is it regarded in Romania, and why did you think it would pair well with the film’s contemporary story?

Jude: My film was conceptualized in two parts, but originally the first part was just about the PA driving around. I felt like this part needed something else, and at some point I began to think if there were any older Romanian films about women drivers. 

I only saw Angela Moves On a year or two before making this film, and I didn’t really like it. I like things in it, but for me it’s not one of the few really good Romanian films from that time, when Lucian Pintilie and Mircea Daneliuc were making their most important work. The director, Lucian Bratu, is not a great filmmaker, and I feel like he made the film to get paid. He wasn’t famous for being subversive or against the regime. You couldn’t really be openly against the regime, but there were other filmmakers who were much more head on than he was. But then I looked at the film again, and realized that it’s much more complex than it seems. Little by little, I discovered that the film has all these little cinéma vérité–type scenes—very short moments where you can see the realities of that time that you’re not really supposed to see, like people waiting in lines for food or rundown places. Sometimes they last just a half a second, but I feel like Bratu is being very subversive in those moments. 

I had the idea early on for my Angela to eventually meet her model from the earlier film. But when I said this to my DOP, he misunderstood: he thought I meant it would be a constant montage between the films, which I didn’t intend, but when he said that I thought, “Hmm, maybe that would be a better idea.” So that gave us an easy structure to work with. I chose the locations more or less according to the locations of the earlier film. Not to reference Eisenstein again, but it’s an idea of his, to clash two sets of images. I found it quite striking as I put the images together during the editing; it’s not always clear, even for me—and I imagine it’ll be even less so for non-Romanian viewers—what the relationship is between the images. But at the same time, if we consider the film as a kind of collage, then maybe the overall impression is more important than understating any one part. The most important thing is to see what it means to create an image in a society that was under political control and censorship, and to see what it’s like to create an image in a society that has political freedom—at least compared to an earlier era. 

In that sense, I think the film is also a film about Bucharest. Why does Bucharest look so bad today compared to how it looked back then? Some of that is propaganda, as many images and films from that time were produced to show the most beautiful side of Bucharest, which is why I slow down those less beautiful moments from Angela Moves On—so you can see the other side. But even still, Bucharest is in much worse shape now, 30 years after the revolution. How did we let that happen? It’s more crowded now, more polluted—cars are on the sidewalk, buildings are falling down, etc. I read that it’s the second most congested city in the world. I think the film can show this by putting one image next to another, and in doing so maybe propose this question to the viewer. 

Scope: Your films frequently deal with cinema and historical representation, but your last couple of movies deal specifically with modern image culture and the proliferation of images. Do you think these themes have influenced your work aesthetically? 

Jude: Yes, and there are many reasons for that. First, I don’t really have a style. For many years I had a sadness about this. All the greatest filmmakers have a style. You see a Hong Sangsoo film or a John Cassavetes film, and in two seconds you recognize it. But I don’t care so much anymore. Like I said, I don’t really care about this sort of personal perspective in filmmaking. I consider myself a worker for cinema. I think less and less about myself and more and more about how to create a film—how to physically make it.

Secondly, as you mention, my films often deal with history. When starting out, I tried to make films dealing with the dark parts of Romanian history. When working in this way you discover from a practical point of view that the problem of representation is huge and really important. And for a while I didn’t think you could necessarily explore that through a contemporary lens. But once you start down that path you realize that the problems of representation are everywhere, especially nowadays with all the new tools and platforms. Today representation is more complicated than ever to define, to establish, to express, to make it part of the discourse of a film.

It might not be obvious, but one of the things I’m most interested in is storytelling—in narrative filmmaking. And while I think that traditional, three-act narrative filmmaking can work brilliantly, I also feel its limitations. In literature, there’s space for a classical book, like a Balzac story, but at the same time there’s room for Joyce’s Ulysses, Proust, or William Burroughs. They all still use narrative, but not in the same way. I don’t feel like you see that as much in cinema. For this film, the model was literary, specifically John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. trilogy. In that book you have a fictional story, but also stories about the economy and social issues—it’s very experimental. It mixes media. You have pure narration combined with collages of press items. It’s not for me to say whether my stories are good or bad—for me, it’s about exploring new directions. 

Other than the inspiration of Dos Passos, everything in the film relates to the history of cinema. Sometimes, to go back two or three steps in history is a way to move ahead. With this film I wanted to return to a kind of primitive cinema—for example, the cinema of Andy Warhol. I don’t mean how the image in the first part is in black and white, but that the camera—save for a couple of shots—is fixed. I wanted to explore the idea of how to make the mise en scène for a fixed camera. I didn’t have the courage of Warhol to put the film stock in the camera and just let it run, but we usually just did one or two takes. I knew we would lose something with this approach, but I thought we might also gain something. My taste is leaning more and more toward this unrefined, more brutish style of cinema. 

One of the things I wanted to avoid in the film is a good rhythm. I thought perhaps if the rhythm was unbalanced then there might be something worthwhile to achieve from that. That’s why the first part of the film is two hours long, and the second part is 40 minutes. I think there’s something to be found, maybe even something beautiful, in this unpolished approach. And if I’m going to make something unpolished, it needs to be unpolished on every level: duration, structure, writing, etc.

Scope: The roadside memorial sequence feels like it was key to finding the right transition between the two parts. How did you come to the idea to use this road and its reputation as a way to get from the first part of the film to the second?

Jude: For me it’s not really a bridge, but another aspect of the film that contributes to the idea of collage. Technically, it’s a silent documentary in the middle of the film—which is a little ridiculous, but I wanted to mix these two modes together. A lot of people who saw the film early on said to cut this scene—they said it didn’t work, that it’s nothing. But other people were really affected by it, and I’m really affected by it. You don’t see the violence, but I wanted people to understand the reality of having this carnage on the roads of Romania, which is always near the top of the list of auto accident deaths. There are many reasons for these accidents: police not enforcing the laws, people being overworked, the bad quality of the roads. I read a newspaper article about this road and I knew immediately that I wanted to film the crosses, to see the quantity of them, and to present this in the film as a kind of memorial. Maybe by putting all these images together something will be revealed. And there’s the connection with the rest of the story, and this woman who one day might be one of these victims.

Scope: Let’s talk about the last section of the film. Was it always conceived as a single shot?

Jude: Not from the beginning. But this section was the origin of the film, in a somewhat trivial way. About four years ago I was suffering from facial paralysis. My features were scrunched; I couldn’t talk or close my right eye for a few months. It’s cured now, but it was annoying. During treatment, I remembered something that happened to me years earlier when I had to film a testimonial of a guy who was paralyzed in a work accident. What you see in the film is basically what I experienced as a director making that video testimonial. Little by little, I began to see how the company was trying to fool the victim, to blame the accident on him. I wasn’t brave enough to quit the job and say, “Fuck you,” but I decided to just film him and let him say whatever he wanted and not censor anything. But that was an idealistic idea, since the company owned the images. They ended up editing the footage how they wanted. So that scene is a kind of reaction to that incident, which seems more and more relevant as the years have passed.

As for the single shot, I’m not sure it was a good idea, but I didn’t really know how else to shoot the scene. It’s a change of perspective: all of a sudden the film is shot through the camera of this crew. And on the one hand it’s shot in real time, but on the other hand time is also compressed. What convinced me to use a fixed camera was the tension between the injured worker, his family, and the background. If the shot works, it’s because you have the worker and his family in the middle of the frame, all these voices coming from outside the camera trying to fool the worker, and the background, which is particularly interesting. On the left there’s an old factory from the ’30s, that was probably a communist factory at one point but is now privatized; in the back there’s a new apartment building that’s modelled after old communist buildings, and is probably even more cramped; and on the right, both a nouveau riche villa and a bunker, which seems out of place but is actually quite ominous in light of the war and Romania’s proximity to Ukraine [ed. note: Fuck Putin]. Putting all these things into the same frame gives the shot a kind of essayistic quality. Rivette once said that the power of cinema isn’t to tell stories or to film actors, but the ability to generate ideas through the essayistic juxtaposition of elements in a shot or between shots. With my minor abilities, I thought that this shot could reflect that definition of essayistic. 

Scope: Despite it being a very busy and noisy shot, I was actually reminded of silent cinema in the way the scene unfolds and how it’s choreographed, not to mention the references to Méliès and the Lumière brothers. Can you talk about the influence of silent cinema on this part of the film, and its use as a thematic reference in your recent work?

Jude: Silent cinema is a big influence. It may be a cliché, but everything that’s old can become new again. Right now I’m reading Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist, and it’s much freer and more modern than a lot of new narratives and novels. If you look at some silent films, they can often seem much more free. Maybe that’s because they came at the beginning, and the rules weren’t in place yet. But contexts change. If you see at a Lumière brothers film now, it doesn’t seem primitive, it seems radical. I think what interests me is the potentialities of silent cinema aesthetics, many of which were fulfilled by those who came later. But not all of them were fulfilled, and many of them are coming back as potentialities because the context has changed. 

What are TikTok or Instagram stories if not a form of silent cinema? Obviously they have sound and they’re digital, but the aesthetics are closer to primitive cinema than anything else. On Romanian TikTok, there are people making little documentaries or performative videos, but even small fictions staged with their husbands or wives. For me, these are impressive because they send us back to the beginning of cinema. You can see how someone with a phone can begin to create a kind of cinema. Aesthetically, or compared to big, important cinema, it may not mean much, but you can see something there, a desire to create a story, a desire to put together two images, to create something—sometimes a bad joke, or a meme, but sometimes a fascinating story. In this way, I think we’re living in the golden age of silent cinema aesthetics.

Scope: You’ve frequently alternated between narrative and non-fiction projects, but you’ve increasingly been integrating documentary elements into your fiction films, which themselves have become more fragmentary and dialectical—still narrative-driven, but less reliant on traditional drama and more prone to mixing methods and materials. How, if at all, do you differentiate these modes?

Jude: What do you people call it nowadays, hybridization? I think that can be a dangerous word. I was speaking with a programmer for a documentary festival about a film that won a prize that I knew was a fiction underneath its documentary form, and she said, “Oh, I don’t care. Images are images. Everything has the same value.” And as much as I understand this, and realize that the Nouvelle Vague filmmakers were speaking about these ideas decades ago, I still have a resistance to presenting archival materials as fiction, or using fake archival materials in order to create a mockumentary or fake documentary. It’s a condition of epistemology: how can you trust the image? But for me, there are lines I cannot cross. I’m not saying they can’t be crossed, but I can’t cross them as a filmmaker or as a viewer. With my films, I want you to understand how the film is constructed. I’m very honest with the viewer. The construction of the films is very visible. But when you see a film that, say, uses 8mm home-movie footage and somebody is narrating the story of their life, and you discover at the end that it’s all a fiction—I have a strong reaction against those kinds of things. So what I do is mix them in fiction. Under the umbrella of a fiction film, you can include documentary materials if you show how and why they’re being used as part of the fiction.

Scope: Before you go, I should probably ask about Nina Hoss, but I’m actually more interested to hear how Uwe Boll got involved in the film.

Jude: Once I decided on the idea that the PA character would drive from place to place throughout the film, I knew I wanted her to eventually stop by the set of another type of movie—something different than the kind of image work she’s doing. So I started to think what kind of movie this could be: maybe a Romanian film, or a big Hollywood production, or a sci-fi movie. At some point I remembered Uwe Boll—I’ve seen a few of his films, and of course they’re quite different than mine. But I remembered that petition that critics made 10 to 15 years ago for him to stop making films. I was impressed by his reaction to this. I thought how hard it must be to go through that. You can judge his films as good or bad, but the fact that he had the resilience to go on impressed me. From this point of view, he’s a model for me—someone who may not be making great films, but goes on anyway. So that’s why I wrote to him and invited him to play the part.

There’s this essay by J. Hoberman called “Bad Movies” where he takes a very interesting approach to bad films by considering that, from a certain angle or through a certain frame—to get back to the idea of found poetry—even a bad film can be redeemed or transformed into something interesting. I always thought if I wasn’t able to make good films, then this idea would be my gospel. So I wanted to make an homage to these filmmakers who people think make bad films, which I don’t think is true in the case of Uwe Boll. There are so many people out there making bad films that you never hear about. The fact that Boll is well known and he has an audience means that his films have made a certain impact. I can name 30 Romanian filmmakers who are the worst filmmakers you can imagine, but no one tells them they should stop. 

Scope: The real question is, would you fight a critic?

Jude: No! And not only because I’m not as good a boxer as Uwe Boll. My position here is like Godard’s: I consider the work of a critic and a filmmaker to be, in a way, the same thing. It’s part of the cinema. I like critics. I like to read criticism. I need to read criticism. I need to read about the history of cinema. For a while I thought I could only be inspired by other artists or filmmakers, which is why I always try to read interviews with writers and filmmakers, or books that filmmakers have written about their work, like Bresson’s book or Buñuel’s autobiography. And that’s extremely useful. But sometimes the problem with filmmakers is that they’re too narrow-minded and only see the world through their own lens, through their own taste. Sometimes a critic or historian can be much more open to different kinds of things and make you, as a reader, much more aware that there might be something of value in a film that you might not really get, that you dislike, or don’t understand. A filmmaker should try to have a critical response to what cinema is and what cinema should be, while a critic who writes a review is themselves a creator—they’re making cinema in his or her own way. So no, I wouldn’t challenge a critic to a boxing match; on the contrary, I’d invite them to have a dialogue. What interests me is thinking about cinema and its possibilities.

jcronk@cinema-scope.com Cronk Jordan