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|BETTY TALKS, PART I
8 min, 35mm, 2001
|BETTY TALKS, PART I
Betty Talks is a charged take-off on an infamous 1970s type, a series of improvisations comprised of three basic cinematic ingredients-a woman, a mirror, and a gun. In this particular combination, however, our heroine is stuck exploring the confines of yet another role, though the questions resulting may not be the usual ones.
Consisting of a single shot, the tensely edited performance of Elisabetta Milani in Betty Talks is marked by the deliberate development in the lines uttered and reworked from one take to the next. As Betty repeatedly pulls a gun and plays at threatening her imagined rival, she deploys several familiar lines and initiates a host of her own. From her mouth, the infamous 'Are you talking to me?' begs such literal questions as, if obviously not her, or women like her, then who exactly is the imagined audience of such action- or result-oriented cinema, and then, from and to what position are most female characters speaking? Her irony all the while suggesting that insistence on finally just occupying cinematic space might be just the disruption necessary...
Betty Talks is ostensibly a remake of the famous and often-quoted scene from Taxi Driver in which Robert DeNiro speaks to himself in the mirror, pulling a gun and playfully threatening an imagined rival. In quoting not only 1970s American culture, but also answering works by artists dealing with the re-make such as Douglas Gordon or Pierre Huyghe, this piece is an attempt to translate a particular language of continuing socio-political rumblings and unease beneath the shiny market-driven surface. If there can be any substantial resonance of these characters in works produced now, it is one which relies not on some common nostalgia for a 'simpler' time, but on astute reflection of both the shifts and consistencies in expressed concerns. It is within this updated but starkly similar year-2000 context that Betty speaks to herself in the mirror, playing with a loaded gun and deploying several of DeNiro's original lines and a host of her own. Thus her deceptively simple 'tough guy' script formulates questions as to the demographic that female characters are generally commissioned to play to. Her coercive language delineates an attempt at escape from positions to which female characters are so often relegated as both actor and audience, asking questions which hang in the frame until she decides to move and break the tension, or to simply outstay her welcome.
BETTY TALKS, PART I
35mm from S16mm film
7:20 minutes, 2001
Country of production: Netherlands
Language: Italian spoken with English subtitles
Written and directed by Anita Di Bianco
Performed by Elisabetta Milani
Camera by Claire Pijman
Sound recording by Babak Afrassiabi
Directorial assistance by Francesco Gagliardi
In 35mm blow-up film screening format: 1 reel, color, mono sound
Metrage: 245 meters
Screen ratio: 1.66
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