17 items from 2013
Cinema, as Jean-Luc Godard wrote, is truth 24 times a second. Documentaries both prove and disprove the point; but the truth is their strongest weapon. Here, Guardian and Observer critics pick the 10 best
• Top 10 arthouse movies
• Top 10 family movies
• Top 10 war movies
• Top 10 teen movies
• Top 10 superhero movies
• Top 10 westerns
• More Guardian and Observer critics' top 10s
To best understand this 1929 silent documentary, one ought to know that its director, the exotically named "Dziga Vertov", was actually born David Abelevich Kaufman in 1896. Some say the name derives from the Russian word for spinning top, but the pseudonym is more likely an onomatopeic approximation of the sound made by the twin reels of film as the director ran them backwards and forwards through his flatbed editor. For Vertov, film was something physical, to be manipulated by man, and yet, paradoxically, he also saw it as a medium »
Orson Welles' Too Much Johnson, screened for the first time to a full house at Pordenone Festival of Silent Cinema, comes trailing clouds of mystery like so much else in the life and work of its maker.
We know Welles shot the film in 1938 with a newsreel cameraman, intending it as a series of insert sequence within a play he was producing with the Mercury Theater. For various reasons, the three sequences, intended to carry the exposition in William Gillette's 1894 farce, were not ready or could not be projected when the play opened, and as a result the show was not a success.
Now George Eastman House has restored what it describes as Welles' cutting copy, apparently discovered in a warehouse in Pordenone itself. It consists of several reels of loosely ordered material with multiple takes, and was presented without any alteration apart from the preservation necessary to make the material projectable. »
- David Cairns
Every year, we here at Sound On Sight celebrate the month of October with 31 Days of Horror; and every year, I update the list of my favourite horror films ever made. Last year, I released a list that included 150 picks. This year, I’ll be upgrading the list, making minor alterations, changing the rankings, adding new entries, and possibly removing a few titles. I’ve also decided to publish each post backwards this time around for one simple reason: that is, the new additions appear lower on my list, whereas my top 50 haven’t changed much, except for maybe in ranking. Enjoy!
Directed by Luis Buñuel
The dream – or nightmare – has been a staple of horror cinema for decades. In 1929, Luis Bunuel joined forces with Salvador Dali to create Un chien andalou, an experimental and unforgettable 17-minute surrealist masterpiece. »
- Ricky da Conceição
Legendary Alternative rock band Pixies formed in Boston in 1986, comprising of front man Black Francis, Joey Santiago on guitars, bass player Kim Deal, and drummer David Lovering on drums. The 4 albums they released before their breakup in 1993 have gone down in history as some of the most influential albums in Alt-Rock history.
They’re noteworthy not just because of how good the music is, but how surrealist the bands lyrics are. Now, after the release of ‘Ep-1′ and ‘Bagboy’, the bands first material since comeback single ‘Bam Thwok’ back in 2004, and the departure of Kim Deal, I look back at the weird and wonderful Pixies songs to come out of the mind of the band.
Here are 10 of the maddest;
Opening with that iconic bass line, ‘Debaser’, the opening track from the band’s second album ‘Doolittle’, is not only musically genius, but lyrically mad. Inspired by a Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, »
- Andrew Simon Noel
A Woman in Trouble and a Man in Need: Forzani & Cattet Return Prove a Force to Reckon With
Directing duo Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani follow-up up their 2009 debut Amer with another hit from the giallo pipe, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, a visual masterpiece that will confuse, confound, and hypnotize you as it’s one of the most visually extravagant explorations of the gaudy and grotesque ever committed to film. Certain to be rejected by mainstream sensibilities, Cattet and Forzani go beyond just another stylistic homage to create a creepshow that actually surpasses its predecessors with its expert level of artistic and technical prowess.
The plot seems to be transparently simple, yet spurts into a labyrinthine odyssey of revolving tangents and alternate perspectives that make it seem anything but. Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange), a Danish man living in Brussels, returns to his art nouveau apartment from »
- Nicholas Bell
Made back in 2004 on a shoestring budget (said to be $7,000), Carruth's directorial debut, Primer, was a sci-fi movie with no special effects. It told the opaque but intriguing tale of four young scientists building a sort of time machine in a garage.
Carruth's long-awaited (by some at least) second film is another puzzling work, a little like the recent films of Terrence Malick, as well as the intentionally unintelligible Un Chien Andalou. The film brings together a malicious drug dealer who creates a virus from maggots; a young woman he abducts, injects and robs; a felonious former stockbroker (a handsome Farley Granger lookalike played by the director himself) who becomes her lover; and a collector of natural sounds, who breeds pigs. The minimal dialogue is gnomic, often inaudible; the settings suddenly change »
- Philip French
The term ‘transgressive cinema’ was coined by underground film maker Nick Zedd who made several edgy black and white films which crossed moral boundaries. Indeed the term transgressive is used to describe any form of cinema, literature and art which goes beyond social mores and sensibilities. They are designed to be offensive and shocking.
Transgression in art forms can be traced back to French author George Bataille, the Marquis de Sade, Dadaists and surrealists. In cinema, transgression began the moment Luis Bunuel filmed his infamous eyeball slicing in Un Chien Andalou and followed that up with the blasphemous L’Age D’Or. Over the decades transgression has deepened in cinema to provide us with films as subversive and brutal as Pasolini’s Salo, Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left and Gaspar Noés Seul Contre Tous.
I have outlined below 10 films that are transgressive works of cinema. They may »
- Clare Simpson
by Joseph Leray
What do Salvador Dalí and "Thief: The Dark Project" have in common? For one, they're both name-dropped -- no, name-suplexed -- as inspirations for "Tangiers," an abstract, surrealist stealth game by neophyte indie designers Alex Harvey and Michael Wright.
Harvey and Wright's two-man team is officially known as "Andalusian." If you took freshman-year Film Studies 101 or just really love that one Pixies song, you might catch the reference to Un Chien Andalou, Dalí's nonsensical 1929 silent movie. The very first scene is a graphic depiction of a woman's eye being sliced open by a razor, which should clue you in on the territory Andalusian wants to cover in "Tangiers": dark, unnerving, fragmentary, and twisted.
"Tangiers" is an sandbox game about stealth and manipulation. You play as some lanky, scuttling, spider-humanoid tasked with locating, hunting, and eliminating five different people. The catch: it's not clear which five people are marked, »
- MTV Video Games
One of the first features shot in Saudi Arabia, and certainly the first to be written and directed by a woman, this beguiling German-Saudi co-production turns upon an image that has been a cinematic metaphor for freedom, self-empowerment and lyrical liberation from Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou through Ford's The Quiet Man to Truffaut's Jules et Jim – a man or woman on a bicycle. The eponymous 10-year-old Wadjda (affectingly played by 12-year-old Waad Mohammed) is a spirited, lower-middle-class schoolgirl in Riyadh, troubled by the impending separation of her parents, who longs to own a bike to race against her friend Abdullah. The implication is that she's rapidly approaching the age of not being able to cycle, meet a boy or go out of the house unveiled.
The story is an admirable necklace on which to string facts, anecdotes and insights that illuminate in a good-natured way the lives of women in an unthinking, »
- Philip French
I've mentioned before how several years ago I created a list using Roger Ebert's Great Movies, Oscar Best Picture winners, IMDb's Top 250, etc. and began going through them doing my best to see as many of the films on these lists that I had not seen as I possibly could to up my film I.Q. Well, someone has gone through the exhaustive effort to take all of the films Roger Ebert wrote about in his three "Great Movies" books, all of which are compiled on his website and added them to a Letterbxd list and I've added that list below. I'm not positive every movie on his list is here, but by my count there are 363 different titles listed (more if you count the trilogies, the Up docs and Decalogue) and of those 363, I have personally seen 229 and have added an * next to those I've seen. Clearly I have some work to do, »
- Brad Brevet
I've mentioned before how several years ago I created a list using Roger Ebert's Great Movies, Oscar Best Picture winners, IMDb's Top 250, etc. and began going through them doing my best to see as many of the films on these lists that I had not seen as I possibly could to up my film I.Q. Well, someone has gone through the exhaustive effort to take all of the films Roger Ebert wrote about in his three "Great Movies" books, all of which are compiled on his website and added them to a Letterbxd list and I've added that list below. I'm not positive every movie on his list is here, but by my count there are 362 different titles listed (more if you count the trilogies and Decalogue) and of those 362, I have personally seen 229 and have added an * next to those I've seen. Clearly I have some work to do, »
- Brad Brevet
Genre fans know Luna for his film Anguish, starring tiny terror Zelda Rubinstein and Michael Lerner. Luna’s extrememly meta Anguish intertwines a movie-within-a-movie. Viewers watch theatergoers watch another film called The Mommy, that features yet another film within it: the silent movie The Lost World.
In The Mommy, mother and son, John and Alice have a unique relationship that includes hypnosis and cutting out victims’ eyes. Alice can hear what John hears and control him telepathically, forcing him to do all sorts of atrocious things on a killing spree. The film preys upon viewers' public space paranoia, referencing classic genre films including Hitchcock’s The Birds and Psycho as well as Bunuel and Dali’s Un Chien Andalou.
Watch the trailer below. »
- Sara Castillo
Anti-establishment to the core and arguably one of the original enfante terrible filmmakers, Luis Bunuel had three preoccupations, no, obsessions that he charted for his entire career: religion, class and sexual desire. Labeled a surrealist early on his career due to "Un Chien Andalou," his famous collaboration with Salvador Dali (responsible for one of cinema's most famous images, of a razor blade slicing an eyeball, and made when the filmmaker was just 29) it would be extremely pat to reduce Bunuel's long and eclectic career to that idiosyncratic work. A blasphemous heretic to the church, several of Bunuel's films were flagrant censures of religion and the Catholic church, which saw him fleeing Spain more than once during his career. But, as we said, religion was hardly his only preoccupation. A diabolical provocateur, Bunuel was an incorrigible scourge of hypocrites, authority and the bourgeoise, even while he continued to operate within the system. »
- The Playlist Staff
The Marquis de Sade was a French revolutionary politician, writer and philosopher who gifted the world with his libertine novels – Justine, Juliette and Philosophy in the Bedroom. He also produced the 120 Days of Sodom – a masterpiece of transgressive literature – a work that the Marquis spoke of wanting to present to the world – “the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists”.
Much speculation has centred on de Sade’s life – that he held orgies in which people were whipped, tortured and depraved. His name gave us the word ‘sadism’ which means cruelty and violence and it is particularly associated with sexual practices that are extreme in nature.
From almost the beginning of cinema, film makers have been applying their Sadean aesthetics onto the silver screen. We can see this in Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929) with the infamous eye razor sequence – pure de Sade. De »
- Clare Simpson
Peter Farrelly's new film ticks every gross-out box
"Prepare for a motion picture experience that's unforgivable!" warns the trailer for Movie 43. Out on Friday, in a week dominated by seriousface Oscar fare, it's a bold marketing gambit, and one that requires a certain amount of "bad meaning good" cognizance to fully appreciate, It's also a window into the irreverent sensibility of the genre to which Movie 43 so gleefully subscribes: gross-out.
Though its roots date back to cinema's earliest days (1), the gross-out genre blossomed in the wake of John Landis's 1978 comedy Animal House. Grossing (*snort*) more than 70 times its production cost, the film spawned a deluge of low-budget, -brow and -inhibition comedies, all eager to replicate its unlikely success. Some did (the Porky's franchise ran and ran) and some didn't (anyone remember Squeeze Play?) but together they revelled in pushing the boundaries of cinematic decency and audience stamina. »
- Charlie Lyne
Movie PRs are increasingly avoiding quotes from critics in favour of lines from filmgoers
Film critics have just endured another blow to their fragile self-esteem. It has long been movie distributors' practice to slather their posters with adoring quotes from reviewers, along with the traditional migraine-rash of stars. But now the trend is just to use praise from regular cinemagoers on Twitter. The press ad for The Impossible, about a tourist family caught up in the 2004 tsunami, uses one critic's quote – from me, since you ask – but the other quotes are Twitter praise: "One of the best films I've seen #incredible #lovedit" – @Browning_33 "Such a great movie, makes you look at what is actually important in life" – @katie_m_kelly.
Critics have only just recovered from the indignity of the "David Manning" affair – Sony Columbia pictures kept quoting Manning's lavish praise, before he was revealed in 2001 to be an imaginary critic they had made up. »
- Peter Bradshaw
Neal Dhand: This is the first film you’ve directed that you also haven’t written. What drew you to the source material?
Don Coscarelli: It’s certainly, definitely square in my domain. It’s got inter-dimensional travel, it’s got questions about reality – what’s real and what’s not. And then at the same time, the material was filled with so many fantastic images, concepts, dialogue. It’s hard to go through it all. Look, we got a talking dog, we got a monster made out of meat, we got this inter-dimensional drug that chooses you, bratwurst cellphone. It’s a wealth of great ideas. I had read the book and I thought, »
- Neal Dhand
17 items from 2013
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