18 items from 2010
In the fall of 1946, Frank Stauffacher mounted a major, and very influential, retrospective of avant-garde film in the U.S. at the San Francisco Museum of Art. The series was called “Art in Cinema” and it featured ten different programs from filmmakers in the U.S., France, Germany and Canada.
By the mid-’40s, the avant-garde hadn’t taken a strong hold in the U.S. yet, so the majority of the films screened came from Europe, or by Europeans who relocated to the U.S. However, by that time also, the European avant-garde had pretty much completely petered out. Still, Stauffacher wanted to show that there was a continuity to avant-garde film history that, up until that point, had yet to be fully considered.
In conjunction with the series, the San Francisco Museum of Art published a catalog, pretty much like one would find with any major art exhibit. »
- Mike Everleth
For The Bullitts' first single, Close Your Eyes, footage from Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí's Un chien andalou (1927) is appropriated full-on to visualize a surrealist, chopped-up dream with Lucy Liu and underground hip hop sensation Jay Electronica providing vocals. The Bullitts define their style as Action Adventure—their upcoming short film series brings in world-famous directors, actors, hip hopsters and comic strips. Mubi likes it. »
When I uploaded a bunch of new mastheads, one in particular caught my eye. Which was fitting, as it depicted... an eye!
This jogged my memory a bit, and I recalled we had several mastheads already featuring basically nothing but an eyeball which has been extremely zoomed-in upon. A bit of research later and voilá! I had found 5 similar mastheads.
By all means a close-up of an eye is a popular image to use amongst many directors and cinematographers. No matter what the context is, vague feelings of unease will be creeping over the audience. For one thing, seeing a monstrously huge eye staring straight at you from a cinema screen will be disconcerting all by itself.
But there is also the knowledge that you are looking closely at one of your own weak spots, your Achilles' Heel so to speak (even though That body-part is located at the opposite »
I saw Amer as part of Melbourne's Hello Darkness film festival, I have written two other entries, this is my belated third.
Amer is a visual tour de force that gives new meaning to the term eye candy.
Its imagery is established in the opening credits as its neck breaking pace follows the three stages of Ana's (Marie Bos) life and her distorted, ultra-sensitive perception. There is an extremity in compulsive detail visually and aurally in every scene.
The first sequence of Amer is Ana as an adolescent as she catches glimpses of closing doors, and partial conversations from what can be assumed her parents as she ascends the grand staircase in her house to lock herself in her room; hiding from the corpse downstairs and her creepy grandmother who is assumedly into witchcraft as the first sequence plays out like an adult fairy-tale.
The tension is palpable as the »
For many, Visionaries will feel like an incomprehensible documentary about a group of strange filmmakers who made incomprehensible films. For those who feel they may fit this description, this is your friendly .heads up. to enter into the film with an open mind and uninhibited curiosity. Every film featured in Visionaries has some meaning or purpose.
Workman interviews several groundbreaking and influential filmmakers of the experimental and avant-garde .genre. including Jonas Mekas, who serves as the film.s tour guide into the minds of cinematic artists like Stan Brakhage, Man Ray, Su Friedrich and Kenneth Anger. David Lynch offers insights as well, one of the most interesting is when he explains how when sound and images are projected together, the viewer.s mind involuntarily begins to construct a narrative. With this concept, it may be assumed that the viewer is the storyteller and each film may ultimately have an infinite number of stories it tells. »
- Travis Keune
That Pixies front man Black Francis is a savvy film fan is not exactly news. Film references have popped up in his lyrics for years, most notably nods to Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou making up the spine of Debaser. But Francis is taking his appreciation for film to a whole new level.
The 2008 edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival commissioned Francis to create and perform a live score to Paul Wegener's 1920 silent film The Golem, which he did, though chances to see the film with the Francis score have been scarce since.
Not any more.
Earlier this year Francis released an ultra-limited edition (only 500 copies) version of the score which he has since edited down to a single disc version which will be available on his web store November 16th. Better yet, he's also releasing a version of the film on DVD including his complete score. »
Probably the best thing audiences will get out of Gregg Araki's latest joint, Kaboom, is some well thought out and thorough advice on cunnilingus from rising star Juno Temple. Well, that and its very pretty cast parading around in holier-than-thou-coolness. Otherwise, the flat, though colourful, look of the film, its refusal to take anything too serious, or spend too much effort on story or character, leave the film fitfully entertaining but rather stuck in the middle of the directors C.V. It is half-way between the stoner classic Smiley Face, and his more narcissistic-hubris laden debut The Doom Generation.
Smith (The Sarah Connor Chronicles and All About Evil's Thomas Dekker who looks a lot like Jared Leto while sporting some very sexy 9 O'Clock shadow) is a bit anxious about turning 19. He is plagued with recurring nightmares about exotic red-heads and lesbians and red-dumpsters while he fantasizes about sex with his roomate, »
František Vlácil, Edinburgh, Glasgow & London
While the likes of Milos Forman and Jirí Menzel benefited from attention focused on Czech cinema in the late-60s and early-70s, František Vlácil wasn't so lucky. He's been mentioned in the same breath as Welles, Tarkovsky and even Kurosawa; and on home turf, his 1967 historical drama Marketa Lazarová is considered a masterpiece. Yet few of Vlácil's films have ever been shown in the UK. Vlácil, who died in 1999, kept working up to the late-80s, and this selection gives a good indication of his range, incorporating Marketa Lazarová alongside lesser-known works such as The Little Shepherd Boy From The Valley and Shadows Of A Hot Summer.
BFI Southbank, SE1, to 30 Sep; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, to 3 Oct; Glasgow Film Theatre, Tue to 28 Sep
Ray Harryhausen, London
In the year of his 90th birthday, Ray Harryhausen can't say he feels too overlooked these days, especially after »
- Damon Wise
This horror movie is an example of what might be called the New Sadism, a coldly detached concentration on the infliction of extreme pain. Not just a single, sudden incident like the eye severed by a razor in Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou or the pot of boiling coffee thrown in Gloria Grahame's face in The Big Heat, but a relentless succession of such events – the cutting off of fingers, the disfigurement of faces and so on. Basically, it's an updating of that traditional high-school revenge scenario. The victims are bullies at a small-town Texas high school, the torturers a group of those they've tormented who lure them to a remote ranch for ritual torture and humiliation. The makers know exactly what they're doing by describing their film as "Saw and Hostel meet Columbine high school massacre-inspired movies such as Elephant". It's efficiently executed and the single serious upholder of moral decency is young, »
- Philip French
Jean‑Luc Godard's masterpiece remains a startling example of the French new wave and marked the arrival of one of cinema's most influential directors
Two trailers bookend my half-a-century of writing professionally about the cinema and bracket the career of the man who is arguably the most influential moviemaker of my lifetime. Fifty years ago this month I dropped into an Oslo cinema while waiting for a midnight train and saw an unforgettable trailer for a French picture. It cut abruptly between a handsome, broken-nosed actor I'd never come across before, giant posters of Humphrey Bogart, and the familiar features of Jean Seberg, whom I knew to be an idol of French cinéastes as the protegee of Otto Preminger. Shot in high contrast monochrome, rapidly edited, interspersed with puzzling statements in white-on-black and black-on-white lettering, it was like no other trailer I'd seen, and I was captivated. Not until my »
- Philip French
Things are looking good for the links program. Really a nice mix this week, too:
This week’s must read article is j. j. murphy’s awesome think piece Indie Film in the Cross Fire, in which he smacks down the slowly creeping idea that filmmakers had better adjust the conception of their films in order to be more “market friendly” in order to survive. And, yes, I’ve written several pieces on Bad Lit about filmmakers doing better online marketing — but Don’T Put Your Marketing Before Your Films! Devour murphy’s piece, then click through to the “Straight Talk” article he links to. In that vein, No-Fi filmmaker Bob Moricz explains exactly why he makes No-Fi films. I’d also really like to thank Jacob W. for picking up and extending the conversation around the Anthology Film Archive’s Essential Cinema collection that was curated in the ’70s. »
- Mike Everleth
Happy Cinco de Mayo, fellow Americans! This holiday has nothing to do with us, and yet we love to celebrate it anyway. And that's cool; there's nothing wrong with using a holiday as an excuse to learn more about a particular culture. Just make sure you take the time to find out what the day means before you engage in any drunken revelry.
The holiday extends back to the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. Outnumber Mexican armed forces beat back French invaders who were trying to lay claim to the state of Puebla. You can learn more about the holiday and its significance on MTV.com in Josh Wigler's full report. This is MTV Movies Blog though, and I'd be remiss if I didn't take some time today to shout out some of the brilliant Mexican filmmakers and films that can be found out there.
- Adam Rosenberg
First the history, then the list:
In 1969, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas decided to open the world’s first museum devoted to film. Of course, a typical museum hangs its collections of artwork on the wall for visitors to walk up to and study. However, a film museum needs special considerations on how — and what, of course — to present its collection to the public.
Thus, for this film museum, first a film selection committee was formed that included James Broughton, Ken Kelman, Peter Kubelka, Jonas Mekas and P. Adams Sitney, plus, for a time, Stan Brakhage. This committee met over the course of several months to decide exactly what films would be collected and how they would be shown. The final selection of films would come to be called the The Essential Cinema Repertory.
The Essential Cinema Collection that the committee came up with consisted of about 330 films. »
- Mike Everleth
Germaine Dulac is possibly best known for the British film censor's verdict on her 1928 experimental-surreal freak-out The Seashell and the Clergyman: "...apparently meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless offensive." And even then, that quote is often misapplied to Buñuel's Un chien andalou, which came later.
Dulac's career was relatively brief, like all too many female filmmakers, but during the fifteen years when she was prolifically active, she pushed into a whole range of interesting experimental areas, exploring cinematic answers to poetic and musical forms, and more or less inventing surrealist cinema. The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923) represents both an experimental expressionist-impressionist approach to narrative, and also succeeds as a truly agonizing suspense film, and a feminist argument.
We are in Province, and a series of attractive location shots set the scene, somewhat prosaically. But "behind the facades of these tranquil houses, the hearts, the passions." Madame Beudet is a middle-aged, »
We all have film sequences that stick in our minds. Some are shared by many – such as the shower scene from Psycho – others are particular to us. Here our film critic and a panel of leading movie-makers reveal their favourites. What are yours?
Who will ever forget the first time they saw the 45-second shower-room murder in Hitchcock's Psycho? I remember 1959 and 1961 as the years when my first two children were born. But the first thing that comes to mind about the year in between was seeing Psycho, which I'd been looking forward to since a radio programme I'd produced the previous October, when Hitchcock had enticingly described Psycho as "my first real horror film". Entering the Plaza, Lower Regent Street, the day the film opened, I passed the cardboard cut-out of Hitchcock in the foyer, from which a tape recording of the Master's familiar Leytonstone undertaker's voice warned us »
- Philip French
Like Valentine's Day itself, the new movie Valentine's Day will cause you and your lover existential nausea and deep despair
There is no beginning and no end. This is a cycle of pain from which there is no escape. This is Valentine's Day, a movie which I have seen and which I can now quite confidently state is, in fact, the worst movie ever made.
To be more precise, Valentine's Day is 56 of the worst movies ever made. There are about a thousand characters in this movie, nearly all of whom are played by very recognisable celebrities, except for the one who is played by Topher Grace; their arcs are played in two-minute bursts, which are meant to be "connected" – characters meet each other, or are revealed to have known each other, or break up with each other, or start dating each other – but this is undermined by the fact »
- Sady Doyle
Like most of the moviegoing free world, I was thrilled to hear that The Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. Renner clearly gave the most compelling and engaging performance of the year and hopefully the nomination will propel him from “Isn’t he the guy from …?” status to regular leading man.
While I’ll be rooting for Renner, sadly I think he’ll lose out to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, another deserving performance, but in an otherwise lousy movie. At least The Hurt Locker is a great film and one of the most visually inventive mainstream films of 2009. I’m rooting for the film in general, especially a Best Director win for Kathryn Bigelow.
But enough prognosticating. While Jeremy Renner hasn’t been in anything I would personally call an “underground” film, he does have a connection to the underground film world covered regularly on Bad Lit. »
- Mike Everleth
Bad Lit was painfully disappointed that neither The Hurt Locker nor its director, Kathryn Bigelow, won a Golden Globe the other night. We can only hope that the film fares better — way better — on Oscar night.
Other than that Golden Globe, so far the film has been racking up all kinds of awards, particularly from critics’ associations such as the Austin Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critics and the Chicago Film Critics Association; plus, it won two awards from Ifp’s Gotham Independent Film Awards.
The Hurt Locker made only a modest sum at the box office, but hopefully the award season accolades its been receiving will encourage a larger audience to find it on DVD (Amazon | Netflix).
For those who have seen and enjoyed the film and would like to watch another Iraq-based film, I’ve compiled a short list of great overlooked documentaries to check out. »
- Mike Everleth
18 items from 2010
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