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40 international directors were asked to make a short film using the original Cinematographe invented by the Lumière Brothers, working under conditions similar to those of 1895. There were three rules: (1) The film could be no longer than 52 seconds, (2) no synchronized sound was permitted, and (3) no more than three takes. The results run the gamut from Zhang Yimou's convention-thwarting joke to David Lynch's bizarre miniature epic. Written by
Mike D'Angelo <email@example.com>
An engrossing, tumbling parade of cinematic images
The film would be inherently fascinating even if it were no good, but there's actually a lot here of genuine interest. The repeated questions about why the directors make cinema and whether it's "mortal" receive predictably lame responses, but the glimpses of them at work, punctuated with their 50 second films, is mesmerizing. Many of them turn the project into a commentary on cinema in some form - Boorman films Neil Jordan at work, with the actors looking quizzically into the camera (a common device here, also used by Angelopoulos and Costa-Gavras); Lelouch has a sort of reverse version of the Vertigo kiss, designed with great panache. in which a historic parade of cameras observes the spiraling lovers; some, like Rivette, just take varied people and let them play (he's very engaging, seen protesting that the film is too short). Lynch's segment is magnificently skillful and striking, with a potted narrative of police, a 50's style family, and a bunch of space aliens holding a captive woman - it's almost as effective as the whole of Lost Highway and utterly distinctive. In all, it's a tumbling parade of cinematic images that evokes love, passion and breadth, whether the directors take a playful approach (a majority) or aim for greater seriousness (as in Handke's filming of a potted TV news bulletin).
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