Reviews written by registered user
|8 reviews in total|
Accomplished earlier work by Stan Brakhage in which his wife Jane and he play a young married couple experiencing the intimacies of marriage. Shot in black and white without any soundtrack, the film is made up brief shots in overlapping chronology of a young couple who secure their house--locking doors, closing windows, pulling drapes--to provide security for their private evening. There is a nonstop flow throughout every shot of the film, whether it comes from a gesture by the actors, a pan of the camera, motion from the swinging lights or the drift of cigarette smoke, that keeps the viewer's attention focused on the beauty of the small details as they are revealed moment by moment. The brief glimpses of nudity as the couple intertwine on their bed are presented in negative and give an x-ray glimpse of the forces that bring them together. More a depiction of Walt Whitman's "adhesiveness" than eroticism, the film shows just how quickly Brakhage had mastered the skills of making a successful art film.
Extremely autobiographical piece made during an intensely depressive period for the filmmaker after his divorce from Jane, his first wife, and separation from his five children. Brakhage calls it "a true, narrative, dramatic psychodrama". The film's background music is a piece which is a collage of brief phrases from various Stephen Foster songs whose common theme is loss. Brakhage scratches individual words from these songs on the film at intervals, and the shaky letters dance uncertainly across the frame. The primary visual theme is of the 55-year-old filmmaker himself brooding in a lonely apartment, sitting on the floor leaning against a wall, repeatedly rising naked from his bed and falling back. This is intercut with footage made years earlier, in the 70s, when his children were much smaller, as they played happily in the home they once shared. Even at his very lowest point, Brakhage continued to turn his life into art.
Stan Brakhage described his film as "a hand-painted visualization of sex in the mind's eye". My mind finds little that could be called erotic, but much that is visually sensuous. In part, that is due to his painting techniques here, as many of the individual images are strongly crackled or impastoed and apparently photographed still wet, so that the paint glistens in the changing light. Additionally, the rate of image change is much slower than usual with him. Rather than the expected 12-24 images per second, here we see 2 or 3 per second and have more time to enjoy the abstract shapes and the rotation of rich colors through the palette. Should some numerically-oriented person ever decide to count the total of individual paintings done by Brakhage in his hundreds of short films, I think we'll find that Picasso was not the most prolific painter of the 20th century after all. "Lovesong" forms a striking and satisfying conclusion to the "By Brakhage" collection.
This movie has a consistent "comic book" style throughout, even though its story is dark, erotic and sadistically violent. Although the presentation may be something that would appeal to 12-year-old boys (revenge fantasies played out for real, escape from punishment, domination of parents), the world it depicts is an adults-only one, with its frequent bare breasts, sadomasochistic sex scenes, mangled flesh of torture victims, and religious rants. The over-the-top acting is not a result of an incapable cast, but a directorial choice, one based on the idea that any frame could serve as a silent film style "tableau". The movie's art production is nicely done (think of "The Phantom" or "The Shadow" crossed with "The Untouchables"), but it's easy to see why this film never found an audience.
Punk-worshipping writer/director does pretentious remake of "Clockwork Orange". After trundling along for several hours, film ends. Sadists gain loads of new whack material. Tarantino's shelf remains undusted.
Paramount took its war effort obligations to heart with this dramatic short in assigning to the project not only quality actors, but also scenarist, cinematographer and composer. The message of the film--the need to conserve and recycle--may look banal in today's America of super-abundance, but coming at a time during the war when citizens at home were being inconvenienced in the most unexpected ways (shortages of car tires, women's stockings, phonograph records), this little drama made its point in a well-paced and touching way. Look for big screen's "Henry Aldrich" as hero's speed-crazy teen brother.
Inventive cross between 1960s psychedelic film experiments and David Lynch's presentation of multiple realities, this little gem entertains with its tale of young writer Sonny Daye, whose slow-paced, imagination-based creative life in the backwaters of a small town is overwhelmed when he is shipped off to his cousin in L.A. He is met by a fast-talking Franky Syde, who may or may not be the cousin in question, but who instantly looks for a way to market him, L.A.-style. We see the world through Sonny's eyes as he tries to comprehend the flash and chatter of the city by reinterpreting it as new material and dialog for his book. His brief glimpses of Vanessa, mistress of a shady businessman, do much to make up for the marketing imbroglios he's led into by Franky as he's displayed to producers (Lou Cutell), journalists (Ali MacGraw) and druggies (Donal Logue, Jon Cryer). There are good comic bits for all, including what may be Billye Ree Wallace's bubbly last performance as Bobo in the opening scenes. What could have been an incoherent mess is saved by deft pacing and varied comic approaches to sketching the denizens of L.A.
If this isn't it, I don't want to see the worst. There was apparently a real movie underneath this, as evidenced by pre-animation excerpts on the DVD, but once the squadron of jonesing addicts finished with their paint-by-spasm graffiti, you'd never know it. If the original is ever released, a higher ranking than 2 could be justified. The actors would also be grateful.