Monday, July 28, 2008

"Max Linder and the Death of Bourgeois Respectability"

“Laughter is a new kind of weapon. A type of light gun, very effective in cases where there is no need to employ heavy tanks of social wrath,” wrote Sergei Eisenstein in 1937, describing his ideal vision of Socialist Comedy as a new genre. Just over thirty years earlier in France, as cinema was nearing the decade mark and Georges Méliès was exploring the fantastic and the macabre as had never seen before, Max Linder was aiming his revolutionary camera-as-gun at the bourgeoisie and their sacred rituals. He tore down pretension and ridiculed respectability. The very symbols of social refinement – clothing, manners, marriage, propriety – are the targets for his humor. The greatest victim, however, is always Linder himself...

Read my full essay on Max Linder online here at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Satantango (1994)

"Surpassing the high-standards set by the Criterion Collection and Masters of Cinema, Facets’ long-awaited release of Bela Tarr’s Satantango (1994) is a shoe-in for one of the best DVDs of the year. Meticulously restored, the film’s deep, oceanic black-and-white images retain all of Tarr’s signature hypnotic beauty...Unfolding over the film’s seven and a half trance-inducing hours, Tarr’s extended long takes (many lasting several minutes) invoke an almost out-of-body experience in the viewer, as real-time blends with Tarr-time and the minutes on-screen encapsulate something both intimately specific and profoundly universal. Time has rarely been used more wisely in cinema..."

Ready my full review of Satantango online here at The L Magazine.

Back to Normandy (Retour en Normandie) (2007)

"Embedded in these modest memories is the crux of Philibert’s film: the idea that cinema can act as a personal, or even communal, history, and that the images don’t just tell the narrative as written in the script, but also act as a visual record of the real people involved in the production. It’s an example of narrative cinema functioning as a home movie. Philibert waits until the final moment of the film to reveal his true motivation for making the film: his own father, recently deceased, had a small role in the film that was eventually cut."

Read my full review of Nicolas Philibert's Back to Normandy (Retour en Normandie) online here at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother… (1976) and Back to Normandy (2007)

"Fusing anthropology and noir with a neo-realist aesthetic, René Allio’s cinematic adaptation of Michel Foucault’s I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother… (1976) is as bleak and severe as its title suggests. Using local farmers and their families as actors, Allio shot the film on location, not far from the small French village where the original murder occurred in 1835... Blisteringly realistic and disturbingly acute in its exploration of familial betrayal and social ethics, the film is rarely screened and not available on video in the US. Its obscurity unjust, I, Pierre… is deserving of wider attention and re-evaluation..."

"Playing alongside I, Pierre… is Back to Normandy (2007), the new documentary by Nicolas Philibert (To Be and To Have [2002]), who was Allio’s assistant on the former film. An imaginative and innovative departure from the typical 'behind the scenes' documentary, the film isn’t merely interested in chronicling the production history of I, Pierre… but instead is captivated by the real-life personalities of the villagers who acted in the film..."

Read my full review of I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother… and Back to Normandy online here at The L Magazine.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mary Ellen Bute Retrospective at Anthology Film Archives

Using popular pieces of classical music as a foundation, such as Copland’s “Hoedown” and Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” Mary Ellen Bute and her alternating cast of collaborators (among them Norman McLaren and her husband Ted Nemeth) created an unprecedented cinematic sensation: an animated synthesis of music and abstracted impulses that pulsed and gyrated in organic ecstasy. There is such unbridled joy in her films — as though the images themselves were an elastic and ever-expanding dance — as well as an irresistible sense of humor...

Read my full essay on Mary Ellen Bute online here at The L Magazine.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

La France (2007)

"France has given us two of the most charmingly original films of the year so far, both of them fond, modernist interpretations of the musical genre. First was Christophe Honore’s tale of young love in the city, Love Songs, and now Serge Bozon’s WWI battlefield fable, La France."

Read my full review of La France here at The L Magazine.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

New Video! "My Mouth" by Modern Silent Cinema

Here's a new video for the song "My Mouth" by Modern Silent Cinema, from the album "Gets Hiccupy." Email if you want a copy of the album.