Category Archives: film

Roger Corman Classics!!!

We’re sure all you cinephiles are already aware the Shout Factory have been on the Roger Corman tip lately. They have been reissuing numerous superb & outlandish B-Movie gems like Starcrash, Forbidden Planet, Caged Heat, Not of this Earth…..too many to name. Corman is pretty much the king of low-budget films and has been since the mid50’s. He helped launch the careers of sooo many great directors, screenwriters, and soundtrack composers. So why not satisfy your midnight movie craving…

Get them HERE

Tagged , , , ,

Kraftwerk – Computer World

And WE’RE BACK!!! New layout…still kinda in the works. But let’s get back to bizness!! The classic album from electronic guru’s, Kraftwerk, just got the Remastered treatment and it sounds oooohhhh sooooo good. It was their eight studio album and was heavily influenced by the effect of advanced technologies within society. “Computer World” is an unforgettable electronic vision of the digital age. Essential…


1. Computer World
2. Pocket Calculator
3. Numbers Listen
4. Computer World, Pt. 2
5. Computer Love
6. Home Computer
7. It’s More Fun to Compute

And here’s bits of a very insightful documentary on the German electronic movement…

go to Youtube to watch the rest

Tagged , ,

Abel Ferrara’s “The Driller Killer”

A few days before Halloween, I stumbled across this classic slasher flick in it’s entirety on Youtube. It’s definitely on par with other grimy Abel Ferrara films like Bad Lieutenant and Ms. 45. It was filmed in 1979 and stars Abel Ferrara himself as the tortured artist turned driller killer maniac. It’s sort of like a demented take on Taxi Driver with way more music and sex. This movie is perfect for those rainy midnight slasher cravings. Enjoy…

Tagged , ,

Nobuhiko Obayashi…and “HOUSE”

Excerpt from “The Housemaidens” by Chuck Stephens

A pioneering figure in the Japanese experimental film scene that sprang up at the end of the 1950s, Nobuhiko Obayashi (born in 1938) had begun making short Super 8 movies in 1956, and soon became closely associated with fellow cineastes Donald Richie Takahiko Iimura, with whom he would cofound the experimental film collective Film Independant in 1964. Obayashi’s 8 and 16 mm short films almost always centered on young women emotionally stranded between skipping rope and the skipping heartbeats of first love: sprightly and painstakingly pixilated visions of female longing, of adolescents forever distracting themselves from their imminent coming-of-age with quasi-carefree (and, under Obayashi’s percussively pianistic editing strategies, graphically dazling) games of hopscotch and hide-and-seek, at once bewitched and bewildered by the mostly peripheral (though, as in his 1966 masterpiece Emotion, often somewhat comically and ominously vampiric) men hovering in their midst. Today, Obayashi remembers mainly the impact that seeing the first films of the French New Wave, particularly Godard’s Breathless, had on his and his compatriots’ sensibilities, although on the evidence of as early an Obayashi film as 1960’s Dandanko, Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, who’d been similarly experimenting with hand-drawn and collage animation with live-action, often quirkily pixilated footage since the 1940’s, seems equally to have had his (perhaps secondhand) influence. Whatever his inspirations, Obayashi’s implementation of a variety of “handmade” filmmaking approaches (not unlike some of A Hard Day’s Night director Richard Lester’s pop art stylings) seemed custom designed for a certain strain of somewhat less than radical 1960s youth culture: his was a sensibility steeped in a romanticism far more Truffaut than Godard, and as politically and aesthetically muted when compared with contemporaries like Oshima as a Peter Max might seem in comparison with Robert Rauschenberg or Jasper Johns.

Obayashi spent nearly two years preparing the narrative and commercial particulars of his feature film debut, first concocting House‘s script from the collection of frights his preteen daughter suggested, then conspiring with the pop group Godiego (pronounced go-die-go, like the fourteenth-century Japanese emperor Go-Daigo) on the film’s assortment of pop ballads and searing synthesizer boogie, all in time for the soundtrack album to be releases well in advance of the film. Care was taken, too, to season the film with timely cultural touchstones: here an appearance by a Tora-san look-alike, there a ringer for actor Bunta Sugawara in his then popular Truck-yaro (Bastard Trucker) guise; there’s even a reference to Pure Hearts in Mud, the Momo-Tomo romance to be released as the surefire A feature to House‘s marketing gamble B. As for the myriad stylistic flourishes (faces that melt into the flame, a disembodied head hungrily nibbling on an unwary butt) that make Obayashi’s film so visually overwhelming, it was if the director had been preparing for them his entire experimental filmmaking and advertising careers. The story of a motherless teenage girl named Gorgeous who, disappointed by the imminent remarriage of her soundtrack composer father, precipitously cancels their planned summer vacation together and instead sets out with six of her schoolmates for a visit to her long-unseen maternal aunt’s house in the countryside…But who cares about the story! House is a film far more focused on the telling than the tale, haunted by more formalist freak-outs, sudden excursions into time-warping slow motion, and ludicrously lysergic, analog-age matte effects than any other twenty Japanese films released that or any other year.

The narrative, in its essence, is in fact a rather well-worn one in Japanese folklore and horror movie culture, familiar from such films as Kaneto Shindo’s kabuki-bound Black Cat and Nobuo Nakagawa’s lurid Ghost Cat Mansion. What makes Obayahi’s film so thoroughly extraordinary is twofold: first, the virtually limitless visual variations and sound design fever schemes (cocks crowing, babies wailing, piano glissandi and thunderous waves crashing on an unseen shore) with which he transforms the story’s traditional elements (which go beyond those bakemono/kaibyo components to include, among other things, various evocations of ukiyo-e illustration master Hokusai’s famous ghost-headed Oiwa lantern), to such a startling degree that Japanese audiences in the 1970s, as do audiences around the world today, found the film fresh and utterly new; and second, the obvious glee Obayashi takes in pushing the roricon (Lolita complex) richness of his subjects – a bevy of tender beauties, most of whom appear in increasing stages of undress as the film progresses – as he torments and terrorizes them. Not since the work of outsider artist Henry Darger, who ransacked children’s books to create epic collage tapestries depicting armies of oft-naked girl warriors in battle, have so many magnificently demented possibilities for simultaneously empowering, imperiling, and eroticizing pubescent young women been gathered so dazzlingly together in one place – and never at such a speed-demon pace!

Tagged ,

Stan Brakhage

Excerpt from “Make Place for the Artist” by Stan Brakhage

I am presenting it in writing for someone else’s future. Someone may someday realize that the living artist has the eyes of the age he lives in. They may understand that he makes his magic for the moment. Who knows? Here’s what to do:
Make place for the artist. Do it now. For you, as well as him, tomorrow is too late. Firs must come understanding, not of the work but of the worker. Give him the right conditions. Here are the conditions. This breed requires freedom. Cages kill him. Restrictions constrict. This animal is forever at war with his own limitations by nature. The rules others try to impose usually only baffle and, finally, either destroy or else disinherit him.
The artist must be given more than enough rope. He often hangs, himself for experience, however this creature has a tough neck, give him time! He is perhaps more aware of time than any other type of individual. He is an explorer of his own dualities. He embarks on as many adventures as there are in a day. These are the components of his witch brew.
It takes time, also, to stir up a magic potion. Information for opportunists – the best way to get something from an artist is to leave him alone. Contradiction is part of the honesty he exercises. It is impossible for any man to express without contradicting himself every other statement and be anything but a liar, unless he is playing a part. The artist play his part best apart…..Make place for the artist. He must never be used as a material. Those who try to hold fire either burn their hands or put the fire out.
This is a hair of a dog, given with love and expectation.

If you don’t know who Stan Brakhage is….you should. He was an American filmmaker who helped push 20th century Experimental Film to new heights. He made over a hundred films and went through so many different style periods, exploring a variety of formats, approaches and techniques that included handheld camerawork, painting directly onto celluloid, fast cutting, in-camera editing, scratching on film, and the use of multiple exposures. He also wrote many essays and letters on many topics such as art, mythology, music, poetry, war, birth, mortality, and sexuality, all of which are included in his film works as well. Definitely worth seeking out….his films are unlike anything you have ever seen.

Here is an excerpt from Brakhage Scrapbook: Collected Writings 1964-1980

To Manis Pinkwater: Day before Thanksgiving, ’64

An artist MUST act on dream instruction (day AND nigh dream structures conditioning all his being) for continuance of his art. Some have called this “inspiration,” some “the word of God,” some (more modernly) “sub-conscious feed-back” or what-you-call-it – there IS a process which governs the arts, necessities of each medium which discipline the artist’s living making it impossible for him to exist in an avoidance fo the right, the rite: and it is very encouraging, AND ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for the movement of works of art into the world at large (not to mention proper celebration of birthdays), that there be others who permit instruction, always dream structured, and act of their given sense of right, thus participate in the rite, in whatever way their form of living enables them. “Art for art’s sake” is a term imposed on the, otherwise, opening field of the arts BY a negligent or INdifferent society, a seige, as it were, which does force an, otherwise ever opening, field into becoming a fortress of “ivory towers,” etc., and/or (more modernly) a game preserve, wherein the forces of nature may play withIN strictly boundaries imposed by most unnatural game wardens, a place where natural forces are appreciated (as if one could applaud the universe) rather than experienced.

Tagged ,

Black Orpheus Soundtrack

I must say…This is quite possibly the GREATEST soundtrack ever created! In 1959, French director Marcel Camus delighted the world with Black Orpheus, which is based on the play Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Camus put a modern twist on the myth by setting the film in Rio De Janeiro during Carnaval, and by letting the great Brazilian composers’ Antônio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá craft this masterpiece of a soundtrack. The film is pretty much….magic. The imagery, the characters, and the music all radiate harmonious vibes. Orfeu even makes the sun rise when he plays his guitar…that’s what the kids say


1. Generique
2. A Felicidade
3. Frevo
4. O Nosso Amor
5. O Nosso Amor
6. Manha De Carnaval
7. Scene Du Lever Du Soleil
8. Manha De Carnaval
9. Scenes De La Macumba
10. O Nosso Amor
11. Manha De Carnaval
12. Samba De Orfeo
13. Batterie De Cappela
14. Bola Sete Medley: Manha De Carnaval/A Felicidade/Samba De Orfeo

Tagged , , ,

Marco Ferreri’s “Dillinger Is Dead”

Excerpts from “Apocalypse Now” essay by Michael Joshua Rowin and April 1969 issue of Ombre rosse magazine

Where Marco Ferreri’s earlier films contained straightforward, if transgressive, allegories about characters with clearly defined goals, in a world recognizable according to the standards of cinematic realism. Dillinger Is Dead throws narrative, psychological, and symbolic common sense out the window. Dillinger‘s trajectory may seem simple – a gas mask designer played Michel Piccoli (Glauco, although his name appears only in the script) returns home after work, cooks himself dinner, discovers a gun he believes belongs to Dillinger, seduces the maid, and shoots his wife in the head – but the refusal of clear-cut logic, its contradictory symbols, and its moral ambiguity open it to endless interpretation. (Even this new approach would not be radical enough for Ferreri, however: in the late sixties and early seventies, he helped produce hard-core leftist films by Glauber Rocha, and Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Dziga Vertov Group, and, forever dissatisfied with the ability of cinema to make a social impact, he would later lament that Dillinger was too easily recuperated by the mainstream.)

April 1969, Ombre rosse
Interview by Goffredo Fofi and Ruggero Savinio

Critics have praised Dillinger Is Dead for its rigor and coherence, for the fact that there is no lapses in it.

It was easier to achieve that in the case of Dillinger than in my other films. But I should say that this sort of praise strikes me as ambiguous at best. The film owes its unity to the subject matter itself and to a set of technical choices: there is very little dialogue, for example, and that absence makes the sounds essential. Things like that.

Most of the objects and machines the protagonist avails himself of have a clear meaning. Still, we would like you to tell us something about his screening of the home movie of the hands. Could you talk about that, and also say something about the specific function of the TV clips, the underground film, and the cameo appearance of Italian film historian Adriano Apra?

The hands? It is a fetish of mine. It is also, and more to the point, an important aspect in the characterization of the protagonist: his hands, you will notice, are always busy, always manipulating something, doing things. This busyness is the exaggeration of an obsessive tic. The home movies gives this tic the chance to lead a life of its own, independent of the life of the main character. As for the TV clips, the basic ideas was to show the uselessness of language, of words that try to frame ideas by circling around them without ever getting to the heart of the matter. This is another exaggerated tic. The aim is to point up the vacuity of so much spoken language.

Do you believe that it is possible, working within a system, to make films that pull the rug out from under it and throw it into crisis?

Cinematographic channels are capable of absorbing everything. The operations required to throw the system into crisis are external to films themselves. In other words, it is not a matter of making a certain type of cinema as opposed to some other type. It would be good to break up certain organizations, form new groups…The value of the work ends up depending on factors that are extrinsic to the film, instead of intrinsic to it. The channels are the usual, age-old ones, and we are always working on unsteady ground. Cinema as an antialienation weapon – there you have a theme that has not yet received serious consideration. Dillinger might be useful to twenty people…But I make a film that will be seen and appreciated by the thousand people I probably hate the most. I mean all those characters who make up the so-called cultural world: people who haunt art galleries and art-house cinemas. A clan of the most hateful people around, or who I, at any rate, find least congenial…That’s why I want my next film to resemble my older ones. I want it to be much more provocative. I want to make a film in truly bad taste! I am not sure this is the right way to go; probably even this won’t have the desired effect. Some days ago, I saw a Cuban film called Las aventuras de Juan Quin Quin [by Julio Garcia Espinosa], and I think there is a lot we can learn from it. The film is a lesson to the public, and what is interesting is that the tone in which this message is delivered is just right: the language is such that it satisfies the public, who can relate to it, and the director as well, who can remain interested in it. The film manages to demythologize a Western hero by showing how to steal rifles and things like that. It does so in the best way: getting the public to think while being entertained.

What is the audience you make films for?

What audience? Well, that is a question one cannot afford to ignore, and one that comes up with increasing urgency in our day and age: step by step, we move forward…A film is useful if it serves some political purpose. Dillinger Is Dead is no use at all, since all it does is please the cultural ghetto. And who cares about that? Even provocation is no use anymore, for it, too, is immediately digested, along with everything else What is missing today, I think, is the impulse to render the audience, and the public in general, active. But how are we to do that? Maybe things were better-actually, things were better-at the very start, during the time of Méliès, the time of the fair booths, when, by means of the fair booths, thousands of new ideas reached the masses. We have to think seriously about the people who go to the movies, and about their money. If only it were possible to go back to the fair booth! Think about the worker who leaves his or her job dead tired at the end of the day: Why should we make him or her work yet another two hours? To please ourselves? Do we want to give this audience – we who are always working within the system, by the way – films that succeed only in pushing them aside, since it is never clear to them what the films are saying, what sense they make, and what use can they have? If this is what we are doing, then we are also robbing the workers in our turn. Obviously, it is a matter of language. Let’s take you as an example. You guys represent the politicized film buffs of Ombre rosse, a publication that is supposed to be offering the public something new. Why, then, don’t you stop using the aristocratic and technical vocabulary that tends to grace the pages of this publication and takes as you model Don Milani’s best-selling Letter to a Teacher instead?

Do you believe in the utility of an art-house circuit that would serve as a kind of countercircuit?

To do what? To screen what? In the case of Dillinger, of course, I asked the distributors to release it as quickly as possible after the premieres, in small theaters – the ones that already work a bit like a pre-art-house network. But it doesn’t matter so much. On the contrary, what exactly would be shown in this countercircuit? Films meant to educate the public in the same old paternalistic way? People are conditioned to see certain things. But maybe we ourselves are wrong. A countercircuit that includes Ponzi, Orsini, Amico, the Taviani brothers, Pasolini, Bertolucci, myself…what sort of unity would that be? What sense would that make? This countercicuit you mention is, after all, only another fruit of the same system. Soon enough, this countercircuit will become very fashionable; theater owners will notice that it is a profitable business and they’ll jump on it. This has already happened in Paris…Auteur cinema, they call it. And this auteur cinema is, precisely, an overly personal cinema. Take Orsini’s The Damned of the Earth: it is a political film, yes, but it is too difficult, too personal; the original Frantz Fanon text is quite complicated already, so try to figure out what the film will look like (I confess I haven’t seen it yet). A countercircuit certainly promotes a change of scene, and it does hold out the possibility of seeing something decent. But let’s not fool ourselves. This countercircuit is entirely integrated with the main one. There is nothing to do about that. Maybe we should do what Rossellini did in turning to television, since Rossellini, I hate to say it, is the only one who seems really to have understood a few things. The Taking of Power of Louis XIV is an important film, as important as Rossellini’s opinion on didactic cinema.

Why, then, do you keep making films “within the system”?

Right, why continue? We need to find formulas that are more popular. Are we right to provoke? Is that really called for? My ideas here are a bit confused, I am sure, but not so confused that I fail to notice that the cinema we make is useless. In situations such as ours, every form of discourse becomes personal. As such, these forms of discourse are completely ineffective, for honest and dishonest people alike. I am totally useless, and so are you. Not least because we’re missing a common political discourse to which we can refer…As for students, they cannot, with all their defects, be all that useful. This does not mean that a director should not try to break through his or her isolation and establish a common discourse. And I don’t mean by that the specialized discourse offered by morons like those aficionados of the Cinémathèque Française. That stuff is ridiculous, and incoherent to boot. Take their former passion for Hollywood films – why do they forsake it now? They are always moving to the “new” thing, but they fail to see that their discourse is always behind the times.

Tagged , ,

Phantom of the Paradise

Just watched this wonderful gem again the other night. It had been too long, and is was nice to revisit Brian De Palma’s comical kaleidoscope vision of the absurdities of Glam Rock. Flashy camerawork (including the great “Split Screen” effect the De Palma is oh so fond of) and wonderful musical montages weaved together with “Pop Sensation” operatic tragedy create wonderful cinema. Plus it’s got Jessica Harper (yeahhhh, before Suspiria) getting down as Phoenix, an aspiring Pop Diva who becomes the object of affection of both hero and villain. Her dance moves in the movie might be just as bad as Elaine’s from Seinfeld dance moves. Some of the most awkward dance bits ever, can’t tell if she is for real and it’s funny as hell. And also the villain, a Satanic record producer named Swan, funniest lookin dude ever.

Here’s some words about the film by Fernando F. Croce
“Where Brian De Palma’s homage to cinema’s past glories in Sisters was neatly sewn into the fabric of its narrative, in Phantom of the Paradise it just about bursts gloriously at the seams. Hitchcock is here, of course, in the funniest Psycho parody ever filmed, but most of the allusions in this baroque fantasy are paraded with an eye for gothic classicism: Faust, The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, among others, provide the canvas onto which De Palma splashes his overwhelming filmic mojo. The film has the feeling of having been a liberating experience for the director, in allowing him to not only bring to the fore the referential facet that runs through his oeuvre from day one, but also to sustain for the entire 92 minutes the delirium of Sisters’ transgressive concluding sequences.

William Finley, the previous film’s chauvinistic villain, gets the role of his career as Winslow Leach, the songwriter whose masterwork, a “rock cantata” retelling of the Faust legend, is stolen by Swan (Paul Williams), the unscrupulous owner of Death Records; framed and ruined, Winslow gets his face sizzled off in a smoldering record press, then dons leather suit, cape, and metallic mask to haunt the Paradise, Swan’s elaborate rock venue, as the Phantom. De Palma understands the intensity of ’70s rock as the successor to opera’s shuddering arias, and the fervent charge of music electrifies the visuals without succumbing to the meth-oppressiveness of Tommy. From start to finish, no scene feels “dead”: Whether it’s the hero’s first encounter with fickle muse Phoenix (Jessica Harper, soft and corruptible), a stint at Sing-Sing, or an audition for various musical styles, no occasion is too insignificant for a prowling POV, a handheld tilt of the camera, or any other form of wanton restlessness that De Palma’s blessedly adolescent impatience utilizes.

As in that other great musical spoof, The Girl Can’t Help It, however, Phantom of the Paradise draws withering links between product and consumer. A hipster-Mabuse figure, Swan materializes in tinted shades and golden locks to a gust of organ music and, like De Palma’s malevolent overlords, proceeds to manipulate images and sounds from inside his booth, fine-tuning the Phantom’s mangled vocal chords until his warbling is ready to be packaged and sold to audiences with bigger and more morbid appetites. In a touch worthy of Tashlin, Death Records’s main group, the Juicy Fruits, go from greasy-haired doo-wop to ’60s beach inanity to Kiss-styled pyrotechnics in the course of the film, with concertgoers literally contributing to the on-stage assembly of “ambiguous” superstar Beef (the inimitable Gerit Graham). That the loudest applause is reserved for Beef’s electrocution bears out De Palma’s awareness of how easily radicalism can be morphed into spectacle for the bloodthirsty public, the feeling that Swan’s “That’s entertainment” declaration is lined with his talent-scout’s blunter summarization (“Nobody cares about what anything’s about”).

“Dream it never ends,” Winslow sings at the piano as the camera swirls lyrically around him. De Palma’s cinema frequently draws on the medium’s oneiric affinities, and Phantom of the Paradise progresses as a darkening reverie from which escape is revealed as unattainable; the hero’s blood-sealed contract with Swan locks their souls together, and only the rebellion of protégé against master (to be later followed and enriched in Obsession, The Fury, Raising Cain) can lead to liberation, even if that means death. Earlier in the picture, De Palma stages the characters’ interlocked destinies (as well as a sly shout-out to the Welles of Touch of Evil) with parallel tracking shotsthat finally merge into a single image as the explosion of a time-bomb dismantles the split-screen’s barrier. Another blast is needed to rupture the Faustian bond connecting the Phantom and Swan, provided at the film’s splendidly tumultuous climax, a jolting extravaganza where the death of a character is scheduled to be telecast and the bacchanalian bloodletting that ensues points to the stupefying catharsis of Carrie while revisiting the turbulence—and the implicating roles of the audience—of Dionysius. De Palma’s volcanic comedy concludes with the macabre yet liberating orgiastic jousting between creation and creator, not just between the Phantom and Swan, but also between spectacle and viewer. Only the film’s audience, too caught up in the euphoria of the show, remain oblivious to the real horrors on display.”

And for your pleasure, the soundtrack…


Tagged , , ,

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s escape from documentaries

Universality is not the neutral container of particular formations, their common measure, the passive (back)ground on which the particulars fight their battles, but this battle itself, the struggle leading from one particular formation to another. Take Krzysztof Kieślowski’s passage from documentary to fiction cinema: we do not simply have two species of cinema, documentary and fiction; fiction emerges out of the inherent limitation of the documentary. Kieślowski’s starting point was shared with all the cineastes in the Socialist countries: the conspicuous gap between the drab social reality and the bright, optimistic image which pervaded the heavily censored official media. The first reaction to the fact that, in Poland, social reality was “unrepresented,” as Kieślowski put it, was, of course, the move toward a more adequate representation of real life in all its drabness and ambiguity – in short, an authentic documentary approach:

“There was a necessity, a need – which was very exciting for us – to describe to the world. The Communist world had described how it should be and not how it really was…If Something hasn’t been described, then it doesn’t officially exist. So that if we start describing it, we bring it to life.”

I need only mention Hospital, Kieślowski’s 1976 documentary, in which the camera follows orthopedic surgeons on a 32-hour shift. Instruments fall apart in their hands, the electric current keeps breaking, there are shortages of the most basic materials, but the doctors persevere hour after hour, and with humor…Then, however, the obverse experience set in, best captured by the slogan used recently to publicize a Hollywood movie: “It’s so real, it must be fiction!” – at the most radical level, one can portray the Real of subjective experience only in the guise of a fiction. Toward the end of the documentary First Love (1974), in which the camera follows a young unmarried couple during the girl’s pregnancy, through their wedding, and the delivery of the baby, the father is shown holding the newborn baby in his arms and crying – Kieślowski reacted to the obscenity of such unwarranted probing into the other’s intimacy with the “fright of real tears.” His decision to move documentaries to fiction films was thus, at its most radical, an ethical one:

“Not everything can be described. That’s the documentary’s great problem. It catches itself as if in its own trap…If I’m making a film about love, I can’t go into a bedroom if real people are making love there…I noticed, when making documentaries, that the closer I wanted to get to an individual, the more objects which interested me shut themselves off.
That’s probably why I changed to features. There’s no problem there. I need a couple to make love in bed, that’s fine. Of course, it might be difficult to find an actress who’s willing to take off her bra, but then you just find one who is…I can even buy some glycerine, put some drops in her eyes and the actress will cry. I manged to photograph some real tears several times. It’s something completely different. But now I’ve got glycerine. I’m frightened of real tears. In fact, I don’t even know whether I’ve got the right to photograph them. At such times I feel like somebody who’s found himself in a realm which is, in fact, out of bounds. That’s the main reason why I escaped from documentaries.”

The crucial intermediary in this passage from documentary to fiction is Camera Buff (1979), the portrait of a man who, because of his passion for the camera, loses his wife, child, and job – a fiction film about a documentary filmmaker. So there is a domain of fantasmatic intimacy which is marked by a “No trespassers!” sign and should be approached only via fiction, if one is to avoid pornographic obscenity. This is why the French Veronique in The Double Life of Veronique rejects the puppeteer: he wants to penetrate her too much, which is why, toward the end, after he tells her the story of her double life, she is deeply hurt and escapes her father. “Concrete universality” is a name for this process through which fiction explodes documentary from within – for the way the emergence of fiction cinema resolves the inherent deadlock of documentary cinema. (Or, in philosophy, the point is not to conceive eternity as opposed to temporality, but eternity as it emerges from within our temporal experience – or, in an even more radical way, as Schelling did it, to conceive time itself as a subspecies of eternity, as the resolution of a deadlock of eternity.)
—excerpt from “The Parallax View” by Slavoj Žižek with quotes from Kieślowski

Tagged ,

Recyclopædia Britannica

In one of his earliest and best-known essays, Sergei Eisenstein described five types of montage, illustrating each with scenes from his own films. The first four types (metric, rhythmic, tonal, and overtonal), deeply influenced by Ivan Pavlov’s study of reflexology, were conceived to trigger distinct physiological effects in the viewer.

Now imagine if you will Eisenstein’s realization that inherent within this methodology was a collusion with the forces making life miserable for himself and his fellow countrymen. The development of his fifth type—intellectual montage—seems a natural conclusion for a troubled conscience such as his.

While intellectual montage generates humor in the hands of experts (Dusan Makavejev, Craig Baldwin), it’s best suited for works of high-minded intent (Eisenstein’s unrealized Das Kapital, Pasolini’s La Rabbia.) So what about other modes of construction, more aligned with the mischievous humor evident in Eisenstein’s drawings and familiar to his friends, but seldom on display in the films themselves? We would have to find the “lost” notebook in which he was seeking just that, formulating a sixth type of montage that deployed physiological means, but with entirely other ends in mind. Call it malapropic montage, the intentional violation of narrative continuity by inserting or assembling shots containing mismatched actors and actions into a cinematic sequence.

If Margaret Thatcher’s face launched a thousand punk bands, Vicki Bennett has for nearly twenty years been part of England’s defiant rear guard or, to use her preferred term, the “avant-retard”. Under the moniker of People Like Us, Bennett has shaken laughter loose from the most tightly-wound of listeners and, in more recent years, viewers. Putting things where they just don’t belong, her prodigious audiovisual output and stateside radio show on WFMU infuse the plunderphonia of John Oswald and The Tape-beatles with the British comic tradition in all its coarse and bawdy glory. Staying true to the principle of “share and share alike”, most of her musical and moving-image output is now available for free download through Ubuweb.

Her new video, Genre Collage, is currently touring the world as a live audiovisual performance. Produced with assistance from Tim Maloney, it relies less on the layered compositing of much of her previous video work and embraces hard cuts and classical editing syntax. Earlier videos such as Discovering Electronic Music (99) and The Remote Controller (03) drew extensively from Prelinger Archive material and other orphan ingredients, and yet achieved something far beyond the easy camp effects so common among the works of others that tap these sources.

The dark undercurrents and self-referentiality that course through the earlier videos are as strong as ever. But unlike those earlier pieces (or Bruce Conner’s A MOVIE, with which it otherwise shares strong ancestral ties), Genre Collage draws instead on narrative feature films for its source material––nearly 100 in all. Enter the Dragon commingles with the climactic shootout of The Lady From Shanghai; also appearing are Tobor the Great, The Poseidon Adventure, and plenty of Hitchcock. Peter O’Toole, O.J. Simpson, and Donald Duck are just a few of the many “guest stars”; Mary Poppins pops in as a harbinger of disaster.

Malapropic montage stands unwittingly as a testament to the power of Kuleshov’s experiments and, in turn, to the film grammar adopted by, if not invented, in Hollywood. The eyeline match especially is revealed as a nearly foolproof adhesive, and malapropic success might be measured by the degree to which adjacent elements that don’t belong anywhere near each other nevertheless stick.

Eisenstein had initially sought collision in the joining of two shots to complete a circuit and send a shock through the viewer’s emotions; later, his lost notebook seeks in malapropic montage a way of “of effectively circumventing the higher nerve systems of the thought apparatus.” Bennett, in turn, has taken Eisenstein’s montage collisions and refashioned them as bumper cars at a seaside carnival.
—excerpt from “In search of Eisenstein’s lost montage with Vicki Bennett” by Jim Supanick

See more at

Tagged ,