1. SHORTS 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 10 + 3 + 14 = 61m
a) Grim (Takashi Ito, 1985) yes
b) Boston Fire (Peter B. Hutton, 1979) no
c) Isole di fuoco (Vittorio de Seta, 1955) maybe
d) Brouillard: Passage #14 (Alexandre Larose, 2014) yes
e) Panta Rhei (Ben Haanstra, 1952) no
f) Senaste Nytt (Per Carleson, 1997) maybe
g) Roulemant, rouerie, aubage (Rose Lowder, 1978) no
2. Seven Days to Noon (John & Roy Boulting, 1950) maybe
3. Cluny Brown (Ernst Lubitsch, 1946) yes
4. The Magical World of Disney: Mars and Beyond (Ward Kimball, 1957) (re-watch) no
5. Hausu (Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, 1977) yes (5-6)
6. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Fritz Lang, 1956) (re-watch) no (1-3)
7. Animal Farm (Joy Batchelor, John Halas, 1954) no (1-3)
8. 5 Steps to Danger (Henry S. Kesler, 1956) no (1-3)
9. Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (Robert Drew, 1963) maybe (3-4)
10. Wild River (Elia Kazan, 1960) yes (5-6)
11. The Incident (Larry Peerce, 1967) maybe (3-4)
12. Thriller - en grym film / Thriller: A Cruel Picture (Bo Arne Vibenius, 1973) no (1-3)
13. TIger in the Smoke (Roy Ward Baker, 1956) no (1-3)
14. The Long Memory (Robert Hamer, 1953) no (1-3)
15. Byôsoku 5 senchimêtoru / 5 Centimers per Second (Makoto Shinkai, 2007) maybe (3-4)
16. Aranyer Din Ratri / Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray, 1970) maybe (3-4)
17. Saint Jack (Peter Bogdanovich, 1978) maybe (3-4)
18. Siu Lam juk kau / Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow, 2001) no (1-3)
19. Is-slottet / Ice Palace (Per Blom, 1987) no (1-3)
20. Skepp till India Land / A Ship Bound for India (Ingmar Bergman, 1947) no (1-3)
21. Tulipunainen kyyhkynen / The Scarlet Dove (Matti Kassila, 1961) no (1-3)
22. Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit / The Way You Wanted Me (Teuvo Tulio, 1944) maybe (3-4)
23-26. SHORTS 6+7+10+11+11+12+12+14+14+16+20+18+7+21+6+21+22+20 = 248 minutes
a) Pools (Barbara Hammer/Barbara Klutinis, 1981) maybe (3-4)
b) Psalm IV 'Valley of the Shadow' (Philip Solomon, 2013) maybe (3-4)
c) Poligon (Anatoliy Petrov, 1977) no (1-3)
d) Ruke ljubicastih daljina (Sava Trifkovic, 1962) maybe (3-4)
e) L'eau de la Seine (Teo Hernandez, 1983) no (1-3)
f) Fragments of Decay (Henry Plaat, 1983) no (1-3)
g) Orchard Street (Ken Jacobs, 1955) maybe (3-4)
h) Errigal (Patrick Carey, 1970) maybe (3-4)
i) La plage (Patrick Bokanowski, 1992) maybe (3-4)
j) Couleurs mécaniques (Rose Lowder, 1979) maybe (3-4)
k) Hynningen (Werner Nekes, 1984) yes (5-6)
l) Still in Cosmos (Takashi Makino, 2009[/b] no (1-3)
m) The Art of Flying (Jan van Ijken, 2015) yes (5-6)
n) Obreras saliendo de la fábrica / Women Workers Leaving the Factory (José Luis Torres Leiva, 2005) maybe (3-4)
o) The Dante Quartet (Stan Brakhage, 1987) YES (6)
p) Qortsili (Mikheil Kobakhidze, 1964) maybe (3-4)
q) Once Upon a Tram (James G. Maguire/John Sarsfield, 1960) no (1-3)
r) Sanctus (Barbara Hammer, 1990) no (1-3)
27. Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta / The Song of the Scarlet Flower no
My first Tulio film and it looks like he's the Finnish master of melodrama, or something like it. Here we have a young man, son of a prosperous farmer who, on learning he can't marry the servant girl he's fallen for, embarks on a journey to find himself --- and find other women to seduce along the way. This has some terrific scenes, most obviously the lengthy log run that must have been an incredible thing to film in 1938, a thrilling ride until it goes on just a bit too long, but in the end the moralism of the message - as our hero finds out that being a lothario has negative effects on women, who would have thought it? - undercuts the whole thing and it's just too pedantic and blunt to work.
28. First Contact
(Robin Anderson/Bob Connolly, 1982) no
Solid documentary about the first contact between groups of New Guinea aborigines and white Australians in the early 1930s - some of which were filmed at the time by three brothers who went into the New Guinea highlands looking for gold. Two of the brothers were still alive when this was made, the the film alternates between their reminiscences and those of surviving members of the aboriginal tribes, some of whom were children at the time. While it's rather amazing when you think about what this experience must have been like - on both sides - and it's pretty special that there is extant film footage of the encounters, the doc itself is rather prosaically made, and while it attempts to give equal time to both colonizers and colonized, as it were, it still comes off at times as somewhat patronizing. Still a valuable look at one of the last such moments in human history.
29. Soldaten og Jenny / Jenny and the Soldier
(Johan Jacobsen, 1947) maybe
An interesting mixture of melodrama, crime, delusion and depression, in which a young soldier, disillusioned with everyone, sits in a bar telling his story of lucklessness to the bartender, when in comes another young man and we begin something of a La ronde
-like series of stories about a half-dozen characters whose chance interactions with each other leave a death, an attempted suicide, and at the end some happiness for a couple. This doesn't go as far as some other films of this period (or later, i.e. Slacker
) in exploring the randomness of life - eventually we get back to the main couple and the latter part of the film is a bit more conventional than the first half - but it's a nicely done little bit of philosophizing in which the coincidences and connections really seem to matter and have some consistency.
30. Naisenkuvia / Portraits of Women
(Jôrn Donner, 1970) NO
A sort of meta-porn film if that's a thing - I think a lot of porn is rather meta by it's very nature, at least when there's an attempt at story or plot in the first place, but this is an early example and clearly trying to be something "more" than porn. And it's only on the border of hard- and soft-core, with no penetration shown but lots and lots of closeups. And as much as I tend to lime meta films, films about films or filmmaking, this story of a porn filmmaker and his issues with his friend, his girlfriend (wife? most relationships weren't that clear), other women, and producers just didn't do anything for me at all. It's not sexy enough to work as real porn, and the attempts at arguing for or against more sex in the Finnish cinema, while I think well-intentioned, just aren't well-articulated or very interesting in the end. Not outright awful but pretty dull in the end, and the worst film I watched for this challenge. No offense intended to the person who nominated this! I guess I'm not as into Scandinavian exploitation cinema of the early 70s as I thought I was...
31. Der Hund von Baskerville
(Richard Oswald, 1929) no
Silent German production of Conan Doyle's best-known single Sherlock Holmes story, which has been filmed many, many times - I've seen at least 5 films or TV versions myself. Looks like it was especially popular in Germany in the silent era - there were multiple films before this one. This was clearly an expensive production, with a multinational cast and large and attractive sets, and it's all really well constructed. It moves from being relatively close to the novel in the first few reels (parts of reels 2-3 are missing; I'd assume this originally would have been around 80 minutes instead of the 65 we have now) to wildly different in the end, with secret doors and floods of mud and a bow and arrow shot and a character and murder made up for this film. Purists will object to these changes of course, but I think they're fascinating, and give the film something of the feel of serial cliffhangers in it's last reels. Not a great film or version of the story but fun stuff overall.
32-34. SHORTS 33 + 30 + 27 + 38 + 33 + 29 = 190 minutes
a) In Order Not to Be Here
(Deborah Stratman, 2002) yes
b) The Flicker
(Tony Conrad, 1965) (re-watch) no
c) Insan / Human Being
(Ibrahim Shaddad, 1994) maybe
(Ed Emshwiller, 1966) maybe
e) Notes of an Early Fall
(Saul Levine, 1976) no
f) Rusalochka / The Little Mermaid
(Ivan Aksenchuk, 1968) maybe
The Stratman film is the clear outstanding work in this group, an investigation into night-time in a big city, the loneliness and fear and silence, with a long series of roughly 10-second static shots of parking lots, empty grocery store aisles, convenience stores, automatic tellers, silent streets, parking lots - bookended by a real police video (I believe) shot from a helicopter down at cops arresting a suspect at the front of the film, and an absolutely stunning chase sequence at the end that starts out much like the police video but quickly devolves into something else, with a narration taken from TV news that doesn't jibe with what we're seeing. Ultimately this becomes a film about the surveillance state and about how we are all changed by the knowledge that cameras and police are all around us. There is much more to say but I think I'll need another viewing for that.
Yes, I had seen The Flicker
before; another film I thought I might have seen in the old days of obsessive cinema-going in the 90s, and re-watching - actually mostly re-hearing - made this clear. It's an experiment along the lines of John Cage's 4'33" obviously, only for film... or is it? Certainly there are things to be found of interest even in half an hour of just strobe-like flickering and the whirring of a projector though, seeing this at home on video, it's not really a projector, is it? And it would be exactly the same every time, whereas "seeing" and "hearing" it on film would not be. Interesting from a metaphysical perspective, interesting as an idea -- but obviously not that interesting as an actual experience,not really "enjoyable".
is the first Sudanese film I've seen, a wordless collage of images of what "being human" means in a poor, largely desert country. There are a man and a woman who we see in multiple shots who seem representative of a larger experience, and the frightening picture of a severed hand - and the living arm it's been severed from - gives an image of crime, or of punishment, that is very potent. The musical choices are wide-ranging, the film is quite beautiful; hard to say more, a better context would help.
is an examination of that concept, I guess - most of it indicated specifically in the narration near the end - and of human and other bodies, of life and death, living flesh and meat. Some spectacularly good photography and use of color, I don't remember any of the other Emsh films I've seen standing out so in this department. Otherwise, I'm not sure what to say. I think with many experimental films like Emsh, reading about them and seeing several films over a short period is a key to better understanding what they're about, and I definitely haven't done that here. Future project.
Notes of an Early Fall
is even more abstract than any of the previous films; it reminds me of Mekas to some extent, in it's home video type quality. I actually rather liked the long beginning of a record player skipping over and over, reminds me of some tape-loop musical experiments (Gavin Bryars in particular). Some interesting stuff but overall, I dunno.
is a beautifully done version of the old Hans Christian Andersen tale, much closer to the original than the famous Disney version of 20 years later. I had a coworker at the video store I worked at, right around the time the Disney film came out or just a bit later, who always used the term "Bambified" to describe then-current Hollywood and American culture - his favorite film was Sweet Movie
, I remember. Comparing this film to the Disney is a good example of what I think he meant - giving stories happy endings that they don't need, and that in fact ruin the whole point of the film. I actually love the Disney film, but his point is a solid one overall and certainly applies to much of our childish culture.
35. L'ordre / Order
(Jean-Daniel Pollet, 1973) maybe
Short documentary about a French leper colony in the Mediterranean, or rather two leper colonies: one which was sort of self-governed, which was closed, with the residents being moved to another nearby from which they could come and go with at least a little freedom, but where they were more under government control. Mostly interviews with older residents who remembered the move; grim and sad. I can't help but compare this with Forugh's masterpiece The House is Black
from a decade earlier, and of course I wonder if Pollet had seen that before making his film. This is certainly somewhat more conventional though it has a detachment to it, exemplified by the reading of several statements off-screen that aren't identified as being from residents of the colony, or others, and by the repeated questioning of (we presume) the director by one resident in particular, who wants to know whether the lepers' stories will be told fairly and humanely - he assumes they won't be, and that he's being lied to again.
(Manoel de Oliveira, 1981) maybe
Two young men - deeply cynical writer Camilo, and somewhat less cynical (but no less arrogant) José Agusto argue about life and love and art and women for almost 3 hours during the late 1840s and 1850s in various locales in Portugal. Most of it in static shots, and delivering their lines with ironic detachment, and almost Bressonian lack of emotion or "presence". There is also Francisca, or Fanny, the title character, and the "plot" mostly revolves around José Agusto's infatuation with her, plans to marry her, the thwarting of those plans, the sabotage to her character, possibly by Camilo, etc. This is the world of one of Oliveira's static period chamber dramas, and I suspect that if you like his other films of this type like Doomed Love
or The Satin Slipper
, you'll be open to this one. I tend to find Oliveira's world very hard to dive into at first -- I always spend the first few minutes or half-hour impatient and unable to connect with what's going on -- but typically rewarding by the end, and such was the case here. The clear artificiality of the acting, the slow pacing, the overall theatricality eventually pulls me in, and I'm forced to concentrate on meaning and the ambiguity of many of the characters in a way that I rarely need to do with other films. This ultimately wasn't one of his very best, at least not on one viewing, and the darkness and softness of the image (I should look for a better copy if one exists) didn't help, but as always with Oliveira by the end I was looking forward to the next film. And I'm really looking forward to being able to read the work of Camilo Castelo Branco, one whom the character of Camilo is based, and who wrote the novels that both Oliveira's Doomed Love
, and Ruiz' Mysteries of Lisbon
are based. Hopefully somebody in lockdown is working on lots of translations right now....
(Mamoru Oshii, 2001) no
onderhond's favorite film, how could I not watch this? We're like, separated at birth you know
But seriously, I've wanted to see this - and more Oshii in general - since first seeing Angel's Egg
a decade or more ago, which I loved, and then Ghost in the Shell
a couple of years later, which I didn't quite love but certainly enjoyed and admired in many respects. I remember seeing screenshots of this years ago and they gave off a sort of steampunk vibe which was definitely a pull for me (though it turned out largely an inaccurate conceptualization on my part), but with a million films to watch, never got around to it till now. And I'm rather glad I knew nothing about it other than something of the visual look and that it was a Polish co-production. First off, it is a beautiful film; those who have read some of my rantings about the look of much of modern Hollywood know that I don't much like the common (over the last 20 years) practice of color grading that so often either mutes colors down to drab grays, or gives everything a teal/gold cast. See much of the work of Spielberg and Eastwood in recent years, most of Zack Snyder and Michael Bay's films, etc. Well this at first glance seems to be in the same category, but that's really not correct; it's a sepia tone that does show an interesting palette of colors (albeit sparingly) and is absolutely key to the film's design; I think it could have been done in a deep b/w hue with similar bits of color, and might have looked nicer to my eyes, but it's still pretty interesting - and again, it works in part because of the way the visuals change and what happens in the last act of the film, which I won't spoil, though I suppose I could...
because the plot/story/narrative (top game playing woman in dystopian world finds player maybe better than her, leads her into investigating who or what built the game - and where she and the game lie in relation to the "real world"), whatever word you want to use, is fairly useless and uninteresting here, and there isn't much here that we've seen before. Connections with The Matrix
I'm sure have been made but I don't know that that's fair - it really feels like a more general tour of the VR and dystopian fiction landscapes of the last century, with references visual and/or metaphorical to sources like 1984, Brazil, Stalker
and Philip K. Dick. And I'd also say it's interesting to see this now in the context of Spielberg's Ready Player One
which seems more overtly influenced by Avalon
than the Oshii film is to any one or two of it's intellectual sources. And speaking of those, very little is made of the title or it's connection to the Arthurian legends - at least, not on one viewing. While this overall struck me as fairly shallow and at the end a mishmash of half-baked ideas - not least being the whole concept of what-is-real, what-is-game which simply doesn't seem to matter either to the audience or in the context of the film at the end - I am prepared to admit that there may be more below the surface, something I wouldn't say about some of the many popular VR-heavy films of the 90s like Virtuosity, The Thirteenth Floor
or The Matrix
and sequels, for that matter.
I had the feeling this would end up either AWESOME or SHIT, and more likely the latter as my experience both with films in this little subgenre and onderhond favorites suggested this outcome, but as it is it's squarely in the middle of those extremes, and interesting if not mostly successful film that has some remarkable elements and some really pedestrian ideas going on. In any case, glad I saw it, and probably will give it another shot some day, after watching more from the director.
That's all for me, thanks for hosting, funky!