The Wrong Trousers (1993, Nick Park)
Endlessly amusing, and full of curious references to unknown kinds of cheese. The baddie is a jailbroken diamond-snatching chicken with a rubber-glove rooster hat and some electrical skills. Some serious dejected Gromit sadness when the tenant chicken takes his place and he leaves home… why must funny cartoons also make me sad?
Dizzy Dishes (1930, Dave Fleischer)
A Bluto-type orders roast duck, but our blandly Bosko-like hero dances around the kitchen instead of preparing the meal professionally. He makes a half-hearted attempt to serve the duck (shaved – not roasted) when he’s distracted yet again by a dog-eared proto-Betty Boop, leaving Bluto so hungry that he eats the dishes and table (see also: Jan Svankmajer’s Food). Finally Bosko, a true villain, assaults the poor customer and leaves with the dancing girl.
Direction of an Actor by Jean Renoir (1968, Gisele Braunberger)
What to do when your father is a famed film producer? Hire Jean Renoir to give you acting lessons. Gisele is told to read lines to Renoir completely flat with no hint of affectation, and he stops her many times if he detects even a hint of predetermined acting style, saying that first she must read the lines bringing nothing to the table, and then the character’s voice will come from the lines. Sounds like good advice. I watched this short doc thinking it was connected to the ones Rivette made with similar titles, but I guess not. Shot by Edmond Richard (Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise, Welles’ The Trial) – can’t see how exactly it counts as a film by Giselle, but I guess it was her idea.
The next four are from Revolución (2010), a Mexican omnibus film that I didn’t finish watching when it was briefly available online.
La Bienvenida (Fernando Eimbcke)
Armancio the tuba player sacrifices all his family time practicing for the big welcome song, then the guest of honor never shows. All the other orchestra members go home but the tuba stays and plays his rehearsed part solo for nobody. Non-moving camera, low lighting, black and white. It must be a comedy, since tubas indicate comedy, but why am I not laughing? True, the final shot was nice.
Beautiful and Beloved (Patricia Riggen)
A dying man’s wish to his U.S.-born daughter is that he be buried in Mexico, where she’s never been. There’s talk of selling her grandfather’s pistol from the Mexican Revolution for funeral expenses, but instead she gets a deal by sleeping with some sleazy guy, which I believe is seen as a victory for the revolution.
Lucio (Gael Garcia Bernal)
Lucio’s weird cousin comes to visit, refuses to participate in religious rituals and removes the christ-on-a-cross from the bedroom wall saying he doesn’t believe in images. Lucio has some sort of epiphany from all this, as seen by his running to the top of a mountain and gazing at the horizon.
The Hanging Priest (Amat Escakanate)
A couple of kids (who say they’re engaged to be married even though they’re ten – is that a Mexican thing?) come across a priest in the desert. They share their water, walk for a while, and end up at a McDonald’s.