Lost Buildings (2004, Chris Ware & Ira Glass)
The story of architectural historian Tim Samuelson and his grade-school fascination with old buildings. Glass of This American Life did the sound and Ware did illustrations in a cool vertical aspect ratio – makes sense, since it’s all about buildings. Tim meets photographer Richard Nickel, and they tour the buildings of their favorite architect together, preserving their memories as they’re torn down. Tragic ending, beautiful story.
Les Horizons Morts (1951, Jacques Demy)
Simple, romantic story. A man alone in his crumbling apartment recalls being dumped by his girl for another man, considers drinking poison but seeing the cross on his wall, decides against it. A student short, I think, with nice camera work.
Glas (1958, Bert Haanstra)
Glassmaking, first by hand then in a bottle factory, edited rhythmically with excellent music added afterwards. At least as wonderful as the other Haanstra shorts I’ve seen. Won the oscar (beating a donald duck short). I should look up his features sometime, since I’m always so impressed by the shorts.
Won in a Closet (1914, Mabel Normand)
Mabel dreams of a neighbor boy, but is pestered by two bumpkins. Somehow her dad and the boy’s mom get trapped in a closet together, Mabel thinks it’s an intruder, and since this is a Keystone production, it ends with twenty people running around and falling over. One nice split-screen shot, but I’d argue with the film preservationists who called Normand a “singular cinematic talent in the making.”
More from the film preservationists:
By the time Won in a Closet was released by Keystone, Normand had already appeared in nearly 150 movies and was a beloved screen presence around the world. As one of the founders of Keystone, the comedienne was well placed to take on new responsibilities and become one of cinema’s earliest female directors. … The story follows the Romeo-and-Juliet romance of Mabel and her beau, played by Charles Avery. As the plot careens into antics and pratfalls, Mabel’s father and Charles’s mother find themselves trapped in a large wooden closet, surrounded by spurned suitors and bumbling neighbors.
A Bashful Bigamist (1921, Allen Watt)
A slight improvement. A woman invents an ideal ex-husband so her new husband will aspire to be better, but she uses a photo of uncle Oswald, who returns from Africa the next day. Much misunderstanding ensues, accompanied by vase-smashing and pistols.
The husband was Billy Bletcher, who would later voice characters in Mickey Mouse cartoons. Cartoons in the intertitles drawn by Norman Z. McLeod, future director of Marx Bros and WC Fields comedies. No music on either of these silent shorts, so I listened to some Ennio Morricone
Area Striata (1985, Jeff Scher)
Dots, lines and patterns. Hyperkinetic geometry. Beautiful indeed but it kinda made me feel ill. Delicate music by a Bach quartet.
Trigger Happy (1997, Jeff Scher)
Negative silhouettes of objects and toys in (of course) rapid motion, set to an extremely happy song by Shay Lynch.
Scher says: “It began as an attempt to make an animated ballet, but as I was shooting the dance turned rowdy, into more of a nocturnal revel. . . . The trigger I was happy about was on the camera, but the title also fits the velocity of the imagery. Much of the animation happens by the rapid replacement of one object with another. It’s the afterimage in your eyes that animates the difference between the shapes, as one is replaced by another, and another”
Caged Birds Cannot Fly (2000, Luis Briceno)
Some very short segments showing different caged birds in would-be humorous situations… either stop-motion, 3D or some combination thereof. I liked the Stereolab song better than the film.