“Do women have freedom?” Two young sisters trash a large house and grouse at each other until the masters return, and everyone yells at each other, and there’s a lot of slapping. The girls announce that they’ve wrecked things because they’re unpaid and mistreated, sabotaging a year’s vintage of wine which was to be included in a deal to sell the house. The servants stick around, and the family puts up with a lot – too much, and the sisters finally murder the wife and daughter and are sentenced to death in postscript.
Francine Bergé, the older of the sisters, played the villain in the great Judex the same year, later the villain in Rivette’s The Nun. Nico’s directorial debut premiered at Cannes 1963 (in competition with Harakiri, I Fidanzati, Baby Jane, big winner The Leopard). Watched as part of a Criterion spotlight – they say he was a controversial figure who worked with Casssavetes and Jean Genet. Took a break halfway through the movie when Katy came down, and we watched Farran’s introduction to Judy Holliday, and perhaps I should’ve watched a Judy instead of a Nico.
Demy’s followup to Rochefort is disappointing. He’s in California shooting a charisma-free Gary Lockwood (his followup to 2001). It’s a clean looking movie with big meaty closeups, but feels clunky, has no snap, the actors practically reading off scripts.
The Model Shop is a chaste peepshow where photographers hire a camera and a sexy girl for private sessions (Gary once calls it a “tart factory,” which would’ve been a better film title). Broke, doomed Gary stumbles into the place and obsesses over Lola (THE Lola), stalks her relentlessly until she agrees to sleep with him. At the end he’s drafted, loses his cute girlfriend, his cute car, and all the cash he borrowed (in the movie’s weirdest scene) from the band Spirit.
Gary disappointing his gf Alexandra Hay (Skidoo):
Demy stitches together an Interconnected Universe here, sending Lola back to France at the end, reporting that her Sailor Frankie has died in Vietnam. Lola speaks of an ex who left her for a French gambler named Jackie (Bay of Angels) and we’ve already seen her boy Roland marrying Catherine Deneuve in Umbrellas. Unknown whether Gary’s tooling around town in the limited time before he has to report for duty has Cleo from 5 to 7 in mind, or if it’s more a reference to Sailor Gene Kelly on shore leave.
Rare is the movie that makes me daydream about making my own movies. I have no particular vision or story, no equipment or skill, no network of collaborators, no funds, no interest. But all during this movie I was imagining making my own little home movies, alone, with my phone camera. I don’t expect they’d be an improvement on this movie, they’re almost guaranteed to be worse, which is depressing, since this movie was barely watchable, with its flailing sub-Ruizian visuals – I think you have to be on this guy’s particular wavelength of religion and art and history to understand what he’s on about. He does some surreptitiously-filmed drunken performance art in a public square. Searching the Vogel for fitting keywords: “exasperating… grotesque… constant aural bombardment.”
Superbly assembled from the original footage, news stories and present-day interviews. Some songs are allowed to stand on their own, some are used as montage fodder, or backdrops for related stories. Mainly I appreciate a music doc that never lets the music stop playing.
Stevie Wonder gets drum and piano solos. David Ruffin has a very high voice and long legs on “My Girl.” Nina Simone and Sly Stone in top form. I wasn’t expecting the gospel section to be so strong – Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson walked off with the movie.
Abby Sun in Filmmaker:
Politically, the films’ interviews and archival footage holds no bars. The Reverend Jesse Jackson’s sermons are woven throughout … The film is explicitly pro-Black Panthers, pro-Young Lords, pro-interracial and transnational solidarity movements. It is conscious, as its organizers were, of the complex mapping of the formation of Black identity — in style and hair, musical expression and commercial ownership, political position, Afro-Caribbean modalities — and against mainstream media narratives, while putting forward a multi-sensorial view of a festival space, integrating attendees’ memories of the smell and taste of being present.
Devil Got My Woman: Blues at Newport (1966, Alan Lomax)
Either these performances were filmed outside of the actual Newport Folk Festival, or the Blues tent at Newport was just a house, capacity roughly 30. A couple songs each by Son House, Skip James, a couple other new-to-me names. The revelation here was Howlin’ Wolf (below, cash in hand) with added sax and drums.
The High Lonesome Sound (1963, John Cohen)
Oh no, a narrator.
Oh no, Southern Baptists.
In a few Kentucky locations. No sync sound, and more exteriors and context than the blues doc. This (to its detriment) is more of a movie, the other one is more a document of a happening.
Banjoist Roscoe Holcomb:
Ratty (2020, John Angus Stewart)
The making of King Gizzard’s Rats’ Nest. VHS aesthetic with poor sound recording, but I know the album well enough that it’s still thrilling to be here.
I’ve watched a ton of fake online concerts, including:
Zeman’s followup to Invention for Destruction is another absolute wonder. Actors filmed b/w and composited somehow with variously tinted objects and backgrounds. Still don’t know how this was done – saving the making-of doc for after I watch the dinosaur feature.
The story opens with astronaut Tony landing on the moon and discovering the Baron (Munchhausen), who calls him a moonman and takes over the narrative (I don’t think Tony speaks in the first half). Baron returns them to Earth, but a fantasy version, the jet planes in the opening scene replaced by flying monsters.
They rescue a kidnapped princess from a sultan, she falls for Tony, and the Baron spends the rest of the movie trying to convince her that he’s more impressive that boring old Tony (true). Along the way they jump their horses off a cliff, create a tobacco smokescreen to confound the sultan’s fleet, get swallowed by a whale and scooped up by a giant bird, ride a cannonball, escape from prison and return to the moon via rocket-propelled castle tower, all in about half the runtime of the Gilliam version.
The Torquays was a successful five-piece band of U.S. soldiers who’d stayed in Germany after their war service, playing nightly shows when two serious German art-school dudes approached them and convinced them to rebrand as The Monks and play a pared-down but forceful new kind of rock music. We spend much time with the band members, leaving no anecdote untold and culminating in a one-off NYC reunion show with celebrities like Jon Spencer in the crowd. Still one of the greatest albums ever made… this two-hour movie has only about 15 minutes of illuminating stories, but it’s nice to spend so much time in a world where the Monks mattered.
Broke mopey people have sullen conversations against plain backgrounds, all referring to some plan but not cluing us in, their relationship swapping getting out of hand. Nihilist movie full of banalities, even in love, some pleasant repeated shots like a couple walking toward camera with different characters every time.
The director plays a Greek who everyone turns on, painting him as a large-cocked rapist, while he just wanted to be friends. Hanna Schygulla and Hans Hirschmüller return from Fass’s debut, which I watched in 2015 – maintaining six years between features, I’ll get to Querelle in the year 2183. But maybe I’ll increase the pace since watching this drab movie improved my drab week – funny how art can work.
A late television inventor’s missing heir is sought, and ends up being TV repairman Jerry Lewis. Unusual for Tashlin that the movie (from the writer of Pufnstuf and Lidsville) is TV obsessed but not in a negative way. Rich aunt Cecilia is Mae “Betty Boop” Questel, easily the highlight of the movie, meant to marry a thin-mustached man (Zachary Scott, sex criminal of Bunuel’s The Young One) who only wants the money. The hot house nurse is Joan O’Brien (Blake Edwards submarine movie Operation Petticoat), and Wait Until Dark baddie Jack Weston a hired killer. Also featuring robot lawnmowers, a classier-looking movie than necessary.