In which Varda proves she can find good cinema anywhere, by wandering down the street into all the small shops and turning her neighbors into movie stars. There’s too much of the magician, but his magic show serves to bring together the people we’ve been seeing in separate shops into one space. Since I can’t take screenshots off the Criterion channel, I’ve stolen a still from their website.

In a Lynch mood, rounding up some pieces I hadn’t seen, or not lately.


Fictitious Anacin Commercial (1967)

A one-minute lark, man in a rural jump-cut rocking chair (next to a bloody sack or dress) has a headache, the anacin gets him up dancing again. Big music, some weird slo-mo, and Jack Fisk is obviously the man.


BlueBob Egg (2004)

Not gonna count this as a movie, it’s a single take of a dude in a mask getting arrested. No BlueBob music included. Web video from the old site?


I Touch a Red Button (2011)

He certainly does touch a red button – that’s about all he does, more or less to the beat of a good Interpol song I don’t recognize, from when I lost track of them post-Antics. Animated character, just three or four frames, with manic camera blur. The title hangs above the little long-nosed button-smashing guy the entire time. Pretty great, honestly.


Lamp (2003)

Making the colored based of a two-toned yellow and grey lamp
Discussed: lunch, coffee, pissing in the sink
There’s a score, a light beat.
“future home of Disc of Sorrow” sign is visible.


Idem Paris (2013)

I’ve seen this before, endlessly watchable mini-doc of the men and machinery making a series of prints of one of Lynch’s artworks.


Ant Head (2018)

Not the head of an ant, but a head covered in ants, scored by some good noise music. The head is composited onto a still background of power lines, the edges matted off so ants walking over the top side vanish into the background. At the end the image reverses and slowly zooms in, a little radio play monologue about Pete vs. the woodcutters. Based on a Thought Gang song that was based on a cancelled Twin Peaks video game sequel.


The Spider and the Bee (2020)

A pretty long time to spend in a spider web, but the shadow of the lead characters (the spider wins) and the light off the web held my attention. Some light ambient music, and best of all is the sound effects, not just assigned to the creatures, but also the camera moves.


David Lynch: The Art Life (2016, Barnes & Nguyen & Neergaard-Holm)

Nice little doc about Lynch’s history and art career, as told by the man himself. Got inspired to watch this after Lamp, which I still slightly prefer, though this is obvs valuable and got a standalone Criterion blu release, so what do I know. Sync sound is rare, swearing is common. Real Blue Velvet vibes when he talks about living three different lives at once during high school and tells a story of an upset naked woman walking down his street one night. Surprised to hear him say Philadelphia was really good for him. After The Alphabet, David got a day job at a printer – he likes printers (see Idem Paris) but hates day jobs – then won an AFI grant, made The Grandmother in their apartment, AFI people helped him get into an advanced filmmaking program in L.A. where he made Eraserhead.

The lost Rivette movie (besides the early shorts, and the extended version of Va Savoir, and a decent copy of L’Amour Fou) finally pieced together from a couple blu-rays and a youtube source.

Part 1 is Renoir flipping through his career. Extended clips are presented from each film, then an interview segment which may or may not relate to the movie, a different collaborator joining the conversation each time there’s a break. I should read a book on Renoir because now after listening to him shit on fine art for 90 minutes I’m curious about the influence of his fine-artist father.

“The word artistic was our enemy – we hated it.”
“I’m starting to think now that the main theme of a film isn’t terribly important.”

Very quotable movie, Renoir and the others dropping gold for hours.
“One of the ways of fighting against modern boredom is art … a work of art is not made to be looked at, it’s made to permeate living people, people in the street … that goes against all current practice, which is to create a monument, a sound-and-light spectacle.”

Part 2 opens with a montage of Michel Simon performances in Renoir movies, then Simon joins for an extremely casual cafe chat. At one point the film runs out and audio keeps recording while they change the reels.

Part 3 visits the chateau where Rules of the Game was filmed, Renoir and Marcel Dalio discussing the evolution of that film. They show the shot with Dalio beaming in front of the mechanical music machine, twice – Renoir says it’s the best shot of his career, and I’d agree. Besides the chateau, we spend most of our time in a screening room. Conversation turns from fate to revolutions, and we see extended scenes from La Marseillaise. They even discuss Le petit théâtre, which if release dates are to be believed, wasn’t even nearly out yet. Very little on the 1940’s and 50’s films – I would’ve gladly watched a couple more episodes.

A long doc, broken into chapters with Guy Maddin collage art in between. Begins in-depth on the unholy trilogy of Wicker Man, Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan’s Claw. Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale comes up, and I should really watch more of those, even though I disliked the first. Penda’s Fen looks cool, Rawhead Rex as cheesy as I remember it. The 1980’s films attacking heritage: The Company of Wolves, Lair of the White Worm. Paganism and witchcraft, sure. America gets a chapter, featuring Christian cults, and the “Indian burial ground” obsession (colonizers fearing being colonized, having their own homes taken away). Fear of poor people (Deliverance), racist voodoo movies, then positive shouts to Candyman and Ganja & Hess. The Fool Killer sounds cool, both as a movie and a profession. Into the global folk horror chapter, the doc started to feel long – I tuned out during Brazil and Germany, but should prioritize watching The Juniper Tree, maybe a double-feature when the next Robert Eggers film comes out. Also got my second Jacques Derrida reference this SHOCKtober.

Old Man Yells At Cloud: The Movie. Not tightly assembled, smoothly edited, or well mixed (too much of Marty laughing on the soundtrack). Just a 3+ hour Q&A hangout with comedian Fran Lebowitz. Alec Baldwin and Spike Lee and Olivia Wilde appear as guest interviewers, some archival TV interviews are thrown in. I wanted her quote from episode 6 about only ever being able to understand one’s contemporaries, but don’t have netflix at this location, oh well.

Giving Spike shit about sports:

Sort of a process doc, focused on hands and objects (no faces are seen until the last ten minutes), partly documenting its own making (you hear claps for sound sync, direction to move action into camera view). I usually can’t figure out what they’re doing but I got when they traced the faint remaining pigment lines from ancient pottery and recreated the original design. Anyway the end titles (in reverse order) tell us exactly what we’ve been looking at.

Darren Hughes in Cinema Scope:

The film seems designed to ensnare viewers in the unspoken fetishistic pleasures of collecting, archiving, and displaying — the same pleasures that drive the economies of poaching and museum-building … Rinland has consistently used a number of formal techniques that have, in recent years, become associated with ASMR. [This film] is a comprehensive catalogue of triggers.

Military training, solitary hunters, traumatized family members. A long procession of prisoners to match a long procession of soldiers (with alarming sound editing). A historical play enacted by psychiatric patients. Browsing ransom demands in voicemail. Loosely interwoven doc episodes filmed in four countries in the Middle East.

Mark Peranson in the great Cinema Scope cover story:

Notturno looks and sounds like what we would associate with a bigger-budget feature film, not something shot and recorded by one man over a three-year period. Often bereft of dialogue, the images are carefully framed.

Rosi:

Always there was this idea, even when I was filming Fire at Sea, “Where are these people coming from? What’s happening there?” … The challenge was to find these stories, because I went there not knowing anything, and I came back knowing less. I was able to grab and embrace stories and moments that left a very strong impact.

A fantastic follow-up to Pig – in fact, I should’ve watched them in reverse order. The men are famed truffle hunters caught up in a lucrative industry (I think the reseller is quadrupling the price he pays the hunters when selling to restaurants) which has become barbaric (at least one dog gets poisoned), while they just want to spend time in the woods with their beloved dogs. Alternates between careful right-angle framing, and other sorts of things (dog-mounted camera!).

Doc about a filmmaker, whose parents moved from Latvia to Chicago and invented beer nuts and 360-degree cameras/projectors, who went on to make Monster A-Go-Go.

Rebane moved his family to Wisconsin (good sidebar piece on how strange Wisconsin is) and built a studio, making “secular rapture movies” which would influence the Avengers movies (maybe). Not super interested in watching any Rebane movies right now, but I was at an airport (in Wisconsin!) and had access to this, and it’s always nice to hang out with Mark Borchardt.