Boro in the Box (2011)
Just watched some early Borowczyk so I’m checking out Mandico’s terrific biopic. It is so reverent of Boro’s wife/actress, and so dismissive of Lenica. A bit of Cronenberg there at the end when the camera becomes a living organ.
Memories of a Boobs Flasher (2014)
Elina Löwensohn solo show, repeats a four-minute monologue twice. It’s good to see that Mandico has had the same interests from the beginning, and The Wild Boys feature didn’t come out of nowhere but was a culmination.
Prehistoric Cabaret (2014)
Absolutely the most GuyMaddinist shit I’ve ever seen, GuyMaddiner than some Guy Maddin films, but still with some Cronenberg edge. These are not complaints, this is what movies should be doing. The Boro camera reappears. More dialogue repetition, this one’s about a camera that is inserted into the body. In color and English, wild.
Depressive Cop (2016)
A different sort of thing, in English again and partly filmed like a grey VHS dupe. More of those obsessions, merging with islands and becoming fruit/crab/milk. Aphex Twin t-shirt cameo.
Blow Up, Le Cri dans l’œil (2019)
Let’s not forget Lynch in our list of influences. This is simply a montage of some of the best screams and yells and shouts in modern cinema, which keeps returning to Wild at Heart.
Massive, forty-part series reviewing many of the things that can be done in (narrative) cinema, and ways to do them, only using films directed by women.
It took us a half-year to get through this… I kept no notes or screenshots, so I’m happy to see a few letterboxd lists collecting the titles we saw clips from.
We had mixed results with the narrators and topics and examples, but it is always nice to learn about movies.
Finally coming full circle, we watched a streaming documentary about people starting a site to stream documentaries. The team’s founder is a film nut whose dad was the local grocer, but it’s not a town of film nuts and their group isn’t doing much outreach, so instead of a doc-crazy Columbia MO situation, it just seems like some outsider weirdos in a town that has no need for them. Sturdy, observational doc by Simon, who makes pretty nice movies but I’ve missed why she’s considered a master of the art. Anyway, nobody was ever hanging out on the online chat channels T/F set up for Teleported attendees, so I had to look to twitter for a sense of film-viewing community.
More focused than Rat Film, more sense of purpose, and great resonance with the Philip Henry Gosse short we watched before it. The eye and cameras, and what they cannot see: blind spots and the seer itself. Desktop film with online videos from Axon (the taser company)… community meeting where an eye-in-the-sky company president tried convincing Baltimore citizens of his project’s value while they had their own ideas about surveillance. Also a film history lesson, touching on Jules Janssen’s pre-Muybridge astronomical motion pictures using his photographic revolver.
Looong split screen dialogue, Béatrice Dalle doing most of the talking, with Charlotte Gainsbourg, playing “themselves.” They discuss experiences on movie shoots, death by fire, nudity, and creepy producers.
Next, a producer is telling bald DP Max to take over the movie from director Dalle before the production falls apart, and a cameraman is tasked with spying on her. Meanwhile, Karl from Love is wasting people’s time, trying to get them to sign onto his own film.
The shoot ends with Gainsbourg (and Fury Road’s Abbey Lee) tied to (digitally) burning stakes when the lighting goes haywire. She and Dalle, tormented from all sides, have breakdowns as the picture devolves into flashing blue and red fields.
Home Movies (1980)
Framed as a lecture by professor Kirk Douglas on student Dennis, “an extra in his own life.” Some of the framing in this is nice if one seeks that De Palma magic, but the action is silly-ass, with sped-up-film goofiness and pauses for laughter after clunker jokes. It’s some consolation that it’s all meant to be a film-in-a-film with a self-consciously big music score.
Kirk must’ve done this as a favor after The Fury. Our main boy who films everything (including his cheating dad) is Keith Gordon, his girl is Nancy Allen, a year before they both appeared in the great Dressed to Kill. I dig the energy of Keith’s cult leader brother Gerrit Graham, just off playing the title role in C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud. As a cheapie exercise in film production assigned to De Palma’s real college students, it came out mostly fine, except maybe the blackface bit.
The Wedding Party (1969)
Another collaboration with Sarah Lawrence college, this time with De Palma the student, shot before Greetings but released after Robert De Niro’s star rose. More undercranking and dubbed voiceover, opening as madcap silent comedy – so this is where he learned it – and references to cross-dressing in both films prefigure Dressed to Kill.
Charlie is a nervous groom, arriving with two groomsmen (RDN +1) at a wedding site with the bride’s too-large family. Bride Jill Clayburgh is ironically best known for a film called An Unmarried Woman. They each get advice from their people, Charlie waffles on the marriage and/or cheating with piano girl Celeste. The dialogue is better than the other movie, and editing is very fun, with jump cuts galore. It gets a little long – hard to sustain wacky comedy for 90 minutes.
Perry Caravello is a local celeb comedian with Steven Wright hair and a high hoarse voice who gets involved in various challenges and pranks. Here he has called in all his comedy buds for a fake fake-documentary in which his frenemies Don and Mole get him cast as the star of a film that everyone but Perry knows isn’t real. But I don’t get this, because within the scope of this film, it seems real, and the rug is never pulled out even after the successful premiere. What’s the point in telling us it’s a ruse if we never see the ruse, like watching straight episodes of The Truman Show without ever seeing backstage or anything breaking down.
Everyone on set has stolen names, like a mistreated assistant named Burt Ward, and director Goldthwait is amusing as… the director of Windy City Heat. And there is a lot of yelling.
Reading my notes after the fact, it’s hard to piece the plot back together – a lot happening in 80 minutes, but it all made perfect sense at the time. Lange was working for a smalltime publisher named Batala, a scam artist and rapist. Lange just wants to write silly westerns and see them published. His dreams are working out, his stories gaining popularity, the cute Valentine is in love with him, but when Batala’s interference tries to bring it all crashing down, Lange kills him and goes on the run. Good movie, and commie film critics give it extra points for showing the publishing workers taking over production.
Lange is plain-looking René Lefèvre of Le Million. Valentine is Florelle of Lang’s not-great version of Liliom. This movie is set at a hotel where these two are crashing while fleeing for the border after the murder, most of the action shown as flashbacks as Valentine tells the story to the locals so they won’t turn Lange in. Jules Berry, who plays the villain, later costarred in Le Jour Se Leve – another film written by Jacques Prévert in which Berry is murdered and we learn the full story as the killer is hiding out in the aftermath.
After watching Boys State and Dope Is Death with Katy, I rounded out the trilogy of True/False catchup movies with one she didn’t want to see.
The concept is based on a Virginia Woolf quote about people looking at the same war images and perceiving them differently. The filmmaker shows a curated set of Israeli/Palestinian youtube scenes to students then narrows down to a single student with Israeli parents who sees unexpected things in the images, sometimes to the point of absurdity, and questions her about her perceptions. It appears to be raw footage shot on cellphones, but she thinks everything here is staged. “They have the kids cry in the background as an added effect,” as if it’s unrealistic that kids would cry on their own while soldiers tromp through their house. The kids’ mom is being “overdramatic” and the soldiers are even criticized for not searching the house well enough. When Israeli kids are just pelting a Palestinian home with rocks, “This doesn’t look good for Israel,” then she self-corrects, imagining an inciting event from before the camera was rolling, “Arabs throw rocks all the time.” In the second half, the director calls her back to watch the videos again alongside her own responses (so, the first half of this movie). “The viewer also has control… Film is only so real, you’re not there.” A good experiment, but I resent having to spend this much time with an overthinking college student.