Almost the entire movie is a film director (Bogdan Dumitrache of Sieranevada) having conversations, rehearsals and affairs with his lead actress (Diana Avramut). He fakes a stomach illness, claims he had it checked by a doctor, and his producer (Mihaela Sirbu of Aferim!) has his cover story carefully verified, either to catch him in the lie or, as she says, because of picky insurance demands. Another filmmaker (Alexandru Papadopol of Toni Erdmann) pops into a dinner chat, possibly representing a future job for the actress. This is practically all that happens, and it ends abruptly – so why is it a movie? I get the self-reflexive talk about long takes and film cartridge capacity in a 35mm movie composed entirely of long takes, and after all the film-vs-video talk, video gets finally represented in the form of a colonoscopy DVD. After two long scenes where the director tries to convince the actress that a newly written nude scene is dramatically necessary and she goes over the blocking with him to verify that this is properly motivated, our movie finally shows her gratuitously topless. All this is worth a few meta-chuckles – surely I got more out of it than 12:08 East of Bucharest, and if the whole thing feels slightly pointless and the conversations go on for too long, that’s probably intentional too, for reasons I don’t feel like researching at the moment.

I’ve heard Jean Rollin’s movies are very bad, but I’ve also heard that they’re sensual atmospheric wonders full of naked woman, so finally I am finding out for myself. Started with Rollin’s fourth feature after Rape of the Vampire, The Nude Vampire and Requiem for a Vampire, cowritten by Bernard‘s daughter Monique Natan. The verdict: it’s bad, but it’s true about the naked women, and I also enjoyed the groovy electric guitar music.

Half the cast: newlyweds framed by mute girls:

Whatever is going on, we’ve got two women who aren’t saying a word and there’s a coffin ritual and some unhappy guys chained in a castle. I’m starting to suspect vampires. The next(?) morning newlywed Isle (Sandra Julien of Je suis une nymphomane) arrives with her guy (Jean-Marie Durand, who had a career in film doing everything except acting) and learns that the cousins she has come to visit have just died. Then the cousins show up and say no, just a joke, everything’s fine. Isle meets the two silent women and two others: widow Isabelle (Nicole Nancel of Don’t Push Grandpa Into The Cactus) and Isolde (Dominique of Rollin’s previous film), who walks out of a clock. Everyone’s a vampire, of course, and there are playful attacks and serious attacks and lots of boobs, and I think Isolde uses boob-daggers to stab Isabelle in her boobs, and despite all this bawdiness I couldn’t focus very hard because it’s all so terribly dull, the sort of thing that happens when your slow arthouse movie relies on a sense of atmosphere you failed to create. There are some freeze-frames and fun camera pans, but there’s no saving it. One of the cousins was Michel “The Ethnologist” Delahaye, at least.

The Ethnologist and his dark-haired brother in front of some vampire wall art:

I guess the groom and the two unnamed girls from the beginning help defeat the evil Isolde and/or Isabelle, then the two male cousins and the bitten Isle die on the beach as the sun comes up. It’s possible that the groom Antoine was meant to be our hero, but he also gets beaten up by a library.

Isolde and her daggers… I’m actually trying to avoid nudity in the screenshots because I know all my traffic on this post will come from guys searching for “boobs”, but with this movie it’s difficult:

Every wall in the castle where they filmed has been vandalized:

Sounds like an American-ready comedy premise (which is why there’s a rumored remake): uptight daughter gets a visit from her goofball dad who tries getting her to lighten up. Generic versions of this story have been made before, but this one uses some unique characters to change the trajectory, eventually revealing the daughter was maybe right to hide her true nature beneath a serious businesswoman facade, because when she lightens up, she’s almost psychotically awkward (shades of Ade’s debut The Forest for the Trees).

The infamous nude scene was different than I expected, at least. You figure a nude scene will be about sex in some way, and it’s not. Out of a combination of the quirky strangeness that her dad’s visit has perhaps inspired and frustration at a dress zipper, Ines (Sandra Hüller: Requiem, Amour Fou) answers the door to her party guests in the nude, then starts insisting they disrobe as well. Meanwhile her dad Winfried/Toni (Peter Simonischek) has dramatically upped his costume game from a moppy wig and false teeth to a giant Bulgarian hair-monster costume, and arrives at the party without saying a word, freaking out the already scared naked party guests. It’s clearly a very good movie, and even if I have trouble understanding Cinema Scope’s film-of-the-year acclaim, this may be the scene of the year.

Ade, probably predicting the failure of next year’s remake:

When I tried to shorten the film, it gets very banal and less complex. The film needed a certain length … The moment you take out 20 minutes, then you have the father coming, he’s an idiot, she’s a businesswoman… it gets very simple, very fast.

The Exquisite Corpus (2015 Peter Tscherkassky)

More exquisite, sensorial film manipulations from the great Tscherkassky, this time with lots of nudity. And as always with his films, I had to watch it twice, and it’s completely incredible.

M. Sicinski:

The film’s odd mismatches of erotic styles and tendencies (70s Eurotrash, early stag loops, bucolic nudist films, hardcore porn, surprisingly genuine-looking lesbian expression) ultimately comprise some kind of whole. Tscherkassky never employs technique to put pornography at arm’s length. Indeed, in some ways his experimental treatment of the material actually heightens its capacity to titillate. Indeed, the sheer visual excess of bodies on film produces a highly singular new “film body,” a sort of structuralist orgy.

Tscherkassky in Cinema Scope: “My approach was to show the naked body of cinema. So it made sense to use films whose main goal was to show the human body.”

I never really have a fixed image of what the film is going to look like. It’s always about time. Time to study the footage and then learn it by heart, so it seeps into your memory and there it sits and waits for the ideas to come. The second aspect is the production time itself, when you sit in the darkroom, exposing your individual frames – frame by frame by frame – and that takes a lot of time, time during which the film grows. Time to memorize, to remember something completely differently than how you thought about it three years ago. That’s the beauty of my way, my style of filmmaking.

There’s a famous Roland Barthes quotation that the erotic takes place where the woven textile has ripped. You look inside of something that is not meant to be seen. I wanted to move from straight porn and transform it into something that might fit this Barthes quotation.


Watched a few, scattered animated shorts over the last couple months – since I didn’t have anything to pair with The Exquisite Corpus, here’s a round-up of those.

Harvie Krumpet (2003, Adam Elliot)

One night nobody felt like watching a full-length movie so I weirded them out with this instead. Harvie is a unique stop-motion guy, not so bright but armed with rules and bits of wisdom, like your Forrest Gumps and your Chance The Gardeners. And like those movies, this one won an oscar (impressively beating both Boundin’ and Destino). The award is well-deserved – it’s a bittersweet narrative of a vividly drawn, damaged character who ends up happily nude at a bus stop. “He knew it would never come, but… he didn’t mind.” I still haven’t watched Elliot’s feature Mary and Max, but now I’m more likely to.


The Danish Poet (2006, Torill Kove)

We liked Kove’s Me and My Moulton, so it was time to find her earlier oscar winner. And it’s just wonderful. Maybe not as visually stylized as the follow-up (can’t remember for sure), but a beautifully designed movie both in its visuals and story (a roundabout telling of how the narrator’s parents first met). Narrated by Liv Ullmann – another indie(?) short that beat both Pixar (Lifted) and Disney (The Little Match Girl) at the oscars.


Black Soul (2000, Martine Chartrand)

Beautiful paint on glass technique shows a mother taking her son through stories of black history, which are mostly nightmarish. Chartrand studied in Russia with Alexander Petrov, won the top prize for shorts in Berlin with this film.


Triangle (1994, Erica Russell)

Nude line-drawing dancers are interrupted by black-cloaked triangle person and a red ninja square. The dancers grow more and less abstract, combining and separating, the force of the triangle warping the very frame of the movie, until it settles as a happy, sexy threesome. Lovely work – every frame a painting, as they say. Oscar-nominated against The Monk and the Fish and Bob’s Birthday. Russell is from New Zealand and South Africa, and created a “dance trilogy” with this film in between Feet of Song (1988) and Soma (2001).


Snop / Candy (1991, Jan Konings)

Meaningless reminiscing about the popularity of candy when the narrator was young, with below-average animation. From a blu-ray of Norwegian animation that I suppose I won’t be running out to buy.


Protege (2000, Levni Yilmaz)

Drawing paper shot from the other side as the pencil finishes drawing each panel, just like The Mystery of Picasso, but with a monotone voiceover guy explaining his history of imitating people he thought cooler than himself. Cute, and I suppose it technically counts as animation. Since I don’t have the book this disc came with, I’m not sure if this short predates Lev’s long-running Tales of Mere Existence youtube series, or if it’s part of it.


Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014, Steve Purcell)

Another toy story is always nice but this is more of the same ol’ thing. Bonnie from part three is on a post-Christmas playdate at a spoiled boy’s house, neglecting his complete set of some fantasy war toy collection to play a VR videogame, and our gang discovers that the war creatures haven’t yet figured out that they’re toys. Reptilius Maximus (Kevin McKidd) and tree ornament Angel Kitty probably won’t make it to the next theatrical sequel. Purcell is credited as a writer/director of Brave, and with animation on some 1990 video games (Loom and Monkey Island, wow).

Watching shorts from the Flicker Alley blu-ray, part four.

Film that Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter (1968 Owen Land)

Repetitive little piece in which people draw a character, then it comes to brief stop-motion life, then they ponder this, then it happens again with a constant, quiet burbling horror of a soundtrack. Not as much fun as I’m making it sound.


Our Lady of the Sphere (1969 Lawrence Jordan)

I was rather dismissive of this last time but I’m starting to find its variety of techniques and combinations of images and cutouts from old-time illustrations pretty charming. It’s certainly a funnier and more imaginative way to spend nine minutes than the last movie was. “Jordan orchestrates the film in terms of a rake’s progress” say the liners, but I couldn’t make out much of a story (though I could identify recurring characters, at least).

Mouseover to hit the bear:
image

Mouseover to BZZZZZZT the donkey:
image


DL2 (1970 Lawrence Janiak)

Differently colored patterns fill the screen to varying degrees, from starfields to spaghetti-o’s to shower-curtain dots to bright silly-string and confetti parties, all created by organically Begotten-ing strips of film. Chiming, percussive soundtrack. Hypnotic and strangely relaxing to watch, though next time maybe play my own music.


Love It, Leave It (1970 Tom Palazzolo)

Speech from a car show plays over a nudist festival. Speech honoring the military plays over clowns. Then the soundtrack goes into a hypno-loop of “love it, love it, love it, leave it” under images of contemporary America (sports and recreation, demonstrations and celebrations, people and get-togethers and riot police), the sound finally mutating into a patriotic song layered over itself like that remix I made of the Brave trailer. The liners say he had a “sharp eye for Americana,” true. And the last page of Cinema Scope #66 points out where more Palazzolo films can be found, if I get into an Americana mood later.


Transport (1970 Amy Greenfield)

One of those dance shorts where the camera moves with the dancers, only the movements here are not too exciting – small group of people lifting each other across a dirty field. And the sound is completely unbearable, a series of horrible tones like the ones they play in movies after a bomb goes off to indicate tinnitus in the lead character. Also, two minutes of opening credits in a six minute movie?


Sappho & Jerry, Parts 1-3 (1977 Bruce Posner)

Early film by one of the anthology project’s many film restorationists. Three two-minute pieces where Bruce takes existing film elements, combines, mutates and split-screens the living hell out of them, adding more simultaneous frames in each ensuing chapter. Great fun.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Ch’an (1983 Francis Lee)

Pans, zooms and crossfades of black and white watercolors, with some short bursts of animation. Nice texture closeups of the watercolor work. I preferred Lee’s 1941 from earlier on the disc (these are his first and last films).


Seasons… (2002 Solomon & Brakhage)

Gorgeous variety of textures and patterns, colors and rhythms. “Intentionally silent” doesn’t fly with me, so I played the second half of the new David Grubbs album, which I would highly recommend. If I understand correctly, Brakhage did the textures and patterns, and Solomon did the lighting and coloring? Bravo to both.

I dig this frame because it looks like a dragon crashing into an aerial antenna:

A too-young Joel McCrea is out with his rich white yachting buddies when he decides to stay behind on a tropical island with the hot girl he met, who he soon learns is scheduled to be sacrificed to a volcano. Seems like this movie inspired both Joe vs. the Volcano and The Thin Red Line.

Ridiculous movie, but at least Dolores del Rio is good – and does some nude swimming.

I guess it’s been fifteen years since I watched Gaspar Noé’s I Stand Alone on videotape and didn’t enjoy it, and his name keeps coming up, so as part of my Festifest Quest to become more familiar with the film-festival auteurs of these days, I thought it best to watch a 2d blu-ray of Noé’s 3d porno. And I didn’t enjoy it. Maybe he’s a big screen filmmaker and you need to experience the glory in a proper theater – not that his films ever show where I live – but more likely he is making uninteresting movies that I should avoid in the future.

Salo, hardcore The Defiance of Good, Flesh for Frankenstein:

Okay, I liked the editing a lot. I’m a sucker for good editing, and this thing’s got it. Well-composed shots (though most are horribly lit) and lots of sex, two more things I like. The list ends there. Murphy is a sadsack who hates his blonde wife Omi and his family and his stupid life, so he dreams in flashback of his ex-girlfriend Electra and his stupid life with her. He comes across as a total dick, but once you get to better understand his situation… he’s still a dick, which deflates the sex scenes and the drama.

M, Birth of a Nation:

So Murphy and Electra were together, did drugs and had sex and initiated a threesome with a cute neighbor in their building. Murph fights Electra’s ex-boyfriend art-dealer Noé, played by our director Noé, then the cop arresting Murph tells him about a sex club, where he goes with Electra. He wears one of those Fassbinder shirts in the style of the Metallica logo and tells everyone he’s a filmmaker, though we never see him work. First time his girlfriend’s out of town he cheats with the cute neighbor, condom breaks, bam, two years later he’s stuck with the cute neighbor and their kid (named Gaspar, of course) and Electra’s mom is calling saying she hasn’t heard from her daughter in months, and has anyone seen her, but no they haven’t.

Murphy keeps stereoscopic photos in his I Stand Alone VHS box – self-reference much?

Taxi Driver?

Freaks, Taxi Driver:

Katy saw a single frame of this movie, on pause, and said it “doesn’t look very nice.” Not as stylized as I expected, really an actor’s showcase (and they’re fine, but the English dialogue needs work), though there’s some cool fake-sounding mixing in a couple of club scenes. I dig the music choices – “Maggot Brain” over the threesome.

B. Williams in Cinema Scope:

For a myriad of technological and social reasons, this current 3D wave is the first that’s been sustained long enough for us to get a stereoscopic porno that we have the opportunity to take somewhat seriously. If last year, with Adieu au langage, we were finally able to see 3D’s voice crack, Love might best be taken as its first date: a dumb, awkward, unseasoned, and horny experience that is best forgotten in the long term but serves as a logical and necessary step for now.

A semi-thriller, methodically structured with a non-ending, set at a cruisy gay nude beach. I didn’t love it as much as the Cinema Scope critics did.

Our shiftless hero is Frank, who spends an awful lot of time at the lake. Frank befriends Henri, a not-nude not-gay not-fit dude sitting off by himself every day, and looks for love among the others. Early on, Frank witnesses mustached Michel kill his boyfriend, spends the rest of the movie dating Michel and avoiding the local cops. Michel kills Henri and chases Frank at the end – you wonder if Frank got away, but you wonder if he wants to.

No music! Produced by Sylvie Pialat (wife of Maurice), picked up a couple of Cannes awards, film of the year according to Cahiers.

I watched it for the nudity but stayed for the choreography. After a while there are so many breasts you stop noticing them. Excellent behind-the-scenes doc of the preparation of a new season of Paris’s famous nude dancing show.

Antony does a song, making this the second nude-girls doc this year to feature his voice. Also a brief Michael Jackson clip. And lots of original songs, most of them quite bad, which makes it funnier that Ali, the bald creepy assistant director, is obsessed with them.

The three main talking heads: Ali sitting between creative director Philippe and shareholder rep Andree:

Funny: the dancers watch a tape of ballet bloopers to unwind backstage. A never-explained two-man disco tapdance routine takes place offstage. The movie opens with shadow puppets then a recording session of orgasm noises, which twice defeated my attempts to watch this quietly by myself while Katy and Maria were home.

Twin tapdancers:

Moonrise:

I’m sure Wiseman’s Juvenile Court and Domestic Violence and State Legislature are interesting and valueable, but I’ve never tried very hard to watch them. As soon as he made a film full of naked girls, I got interested. Let this be a lesson to all filmmakers everywhere.

M. Peranson:

The dancers’ bodies themselves are cinematic vehicles, either used to produce shadows on coloured backdrops, or as objects themselves onto which light and image is projected. Cinema in essence involves the projection of desire, and what Wiseman cleverly does in Crazy Horse is present desire, illustrate its operation and deconstruct it, with the technical rehearsals of the numbers showing the peculiar sweat and effort required to create this seamless illusion.