Opens with Etaix introducing the idea, explaining the sheer amount of film that was shot for this project, then being attacked by a giant flowing mass of unruly film stock. Unfortunately this turned out to be the best part.

The rest is an interview film, gauging the man on the street’s attitudes on sex and violence, entertainment and celebrity, TV and advertising, world events, personal relationships, and Pierre Etaix. Interviewees are French people on holiday, just after May ’68, which doesn’t really come up. He spends longer than necessary at some kind of open-mic festival. It’s all like the least interesting aspects of Chronicle of a Summer and À propos de Nice mixed together, with some fun/ironic editing, but not enough to make it worth sitting through all the amateur singing performances.

En levande själ (A Living Soul, 2014, Henry Moore Selder)

A living brain, with ear and eyeball, awakens in a fishtank and eventually succeeds in psychically communicating with its nurse Emma. Happy birthday to me – thanks, Trevor!

Based on a novel by a physician. Ypsilon and Emma and nearly everyone else in Sweden acted in the TV series The Bridge, and the briefly-appearing inkblot psychiatrist (the “ink” was on an ipad, nice touch) was in Fanny & Alexander.


Sarah Winchester, opéra fantôme (2016, Bertrand Bonello)

“Dance but don’t move. Do the solo in your head.”

Symphony and dance, spooky old drawings and accusing ghosts, and the story of Sarah, inheritor of the Winchester rifle fortune, who became a crazy recluse after losing her family. I liked this even more than Nocturama. Similarities include doom music, seclusion in abandoned buildings, mannequins, guilt.


The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer (1984, Quay Bros.)

A child visits Master Svankmajer, who removes the fluff and toys from the child’s head and teaches him stop-motion filmmaking. This makes a lot more sense than it did when I watched in the 1990’s, now that I know who Jan Svankmajer is. The cluster of mobile pins still reminds me of Edward Gorey (“Death and Distraction, said the Pins and Needles”)


Stille Nacht I, Dramolet (1988, Quay Bros.)

Extremely short and amazing, dollman watches as his spoon-world grows moldy with magnetized metal filings.


Stille Nacht II, Are We Still Married? (1992, Quay Bros.)

A motion-blur paddleball confounds a toe-stretching girl’s pet bunny


Stille Nacht III, Tales from Vienna Woods (1994, Quay Bros.)

Somebody died in 1892? Spinning smoke bullet, disembodied hand, hovering desk and extra-long spoon. I liked the His Name Is Alive song in the previous film – this one sounds like a buzzing TV from the next room.


Stille Nacht IV, Can’t Go Wrong Without You (1994, Quay Bros.)

The heroes of part two return, the tiptoe girl now quietly bleeding as the rabbit uses his antigravity powers to protect his eggs from a keyhole-peeping Death.


An Eastern Westerner (1920, Hal Roach)

At a hotel we saw this Harold Lloyd short on TCM, and since I watched it, I am duty-bound to put it on the blog somewhere, even though I was entirely focused on being aggravated about the picture being squished and don’t remember anything that happened in the movie itself. I guess it’s the one with the famous still of all the guns pointing at Harold’s head?


Three Monks (1982 Jingda Xu)

Short, flatheaded Red Monk, tall skinny Blue Monk, and fat Yellow Monk arrive separately at a mountaintop shrine and spend their days guzzling water and trying to make the other monk(s) bring up more water from the lake. Eventually they’re all angry, and are stealing water from the shrine’s flowerpot, when a mouse almost burns the place down and they have to cooperate to bring up plenty of water in a hurry. The catchy tunes and musical-instrument sound effects were the best part.


Feeling Good (2010, Pierre Etaix)

A 1965 outtake scene from As Long As You’ve Got Your Health. Etaix goes camping with a campfire and electric coffee pot. Confusion and bad coffee ensues. Then he’s in a military tent camp and I get lost as to what’s happening, because between bird songs and people whistling and blowing whistles, my birds got quite agitated.


Pas a Deux (1988 Renault & Van Dijk)

A couple is dancing, looks maybe like rotoscoped with colored pencil, then he transforms into Popeye the Sailor complete with voice clip, then they each transform (pretty seamlessly) into different famous characters. Cool effect, but feels like they’re just screwing around. Katy called it a precursor to Logorama.

Made by a couple of Dutch animators. Gerrit’s final film was based on a Burroughs story and featured the voice of Rutger Hauer. Monique has a whole bunch of films on vimeo


The Northleach Horror (2016, David Cairns)

Apocalyptic story of a mad scientist doing Frankenstein experiments in an underground bunker, the movie casually killing off characters (and resurrecting them) for laughs. I meant to watch this again and note character names, but my link has gone dead. Fun while it lasted. From the creator of the also-great Cry For Bobo.


Seances: The Disputed Honours (May 31, 2016)

Some familiar footage from The Forbidden Room, with changes. When Jacques Nolot is hired as a gardener, does he usually steal a magnifying glass? Whole new sequence with a man retrieving a key while two women (Camille and her sister?) cower in the night, only to be sucked into a vortex. Color and tinting changes mid-shot. All new intertitles! “O to quench the thirst of my wheat with the blood of slain mail coachmen.”

I wanted to watch When The Broken Toilets Cry but didn’t figure out the website in time. Can’t tell what to make of interruptions like the one below. It looked like typical streaming glitching at first until I realized the shots emerging through the glitch aren’t part of the scene I’m in.

And since I have nowhere else to mention these, I also watched and enjoyed a pile of Netflix’s comedy specials from this year… Joe Mande… Amy Schumer’s The Leather Special (all the fat jokes and poop stories get old, but I admit I laughed at ’em)… Sarah Silverman (more poop stories)… Louis CK “2017” (this has now replaced my memory of his Omaha show – I should’ve taken notes after each)… Dave Chappelle’s Spin and Texas specials (some bits set off my political-correctness alarm, but they’re perfectly constructed/paced hours)… Norm MacDonald’s Hitler’s Dog… three we burned for the drive to Atlanta: Trevor Noah (who we also saw in person a few weeks ago), Hari Kondabolu “Mainstream American Comic”, and the great Hasan Minhaj… and probably a couple I’m forgetting.

Another sheer delight from Etaix, who is now officially one of my favorite comedians. Pierre feels smothered by his marriage to Florence (Annie Fratellini, a former circus clown who married Etaix the year this came out), working at his in-laws’ company, living in their house, decides to have an affair with his secretary (Nicole Calfan, a sexy maid in The Three Musketeers), pushed by his pro-cheating friend Jacques. Etaix is so even-tempered that despite the movie’s flights of fancy, he seems less driven to the affair out of desperation or uncontrollably lusting after the secretary than coolly determining that this is the proper course of action and plotting how it should happen.

Fascinating that Etaix shared a co-screenwriter with Bunuel. This is his most Bunuelian movie yet – also his first film in color, shot by Jean Boffety (Thieves Like Us, Je t’aime, je t’aime).

V. Rizov:

The big dream sequence — Étaix in a bed cruising along country roads like a car, past many others, past comic vignettes of chastely-pajama’d bedroom conflicts — stops when he spies secretary Agnès (Nicole Calfan, such stunning, undeniable 20something bait in her nightgown that rare, audible jaws dropping and whistles were heard at the Film Forum). She later subjectively views him, during an awkwardly-arranged dinner, as an old man with long whiskers droning on about business, a startling POV shift all the more impactful for being a one-off. My admiration’s held back by an ending that doesn’t seem nearly despairing enough, but that may be a personal problem.

D. Ehrlich: “It’s no Yoyo, but what a tragic standard against which to hold other films.”

Another great one by Etaix. The first section, set in 1925, has no spoken dialogue (and for the first 20 minutes, not even an intertitle). Pierre is super-rich, super-bored, lounging in his mansion pining after a lost love. He finds her (and their clown son) at a traveling circus, which finally moves on without him.

A few years later, “the talkies were born” and the stock market crashed. With a wrecked, empty house and no servants left, he contemplates suicide but opts to run off in search of his family instead.

“Ten happy years passed, and Yoyo the little acrobat became the famous Yoyo the Clown.”

Mouseover to see what happened next:
image

Post-war, Yoyo (now played by Etaix) returns to renovate the family mansion.

An utter triumph, with all the sentiment, sight-gags and circus-love of Chaplin and Tati.

Etaix is a young shut-in astronomy obsessive. Thanks to an earplugs gag, he barely hears his dad’s speech about how the son should go find a wife, but takes it to heart anyway, immediately tearing down his star maps and proposing to Ilka the Swedish au pair. She can’t understand him, so he goes out, watches how other men meet and deal with women and attempts to imitate them, getting caught up with a vivacious neighbor, mooning after a singing star, then finally returning to the au pair. It all hangs together pretty well, not as constantly funny as As Long As You’ve Got Your Health, but pretty excellent for a first feature, a graceful comedy full of cinematic framing gags as well as standard behavioral humor.

Ruka/The Hand (1965, Jiri Trnka)

Potter just wants to make pots and keep his little plant alive, but a fascist hand keeps intruding wanting him to sculpt fascist hands instead. Potter is kidnapped by the hand and forced to create hand progaganda but escapes only to die back at home. Banned in his home country of Czechoslovakia, naturally. Trnka’s final film – I will have to find more.

Johann Mouse (1952, Hanna & Barbera)

Jerry is a mouse in Strauss’s house who waltzes uncontrollably when the master is playing. The cat learns to play in order to set a trap, but the two are discovered and are invited to perform for the king. Cute enough, but I don’t know about oscar-winning. It beat a not-too-great Tex Avery, two from UPA and one from Canada, the same year McLaren’s Neighbours won best documentary (!?) short. Hans Conreid narrated.

Magoo’s Puddle Jumper (1956, Pete Burness)

Blind Magoo buys an electric car (!) and drives it into the ocean. Somehow his idiot son Waldo survived the bear short and tags along. People must’ve thought Jim Backus was hilarious. All three oscar nominees were UPA productions, so producer Stephen Bosustow could not have lost.

The Nightmare of Melies (1988, Pierre Etaix)

A fun Melies tribute incorporating the earliest cinema techniques, scenes from King Kong, an alka-seltzer commercial and late-80’s computer animation.

D. Cairns for The Forgotten:

Etaix additions to the source script make Méliès a prophet of the whole history of film, from the greatest special effects film of golden age Hollywood, up to the computerized visions of the present day (1988), and taking in the true nightmare of the television commercial. I love how the ad breaks in, hideously colorful and cheery, disrupting what is already a rather stylistically disparate piece .. almost to the point of disintegration.

Bimbo’s Initiation (1931, Dave Fleischer)

Bimbo is kidnapped by a cult that keeps attacking him with sharp things and spanking instruments then asking if he wants to be a member. He always answers no until confronted with dog-eared Betty Boop who dribbles her ass like a basketball. Maltin called it Fleischer’s darkest work, and Jim Woodring reveres it, naturally.

Tord and Tord (2010, Niki Lindroth Von Bahr)

“I felt my need for coffee becoming more and more apparent.”

Clearly somebody watched Fantastic Mr. Fox and David Lynch’s Rabbits then imagined a meeting of these two worlds. Sort of a less-violent stop-motion Fight Club, as a fox named Tord finds out his next-door neighbor is also named Tord, so they start hanging out and exchanging coded messages, until rabbit-Tord disappears and may not have ever existed.

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (2005, Anthony Lucas)

Cool silhouette animation, watched with Katy. Narrator/Jasper (Joel Edgerton, villain of Gatsby) is a disgraced navigator in an airship-steampunk future, whose ship stumbles across deadly creatures whose blood can cure the plague affecting Jasper’s home planet (and more specifically, his wife). Sort of an Alien meets Little Shop of Horrors, with an unresolved ending.

Director Lucas followed this up with a 3-minute rabbit short and worked on new anthology film The Turning. Writer Mark Shirrefs does lots of Australian sci-fi television. The Australians gave this a best-short award, but Oscars picked The Moon and the Son and Baftas the great Fallen Art.

Bobby Yeah (2011, Robert Morgan)

The story of a murderous kidnapper with a predilection for pushing red buttons. Possibly the most grotesque stop-motion movie ever – kudos to Morgan! Reminds of Symbol at times, with a confused-looking guy in a room pushing mysterious buttons with varying consequences, but this one also has elements of murder-spree crime drama, with much sexual imagery.

There’s something to this Etaix rediscovery after all. This is a disarmingly funny series of shorts cobbled together into a feature – I figured it’d make for a good Etaix intro. I’ve seen him as an actor recently in Le Havre, and he looks not entirely different 45 years earlier. Cowriter Jean-Claude Carriere also worked on Bunuel’s late films

DCairns: “Into a perfect, crisp frame steps a man who is as elegant and sharp as his own composition and who moves in rhythm with the film around him, every changing angle of his body a graphic/poetic statement. You may mistake his silhouette for another’s—but not when it moves. And movement is his art form.”

Insomnia
In color, Etaix stays awake reading a vampire novel, seen in b/w episodes, as his wife sleeps next to him. The stories start to affect each other, culminating in the wife becoming a vampire.

The Movies
1960’s version of the annoyances encountered when going out to the movies – things were difficult even before cell phones. This turns into an extended advertising parody.

As Long As You’ve Got Your Health
A wide view of bustling city life – “everyone’s nerves are constantly shot”. Crowds, traffic, noise, pollution, construction conspire to make living hell. It seems more apocalyptically negative now than it did while watching it.

Into The Woods No More
Sepia-toned segment where a hunter keeps annoying a farmer, who thinks a nearby picnicking couple is to blame for his troubles.