Sequelitis. Tyrannical band manager Vladimir returns from the wilderness claiming to be Moses, leads the group to Coney Island then to Siberia, stealing the nose of the Statue of Liberty along the way. Andre Wilms, star of Le Havre, plays an American agent on their tail trying to return the nose. Cowritten by two band members and featuring much of the gang from the first movie plus a Jarmusch cameo. Vladimir died of a heart attack the next year, so no more sequels, but there’s a concert film called Total Balalaika Show, which Hulu wouldn’t let me watch.
Watched a couple new Marker-related shorts,
and rewatched some older ones in shiny new copies.
Sunday in Peking (1956) in lovely high definition
Letter from Siberia (1957)
Forgot how amazing this one is.
Songs and animation and opera, owl-led advertisements and imaginary newsreels.
“Since you can never tell how a bear will react to a camera, we were offered the protection of an armed policeman. But since we’re much more frightened of policemen than we are of bears, we politely declined.”
The Irkutsk Dam, “sitting on its own reflection like a station in outer space”:
Le Chant du Styrene (1958, Alain Resnais)
Mostly shots of the factory, with few humans.
Forgot about the rhyming voiceover.
Broadway By Light (1958, William Klein)
From Marker’s intro: “Each evening, in the centre of New York, an artificial day rises. Its purpose is to announce spectacles, sell products, and the producers of these adverts would be amazed to know that the most fascinating spectacle, the most precious product made by them, is the very street transformed by their signs.” Klein shoots the lights of Broadway, scored by cartoon-jazz music that matches the editing and light movement. Wonderful, would like to put this and some Joris Ivens and Bert Haanstra shorts on an infinite loop in my office. Klein’s first film (I only knew his Mr. Freedom before), edited by Alain Resnais.
A Valparaiso (1963, Joris Ivens) from the 2008 restoration
Uses the sort of electronically-processed sound he’d be featuring in his next full-length film, Sans Soleil.
On a day when everyone is looking at a solar eclipse through special glasses, Marker watches the watchers instead. First half has live sound at a hippo sculpture park, then he switches to slow motion and electronic music and goes elsewhere (the zoo? there are owls).
Description of a Memory (2007, Dan Geva)
I didn’t rewatch my terrible-quality copy of Marker’s Description of a Struggle, but instead tried this doc, the second feature-length film I’ve seen this year made in response to a Chris Marker-related film. Geva shows the Marker film and stills to locals, asks about the people who appeared in the original. Reminds me of Marker’s friend Agnes Varda, her periodic returns to previous films through documentaries and shorts and DVD extras. Geva is investigating images and memories a la Marker and Varda, turning out a worthy follow-up to the original feature.
Of the happy kid riding a cart down a hilly street: “British policeman bashed his head with an iron rod. Gone a bit mad since.
“Noah Rosenfeld, who fulfilled his dream to become a chess champion.”
Far From Vietnam is out in HD. The Confession is also out, and includes the Arthur London short. Mémoires pour Simone still lacks subtitles, as do most of the 1969-1970 shorts. Oh, and it looks like new copies of Description of a Struggle and Blue Helmet just came out – will save those for another day.
Yes, Chris Marker Fest is off! Even though I’ll never actually finish it, it’s nice to begin.
Hour-long documentary of Marker’s travels in Siberia. Messes with the documentary format by incorporating cartoons, opera, lots of anthropomorphic animals, and Marker’s usual poetry and humorous narration.
Piss-poor picture quality on the copy I saw, but clearly a great movie. English spoken narration with subtitles in the opera parts.
References to cats and owls:
– talking owl wearing “I Hate Elvis” button
– from a plane, “silver birches look like owls’ tracks in the snow”
– “cars wend their way between the trains like cats playing hide and seek in a railway depot”
– song about a reindeer: “oh reindeer, sweet and just / friend of the birds and owls / they nest in your branches / happy he who has ideas in his head / happier still, he who has birds”
Made me wish I was in Siberia with the talking owls and leashed bears, the gold rush, the reindeer races, the underground laboratories, the frontier towns and endless birch forests. Funny, I think this is one of the early movies that Marker has disowned. I’ll take it if he doesn’t want it.
A fox yawning: