Wedding photographer John and bartender Levi discover supernatural phenomenon in Levi’s apartment and shoot a documentary about it. Maybe his closet is a gateway to another dimension. Finding symbols and coincidences in Los Angeles, like Silver Lake or Lodge 49, but this time it’s not just one conspiracy/coincidence, it’s ALL of them.

“Why did you play yourselves in the recreations?” Feels pandemicky, the writers/directors playing the lead roles, set in an apartment. As they start to mistrust each other, doc interviewees cast doubts on the histories and findings, and the movie we’re watching itself, speaking of visual effects tests to create the floating crystals and stuff. But it ends – in typical Benson/Moorhead fashion – with a possible callback to a previous film (someone falling inexplicably from a great height).

Weirder and more pathological than expected. Yes I’ve seen In Bruges, but that starts out in a violent context while this is about gentle island people in 1923. We get a hell of a character from Brendan Gleeson, who abruptly wants to be left alone to write fiddle tunes, showing he’s serious by psychotically mutilating himself until he can’t play anymore. We get a sick payoff to Barry Keoghan finding a stick with a hook (“What would you use it for, I wonder… to hook things that were the length of a stick away?”), the loss of a great donkey, a shitty cop, some terrible loneliness, and a nearby civil war nobody seems to comprehend.

Mostly set in Berlin. Lydia’s former protege Krista has killed herself and “grooming” accusations have been made, wife Sharon is leaving and taking their kid, new cellist Olga might live in a crumbling ghetto or be a ghost. This joins Nope as a movie less satisfying in the moment than thinking about afterwards (and I’ll bet Nope would be more fun to rewatch). Really enjoyed the Dan Kois article in Slate. Shout out to Caroline Shaw!

Digging back into the revised edition of Film as a Subversive Art for some shorts on the destruction of time and space. “No other art can so instantaneously and so completely expand, reverse, skip, condense, telescope, or stop time, or so suddenly change locale, abolish or accent perspective or distance, transform appearances or proportions of objects, or simultaneously exhibit spatially or temporally distinct events.”


The House (1961, Louis van Gasteren)

Good stuff – a couple of family generations live in a house with a stuffed owl until the nazis take over. Love affairs, birth and death, the editing jumping between timeframes, including the house’s present-day demolition. Orchestral score, very little spoken dialogue. As a confirmed Resnais nut, this kind of thing is up my alley. Vogel: “There is no looking back, since time never exists as a fixed point; everything is now.”

A Dutch movie – one of the cinematographers also shot Vogel-approved The Reality of Karel Appel, and later, Daughters of Darkness.


London to Brighton in Four Minutes (1952, Donald Smith)

Trick/stunt film, just a time-lapse train voyage, taking us “faster than sound” with normal little bookend segments.


Power of Plants (1949, Paul Moss & Thelma Schnee)

Awful educational-film acting, but watching time-lapsed tendril vines move around is cool. This was a segment of a series hosted by talk-show scientist John Kieran. The married directors also wrote an Alec Guinness detective-priest movie. “A magical film” – Vogel really loved time-lapse, but there’s not much point in taking stills from these, since the magic is in the motion.


Renaissance (1964, Walerian Borowczyk)

Excellent stop-motion. Walerian makes a still-life scene of fruit, musical instrument, furniture, doll, and stuffed owl (tying this film nicely to the stuffed owl in The House), violently destroys it all, then re-creates the scene using stop-motion in reverse. This was completed halfway between Boro’s moving to France after the Jan Lenica collaborations, and his first feature film (Goto in 1968).

Fascinating alternate take on the Krafft legacy, with the same footage but a different focus from Fire of Love. That one’s story goes that their volcano research and publicity saved lives, while Herzog opens by saying they’ve been criticized for convincing others to move closer to the same eruption that caused their deaths. FoL tries to get inside their relationship, Herzog compliments the technical excellence of their filmmaking and photography while showcasing the destructive forces of nature. The Ernst Reijseger requiem music perhaps goes too big, but Herzog’s fourth(?) volcano movie is predictably great.

Failed folk musician goes decades without realizing his records became a bootleg sensation in South Africa, flies there for massive concerts then returns to his humble Detroit life. “It remains too strange to be true.” Archive footage, some of it just vintage mood stuff, bit of rotoscoping, some fun jump cuts. Repetition or rambling in the interviews is preferable to the dodgy dialogue editing we usually get in these things. This won an oscar (vs. three govt/military stories and an AIDS activism doc) and Rodriguez has now played a bunch of live shows, for which he hopefully got paid, since he’s getting nothing from the oscars or those album sales.

“There are radicalized Muslims in my living room.” Jean-Charles Clichet is a dumpy jogger who convinces a prostitute to sleep with him for free, and also delicately balances helping out a homeless kid with trying to get him arrested. Clichet’s secret power: he’s a Linux Guy. Not as warmhearted as Le Havre, but it’s another French movie about community circling around an immigrant visitor, feeling somewhat like a state-of-the-nation film – with wonderful and bizarre moments, as would be expected from the follow-up to Staying Vertical.

Vincent Lindon was in prison, his son Marcus is maybe in trouble, but Vincent doesn’t like to talk about personal matters ever. Juliette Binoche has somehow been with this short-tempered cipher for years, and now she starts getting weird about her ex Gregoire Colin, who offers Vincent a job. Also with Bulle Ogier as one of their moms and Mati Diop as a pharmacist, this should all be great based on cast and crew, but it feels unfinished, full of long vague conversations.

Favorite shorts watched this year (chronological):

1. Rose Gold and Red Film (Sara Cwynar)
2. Les Escargots (1965, Rene Laloux)
3. The Human Voice (2020, Pedro Almodóvar)
4. By Pain and Rhyme and Arabesques of Foraging (2013, David Gatten)
5. Labor of Love (2020, Sylvia Schedelbauer)
6. Voyage d’une Main (1985, Raoul Ruiz)
7. On Memory (2021, Don Hertzfeldt)
8. O Black Hole! (2020, Renee Zhan)
9. Peter & the Wolf (2006, Suzie Templeton)
10. Kiev Frescos and Earthearthearth
11. True/False shorts In Flow of Words and Last Days of August
12. The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (1970, Les Blank)
13. A La Mode and Science Friction (Stan Vanderbeek)
14. Owl (2019, Kelly Reichardt & Christopher Blauvelt)
15. Something to Remember (2019, Niki Lindroth Von Bahr)
16. Saturday and Strife of Love in a Dream and Grosse Fatigue (Camille Henrot)
17. Who Killed Cock Robin? and The Brave Little Tailor and The Band Concert
18. Wasteland series and Hoarders Without Borders (Jodie Mack)
19. Ride Like Lightning, Crash Like Thunder (2017, Fern Silva)
20. Messages 1-5 (2021, Pat O’Neill)
21. These Hammers Don’t Hurt Us and Polycephaly in D (Michael Robinson)
22. The Newest Olds (2022, Pablo Mazzolo)
23. Scaffold and Indefinite Pitch
24. Cilaos and La Bouche (Camilo Restrepo)
25. Notebook and Lights (Marie Menken)


Favorite TV watched this year:

The Rehearsal
How To with John Wilson season 2
Kids in the Hall season 6
Irma Vep
Cabinet of Curiosities (1) (2)
Travel Man season 1