Laida Lertxundi:

We Had the Experience but Missed the Meaning (2014)

Two sections, each introduced with half of the film title. First, a woman waters the plants indoors, then waters herself, stepping clothed into the shower. Somebody speaks of wishing her friend Veronica was a real sister over a mild garden scene superimposed over ocean waves. Second, driving slowly through an alley, and projecting images onto the pages of a book.

Live to Live (2015)

A desert mountain pan. EKG reading of her own self, heartbeat synched to a Rushmore soundtrack song. High altitude mountain clouds over drone music. Self consciously showing the filmmaking elements, with light flares as film runs out, sync sound clapper, changing exposure. Ends with a minute of flashing red and blue color fields over atonal sounds (“a recording of an orgasm, which was then put through a synthesizer wave”), so basically the same ending as Lux Aeterna.

025 Sunset Red (2016)

The mountains are red, then they are not. Someone hums through a harmonica for ages. I dig the film-damaged wild-west segment over electric guitar, but of course I would. I take it from the red paint and faded photographs over a Neilyoungian tune that a politician in the 70’s was murdered? Fortunately no, the politician is her father, former head of the Communist party and still alive.

Words, Planets (2018)

Squeezing a lemon to death… hand-mutilating filmstrips in a cactus patch, then screening the mutilations. Gentle film scratches play over an old pop song. A love-entanglement logic problem is read aloud. The sound recordist begins to appear in the shots – she is into messing with sound and sync in her films. Constructed in response to a Raul Ruiz essay.

A Film Comment interview reveals she is from the Basque country in Spain, her professors were Peter Hutton and James Benning and Thom Andersen and Peggy Ahwesh, and she had a formative encounter with Hollis Frampton’s Lemon. Andrew Busti is in the credits of these movies – I’ve seen his name around – and We Had the Experience was made with Fern Silva, with thanks to Raya Martin. Starting to think that every filmmaker knows each other.

Akosua Adoma Owusu:

Intermittent Delight (2007)

Katy recommended this, said it recalled Jodie Mack. This adds split screens and jittering camera, and it splices in scenes of the production of the textiles instead of the production of the film, the whole thing intercut with classic American TV ads.

Tea 4 Two (2006)

Black girls with a white doll advertised as Beautiful Chrissy wear horrible white plaster Halloween masks and straighten their hair so they can be beautiful too. A letterboxd commenter points out the Fanon connection.

Boyant (2008)

Oh wow, someone wearing a Trash Humpers Michael Jordan mask spends a long time prepping to jump into a swimming pool, while the audio plays insane lock grooves leading up to God’s Gonna Trouble the Water.

Pelourinho: They Don’t Really Care About Us (2019)

Travel footage, with quotes from W.E.B. Dubois in the 1920’s about Brazil not allowing Black visitors into the country. Confirmed that the title is a Michael Jackson reference. Owusu keeps cutting to a film artifact, a color field with a single sprocket hole, which weirdly ties the whole thing together. Learned from Sicinski that Pelourinho was “ground zero for the African slave trade in Brazil,” and that it’s referencing current right-wing racism in Brazilian politics as well as the past.

Immediately after watching Milk, I unaccountably wanted to watch something else featuring Diego Luna, who was the worst part of Milk. Not necessarily his fault though, and he’s been great before (in Y Tu Mama Tambien and Criminal) so I thought I’d give him (and hated Nashvillian Harmony Korine) a second chance.


Here he’s a Michael Jackson impersonator who meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. She takes him to her commune retreat, staffed only by other celeb impersonators, including her abusive cheating husband Charlie Chaplin and their cute daughter Shirley Temple. Meanwhile in an entirely different movie, Werner Herzog is a priest who airdrops supplies to people in need. One of his nuns accidentally falls out of the plane and lands unharmed. A miracle is proclaimed, and all the nuns start skydiving without parachutes and landing unharmed.


And that is good enough for me. That storyline (provided it’s done well, which it is) combined with moments of euphoria (MJ’s dances with sfx but no music, the camerawork on the falling nuns) is good enough. Korine is redeemed, Luna rises above being the crazy, clingy boyfriend in Milk, lovely Samantha Morton is freed from the dour prison that was Synecdoce New York, and all is well.


Of course all is not well, exactly. Why does Werner annoyingly repeat everything he has just said? What is the connection between the nun bit and the impersonator bit? How come Michael is so easy around others and never seems all that lonely?


I enjoyed it and didn’t worry too much about the questions above. Katy only watched the first half, which was all setup, and missed most of the story. The commune’s sheep are sick and have to be killed (with shotguns by the Three Stooges) and after that everyone’s depressed. They pick themselves up and decide to hold a spectacular show, open to the public. After much prep, the show is just okay and only ten people show up. That night Marilyn is discovered having hung herself from a tree. Charlie is painfully distraught (it’s a great turn in an interesting performance by French actor Denis Lavant, looking rough, star of Lovers on the Bridge). Michael takes the bus home and tells his agent (Leos Carax, director of Lovers on the Bridge, hmmm) that he’s quitting the impersonator business and is going to be himself from now on (after he is sung an uplifting song by the ghostly heads of his commune buddies upon some painted eggs). Meanwhile, in the other movie, the nuns set off in Werner’s plane for the Vatican to get their miracle blessed by the church, and the plane crashes on a beach killing everyone, heh.

Leos Carax:

Movie is divided into four sections titled by MJ songs: “man in the mirror” (luna/michael)… “beat it” (leaving town for the commune)… “thriller” (drama and death)… and “you are not alone” (the finale). Very nice music by J. Spaceman and the Sun City Girls and camerawork by Michael Winterbottom’s reguar guy. Actors were good (and surprisingly not overdoing it), especially young Buckwheat, who may be a bit nuts. As The Pope and The Queen were James Fox and Anita Pallenberg, two stars of the movie Performance… interesting. And playing Samantha Morton’s daughter was actually Samantha Morton’s daughter.