A pure info-dump doc – I took no pleasure in watching, though I instantly flagged the narrator as Jodie Foster. Very busy visuals, the audio chopped half to death. I noted one interview with especially yucky sound editing: Pamela Green… the movie’s own director! Just re-record! Motion graphics, desktop cinema stuff and zoom calls. I learned what I needed to know about Alice, anyway – she hired both Lois Weber and Louis Feuillade. She had her own studio until Edison’s patent racket drove the filmmaking world from NJ to CA. Studio fire, divorce, and investment problems all hit at once in 1918, ending her cinema career. Gotta give it up for the outstanding location scout sequence where they superimpose her films onto their present day locations, and good work weaving her post-career 1920s-40s correspondences with the filmmaker digging up a 1957 interview.

Then I attempted to enjoy some Alice Guy films…

Falling Leaves (1912)

String music by Tamar Muskal was far more engaging than the movie, a standard-looking drama with its one famous plot point, young girl tying leaves onto the trees after hearing her sister will be dead of consumption before the leaves have fallen. A passerby sees this behavior and announces the following.

Cupid and the Comet (1911)

A silly crossdressing comedy, everyone gesticulating wildly. The doc got its title from Alice Guy’s studio motto: “Be Natural” – but there’s none of that here.

The Consequences of Feminism (1906)

Comedy portraying a woke society where women hang out and drink and are sexual predators while the men iron and watch the children and make themselves pretty. Big modern music by Max Knoth, I liked it.

A Story Well Spun (1906)

Dude crawls into a barrel and a prankster pushes it downhill, causing much chaos. Later remade as 2000 Maniacs. Hope the editor got in trouble for leaving in those couple frames of the stagehand crouching behind the barrel.

On the Barricade (1907)

The barricade doesn’t hold for two seconds before the military run right over it and execute its constructors. Some kid who excitedly joined the battle claims he’s not a combatant, the soldiers let him go home, then he guiltily returns ands demands to be executed, but his mom protests and he’s spared a second time, how embarrassing. Somewhat shorter than the other movie I’ve seen about the Paris Commune.

Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma (2021, Topaz Jones & Rubberband)

Alphabet of sketches, like The ABCs of Death, but of Black culture in Montclair NJ. Each letter-sketch is a different approach, from wordless avant one-shots to interviews about reframing slavery, food apartheid, code switching, therapy or owning your own work, with home movies and music videos in between letter segments.

The Driver Is Red (2017, Randall Christopher)

Animated thriller about spy stuff in 1960 Argentina, self-drawing sketches upon papery background with unstable color, covered in faux film grain. Our narrator/hero has tracked and identified Adolf Eichmann, then takes the time to explain some details of the holocaust, in case we haven’t heard. Back to 1960, he calls in his mates and they successfully abduct the guy and bring him to trial, back when Isr**l had a sense of proportion.

A Short Story (2022, Bi Gan)

This whimsical fantasy AFX-composited sci-fi short incongruously proves that the director of An Elephant Sitting Still had a shot of helming a marvel movie. I guess a cat dresses as a scarecrow and visits three “weirdo” beings who might have some precious thing he can give a girl for her birthday.

The Rifleman (2021, Sierra Pettengill)

The guy who shot Ramon Casiano later became head of the NRA, mutating the group’s mission from hobbyist sports towards political lobbying. The Drive-By Truckers song is better than this movie (archival footage with strange music), but both are enlightening.

Rubber Coated Steel (2016, Lawrence Abu Hamdan)

An Isr**li bodyguard killed two kids in the W*st B*nk, and a forensic audio analyst (the director himself, if I didn’t misunderstand the credits) explains in court how it was done. Visual is a long take, roving around a shooting range, the mechanical target holders bringing forth pictoral representations of bullet sounds. For a movie about sound, the audio track is pretty useless – words from the trial are subtitled, including lines stricken from the official record, then the end credits are spoken.

Goodbye Jerome! (2022, Farr/Selnet/Sillard)

Jerome goes to heaven to find his true love, she breaks up with him, so he suicides and is rebuilt by ants. Really nice animation.

Anticipating a new wave of Beatlemania on twitter when Get Back dropped, I watched this in early Nov. I always catch a new Yo La Tengo reference when I watch a Beatles movie – last time was in Help!, dreaming ’bout Eleanor Bron, seeing her in the arms of Paul saying “I can say no more.” This one’s got a cameo by New York DJ Murray the K, who must be the inspiration for Ira’s DJ name.

Three girls and two boys experiencing different levels of Beatlemania in Maplewood NJ drive into the city to crash the Beatles’ Ed Sullivan Show appearance in NYC. No actual Beatle involvement, just stand-ins, glimped from below or behind with impersonator accents. Silly idea for a movie, pulled off wonderfully, an ensemble piece with an ever-growing ensemble, an awful lot of Beatles songs and a woozy happy ending.

L-R: Pam, Janice, Grace, Rosie

Rosie’s the emphatic one who wills the trip into action (Wendie Jo Sperber, Marty’s sister in Back to the Future), Pam is her bestie who plans to elope with her boy tomorrow (Nancy Allen’s followup to Carrie), then there’s Photographer Grace (Pesci’s wife in Raging Bull) and Protester Janice (Susan “daughter of Paul” Newman). Tony is basically a stowaway, out to cause trouble (Bobby Di Cicco of The Big Red One). Larry’s the Cameron-in-Ferris-Bueller of the gang (Marc McClure, aka Jimmy Olsen in Superman), borrowing his undertaker dad’s limo to get them all close to the hotel.

The theater has posters for Wild Strawberries and The Cranes are Flying:

In charge of security on the Beatles floor is Dick Miller – Pam gets by him inside a drink cart and spends quality time with the bands’ instruments while they’re out. Grace and Larry fail to raise cash by selling scraps of Beatle bedsheets, then she tries being a call girl but settles for extortionist instead. Janice and Tony befriend a mophead kid whose dad has tickets but will only give them up if the kid gets a haircut. And Rosie capers with a Beatlemaniac nerd called Ringo (Eddie Deezen of Grease the same year).

Miller grabs Grace:

Spends a lot of time setting up cool characters – overweight aspiring street rapper Patti, her 80’s metalhead mom turned karaoke queen, Patti’s co-rapper drugstore clerk Jheri, and loner weirdo electronic music wizard Basterd… then culminates in an electronic 80’s-metal rap-battle. Gotta admit the Feel-Good Sundance Sensation spirit got to me, though I do keep wondering how Basterd affords all that equipment and why it doesn’t get stolen when his doors don’t seem to lock. A New Jersey movie! Danielle Macdonald (Patti) can currently be seen in Lady Bird, her mom (actual karaoke queen Bridget Everett) is from Inside Amy Schumer and Trainwreck, and Mamoudou Athie (Basterd) played Grandmaster Flash in The Get Down.

A lovely little movie, spanning a week in the life of Paterson bus driver Paterson (Adam Driver), who lives with quirky, fashionable Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly, Chicken With Plums, Shirin) and a bulldog (deserved Palm Dog winner).

William Harper (The Good Place) stalking Chasten Harmon:

Paterson with poetry whisperer Masatoshi Nagase (Maiku Hama himself):

“He was a weaver… an anarchist weaver” – the Moonrise Kingdom kids discuss historical figures from Paterson NJ:

Richard Porton:

Paterson is now known to New Jerseyans, if they know anything about it at all, as a poor city, avoided by tourists and locals alike and plagued by gang warfare. Jarmusch’s non-naturalistic conception of Paterson … is instead a cinephilic haven with a cozy repertory cinema that enables the happy couple to attend a screening of Erle C. Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls … Despite a few minor skirmishes in the bar among soused patrons, Paterson and Laura’s soulful English bulldog named Marvin is responsible for the film’s only bona fide act of violence. Marvin’s almost unforgivable act of aggression suffuses the film with a genuine melancholy … Unlike Loach, with his penchant for didactic political fables, Jarmusch favours a more intimate critique of everyday life, as well as savouring the utopian possibilities that might emerge if we reject the inanities of our consumer society and, say, combine bus driving with poetry.

B. Ebiri:

There are many moments that, in other films, could presage the beginning of something more dramatic: a shouting match; an automotive failure; a random, puzzling encounter or two. But the film keeps its even keel. So maybe there are two sides to Jarmusch’s manifesto: Finding joy and beauty in the everyday is not just an aesthetic priority, he seems to suggest, but an existential imperative for the uneasy soul.

Watched for Cannes Month – of the movies I wanted to watch from last year’s fest, I’ve already seen 13, missed 7… 4 are opening soon, and 12 have dropped off the face of the earth (I don’t understand how film distribution works).

Dec 2021: Watched again with Katy – I love this movie even more now.