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The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena), 1973 (Trailer)

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Indagación lírica en las entrañas de un tiempo amordazado, atrapado entre la desolación y la derrota, y exploración a la vez de los paisajes interiores del mito (organizada sobre imágenes primordiales, desligadas de toda servidumbre explicativa o psicológica), la narración arranca de una mirada infantil capturada por unas imágenes primitivas. Y su itinerario nos propone, simultáneamente, la inmersión en el sueño para escapar del mundo real, el triunfo del imaginario sobre una realidad devastada, que no es otra sino la de aquella dolorosa posguerra española que sume en el silencio emocional y en el exilio interior a los habitantes de la colmena.

Era la primera vez, en la historia de nuestro cine, que un guerrillero, un maqui, aparecía contemplado desde la óptica de los perdedores y con una mirada solidaria. Faltaban un par de años aún para que la figura del combatiente antifranquista conquistara finalmente la palabra de la que aquí carece, todavía, ese personaje episódico – pero de tanta significación – que irrumpe en la vida de Ana como trasunto terrenal del fantasma que, en ese momento, se corporiza para ella y también para una cinematografía que, con la aparición de El espíritu de la colmena, empieza a ajustar cuentas no sólo con la memoria histórica secuestrada por el franquismo (corría la fecha de 1973 y el dictador no se había muerto aún), sino también con las pautas de una modernidad cinematográfica que llegaba a España con retraso. (…)
Carlos F. HEREDERO
http://www.elcultural.es/HTML/20040122/Cine/CINE8704.asp

Public domain collection of film noir at Archive.org

It turns out that Archive.org has a collection of 43 film noir titles.

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Archive.org’s Welcome to Film Noir: expressionistic crime dramas of the 40s and 50s: tough cops and private eyes, femme fatales, mean city streets and deserted backroads, bags of loot and dirty double-crossers.

It turns out that Archive.org has a collection of 43 film noir titles. If you’ve seen any of them, I’d appreciate it if you added your recommendations in the comments.
Archive.org’s Welcome to Film Noir: expressionistic crime dramas of the 40s and 50s: tough cops and private eyes, femme fatales, mean city streets and deserted backroads, bags of loot and dirty double-crossers.

Dormitorium

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Today is your last day to see Dormitorium, an exhibition of interior sets from films by the Brothers Quay, on display now at Parsons in New York City. Dormitorium, we read, “explores the macabre fantasy world of twin brothers Stephen and Timothy Quay through the highly detailed miniature sets of their influential stop-motion animations.”

The dean of academic programs at Parsons adds:

    This exhibition gives our students an opportunity to see how the Quay brothers create intricate fantasy worlds, from set design to finished film through their compelling engagement with literature, their command of sound and lighting design, their uncanny use of focus, color and texture, as well as their mastery of digital editing processes.

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Abandon Normal Devices

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Abandon Normal Devices’ (AND) is a new biennial of ‘new cinema and digital culture’ that was launched in Liverpool last week. It’s a quirky affair – a sort of film festival with bonus exhibitions (or vice-versa, depending on your bias). Highlights that floated my boat included a new commissioned work by Thai maestro Apichatpong Weerasethakul at the Foundation for Art and Technology (FACT), an exhibition by British filmmaker Duane Hopkins at the Open Eye Gallery, and a one-off performance lecture by Carolee Schneemann at Tate Liverpool.

So why ‘Abandon Normal Devices’? Kate Taylor, the festival’s director tells me the exhibition’s title is a reference to Brian Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’: a set of cards invented by Eno as a resource for breaking deadlocks during the working process. ‘AND’, it seems, is seeking a way forward as celluloid cinema gives way to digital cinema (peer-to-peer file sharing, movie players on mobile phones), and the whole ‘post-cinema’ condition. Exciting stuff. Taylor notes – with confident optimism – in the festival guidebook: ‘this is just the start’.

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Bathing Beauty

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Since My Architect, interest in Louis Kahn’s work has grown exponentially, and many of his lesser-known buildings have received greater care. Among the most endangered was the Trenton Bath House in Ewing, New Jersey. Though it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, it’s future was uncertain until 2007 when the Township of Ewing and Mercer County, NJ acquired the property and agreed to restore it, a process you can now follow on a new website.

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How ‘The Big Lebowski’ became a cultural touchstone and the impetus for festivals across the country

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So there’s this guy named the Dude, and some dudes break into his apartment and pee on his rug, so the Dude, an LA burnout whose real name is Jeffrey Lebowski, goes to find the other Jeffrey Lebowski, a rich guy the intruder dudes were actually looking for, so he can get him to replace the soiled rug, which totally tied the room together.

That’s the basic premise of “The Big Lebowski,’’ the Coen Brothers’ 1998 stoner caper, which also involves bowling, nihilism, a kidnapping, and many, many White Russians – a cocktail whose parts combine more cogently than the film’s plot points.

To the uninitiated, “The Big Lebowski’’ probably doesn’t sound like the sort of cinematic watershed that would translate to an enduring cultural phenomenon. But the movie has become just that. And we’re not talking about action figures and keychains, although they’re yours for the ordering.

The film – which was released to mixed reviews and spent all of six weeks in theaters, barely recouping its $15 million budget – has spawned a vibrant subculture that draws both scholars and slackers to the fold.

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Gaza we are Coming

A moving docu-thriller.

In August 2008, two wooden Greek ships laden with 44 activists from 17 different countries managed something no other vessel had in 41 years and broke the marine blockade that Israel has unilaterally imposed in Gaza, in contravention of international law.

The mission was the brainchild of the Free Gaza Movement, founded in 2006, who realised that the only realistic way of breaking through the blockade was via the sea.

However the project was fraught with delays and risks from the outset and in the words of Paul Larudee from the group: “This project died a thousand deaths and every time it was about to die someone, somebody new, stepped forward to save the project.”

The last such person was Vangelis Pissias, a Greek who was touched by the Palestinian issue during his youth in Egypt and provided the boats for the group to undertake the mission to Gaza.

All involved were aware of the perilous nature of the mission. Previous attempts have been thwarted and boats even exploded. Activists have also been found dead in suspicious circumstances.

Gaza, We Are Coming, is a special documentary that charts the history of the project to break the blockade of Gaza by sea.

It explores the motives of those involved including the ordinary Greeks who volunteered to participate in this dangerous but successful operation.

It also recounts how the boats were built secretly in Greek shipyards, the logistics involved, the attempts to thwart the mission and why it was laden with such historical importance and pressure to succeed.

Antonioni’s The Passenger as Lacanian Text

Old but relevant.

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In Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1975 film The Passenger, the main character, David Locke,[1] portrayed by Jack Nicholson, impulsively “trades in” his own life for that of another man who resembles him and who dies in an adjacent hotel room in Africa. Locke is attempting to escape the painful prison of his own life and enter the realms of possibility and enticing mystery represented by the life of another; in other words, he is trying to create reality from a common fantasy. He is trying to rewrite the narrative of his life, and he is hoping to “become” someone else, just as many moviegoers do vicariously while in the theater. Unfortunately he lies to himself and ignores the fact that any s uch trade, outside the seemingly magical environment of the cinema, is going to include the sometimes startling sensations associated not only with risk and change but with a different perspective, based on the history of the life one is stepping into; his escapism is also analogous to suicide, a rejection of one’s own history and possibilities. Locke’s story shows that lying to oneself by trying to live in what Jacques Lacan referred to as the Imaginary (a fantasy world) is even more perilous and self-d estructive than lying to others.

According to Antonioni, “The greatest danger for those working in cinema is the extraordinary possibilities it offers for lying” (in Samuels 31). In The Passenger, Rachel Locke asks her husband, David, a reporter (the film was originally titled “The Reporter”), why he did not point out that the president of an African nation was obviously lying during an interview. He replies, “Because those are the rules.” It is precisely because Antonioni himself breaks the rules of cinematic tradition and “grammar,” and because of the artful way he does so that The Passenger unmistakably achieves a “vision of the real,” not only in novelist/philosopher Iris Murdoch’s terms but in Lacan’s. In the process, the film does something even more important. Normally “the cinema . . . confines the spectator in an illusory identity, by a play of self-images” (Elsaesser 43); the film frame acts as a mirror wherein the viewer sees himself through some type of identification, usually with a character. By continually frustrating identification, Antonioni saves the audience from immersing themselves in the same type of “Imaginary plenitude” that ultimately proves fatal for Locke, and through the use of eccentric camera angles and unusual editing, Antonioni also demonstrates the possibility of new, healthier ways of seeing and living.

The film works as a powerful psychological allegory that fits the framework of Lacan’s primary matrix (Imaginary, Symbolic, Real) and even seems to be based on such a pattern, with Locke representing the Imaginary; his wife, Rachel, and his producer, Martin Knight, the Symbolic; and the Girl standing for the Real.[2] There are also three mirrors featured prominently in the film, each one a Lacanian text within the text. ()

Dream and Delirium

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“Fitzcarraldo” — which Herzog did indeed finish — has endured long and well in the hearts not only of movie lovers but of connoisseurs of production disasters, partly because the film itself seems to mirror the story of its making. It’s a half masterpiece, half folly about a gesture both grand and grandiose — an attempt by a would-be impresario (Kinski) to build an opera house in the wilds of Peru, a venue he imagines might someday showcase Enrico Caruso. This desire necessitates the deployment of hundreds of Indians to haul an immense ship up a steep mountain ridge, a Sisy­phean metaphor that’s no less effective for being so explicit.

The movie and its making are both fables of daft aspiration, investigations of the blurry border between having a dream and losing one’s mind. So it’s no surprise that in some ways, the back story has lingered longer than the story. The trials of “Fitzcarraldo” have already been the subject of one superb documentary, Les Blank’s “Burden of Dreams,” and a book by the same name (edited by Blank and James Bogan). And Herzog himself returned to analyze his combustible relationship with his leading man — “Every gray hair on my head I call Kinski” — in his 1999 documentary, “My Best Fiend.”

To those fragments of illumination we can now add “Conquest of the Useless,” a compilation of Herzog’s journals from June 1979 to November 1981, translated by Krishna Winston. (It was first published in Germany in 2004.)

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(For Rino =)