Shirley made Butterfly with her daughter Wendy for an anti-Vietnam War protest event held in New York City in 1967; it is one of the last films she made before she began working with video in 1968. The film was screened as part of the Week of the Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam which Shirley helped organize at the NYU Loeb Student Center; Wendy remembers it being screened at the Elgin Theatre sometime in 1967 so it was shown once for sure—possibly twice but not more than that—it is a film that is virtually unknown and is not included on any filmography for Shirley. The theme of the movie was that war kills and threatens to wipe out families, creativity, and life. In the film, Shirley and Wendy are seen separately and together with Shirley holding and rocking Wendy; their images often overlap. Wendy drew, scratched and hand-painted butterflies and used Clorox directly on the film to create a cascade of colors. The soundtrack is comprised of the alternating sounds of a baby crying, machine gun fire, and Brahm’s Lullaby sung by Shirley’s niece Liza Lorwin. Continue reading
In 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle), Jean-Luc Godard beckons us ever closer, whispering in our ears as narrator. About what? Money, sex, fashion, the city, love, language, war: in a word, everything. Among the legendary French filmmaker’s finest achievements, the film takes as its ostensible subject the daily life of Juliette Janson (Marina Vlady), a housewife from the Paris suburbs who prostitutes herself for extra money. Yet this is only a template for Godard to spin off into provocative philosophical tangents and gorgeous images. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her is perhaps Godard’s most revelatory look at consumer culture, shot in ravishing widescreen color by Raoul Coutard. (Criterion) Continue reading
“Her name is Jo Armitage, and at the beginning of the movie she’s wandering aimlessly around her comfortable London house, dressed to go shopping but too moody and distracted to make it out the door. Flashbacks reveal some of her history. Years earlier she lived in a ramshackle barn with her second husband, a violinist named Giles, and their five rambunctious children. One day Giles invited his friend Jake to visit, and amid all the tumult in the crowded, noisy home, Jo and Jake fell instantly in love. Typically for the film, which moves at a leisurely pace but doesn’t waste a moment on unnecessary material, we skip over the dissolution of Jo’s marriage to Giles and pick up her story as she and Jake get ready to tie the knot. Jake is a screenwriter trying to establish his career, and while he’s obviously crazy about Jo, it’s not clear he’s equipped to handle the five energetic kids who come along with her. Sure enough, he starts finding reasons for working away from home, and when a friend-of-a-friend named Philpot needs a place to stay, Jake not only lets her move in but has an affair with her. Jo grows so depressed that when she finally does go shopping on that gloomy day, she breaks down in the middle of a posh department store and winds up in a mental hospital. Continue reading
Three poor young university student dropouts, with hardly any money left, hang around and decide to move to countryside Aomori where they stay at one of the boys small appartment. As they wander around the beach they spot a young couple and decide to rape the girl. They all feel rejected by society and try to get out of their state. One of the boys eventually gets a hold of a gun and commits suicide, while the other accidentally finds a gun and shoots at a policeman. The story was probably inspired by the figure of Norio Nagayama, a 19 year old serial killer who was convicted of killing 4 people in a cross-country murder spree in 1968 (see Masao Adachi’s movie AKA Serial Killer which is about this figure). Continue reading
Kidnappings, murders and gang war for the control of a drug traffic…
There’s really a unique touch in those early Bénazéraf movies. You’re a bit somewhere between thriller, exploitation and Nouvelle Vague…
As I understood, the version released in the US already on the site is severely cut and suffers from a ludicrous English dubbing. The movie certainly deserves better than that… Continue reading
Jack Clayton’s celebrated screen adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898) is a brilliant exercise in psychological horror. Impressionable and repressed governess Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) agrees to tutor two orphaned children, Miles and Flora. On arrival at Bly House, she becomes convinced that the children are possessed by the perverse spirits of former governess Miss Jessel and her Heathcliffe-like lover Quint (Peter Wyngarde), who both met with mysterious deaths.
The film’s sinister atmosphere is carefully created – not through shock tactics, but through its cinematography, soundtrack, and decor: Freddie Francis’ beautiful CinemaScope photography, with its eerily indistinct long shots and mysterious manifestations at the edges of the frame; an evocative and spooky soundtrack; and the grand yet decaying Bly House.
Deborah Kerr gives the performance of her career and makes The Innocents an intensely unsettling experience. Are the ghosts the products of Miss Giddens’s fevered imagination and emotional immaturity, or a displacement of her shock at the sexually precocious behaviour of ten-year-old Miles? Is she the protector or the corrupter? Continue reading
Tormented by twisted desires, a young man takes drastic measures to rid his grotesquely dysfunctional family of its various afflictions in this astonishing 1965 debut from Marco Bellocchio. Charged by a coolly assured style, shocking perversity, and savage gallows humor, Fists in the Pocket (I pugni in tasca) was a gleaming ice pick in the eye of bourgeois family values and Catholic morality, a truly unique work that continues to rank as one of the great achievements of Italian cinema. Continue reading