Kjell Grede – Harry Munter (1969)

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Harry Munter, a sensitive, kind, appealing man in his twenties, lives with his parents. He’s an inventor, a bit of a mystic, maybe a genius, and a good son and grandson. He’s offered work in the U.S. But a friend has cancer and the world is changing in ways that provoke profound sadness

Amos Vogel in “Film as Subversive Art”:  ”A powerful, poetic image: the mystery of black against white, of an outsider walking on the water, on stilts, Christ-like, stubborn, the tension of his forward-leaning body reflecting his determination. This, indeed, is the topic of this intensely mysterious, lyrical film, one of the most original and disregarded works of contemporary cinema.” Continue reading

John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Apotheosis (1970)

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What a perfect film…..short and simple, Ono takes a camera and a boom mike onto a hot air balloon, kicks the rope, and starts the camera and lets us watch as it goes above the clouds for a 17 minute shot. Key things to notice: A roll of 16mm film films only 14 minutes yet the film runs for 17, meaning somewhere in the clouds Ono had another camera loaded and started when the first one ran out, yet somehow the splice is not noticeable and there weren’t any computers at the time to fix this sort of thing…..all i can say is optical printing tricks at its best. The last shot, as the balloon rises above the clouds, the wind silences, and the sun becomes visible, is alone worth checking out this timeless classic of experimental film. Continue reading

Hiroshi Teshigahara – Suna no onna AKA Woman in the Dunes (1964)

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Jumpei Niki, a Tokyo based entomologist and educator, is in a poor seaside village collecting specimens of sand insects. As it is late in the day and as he has missed the last bus back to the city, some of the local villagers suggest that he spend the night there, they offering to find him a place to stay. That place is the home of a young woman, whose house is located at the bottom of a sand pit accessible only by ladder. He later learns that the woman’s husband and child died in a sandstorm, their undiscovered bodies buried somewhere near the house. The next morning as he tries to leave, he finds that the ladder is gone – he realizing that the ladder he climbed down was a rope ladder which is anchored above the pit – meaning that he is trapped with the young woman as the walls of the pit are sand with no grip. He also realizes that this entrapment was the villagers and the young woman’s plan for him to stay there permanently to be her helper in the never-ending task of digging out the sand, which if not done will swallow them alive. Continue reading

Andy Warhol – The Nude Restaurant (1967)

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At a New York City restaurant, the patrons are men, nude but for a G-string, waited on by one woman, also clad in a G-string (played by Viva) and a G-bestringed (bestrung?) waiter. Some of the “nude” patrons leave the establishment, their places taken by new customers, also nearly in the buff. There are numerous in-camera jump cuts (known as ‘strobe cuts’) and the camera weaves around a bit. The waiter and waitress move from table to table, talking to the customers. Taylor Mead sits smirking at the fountain, where eventually he partakes in a long conversation with Viva about her Catholic childhood. Viva, the waitress if not the actual person, seemingly is obsessed with the subject of lascivious priests. There is more strobe cutting and at one point, Viva turns to the camera and asks that it be turned off. The camera is turned off and, after an interlude, is turned back on again, after which Viva continues with her monologue. More patrons arrive while others go, perhaps thinking — if not speaking — of Michelangelo. Written by Tummy AuGratin Continue reading

Andy Warhol – Lonesome Cowboys (1968)

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An outrageously funny spoof on the Western film, Lonesome Cowboys is a synthesis of Warhol’s sorties into the New York underworld, but much more humorous and with closer adherence to a nonsensical plot. The film was photographed in Arizona, in a ghost town where (somehow) two of Warhol’s superstars are discovered. The incongruous montebanks happen to be Viva, as chic and sarcastic as she was in Bike Boy and resembling a displaced model for Hound and Horn, and Taylor Mead. Mr. Mead is the zany of our time, and when five mysterious cowhands saunter into town, the hilarity commences. The cowboys are an odd assortment, a bit androgynous and city-wise, and they interact with the two in varying attitudes of lust and indifference in set-pieces of inspired film comedy. Often, Lonesome Cowboys reaches the ultimate in surrealist imagery: cowboy-deputy Mead performing the Lupe Velez Twist, his own choreographic distortion; or one of the cowboys performing ballet exercises at the hitching post. Viva’s langorous seduction of the most innocent-looking among the cowboys is actually a satirical comment on sexual artifice. This erotic, sagebrush comedy has its cruel edge, and one feels that Andy Warhol attempts to make some statement about the nature of brotherly love and the impossibility of virtue rewarded in these times of fallen idols. Select just about any Warhol film from the mid-sixties and you’ll find a scandal tucked away. Lonesome Cowboys’s most notable run-in with the law was in Atlanta where it was seized after replacing Gone with the Wind in a mall theater. Continue reading

Mikhail Romm – Obyknovennyy fashizm AKA A Night of Thoughts AKA Triumph Over Violence (1965)

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Synopsis:

A collage of documentary and chronicle footage from various German and Soviet archives, attempting to reconstruct the experience of the citizens of the Third Reich and to grasp the essence of totalitarian regime. The footage is accompanied by director’s commentary, analyzing the imagery.

Romm’s “Ordinary Fascism” pulls out all the stops in its selection of documentary material to draw the viewer not only into absolute horror about fascism and nazism in the 1920s-1940s Europe, but also to a firmest of convictions that nothing of the sort should be allowed to happen again anywhere in the world. The film was released in 1965, in the Soviet Union’s heyday at the height of the great societal and intellectual “thaw” that followed the Stalin’s death and the denunciation of Stalin’s totalitarianism by Nikita Khruschev. Never explicitly mentioning any of them explicitly, the film targets tyranny and despotism no matter what form they may take. Continue reading

Jordan Belson – Allures (1961)

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Originally a widely-exhibited painter, Jordan Belson turned to filmmaking in 1947 with crude animations drawn on cards, which he subsequently destroyed. He returned to painting for four years and in 1952 resumed film work with a series that blended cinema and painting through the use of animated scrolls. The four films produced in the period 1952-53 were Mambo, Caravan, Mandala, and Bop Scotch. From 1957-59 he worked with Henry Jacobs as visual director of the Vortex Concerts at Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco. Simultaneously he produced three more animated films, Flight (1958), Raga (1959), and Seance (1959). Continue reading