Peter Adair – Holy Ghost People (1967)

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Bright Lights Film Journal wrote:
The late Peter Adair (1943-1996) is best known in the queer community as one of the auteurs of Word Is Out, the first documentary about gay people that found a home in the mainstream. An outsider himself as a gay man, Adair was apparently drawn to other outsiders. His first, and in some ways best, film explored a distinctive American subculture. Holy Ghost People is a 53-minute documentary about snake-handling, strychnine-swilling members of the “Holiness” church. Rightly hailed by Margaret Mead as one of the best ethnographic films ever made, and a staple of classes on anthropology and documentary film, this study of a little-known sect who put their lives on the line for their religion still packs a wallop three decades after its release. Continue reading

Chantal Akerman – Saute ma ville AKA Blow up my town (1968)

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I saw this first film by Ackerman on french channel Arte and I was fascinated by its simplicity of conception and execution. Ackerman gives a wonderfully quiet example of small, no-budget, personal short film which can be a lesson for any young and fresh student of film or anyone with a great passion( but not much means) for film-making and recording the world with a camera. young Ackerman plays in the film and from the first minutes you get the mood and the means together as the soundtrack of the film is solely composed of constant humming of some tune by -supposedly- the main character who is a lonely girl living in an apartment. This is one of the most ingenious approaches to the composition of film music I have ever heard! and you wonder if it has been repeated again. We follow the girl entering the building, up the stairs and into her small kitchen and very soon realize that we will only see HER. She keeps humming and even makes appropriate noises when attending to things in the kitchen. The obsession with the kitchen leaves one wondering ” Can a kitchen really drive someone mad?”. Here domestic life of a lonely woman seems like an unbearable and crushing prison with no hope of redemption( a theme that Ackerman returns to it later with great force).When the girls cooks and cleans and gradually makes a mess of everything you get a comical view of quiet breakdown rarely seen. Fixed camera position is in accord with a claustrophobic mood and also relates to a documentary style camera which the film emulates to some extent. This is a film about what we may -and usually will- call domestic hell ,though it never loses sight of intrinsic humor of the situation. I love Ackerman’s performance and her determination to be a filmmaker, standing on her own feet and making an amateur film a must-see. Continue reading

Agasi Babayan – Dersu Uzala (1961)

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This is little known the first version of “Dersu Uzala” from 1961.
The famous Kurosawa’s “Dersu Uzala” is a remake made 15 years later, in 1975.

SYNOPSIS:
Dersu Uzala is a 1961 Soviet film, adapted from the books of Vladimir Arsenyev, about his travels in Russian Far East with a native trapper, Dersu Uzala.

The film was produced by Mosnauchfilm, directed by Agasi Babayan with screenwriter Igor Bolgarin and featuring Adolf Shestakov and Kasym Zhakibayev.

The film won the Golden Wolf at the 1961 Bucharest Film Festival. Continue reading

Robert Downey Sr. – Pound (1970)

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Quote:
There’s something liberating about director Robert Downey’s films, even when by rights they should be put on a leash by their small budgets and settings. Never was the case truer than in POUND, the kind of project that major studios would run a mile from. Long out of circulation, Downey’s film populates a dog pound with different human characters who pace about their cage, uncertain about their future. Some wait in hope for their owners to redeem them, others plot to escape, but most wait to see if they will make it to the end of the day without getting ‘The Needle’. It seems like a cute gimmick to have human characters playing dogs, but Downey has never been one to play by the rules, even if they would provide an interior logic to his story. The dog-human switcheroo isn’t as straightforward as it should be: the first camera angle inside the pound shows us the characters as dogs, the second shows them again as people. But are we still to treat them as ‘dogs’? They have a TV set in their cage; can understand human speech; and are revealed in flashbacks as having human lives outside of the pound. Continue reading

Gino Mangini – La jena di Londra (1964)

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IMDB:
A serial killer called “The Hyena” is finally caught and eventually hanged. However, his body disappears before it can be buried, and soon thereafter dead bodies start turning up in a small village. Continue reading

António de Macedo – Domingo à Tarde AKA Sunday Afternoon (1966)

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Jorge is the doctor in charge of the Haematology Department of a big hospital. One day he meets Clarisse, a patient suffering from advanced leukaemia, and falls in love with her. His struggle to save her inevitably fails in the end, and Jorge will now have to deal with a future of pointless routine and despair. Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Charles mort ou vif AKA Charles, Dead or Alive (1969)

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Charles, Dead or Alive, Alain Tanner’s first feature film, which won the Grand Prix at the Locarno Festival in 1969, is the kind of manifesto that, with other films, put Switzerland on the world cinema map at the end of the 1960s.

That the critics baptized the wave which emerged at this time as the “new Swiss cinema” simply reflects the fact that the “old” Swiss cinema was unknown to the cinema-going public. Today, the appeal and energy of this first film remain undiminished, magnified by the exceptional stature and presence of François Simon and the sublimely uncluttered camera work of Renato Berta. Tanner drew his subject matter from what he saw of the events of May ’68 in Paris, which he covered for Swiss television. Unimpressed by the ideological pronouncements of the young demonstrators (Tanner was nearly 40 and mistrustful of the siren songs of militancy), he was more struck by the elderly people marching alongside them. Continue reading