Philip Kaufman & Benjamin Manaster – Goldstein (1964)

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An Old Man (Lou Gilbert) rises out of Lake Michigan and interacts briefly with a few creative people as he drifts merrily through Chicago, at one point riding in a truck from the Goldstein Company. A metal sculptor (Tom Erhart) looks for the old man while trying to patch up his relationship with Sally (Ellen Madison). She discovers she’s pregnant and makes arrangements for a bizarre out-of-town Doctor (Severn Darden) to perform an abortion. The sculptor asks his father for help and brings along his friend Jay (Benito Carruthers), who lifts the father’s wallet. Jay uses some of the money to bankroll a night with some fancy ladies, while the sculptor continues to search for the inspirational Old Man. Continue reading

Peter Nestler – Ödenwaldstetten (1964)

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Portrait of a small south German village and its residents in the early sixties.
Rural culture is undergoing a transformation caused by the intrusion of the industrial world. Gestures at work and words of its inhabitants.

“COUNTER (HI)STORIES”
From the start, Nestler’s films attest how an observational description of reality can become an authentic art form. He consistently refuses to comply with the insistence of television editors and directors to provide explanatory comments of the pictures through neutral narration. Nestler insists on leaving things and testimonies of people standing side by side before the camera. But one who violates the unwritten policy conditions that come along as formal laws of the medium (motto: “people will not understand it…”) will be placed on the index. So he never became a TV reporter. In March 2007 he was dedicated a retrospective at the Paris Cinéma du réel documentary film festival at the Centre Pompidou for this. “My first films in the early 60s (that weren’t ‘political’) contained something that was irritating, disturbing the peace, especially in the films Mülheim (Ruhr), Ödenwaldstetten (both 1964) and Von Griechenland (1965). I was cut off the money supply, and so I moved to Sweden”, thus Nestler 1998 laconically. from ray Filmmagazin Continue reading

Hynek Bocan – Cest a sláva AKA Honor and Glory (1968)

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This historical film by Hynek Bočan touches upon the indecisiveness of the Czech nation, ready to bend the backbone in face of foreign rule. Situating the story at the close of the Thirty Year War enabled the depiction of the misery of the people that affects even an impoverished aristocratic milieu. Rudolf Hrušínský appears here in the role of an indecisive knight, persuaded for a long time and in vain to join the anti-Habsburg movement. The story does not only captivate through the depiction of manifold human characters, intrigues and sycophancy, but also through the circumstances ruling over the devastated farmstead, sunk in mud and crudeness. One of the best films with an updating tendency has come into being here, rightly being named along the such greats as Kladivo na čarodějnice (Witches’ Hammer). Continue reading

Yoshishige Yoshida – Onna no mizuumi aka Woman of the Lake (1966)

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Eight years into her marriage, Miyako Mizuki (Mariko Okada) looks happy on the outside, but in fact she is not satisfied with her husband, Yuzo (Shinsuke Ashida), who cares about nothing but his career. Miyako has been having an affair with a young interior designer named Kitano (Tamotsu Hayakawa), who in turn has a fiancée named Machie (Keiko Natsu). One night in a hotel, Miyako lets Kitano takes some nude photos of her. On her way back, she is followed by a stranger (Shigeru Tsuyuguchi), and loses her handbag with the film negatives inside while trying to escape. Later at home, Miyako receives a call from the stranger. He uses the negatives to threaten her to follow his instructions and take a train to the north. The stranger is named Ginpei. He was a teacher in a girls’ school, but was expelled because of a scandal with one of his students. As Miyako meets up with Ginpei, she develops a strange attraction towards him.
Continue reading

Pere Portabella – Umbracle (1970)

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Pere Portabella (b. 1929, Barcelona) is a veteran Spanish filmmaker whose narrative features—rich in interludes, plot diversions, atmosphere, and unexpected synchronies between sight and sound—limn the avant-garde and expand the expressive potential of cinema. Portabella, who began his cinematic career as a producer of fiction films implicitly critical of General Francisco Franco, had his passport revoked when Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961), which he helped to make, “embarrassed” Spain at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962. When democracy returned to Spain, Portabella served as a senator in the Catalan government. However, throughout his various careers, Portabella continued to make cinema, investigating meaning in the moving image and flexing the notion of genre—particularly for horror films, fantasy films, and thrillers. Continue reading

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