Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive Art

Stephen Dwoskin – Naissant (1964)

Experimental film which attempts to communicate in strictly cinematographic terms the emotions of a pregnant woman alone.
Music composed and played by Gavin Bryars. Read More »

Santiago Álvarez – Now (1965)

Using morgue photos, newsreel footage, and a recording by Lena Horne, Cuban filmmaker Santiago Alvarez fired off ‘Now!’, one of the most powerful bursts of propaganda rendered in the 1960s. Read More »

Jan Nemec – O slavnosti a hostech AKA The Party and the Guests (1966)

Distinguished as being ‘banned forever’ in its native Czechoslovakia, Nemec’s film is a masterpiece of barbed, darkly sinister wit. As a biting satire of governmental and institutional power and with its astute observations of human nature and conformity, it is a film whose relevance continues to this day.
Considered the most politically dangerous film made during the short flowering of the Czech New Wave in the 1960s, this is its first-ever release on DVD. Read More »

Bruce Conner – A Movie (1958)

Quote:
The singular title of Bruce Conner’s A Movie positions this avant-garde short as though it were a prototypical example for the entire medium. In fact, Conner’s film is the self-conscious inheritor of a particular tradition within the movies, a particular use to which moving pictures have been put: the filmic spectacle. Where Conner’s film, constructed entirely from a wide variety of found footage, diverges from this tradition is in its recognition that in spectacle, the content hardly matters so much as the sensations conveyed through the film. Read More »

Peter Whitehead – Wholly Communion (1965)

Whitehead’s breakthrough film, the documentation of the great Albert Hall Poetry Festival in ’65, which won him acclaim and awards. Shot handheld with only 45 minutes of stock (the finished film is 33 minutes), and presumably closely distilling much of the tension and event-ness of the celebrated ‘happening’. Verse luminaries include a bill-topping Allen Ginsberg (who reclines into his adoring entourage like a decadent monarch), the gruff, pipesmoking compere Alec Trocchi, an incendiary Adrian Mitchell, and most memorably the stoned heckler who disrupts the wired Harry Fainlight to the delight of the massive crowd. Read More »

Vittorio De Sica – Ladri di biciclette AKA Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Quote:

A crowd forms in front of a government employment agency, as it does every day, waiting – often in vain – for job announcements. Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), one of the unemployed laborers who participates in this daily ritual, is selected to hang posters in the city, a job requiring a bicycle, which he has long sold in order to sustain his family’s meager existence for a few more days. He and his wife, Maria (Lianella Carell), return to the pawn shop with a few remaining possessions, their matrimonial linen, in order to redeem the bicycle. During his first day at his new work, his bicycle is stolen. He combs the city with his young son, Bruno (Enzo Staiola), in search of the elusive bicycle. Read More »

Fritz Lang – M [Universum, 80th Anniversary Edition] (1931)

Quote:
The horror of the faces: That is the overwhelming image that remains from a recent viewing of the restored version of “M,” Fritz Lang’s famous 1931 film about a child murderer in Germany. In my memory it was a film that centered on the killer, the creepy little Franz Becker, played by Peter Lorre. But Becker has relatively limited screen time, and only one consequential speech–although it’s a haunting one. Most of the film is devoted to the search for Becker, by both the police and the underworld, and many of these scenes are played in closeup. In searching for words to describe the faces of the actors, I fall hopelessly upon “piglike.” Read More »