The master of the French New Wave indicts consumerism and elaborates on his personal vision of Hell with this raucous, biting satire. A nasty, scheming bourgeois Parisian couple embarks on a journey through the countryside to her father’s house, where they pray for his death and a subsequent inheritance. Their trip is at first delayed, and later it is distracted by several outrageous events and characters including an apocalyptic traffic jam, a group of fictional philosophers, a couple of violent carjackers, and eventually, a gross display of cannibalism. By the time the film concludes, their seemingly simple journey has deteriorated into a freewheeling philosophical diatribe that leaves no topic unscathed. With Week End, Jean-Luc Godard reaches an impressive plateau of film originality, incorporating inter-titles, extended tracking shots, and music to add an entirely new grammar to film language. The result is a deeply challenging work that will most certainly invigorate some viewers just as much as it will as frustrate others. Continue reading
Jimmy, Mary and Makis are three people living their everyday day life in an entirely different manner. They seem to have nothing in common and normally they shouldn’t even know each other…
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An alcoholic man and his two young children barely survive in Taipei. They cross path with a lonely grocery clerk who might help them make a better life. Continue reading
A minimalist recitation by Barbara Ulrich of Book 2 chapter 6 of Montaigne’s Essays. Continue reading
A poet creates a drawing of a living mouth, which transfers to his hand when he tries to wipe it from the canvas. Later, when he touches a statue with his afflicted hand, the statue comes to life. As a punishment, the poet is condemned to walk the corridor of the Hotel of Dramatic Follies, where he spies on various tableaux directed by the statue.
It has often been said that Jean Cocteau was the first major poet and writer to treat the cinema with total seriousness. But actually it was the cinema that made him into a major artist. “The movie screen,” he said, “is the true mirror refecting the flesh and blood of my dreams.” And one of his most poetic, dreamlike films was La Belle et La Bête.
Watching it now, you can’t feel its audacity as you might have done at the time. Faithfully, but not totally innocently, based on the fairy tale by Madame LePrince de Beaumont, it is almost purely visual, even if a Freudian analysis is possible. And it is certainly completely different in atmosphere and style from anything that had gone before, at least in the commercial cinema.
The team who made it in 1946 – and it was a team – broke a good many rules at the urging of Cocteau. Georges Auric’s memorable music didn’t so much underline the visuals as frequently cut across them, reaching a synthesis at vital moments. Henri Alekan’s equally extraordinary cinematography, which the studio described unsympathetically as “white cheese”, is the opposite of conventionally fantastic. Continue reading
Independent auteur Hal Hartley wrote and directed this satirical exercise in what he calls “fake science fiction.” In the near future, following a violent overthrow of the American government, the United States has come under the rule of the MMM, a Multi-Media Monopoly which runs the country as a business. Every citizen now has a personal bar code, which is used to monitor his or her consumption of practically everything, including sex, now that aphrodisiacs have become the nation’s biggest consumer product. Jack (Bill Sage) and Cecile (Sabrina Lloyd) are two MMM executives who are vying for the same level of advancement within the organization, while William (Leo Fitzpatrick) is a member of the Partisans, a cadre of anti-MMM activists who are attempting to bring down the corporation’s rule, though they are regarded as both dangerous and powerless by MMM’s leaders. In the midst of this situation comes a beautiful woman from the planet Monday (Tatiana Abracos), who knows about Jack’s little secret — he’s a fellow alien hiding out on Earth. The woman has come to Earth to bring Jack back to planet Monday, but given the currently miserable state of Jack’s life, he’s more interested in having a relationship with her than heading back home. The Girl From Monday has its world premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. — Mark Deming Continue reading