Sergei Parajanov – Ukrainskaya rapsodiya aka Ukrainian Rhapsody (1961)


“Ukrainskaya Rapsodiya” (the USSR, 1961) of Sergueï Paradjanov is a film saga of oceanic proportion with many rivers flowing into it. The characters are the affluents which mix in and distinguish themselves within the furrows of the storyline. An ocean of images but of musics too. Cause the film evolves more by its musical quality, then by its narration.

Orksana, talented student at the Ukrainian Academy likes Antonin whom she met in her youth. Here the love is less tumultuous in retrospect to “Pervyy Paren” (USSR, 1958) of the same Paradjanov, even if a certain formal expression of it remain. In this third feature of the Armenian filmmaker; the Second World war, one of the rare History adaptations of Paradjanov, come to disturb the peaceful flow. “Ukrainskaya Rapsodiya” thus enter in a powerful melody, the railroads, industrial symbols of the river, cross in several plans, as if to illustrate the opulence of the livings. Read More »

Werner Herzog – Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen AKA Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)


The inhabitants of an institution in a remote country rebel against their keepers. Their acts of rebellion are by turns humorous, boring and alarming. An allegory on the problematic nature of fully liberating the human spirit, as both commendable and disturbing elements of our nature come forward. The film shows how justifiable revolt may be empowering, but may also turn to chaos and depravity. The allegory is developed in part by the fact that the film is cast entirely with dwarfs. Read More »

Stephen Quay & Timothy Quay & Keith Griffiths – The Eternal Day of Michel De Ghelderode (1981)


Using the tricks of the Flemish playwright’s own trade–puppetry, masks, and a Breughelesque sense of bizarre carnival, the collaborators succeeded in bringing about a rich and sardonic humor lurking at the edge of the playwright’s macabre, death-obsessed imagination in an allusive homage. Read More »

Mary Ellen Bute – Finnegans Wake (1966)


A half-forgotten, half-legendary pioneer in American abstract and animated filmmaking, Mary Ellen Bute, late in her career as an artist, created this adaptation of James Joyce, her only feature. In the transformation from Joyce’s polyglot prose to the necessarily concrete imagery of actors and sets, Passages discovers a truly oneiric film style, a weirdly post-New Wave rediscovery of Surrealism, and in her panoply of allusion – 1950s dance crazes, atomic weaponry, ICBMs, and television all make appearances – she finds a cinematic approximation of the novel’s nearly impenetrable vertically compressed structure. Read More »

Péter Gothár – Ido van aka Time (1986)


from allmovie:
In a surreal collage of vignettes that add up to nothing in particular, director Peter Gothar starts his experimental film with a family heading off for a vacation at Lake Balaton, the famous Hungarian resort area. When they arrive at their destination, the hotel is partially submerged in water and totally devoid of guests. At check-in time, they are asked to comment on the service in the hotel before going to their room — one single room for the whole family. Is Gothar commenting on absurdities in the society or government? Viewers will have to decide for themselves. Read More »

Romain Goupil – Lettre pour L… (1994)


She was 18, they were in love, lived together 10 years. 20 years letter she
sends him a letter. She’s sick, does not talk much about her, but asks him
a question “When will you make a good movie ?”. He then takes his camera and
tries to speak of other things, about cinéma, their early political combats
and what became of them. Through his hesitations, his interrogations, he
draws the bitter image of an era. Moscow, Gaza, Berlin, Belgrade, Sarajevo,
Paris, Sarajavo again. A way to stay with her, to retail life. Read More »

Eric Mitchell – Underground U.S.A. (1980)


In June 1980, (Eric) Mitchell released a sixteen-millimeter feature that was specifically designed to be shown at midnight and was called Underground U.S.A. More Morrissey than Warhol (with a cameo appearance by Taylor Mead), the film is Sunset Boulevard out of Heat, transposed to no-wave haute monde. The Gloria Swanson character, here a faded underground underground superstar obviously modeled on Edie Segdwick, is played with convincing self-absorption by platinum-haired Patti Astor, another Poe graduate. Mitchell, whose emotional affect  makes Joe Dallesandro seem like a Jack Lemmon hysteric, is the hustler who manages to briefly install himself in her foredoomed life; while, in a witty bit of casting, Factory juvenile René Ricard enacts the von Stroheim-like protector whom Mitchell nudges aside but fails to replace. Underground U.S.A.  is well acted and handsomely shot, but never redeems the comic potential of its first twenty minutes, inexorably going vague over the punk-underground art-world milieu that it sets out to lampoon. Nevertheless, due in large part to Mitchell’s skill as a self-promoter, the film ran at midnight for twenty weekends at the St. Marks until midnight October 1980.

J. Hoberman, Midnight Movies Read More »