Jonas Mekas – Lost, Lost, Lost (1976)

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Lost Lost Lost
Walden may have been Mekas’ first diary film, but the film that incorporated Mekas’ earliest footage was the one that told the story of his postwar arrival in America, Lost Lost Lost. The film is divided into two parts: the first concerns life in the Lithuanian community of Williamsburg, and the second chronicles Mekas’ move to Manhattan and his integration into the independent film and art scenes of New York.

Here Mekas is at his most deeply personal. He describes the loneliness and struggle of those early years with mournful music and spoken laments: “Long, lonely days; long, lonely nights. There was a lot of walking through the nights of Manhattan. I don’t think I have ever been as lonely.” Mekas also closely follows the lives of his fellow Lithuanian immigrants. During a gathering in Connecticut, he explains, “occasionally we used to escape to Stonybrook, places where immigrants exchanged their memories. We all gathered there, we all lived on memories there.” As the first section progresses, however, a tension develops between Mekas and the other immigrants. Though Mekas sympathises with them, he grows increasingly disenchanted with their hopes to reform and return to Lithuania. By the end of the reel, he leaves the community in Williamsburg and moves to Manhattan. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Pravda (1969)

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Quote:
English dubbed – Jean-Luc Godard (Dziga Vertov Group) film

Pravda was filmed clandestinely in Czechoslovakia on 16mm. It’s one of those films Godard made with the Groupe Dziga Vertov – a Marxist film about the political situation after the ’68 revolution. I’d call it a kind of essay. Basically, we get an hour’s worth of montage of very interesting documentary images with voice-over.

It’s been compared to ‘Letter to Jane’ and that’s probably a good comparison.

Godard apparently described Pravda in retrospect as ‘a marxist-leninist garbage movie’. Continue reading

Albert Maysles – Iris (2014)

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“IRIS pairs legendary 87-year-old documentarian Albert Maysles with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how, even in Iris’ dotage, a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. IRIS portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life’s sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment. Despite the abundance of glamour in her current life, she continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression. “I feel lucky to be working. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.” Continue reading

Cristina Alvarez Lopez and Adrian Martin – Phantasmagoria of the Interior (2015)

PHANTASMAGORIA OF THE INTERIOR is an audiovisual essay devoted to Walerian Borowczyk’s film THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MISS OSBOURNE. Utilising the materials of the complete, restored version of the film, and its French language soundtrack, the film offers a new way of looking at, understanding and appreciating Borowczyk’s intensely cinematic art. Particular attention is paid to a painting by Vermeer of a pregnant woman, introduced early into Borowczyk’s film, and reappearing at key moments. Beginning from this painting – its content, style, and historical background – particular aspects of the film are explored: its unusual pictorial compositions; the mingling of sexuality with violence; and the association of men and women with (respectively) open and closed spaces. The film argues that Borowczyk brings a surrealist sensibility to his free adaptation of the Jekyll and Hyde story, especially emphasizing the transgressive, revolutionary role of the free-spirited Lucy Osbourne. Continue reading

Doris Wishman – Let Me Die a Woman (1978)

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Christopher J. Jarmick wrote:
A fairly serious pseudo-documentary, which captures the lifestyles of several transsexuals in various stages of changing their gender. Dr Leo Wollman M.D. was a legitimate practicing doctor who is our guide through this one of a kind, once shocking film that features some footage of operations that are not completely revealing but not for the squeamish. There are some scenes of probing of a constructed vagina and shots of men with artificially developed breasts. Then there are several staged soft-core scenes thrown into the film to add to the hodgepodge. Dr Wollman occasionally makes statements like “not all dildos are used for medical purposes.” Note: actual on screen credits were not available to verify credits. From the advertisements: “All True! All Real! See a man become a woman before your eyes!”, “Born a Man . . . Let Me Die A Woman”, “Torn from Today’s Headlines.” Continue reading

Ferdinand Khittl – Das magische Band AKA The Magic Tape (1959)

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Das magische Band – West Germany 1959, 21 min.
Directed by: Ferdinand Khittl
Written by: Bodo Blüthner, Ferdinand Khittl, Ernst von Khuon
Cinematography by: Ronald Martini
Music by: Oskar Sala
Edited by: Irmgard Henrici
Cast: Margot Trooger, Ferdinand Khittl
Produced by: Gesellschaft für bildende Filme, München

One of the 3 short films that came as an extra on Edition Filmmuseum 47: Die Parallelstrasse AKA The Parallel Street (Ferdinand Khittl, 1962).

An innovative documentary on magnetic tape & sound recording, sort of in the style of Charles and Ray Eames. Continue reading