Ben Russell – Let Each One Go Where He May (2009)

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Let Each One Go Where He May
Ben Russell
2009
2hr. 13min.

Chicago-based filmmaker Ben Russell has gone international with Trypps – a series of short, mesmerizing films loosely interpreting the notion of “trip,” from literal, geographic journeys to ecstatic music-induced highs, variations of trance and spasmodic filmic episodes. Along with Tjüba Tën/The Wet Season (co-directed by Brigid McCaffrey), his medium-length experimental documentary shot in Suriname, and his live projector performances, Russell’s body of work displays an ever-increasing interest in cinematic anthropologies.

Let Each One Go Where He May is Russell’s stunning feature debut, a film that both partakes in and dismantles traditional ethnography, opts for mystery and natural beauty over annotation and artifice, and employs unconventional storytelling as a means toward historical remembrance. A rigorous, exquisite work with a structure at once defined and winding, the film traces the extensive journey of two unidentified brothers who venture from the outskirts of Paramaribo, Suriname, on land and through rapids, past a Maroon village on the Upper Suriname River, in a rehearsal of the voyage undertaken by their ancestors, who escaped from slavery at the hands of the Dutch 300 years earlier. The path is still travelled to this day and its changing topography bespeaks a diverse history of forced migration. Continue reading

Andrew Kotting – Gallivant (1997)

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Synopsis: When British filmmaker Andrew Kotting decided to tour the perimeter of Great Britain with his grandmother Gladys and his daughter Eden, he brought a film crew along. The result is this often humorous and picturesque documentary. Much of it features the travelers interacting with the native villagers who gladly share a story, a bit of colorful philosophy or sing a traditional song. One of Kotting’s motives for the journey was to have a final lark with the 80-year-old Gladys and to spend precious moments with Eden, who suffers from Jouberts Syndrome and may die before reaching maturity.~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Gualtiero Jacopetti & Franco Prosperi & Paolo Cavara – Mondo Cane 1 (1962)

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Mondo Cane literally translates into English as ‘dogs world’ which is an apt title for this film, the own that spawned the so-called ‘mondo’ genre of shockumentary filmmaking.

What it claims to be, essentially, is a series of loosely knit incidents of a bizarre and unusual nature, masterfully edited into a structured documentary film with some narration thrown over top of it to attempt to place it into a social context or some sort.

What it is in reality is a sort of hybrid between a legitimate study of the strange world we live in, and the most crass of exploitation films. Littered with quite a bit of human brutality, very gratuitous animal violence, and what could be very easily construed as racist overtones, Mondo Cane is, even now over forty years after the fact, still a shocking film. Yes, time has aged portions of it better than others and some scenes, such as a group of senior citizen tourists learning the history of the Hawaiian Hula dance, are actually kind of mundane, there are still enough bizarre and grisly scenes contained herein to make it an interesting film and a historically important one at that. Continue reading

Jay Rosenblatt – The Smell of Burning Ants (1994)

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Winner of 23 Awards

“…a profoundly disturbing and imaginative work.”
–Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

The Smell of Burning Ants is a haunting documentary on the pains of growing up male. It explores the inner and outer cruelties that boys perpetrate and endure. The film provokes the viewer to reflect on how our society can deprive boys of wholeness.

Through formative events of a boy’s life, we come to understand the ways in which men can become emotionally disconnected and alienated from their feminine side. The common dismissal that “boys will be boys” evolves into the chilling realization that boys frequently become angry, destructive and emotionally disabled men. The Smell of Burning Ants illustrates how boys are socialized by fear, power and shame. The film is a catalyst for discussion and an opportunity to begin the process of healing the wounds of childhood. Continue reading

Chris Marker – L’héritage de la chouette (1989)

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Made as a series of 13 programmes about the influence of Greek culture in our society.

The Owl’s Heritage: Sequence

1. Symposium, or Accepted Ideas
2. Olympics, or Imaginary Greece
3. Democracy, or the City of Dreams
4. Nostalgia, or the Impossible Return
5. Amnesia, or History on the March
6. Mathematics, or the Empire Counts Back
7. Logomachy, or the Dialect of the Tribe
8. Music, or Inner Space
9. Cosmogony, or the Ways of the World
10. Mytholody, or Lies like Truth
11. Mysogyny, or the Snares of Desire
12. Tragedy, or the Illusion of Death
13. Philosophy, or the Triumph of the Owl
Continue reading

Paul Cox – Vincent [+Extras] (1987)

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Quote:
Though art is not my specialty, I do love to wander around a museum. It’s not something I do often, but I get that itch to surround myself with works that have stood the test of time. Gazing at such beautiful art stirs pangs of jealousy that I’m not able to do such things myself. But I know my limitations, and I will simply allow myself an occasional stroll through the controlled environment of my local museums. Shamefully, while I lived just outside of Washington D.C., I spent just one afternoon in its superb Smithsonian Museum of Art; and, on a recent trip to New York City, I nearly ran through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In Ohio, where I have spent most of my life, the museums in Cleveland, Dayton, and Cincinnati don’t have the works we’d all like to see. I am actually quite selective in what I like, and that tends toward realism, impressionism, and a touch of surrealism. Contemporary art, cubism, and other abstract forms irritate me and implore me to return to the rooms that showcase works created before the twentieth century. Continue reading