Oldrich Lipský – Happy End (1967)

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Delightfully witty and with a Kafkaesque spin, Oldřich Lipský‘s brilliant film Happy End (1967) is a quirky little gem from the archives of cinematic history. Crafted with unrelenting precision and grace, Stastny Konec (to give it its Czech name) really gives its audience a taste of the bleak humour renowned by Czech comedy. Without spoiling too much, the film concerns the wondrous (or tragic) life-story of the kind-hearted (or vengeful) butcher Bedrich Frydrych (Vladmír Mensík), his various ups and downs with his wife Julie (Jaroslava Obermaierová) and the tribulations of a surreal existence in reverse. Continue reading

Hans Richter – Dadascope (1961)

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Dadascope is a comprehensive portrait of the Dada movement with its specific techniques of sound and visual clash, word puns, chess, dice and other games of chance. Richter stated, “There is no story, no psychological implication except such as the onlooker puts into the imagery. But it is not accidental either, more a poetry of images built with and upon associations. In other words the film allows itself the freedom to play upon the scale of film possibilities, freedom for which Dada always stood – and still stands.” Continue reading

Marcel Hanoun – Le printemps (1971)

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One could only enumerate the elements to let the film tell itself. And this is besides one possible purpose of Hanoun here. Just let things communicate between themselves without the coercition of usual continuums (space and time) and let’s see and feel what happens. Yet there are clues given, relations but they are separated when one could await a close editing and vice versa. There seems to have two worlds, cinematographic worlds I mean : B&W and colour and things circulate from one world to another, people too…

But let’s just enumerate
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Jean-Claude Rousseau – La vallée close AKA The Enclosed Valley (1995)

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My films are like that: in a room, but looking out onto an open sky. I can’t really say it except to repeat that Bresson note, ‘that without a thing changing, everything is different.’ The film exists. The fiction is set up, and we believe in it. The justness of the agreement leads us to believe it, because everything plays equally at being a sign. That’s the arrangement of the elements. It’s an act of faith. La vallée close is just this: elements treated above all as if in a documentary that, without being changed, portray the story and reveal between them the elements of fiction. But above all seen as they are, insignificant. And then in the relations they set up, they can satisfy our desire for a story. – Jean-Claude Rousseau Continue reading

Jonas Mekas – Lost, Lost, Lost (1976)

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These six reels of my film diaries come from the years 1949-1963. They begin with my arrival in New York in November 1949. The first and second reels deal with my life as a Young Poet and a Displaced Person in Brooklyn. It shows the Lithuanian immigrant community, their attempts to adapt themselves to a new land and their tragic efforts to regain independance for their native country. It shows my own frustrations and anxieties and the decision to leave Brooklyn and move to Manhattan. Reel three and reel four deal with my life in Manhattan on Orchard Street and East 13th St. First contacts with New York poetry and filmmaking communities. Robert Frank shooting The Sin of Jesus. LeRoy Jones, Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara reading at The Living Theatre. Documentation of the political protests of the late fifties and early sixties. First World Strike for Peace. Vigil in Times Square. Women for Peace. Air Raid protests. Reel five includes Rabbit Shit Haikus, a series of Haikus filmed in Vermont; scenes at the Film-Maker’s Cooperative; filming Hallelujah the Hills; scenes of New York City. Reel six contains a trip to Flaherty Seminar, a visit to the seashore in Stony Brook; a portrait of Tiny Tim; opening of Twice a Man; excursions to the countryside seen from two different views; that of my own and that of Ken Jacobs whose footage is incorporated into this reel. Continue reading

Jonas Mekas – Walden – Diaries Notes and Sketches (1969)

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Jonas Mekas, the godfather of American “underground” cinema, shot literally miles of impromptu film on a tiny, touch-and-go Bolex camera before assembling his first “diary film” and screening it before an audience of friends and fellow indie artists in 1969. At that point the home-movie ethos was somewhat less than groundbreaking, but a glance at what Mekas’s contemporaries were working on or releasing at the time—Kenneth Anger was ensconced in off-and-on production for Lucifer Rising, Stan Brakhage was toiling on the 8mm Songs cycle, and Paul Morrissey had just morphed the Warhol aesthetic into the zeitgeist-preaching Flesh—suggests just how perpendicular his project stood in relation to the remainder of the bicoastal art-house scene. Mekas, as a distributor and critic in the ‘60s, had praised and promoted films both archetypically absurd (Anger’s Scorpio Rising) and angularly as well as legally shocking (Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures); perhaps this is why the program notes prepared for the first showing of Diaries, Notes and Sketches, also known as Walden contained an uncharacteristically humble and ambivalent letter from the director of the evening’s presentation. “You are going to see maybe two, maybe three, maybe four reels, from the total of six,” it read. “It will depend on your patience, on your interest.” Continue reading