Mark Rappaport’s creative bio-pic about actress Jean Seberg is presented in a first-person, autobiographical format (with Seberg played by Mary Beth Hurt). He seamlessly interweaves cinema, politics, American society and culture, and film theory to inform, entertain, and move the viewer. Seberg’s many marriages, as well as her film roles, are discussed extensively. Her involvement with the Black Panther Movement and subsequent investigation by the FBI is covered. Notably, details of French New Wave cinema, Russian Expressionist (silent) films, and the careers of Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Clint Eastwood are also intensively examined. Much of the film is based on conjecture, but Rappaport encourages viewers to re-examine their ideas about women in film with this thought-provoking picture. Read More »
“I was a star waiting to be born.” Anna Sten, actress in Russian silent films and early German sound films. She should become a star like Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich. Sam Goldwyn had that in mind with a lot of money and publicity. In 1934 Anna Sten has a leading role as Nana, the starting signal for a Hollywood career that never happened. ANNA / NANA / NANA / ANNA: actor name, role, film title, novel. How many nanas did we see on the screen? And with what meaning is the name Nana now charged? From Anna Stens Nana to Anna Karinas Nana S. in Godard’s VIVRE SA VIE – things are going badly for all Nanas.
(Martina Müller) Read More »
Spining tale of a woman, her sister, and the man who completes the triangle. Told through such fertile sources as grand opera, classical painting, and Victorian melodrama. Read More »
Though we imagine ourselves on the cutting edge of the future, Local Color shows what a creaky old house we live in, haunted by melodramatic ghosts, reverberating with imaginative echoes. There is (in Rappaport’s own description) enough plot to choke a horse, but the real subject is how unimportant actions and events are. Everything that matters happens inside. Local Color has the ironclad logic not of life, but a dream. Everything means something. Everyone is connected to everyone else. Fantasies migrate from one person to another. Read More »
Chain Letters is Rappaport’s most deliciously lush and Byzantine work, It poses a mystery, but while most mysteries want us to dive down and excavate secrets, Rappaport insists that we ice skate the fractured, opaque surfaces. Strange puzzles, symmetries, and coincidences abound. Doppelgangers and mirror-image anti-types lurk around every corner. But you would have to be paranoid to try to connect the dots. Or would you? Could there be a key that unlocks the mysteries of life? Or is that the real mystery? Can you break the chains of code? One character in the film believes all of life is a plot orchestrated by a vast government bureaucracy, but Rappaport tells us that the bureaucracy of the imagination puts that of the Pentagon to shame. The real plots are in our brains–the plots that form the haunted graveyard of Western civilization.” Read More »
Mark Rappaport’s second feature film (amongst a remarkable string of off-beat, experimental narratives that runs from CASUAL RELATIONS to CHAIN LETTERS) takes off from the deliberate anachronism of using modern props, performance styles and attitudes to evoke the romantic entanglements of the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Rich La Bonte) with three sisters: Constanza (Margot Breier), Sophie (Sasha Nanus) and Louisa (Sissy Smith). This melodramatic plot of rejection, pining and sacrifice may have its basis in reality, but everything else is strictly stylized: back-projected settings, mix-and-match historical costumes, primary-colored walls, actors striking poses and the miming to records of Mozart arias, frequently interrupted by the raw audio track of real, untrained singing. Read More »
Brecht said drama should always be performed with the house lights up so that that the spectator never forgot he was watching a play. Rappaport wants to remind us how artificial realism is, and how unreal our lives are. In this house of mirrors of one-size-fits-all, wash-and-wear identities, where is “reality”? In this echo-chamber of recycled one-liners, where is truth? What would it mean to escape from these permanent-press, ready-to-wear straight jackets? What would be left of language, thought, and emotion if we freed ourselves from the systems that we claim limit us? Life may be an elaborately coded charade, but what would expression be without the codes? We’d be invisible men if we took off our imaginative leisure suits. Rappaport takes his place alongside Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, as an all-American explorer of the unreality of reality. It’s fitting that avant-garde theater pioneer Charles Ludlum is featured in one of the leads. —people.bu.edu/rcarney Read More »