Keith Ulich wrote:
John Gianvito’s new documentary, the first of two films focusing on decommissioned, and hazardous, U.S. military bases-one named Clark, the other Subic-in Pampanga province, Philippines, takes its title (minus parenthetical) from the contrails left behind by airplanes at high altitude. A pre-credits sequence shows several such images, in addition to a rolling stream at sunrise; the driver’s-eye interior view of a car, signal clicking, as it prepares to turn (which way unspecified); and faded photographs that depict, we will come to learn, incidents and asides from the Philippine-American War (1899-1913). What connects these disparate objects/mo(ve)ments is a shared sense of impermanence-the feeling that everything we’re viewing is fleeting and, likely, soon forgotten.
The three Gianvito films I’ve seen-this, 2007’s Profit motive and the whispering wind, and, my personal choice for best of the ’00s, 2001’s The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein-share a fascination with, and in some way seek to redress the human propensity toward cultural-historical amnesia. Continue reading
The Paris Commune was an epic phenomenon in the early history of the socialist movement. The Commune was located in the workers quarters within the centre of Paris. An important location was the emporium LA NOUVELLE BABYLONE, still existing at Metro Babylone. The main character in the film is Louise, a salesgirl in the shop. She is a communard. Her counterpart is a soldier that helps to wipe out the Commune. Thus, the enormous social and dialectic complications and contrasts between the workers on one side, and bourgeoisie and army on the other side, are projected on two characters. And of course they fall in love. Louise is a fierce heroine. Jean a naïve soldier, a farmer who is ordered and abused. In the end they meet not in bed but on the barricades. Jean is a conscript in the army that defeats the Commune fighters in the bloody week in June 1871. Thousands of the Communards were killed in action or shot at Père Lachaise cemetery. Continue reading
In the aftermath of the student demonstrations and worker strikes that swept across France in May 1968 and after, Jean-Luc Godard — who had already declared the end of cinema, at least for him, in Week-end — fully embraced the student radicalism and the peculiar French Maoism of the time. He was setting off on a journey away from the cinema, but continued making films (and eventually videos) nonetheless. For the last couple of years of the 60s and throughout the 70s, Godard all but abandoned the commercial cinema for various political and aesthetic experiments in which he would drastically reconfigure his approach to the cinema. A Film Like Any Other was one of the first statements of this new, experimental era in Godard’s career, the beginning of his long exodus from the cinema, the first of what would be many attempts to work out, in film form, the political and cinematic questions that concerned him. In that respect, this film is a precursor to the films that Godard would make collaboratively with his Dziga Vertov Group experiments, as well as the later (and ultimately much more advanced) videos he’d create with Anne-Marie Miéville. Continue reading
This highly symbolic and enigmatic political drama by Hungarian director Miklos Jancso was produced by a consortium from Italy, France and West Germany. This film is considered to be an homage to Antonioni as it uses his favorite leading actress (Monica Vitti) and his cameraman Carlo di Palma. This film was made during a time when Jancso was not allowed to make films in his native Hungary. In the middle of the crowd, while covering an Italian political protest by leftists, The Journalist (Monica Vitti), a pacifist, finds herself surrounded by a quite different group of people who jostle her, remove her recording equipment from her and set her car on fire. She complains to the police about this. However, when the police bring one of the young men before her for her to identify him, she says he is not one of her attackers. This leads to her having a romantic relationship with the young man. The group, and the young man, are young Italian neo-fascists, and the young man has been given the job of assassinating a leftist. He is too gentle to do this, and his group kills him right before The Journalist’s eyes. She goes to the police again, but they begin to believe that she is insane, even when she is forced to kill her boyfriend’s assailants right there in the police station. Continue reading
STAR SPANGLED TO DEATH is an epic film shot for hundreds of dollars! combining found-films with my own more-or-less staged filming, it pictures a stolen and dangerously sold-out America, allowing examples of popular culture to self-indict. Racial and religious insanity, monopolization of wealth and the purposeful dumbing down of citizens and addiction to war oppose a Beat playfulness.
A handful of artists costumed and performing unconvincingly appeal to audience imagination and understanding to complete the picture. Jack Smith’s pre-FLAMING CREATURES performance as The Spirit Not Of Life But Of Living (the movie has raggedly cosmic pretensions), celebrating Suffering (rattled impoverished artist Jerry Sims) at the crux of sentient existence, is a visitation of the divine. Continue reading
In a behind-the-scenes look at the biggest political upset in recent history, Mark Halperin, John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon offer unprecedented access and never-before-seen footage of candidate Trump, from the primaries through the debates to the dawning realization that the controversial businessman will become the 45th President of the United States. Continue reading
A 2012 Chilean drama film directed by Pablo Larraín. The film is based on the unpublished play El Plebiscito, written by Antonio Skármeta. Mexican actor Gael García Bernal plays René, an in-demand advertising man working in Chile in the late 1980s. The historical moment the film captures is when advertising tactics came to be widely used in political campaigns. The campaign in question was the historic 1988 plebiscite of the Chilean citizenry over whether general Augusto Pinochet should have another 8-year term as President.
At the 85th Academy Awards the film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Continue reading