Mauro Bolognini, Mario Monicelli, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Steno, Pino Zac, Franco Rossi – Capriccio all’italiana AKA Caprice Italian Style (1968)


The film consists of six short stories created by different directors, but all the stories share one thing: a warm irony to current events.

Italian PORTMANTEAU film, a bit uneven.

Segment four by Pier Paolo Pasolini is by far the best; a completely MINDBLOWING and DERANGED rendering of OTHELLO played in a puppet theatre with human marionettes!
TOTÒ has the main role in this, and also in segment 2, where he hates Italian beatniks and stalks them as THE SUNDAY MONSTER! Both segments are very funny in completely different ways, but segment 2 would probably not have worked without Totò.
Segment 5 is completely unlike everything else; four minutes short, based on a animated cartoon by Pino Zac, and with Silvana Mangano as the Queen of England, and with guest appearances by James Bond (model Sean Connery)! The other three segments are fully watchable, although not so FAR OUT as number 2, 4 and 5. Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – Le Saphir de Saint-Louis AKA The Sapphire of St. Louis (2015)


In 1741, a ship called the Saphir sets sail from a port in La Rochelle, France on its way to the New World. On board are thirty crewmembers and two hundred seventy-one slaves. Somewhere off the coast of Santo Domingo, a slave revolt erupts. This little-known moment in history was memorialized in an obscure 18th century painting that hangs in the Saint-Louis Cathedral in La Rochelle. Celebrated filmmaker Jose Luis Guerin peers into this painting to vividly re-tell the story, capturing, in the process, a snapshot of the political, historical, economic and social realities of the time. THE SAPPHIRE OF ST. LOUIS is a remarkable documentary that uses a little painting hidden away in a remote cathedral to open a door on a pivotal moment in history. Continue reading

Les Blank & Skip Gerson – A Well Spent Life (1972)


Many people consider Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb to be the greatest blues guitarist and songster of all time. This glowing portrait of the legendary musician (also life-long husband and sharecropper) is among Blank’s special masterworks. Instead of growing bitter, tough times made Lipscomb sweet.

The favorite film of Kurt Vonnegutt, Jr. Continue reading

Todd Solondz – Babysitter (1984)


A student film with no synced sound, Babysitter is a humorous nine-minute short made as Todd Solondz’ graduate film for NYU film school in 1984. Eric Schwartzman narrates and plays the lead role of a young boy who tells his history with babysitters, and how his life was particularly touched by his last one, a teenager (Patti Seitz). Continue reading

Thom Andersen – A Train Arrives At The Station (2016)

This film was a gift to me. I make no claims for it, nor do I offer any apologies. It comes from work on The Thoughts That Once We Had. There was one shot we had to cut whose loss I particularly regretted. It was a shot of a train pulling into Tokyo Station from Ozu’s The Only Son (1936). So I decided to make a film around this shot, an anthology of train arrivals. It comprises 26 scenes or shots from movies, 1904-2015. It has a simple serial structure: each black & white sequence in the first half rhymes with a color sequence in the second half. Thus the first shot and the final shot show trains arriving at stations in Japan from a low camera height. In the first shot (The Only Son), the train moves toward the right; in the last shot, it moves toward the left. A bullet train has replaced a steam locomotive. So after all these years, I’ve made another structural film, although that was not my original intention.
– Thom Andersen
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