Nicolas Humbert – Step Across the Border (1990)

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from imdb,

“This film is a snapshot of the life of Fred Frith, an English-born multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improvisor. It finds him in Europe, Japan, and the US, working and playing with a variety of avant garde artists.

There is no narrative, or narrator. The images blend with his music, and visa versa, creating a narrative all their own. His performances, widely varied, reveal a light hearted intensity. In one scene, he uses his violin to ‘sing’ with seagulls and, in another, he conducts a quartet. Most of all, it shows him as a human being whose being is infused with music. It pours out of him in all its varied forms, and he welcomes it all. Continue reading

Richard Rush – Psych-Out (1968)

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Quote:
Jennie (Susan Strasberg) travels to San Francisco to locate her hippie brother Steve (Bruce Dern). She meets Stoney (Jack Nicholson) in a coffeehouse and he helps her look for Steve, who Stoney has seen in his various attempts to start a rock & roll band. Stoney and his pals transform the square girl into a swinging hippie chick, complete with a mod miniskirt. Along with their buddy Dave (Dean Stockwell), they search for Steve amidst the psychedelic splendor of the Haight-Ashbury hippie haunts. Dave is killed by a car when he wanders around in an STP-induced stupor. LSD, marijuana, and the good and the bad sides of hippie life are illustrated with non-judgmental accuracy. The soundtrack of the movie is a musical gem, complete with the international smash “Incense and Peppermints” by The Strawberry Alarm Clock. (The group reached the top of the charts with the song in October 1967.) Also on hand are the Seeds, although they don’t get to perform their best-known song, “Pushin’ to Hard.” (Seeds lead singer Sky Saxon would gain as much notoriety as an acid casualty as he would from his musical ability.) Also adding music are the Storybook and Cryque Boenzee. The latter group contained Rusty Young and George Grantham, who would join with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina from the legendary, long-lived country-rock band Poco. This time-capsulized gem was produced by Dick Clark, the world’s oldest teenager. (Allmovie) Continue reading

Howard Hawks & Richard Rosson – Scarface (1932)

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Plot Synopsis [AMG]
Completed in mid-1930, Scarface, based on Armitage Trail’s novel of the same name, might have been the first of the great talkie gangster flicks, but it was held up for release until after that honor was jointly usurped by Little Caesar and Public Enemy. Paul Muni stars as prohibition-era mobster Tony Camonte, a character obviously patterned on Al Capone (whose nickname was “Scarface”). The homicidal Camonte ruthlessly wrests control of the bootlegging racket from his boss, Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins), and claims Lovo’s mistress, Poppy (Karen Morley), in the bargain. But while Poppy satisfies him sexually, Tony has a soft spot in his heart only for his sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak). The film’s finale is one of the longest and bloodiest of the 1930s, maintaining suspense and concern for the characters involved even though Muni has deliberately done nothing to make Tony likeable to audience. Continue reading

Cosmotropia de Xam – Malacreanza: From The Diary Of A Broken Doll (2014)

Cosmotropia de Xam is back with more “arthouse horror” with his latest feature, MALACREANZA: FROM THE DIARY OF A BROKEN DOLL.

JASON COFFMAN wrote:

This film, his follow-up to DIABOLIQUE, is touted as both “arthouse horror” and “experimental giallo,” and while it is similar in tone to DIABOLIQUE, it is even further removed from standard narrative than that film. MALACREANZA only features one actor on screen during its entire running time, and features imagery more traditionally associated with experimental film than narrative features.

Anna (Shivabel) wakes up, nude, near what appears to be an abandoned factory. She wanders around and hears voices that seem to control her. These voices are the only other presences in the film—other than Anna, no actors appear on-screen. The voices taunt and command, as Anna wanders from one bizarre nightmare world to the next, similarly to how the characters in DIABOLIQUE would float from one place to another, but even more abstract in both its narrative structure and visual style. Continue reading

Catherine Breillat – 36 fillette (1988)

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Quote:
Perhaps in stark reaction to the soft porn delusions of Hamilton’s work, Breillat decided to approach the subject of a young adolescent’s sexual education with a clarity and honesty rarely found in art in general, let alone film. Getting audiences to confront and deconstruct the cultural baggage they bring to sex remains at the centre of her more recent films Romance (1999), À ma soeur! (2001), Sex is Comedy (2002) and Anatomy of Hell (2004), but 36 Fillette, to this viewer, strikes the perfect balance between polemic, critique and compelling psychological study.

The film’s title refers to a little girl’s dress size and the little girl in question is 14-year-old Lili, played with chilling conviction by Delphine Zentout. Continue reading

Martina Kudlácek – Im Spiegel der Maya Deren AKA In the mirror of Maya Deren (2002)

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With IN THE MIRROR OF MAYA DEREN, documentary filmmaker Martina Kudlácek has fashioned not only fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking and influential artist, but a pitch-perfect introduction to her strikingly beautiful and poetic body of work. Crowned “Fellini and Bergman wrapped in one gloriously possessed body” by the L.A. Weekly, Maya Deren is arguably the most important and innovative avant-garde filmmaker in the history of American cinema. Using locations from the Hollywood hills to Haiti, Deren made such mesmerizing films as AT LAND, RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME and her masterpiece MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON Continue reading

The Criterion Collection – Criterion Designs (2014)

A lavishly illustrated coffee-table book celebrating thirty years of artwork from the Criterion Collection. The most exciting names in design and illustration today apply their talents to some of the most important and influential films of all time. This volume gathers highlights from designs commissioned by the Criterion Collection, featuring covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art plus a gallery of every Criterion cover since the collection’s first laserdisc in 1984. From avant-garde experiments to big-budget blockbusters, cult favorites to the towering classics of world cinema, the depth and breadth of what film can be is on display in these striking images. Whether painstakingly faithful re-creations or bold reimaginings, the diverse designs collected here offer new ways for cinephiles and design aficionados alike to engage with the world’s greatest filmmakers . Continue reading