Jonas Mekas – Lost, Lost, Lost (1976)

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Quote:
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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Quote:
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

Richard Pottier – Le Monde tremblera aka The World Will Shake AKA The Revolt of the Living (1939)

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Synopsis:
In this sci-fi film, a scientist invents a prescient machine that can tell people when they will die. Oddly enough, the people do not want to know and therefore begin to riot…

Review:
With capital supplied by the unscrupulous banker Emil Lasser, Dr Jean Durand succeeds in creating a machine that can predict, to the nearest minute, when an individual will die. A ruthless man facing financial ruin, Lasser intends using Durand’s invention for a crooked life insurance business, but the scientist refuses to go along with the scheme, even though he is in love with Lasser’s daughter, Marie‐France. Subjecting himself to Durand’s machine, Lasser learns he has only a few days left to live. He ends up committing suicide, after leaving a note to his daughter warning her to stay away from Durand. As Marie‐France embarks on a new romance with Durand’s best friend Dr Gérard Gallois, Durand begins capitalising on his invention and soon has a steady stream of clients eager to know the exact date of their demise. The implications of Durand’s discovery soon hits home when people, knowing they have only a short time to live, begin behaving in an irresponsible manner. Durand realises too late that he has created a monster… Continue reading

Robert Bresson – Pickpocket (1959)

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Quote:
Michel is an inscrutable young man – neatly dressed, mild mannered, intelligent – hardly the type whom one would suspect to be a pickpocket. And perhaps, that is reason that he does it. Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket is a well crafted, austere, and taut film of a man driven by his self-destructive compulsion. We first encounter Michel (Martin LaSalle) at a Paris racetrack, stealthily fingering through the clasp of a woman’s handbag, reaching in, pocketing her money. A wild, almost euphoric gaze comes over his impassive face, heightened by the cheering crowd as the horses approach the finish line. Soon, his compulsion consumes him. His friend, Jacques (Pierre Leymarie) furnishes him with contacts for employment opportunities, but he does not follow through. Continue reading

Aleksey Fedorchenko – Angely revolyutsii AKA Angels of Revolution (2014)

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Five friends – a poet, an actor, a painter, an architect and a primitivist film director – are five red avant-garde artists who try to find the embodiment of their hopes and dreams in the young Soviet state. The Revolution is boiling up like a bottle with apple cider: winged service dogs and heart-shaped potatoes, dead Semashko, the People’s Commissar for Health, and cheerful angels, love for the Tsar and love for the young secretary Annushka, executions and pregnancies – everything is interlaced and inseparable! Continue reading

Ben Rivers – The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (2015)

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Shooting against the staggering beauty of the Moroccan landscape, from the rugged terrain of the Atlas Mountains to the stark and surreal emptiness of the desert, with its encroaching sands and abandoned film sets, a director abandons his own film set and descends into a hallucinatory, perilous adventure of cruelty, madness and malevolence. A Paul Bowles story combined with observational footage forms a multi-layered excavation into the illusion of cinema itself. Continue reading