Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kenneth Anger at Three Dollar Bill Cinema

905-300x300.gif

"His expression was of the erotic realm - the neurotic gothic deviated sex-colored world and it was a turning inside out of himself and magnificent." -Jack Smith on Josef von Sternberg

Like Jack Smith, Kenneth Anger's films have long languished on prints and video-cassettes of varying quality. To complicate matters, Anger, like Smith, continued to tinker with his films long after he made them. Some, like Rabbit's Moon, appeared every few years with a different cut and soundtrack [the first version I saw had a booming score by the Electric Light Orchestra!]

Using high definition transfers and MTI digital restoration software, The UCLA Film & Television Archive [with Anger's cooperation] has restored the key films of his oeuvre to a luster that shines like the ruby in Isis's diadem. Fantoma has released the first batch of these on DVD with a second batch to follow, but those of you who live in Seattle have the additional opportunity of seeing newly minted prints of Fireworks, Rabbit's Moon, Scorpio Rising and Kustom Kar Kommandos as part of Three Dollar Bill Cinema's 'Scandalous' series. And that's not all! In addition, TDB will be screening Elliott's Suicide, Anger's 2004 meditation on his erstwhile neighbor, Elliott Smith as well as Un Chant D'Amour by Jean Genet.
Although not his first film, Fireworks is the first entry into what Anger would call the Magick Lantern cycle. Shot in 1947, the same year Querelle was published, Anger directed the film at the age of 17 or 20 [depending on which bio you read] during a weekend when his parents where away. Under the influence of Le Sang d'un po/(R)te, the film serves a cocktail of Cocteau with a garnish of Genet, mostly in the guise of what Anger refers to as 'real sailors!' As Anger summarizes, "This flick is all I have to say about being 17, the United States Navy, American Christmas and the Fourth of July."
Rabbit's Moon was shot under the sponsorship of the Cinematheque Fran/ssaise where Anger spent much of the 50's as an assistant to Henri Langlois. This time Anger channels Carne with a dose of do-Wop as Pierrot, Harlequin and Columbine do their thing to the Flamingos, the Dells, the Capris and the El Dorados.
The Rock 'n roll continues with Scorpio Rising. Shot during the same era when American Graffiti was set, the film presents a panoply of satanic, gay bikers to a contemporaneous mix of Elvis, Ricky Nelson, the Crystals and a song that might be familiar to David Lynch fans. Martin Scorsese loves this film and has reminisced, "It seemed as if nothing else existed, as if everything else had been wiped clean, and we were seeing the first images - totemic, talismanic images."
A short follow-up, Kustom Kar Kommandos, presents a young man who loves his car more than Kenneth Pinyan loved horses.
And there you have it!
Scandalous!
Three Dollar Bill Cinema @ The NWFF
Thursday, April 26,7:00 PM
seattlequeerfilm.org

Kenneth Anger at Three Dollar Bill Cinema

905-300x300.gif

"His expression was of the erotic realm - the neurotic gothic deviated sex-colored world and it was a turning inside out of himself and magnificent." -Jack Smith on Josef von Sternberg

Like Jack Smith, Kenneth Anger's films have long languished on prints and video-cassettes of varying quality. To complicate matters, Anger, like Smith, continued to tinker with his films long after he made them. Some, like Rabbit's Moon, appeared every few years with a different cut and soundtrack [the first version I saw had a booming score by the Electric Light Orchestra!]

Using high definition transfers and MTI digital restoration software, The UCLA Film & Television Archive [with Anger's cooperation] has restored the key films of his oeuvre to a luster that shines like the ruby in Isis's diadem. Fantoma has released the first batch of these on DVD with a second batch to follow, but those of you who live in Seattle have the additional opportunity of seeing newly minted prints of Fireworks, Rabbit's Moon, Scorpio Rising and Kustom Kar Kommandos as part of Three Dollar Bill Cinema's 'Scandalous' series. And that's not all! In addition, TDB will be screening Elliott's Suicide, Anger's 2004 meditation on his erstwhile neighbor, Elliott Smith as well as Un Chant D'Amour by Jean Genet.
Although not his first film, Fireworks is the first entry into what Anger would call the Magick Lantern cycle. Shot in 1947, the same year Querelle was published, Anger directed the film at the age of 17 or 20 [depending on which bio you read] during a weekend when his parents where away. Under the influence of Le Sang d'un po/(R)te, the film serves a cocktail of Cocteau with a garnish of Genet, mostly in the guise of what Anger refers to as 'real sailors!' As Anger summarizes, "This flick is all I have to say about being 17, the United States Navy, American Christmas and the Fourth of July."
Rabbit's Moon was shot under the sponsorship of the Cinematheque Fran/ssaise where Anger spent much of the 50's as an assistant to Henri Langlois. This time Anger channels Carne with a dose of do-Wop as Pierrot, Harlequin and Columbine do their thing to the Flamingos, the Dells, the Capris and the El Dorados.
The Rock 'n roll continues with Scorpio Rising. Shot during the same era when American Graffiti was set, the film presents a panoply of satanic, gay bikers to a contemporaneous mix of Elvis, Ricky Nelson, the Crystals and a song that might be familiar to David Lynch fans. Martin Scorsese loves this film and has reminisced, "It seemed as if nothing else existed, as if everything else had been wiped clean, and we were seeing the first images - totemic, talismanic images."
A short follow-up, Kustom Kar Kommandos, presents a young man who loves his car more than Kenneth Pinyan loved horses.
And there you have it!
Scandalous!
Three Dollar Bill Cinema @ The NWFF
Thursday, April 26,7:00 PM
seattlequeerfilm.org

Thursday, April 19, 2007

White Man's Burden

After the Wedding / Efter brylluppet
(Susan Bier, Denmark, rated R, 119 mins.)


after the wedding.jpg
Jacob after the wedding

Susan Bier's Oscar-nominated ninth is two films in one. I have mixed feelings
about both. On the one hand, it's a domestic drama. On the other, it's a comment on Third World poverty. Mostly, though, it's an old fashioned melodrama.

Just as the Iraq War provided the backdrop to Brothers (2004), Indian orphans provide the backdrop to After the Wedding. But just as Brothers was more concerned with post-traumatic stress disorder, regardless as to the cause, After the Wedding
is more concerned with guilt and denial...regardless as to the cause.

Consequently, the orphanage scenes that book-end the film feel more like atmosphere than a serious exploration of a major issue. This happens in a
lot of well meaning Western films, and it always makes me uncomfortable.
The movie's real subject is Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen, who last worked with Bier in 2002's Open Hearts). He's a Danish aid worker who moved to Bombay 20 years ago and never looked back. But it could've easily been anywhere with photogenic kids.
atw2.jpg
J/PIrgen gets what he wants
As it turns out, Jacob's reasons for relocating were more hedonistic than altruistic,
but now he truly cares about his charges, and has little interest in the West.
Despite his best efforts to leave it all behind, the outside world comes calling
in the form of entrepreneur J/PIrgen (Rolf Lassg/*rd), who offers to infuse his
faltering orphanage with four million dollars if he'll fly back to Copenhagen to
make a case for the funds-all expenses paid, of course. So, he does, but it's
obvious his potential benefactor isn't really listening to his well rehearsed pitch.
Then J/PIrgen invites him to his daughter Anna's wedding. Jacob would prefer not to involve himself in this man's personal affairs, but if that's what it takes, he'll do it.
At the wedding, Jacob is shocked to find that J/PIrgen is married to his ex-girlfriend, Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen). Jorgen swears he had no idea. Helene accompanied Jacob to India all those years ago, but returned to Europe when things got too weird.
Then Jacob gets a good look at Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen), puts two and two together, and figures out his connection to J/PIrgen. It pisses him off. By the end
of the movie, he'll know why he was really invited to Denmark. As he suspects, it doesn't have much to do with the orphanage. And that's true of the film, as well.
atw4.jpg
J/PIrgen comforts Anna
I was tempted to end there, but that would be disingenious. The thing is, I like Susan Bier's movies. I have problems with Anders Thomas Jensen's overly-
schematic screenplays, but tend to get caught up in their machinations anyway.
Jensen also provided the scripts for Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, Mifune, and The
King is Alive
, and wrote and directed last year's Adam's Apples (clearly, he likes
to write for Mikkelsen). As for Bier, she's an excellent director of actors, and the entire Wedding ensemble rises to the occasion, especially Mikkelsen, Knudsen,
and Lassg/*rd. (Christensen isn't bad, but she's outclassed by the three veterans.)
Some critics don't like the way Bier gets in tight on faces, but I don't mind. It's not as if she turns them into gargoyles (which actually works in David Lynch's favor). I think she just wants us to be with them in the moment, and the actors pull it off.
Naturally, Hollywood's come calling, and Bier is currently putting the finishing touches on her first English-language production, Things We Lost in the Fire with Halle Berry, Benicio del Toro, and David Duchovny. Open Hearts and Brothers are also earmarked for US remakes (the former by Zach Braff). American studios love movies about
guilt and denial, but rarely get the balance right. At least Bier comes close.
So, against my better judgment and because, to paraphrase Donna Summer,
I enjoy watching actors work hard for the money-much like Mikkelsen's character is forced to do-I would recommend After the Wedding. But I'll end with a warning. The film's unofficial theme song is "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls. It plays not once, but twice. I'll take a schematic screenplay over that irritating disco anthem any day. Can it really be a Danish wedding favorite? If so, they have my sympathies.
atw3.jpg
Helene admires Jacob's bone structure
After the Wedding opens at the Egyptian on 4/20. The theater is located at 805 East Pine St. For more information, please call 206-781-5755 or visit Landmark Theatres.

White Man's Burden

After the Wedding / Efter brylluppet
(Susan Bier, Denmark, rated R, 119 mins.)


after the wedding.jpg
Jacob after the wedding

Susan Bier's Oscar-nominated ninth is two films in one. I have mixed feelings
about both. On the one hand, it's a domestic drama. On the other, it's a comment on Third World poverty. Mostly, though, it's an old fashioned melodrama.

Just as the Iraq War provided the backdrop to Brothers (2004), Indian orphans provide the backdrop to After the Wedding. But just as Brothers was more concerned with post-traumatic stress disorder, regardless as to the cause, After the Wedding
is more concerned with guilt and denial...regardless as to the cause.

Consequently, the orphanage scenes that book-end the film feel more like atmosphere than a serious exploration of a major issue. This happens in a
lot of well meaning Western films, and it always makes me uncomfortable.
The movie's real subject is Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen, who last worked with Bier in 2002's Open Hearts). He's a Danish aid worker who moved to Bombay 20 years ago and never looked back. But it could've easily been anywhere with photogenic kids.
atw2.jpg
Jørgen gets what he wants
As it turns out, Jacob's reasons for relocating were more hedonistic than altruistic,
but now he truly cares about his charges, and has little interest in the West.
Despite his best efforts to leave it all behind, the outside world comes calling
in the form of entrepreneur Jørgen (Rolf Lassgård), who offers to infuse his
faltering orphanage with four million dollars if he'll fly back to Copenhagen to
make a case for the funds -- all expenses paid, of course. So, he does, but it's
obvious his potential benefactor isn't really listening to his well rehearsed pitch.
Then Jørgen invites him to his daughter Anna's wedding. Jacob would prefer not to involve himself in this man's personal affairs, but if that's what it takes, he'll do it.
At the wedding, Jacob is shocked to find that Jørgen is married to his ex-girlfriend, Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen). Jorgen swears he had no idea. Helene accompanied Jacob to India all those years ago, but returned to Europe when things got too weird.
Then Jacob gets a good look at Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen), puts two and two together, and figures out his connection to Jørgen. It pisses him off. By the end
of the movie, he'll know why he was really invited to Denmark. As he suspects, it doesn't have much to do with the orphanage. And that's true of the film, as well.
atw4.jpg
Jørgen comforts Anna
I was tempted to end there, but that would be disingenious. The thing is, I like Susan Bier's movies. I have problems with Anders Thomas Jensen's overly-
schematic screenplays, but tend to get caught up in their machinations anyway.
Jensen also provided the scripts for Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, Mifune, and The
King is Alive
, and wrote and directed last year's Adam's Apples (clearly, he likes
to write for Mikkelsen). As for Bier, she's an excellent director of actors, and the entire Wedding ensemble rises to the occasion, especially Mikkelsen, Knudsen,
and Lassgård. (Christensen isn't bad, but she's outclassed by the three veterans.)
Some critics don't like the way Bier gets in tight on faces, but I don't mind. It's not as if she turns them into gargoyles (which actually works in David Lynch's favor). I think she just wants us to be with them in the moment, and the actors pull it off.
Naturally, Hollywood's come calling, and Bier is currently putting the finishing touches on her first English-language production, Things We Lost in the Fire with Halle Berry, Benicio del Toro, and David Duchovny. Open Hearts and Brothers are also earmarked for US remakes (the former by Zach Braff). American studios love movies about
guilt and denial, but rarely get the balance right. At least Bier comes close.
So, against my better judgment and because, to paraphrase Donna Summer,
I enjoy watching actors work hard for the money -- much like Mikkelsen's character is forced to do -- I would recommend After the Wedding. But I'll end with a warning. The film's unofficial theme song is "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls. It plays not once, but twice. I'll take a schematic screenplay over that irritating disco anthem any day. Can it really be a Danish wedding favorite? If so, they have my sympathies.
atw3.jpg
Helene admires Jacob's bone structure
After the Wedding opens at the Egyptian on 4/20. The theater is located at 805 East Pine St. For more information, please call 206-781-5755 or visit Landmark Theatres.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Married Couple at NWFF

After having made Warrendale [68], a documentary about emotionally disturbed children, Toronto director Allan King wanted to make a film about married life. Inspired by the breakdown of his own marriage and the fact that his parents, "seemed incapable of talking to each other," he wanted to explore the nitty-gritty of what goes on between a husband and wife. Not being able to find any couples willing to expose their dirty laundry on film, he asked his friends, advertising copywriter Billy Edwards and his wife, Antoinette, to do the picture. Billy and Antoinette were a little flamboyant and exhibitionistic, so they seemed like a good choice. Plus, Richard Leiterman, the cameraman and Chris Wangler, the soundman, were also friends, so an intimate rapport seemed assured.

King and the crew spent ten weeks documenting Billy and Antoinette, along with their three-year-old, Bogart, and the dog, Merton, and got more than they bargained for. The film begins with an exterior shot of a house nice enough to remind you of what a single"ncome family could afford in 1969, as a pleasing guitar ditty is strummed by Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful. A pair of dinner guests are said goodnight to and, privacy regained, Billy begins complaining that his expensive new shoes pinch his feet. Antoinette tells him to just throw them away but he protests that he paid $40 for them! A discussion on home improvements ensues, somehow prompting this exchange:
--Where do you think we should put the harpsichord?

--Same place we're going to put the rock band. What harpsichord?

--That I'm going to buy.

--You're not gonna buy a harpsichord.

--Oh yes I am, with my pocket money.

--You don't need a harpsichord. I'll get you a harmonica. The money has to go for things that we need.

--Well, we need a harpsichord.

--We need a harpsichord like we need a hole in the head.

Ah, but it's never about the harpsichord. If one gets the sense the Edwards are acting a tad too much like the Kramdens, it's an impression they appear willing to give. Things aren't helped by the fact that Antoinette has a voice remarkably similar to Audrey Meadows and, if Billy doesn't resemble the Great One, he could have easily have been separated at birth from fellow Torontan, Graham Jarvis.
However, the marital discord soon escalates to a level that would have had Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret thinking they had a pretty good thing and nobody is saying, "Baby, you're the greatest." It's not so much that they argue with each other, it's that they argue at each other. Each seemingly vying to win the 'most put-upon in the world' sweepstakes. After ten minutes of "You shut up!" "No, you shut up!" you feel like screaming, "Hey, you live in a nice house with a nice kid and a nice dog in a nice country where you don't have to worry about war or crime or dirt and shoes are only $40 a pair. So, the both of you, shut the fuck up!"
Their son, Bogart, seems to spend most of the film in bemused detachment, though whether that's from an unusual sense of restraint or a general state of shock is anyone's guess. And Merton? Well, he's just along for the ride. In any case, what does it say about a family where the most well behaved members are the dog and kid?
If the arguing isn't enough to make you want to flee the room, there's the additional deal-breaker of Billy's habit of lounging about in the nude or, worse yet, strutting about in a pair of red bikini-briefs. As of this writing, I still haven't determined if I should rip my eyes out.
If the film provides one thing that is usefully illuminating, it's a depiction of the state of gender-relations in the pre-feminist era. Although neither is likeable, Antoinette is more sympathetic, mostly because, as a housewife, she doesn't seem to be trading away a few years till her son gets into nursery school so much as she seems to be serving a life sentence chained to the vacuum cleaner. When she makes the point that she does all the shopping, all the cooking, all the cleaning and raises the kid and gets nary a compliment for it, Billy explodes that he's the breadwinner and everything she owns is because of him. Witnessing this, you can't help but realize why there was a Betty Friedan. Adding injury to insult, Billy displays the kind of nasty behavior that wasn't even regarded as abusive back then. Despite this, Antoinette remains committed to the marriage, mostly because she can't seem to comprehend any other alternative.
So, unless you're dying to see what a tastefully decorated home looked like in 1969, rent Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or Married With Children, but if you really want to see what Norman Mailer called an 'excrementious relationship' watch A Married Couple.
A Married Couple [96 min.]
NWFF, April 24-25, Tues-Wed. at 7, 9pm

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Outage


My apologies for the downtime today. There may be more over the next week or so. I'm prepping the web server for the upgrade and getting comprehensive backups in place in case of disaster. Tie a knot in your quipu for me.



Please don't piss in the ditches

GLASTONBURY
(Julien Temple, UK, rated R, 138 mins.)


photo05hirespt2.jpg
Mrs. Matthew Barney

If you've seen the ads for Glastonbury, you've probably noticed the familiar visage of Chris Martin. If you're a Coldplay fan, you've probably been intrigued. If not, you've probably been turned off. Adding to the Lollapalooza vibe, the poster features splayed legs, peace signs, and the tagline, "The mud. The music. The madness."

Either way, you might have assumed the film documents one year at the world's longest-running music festival. That's what I was expecting-and that's what Glastonbury: The Movie (1995) delivers-but nothing could be further from the truth.

Directed by Julien Temple (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, The Filth and the Fury), Glastonbury explores all aspects of the UK event, from its inception in 1970 up to 2005. What wasn't shot by Temple and his crew comes from previously existing footage, some shot by fans and some by pros, like Nicolas Roeg and producer
David Puttnam for Glastonbury Fayre (1972), Peter Neal's take on the early days.

glastonbury-0.jpg
Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow
In other words, you can't really compare Glastonbury to Woodstock, Festival,
Message to Love, or even more contemporary films, like Coachella. It's a mash-up
of all the above-from Terry Reid to Toots and the Maytals, Melanie to the Scissor Sisters, Richie Havens to, well, Coldplay [above], although festival regulars Van Morrison, Hawkwind, and Elvis Costello are conspicuous by their absence.
For me, the highlights are Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ("Red Right Hand"), Pulp ("Common People"), and Bj/drk ("Human Behavior"). (Radiohead's fine performance of "Fake Plastic Trees," unfortunately, isn't allowed to play in its entirety.)
Since Glastonbury is a full-on documentary, not a concert film, the focus isn't on complete sets. And when Temple does feature songs, which is often, there are
lots of cutaways (he was one of Britain's premiere video directors in the 1980s).
Radiohead_thumb.jpg
Radiohead's Thom Yorke
That means the movie isn't just about the performers, but the millions of music lovers who've been traveling to the West Country for over 35 years. It's also about the festival workers, the townspeople, the travelers, the authorities, the gate-crashers, and festival founder and bushy-bearded dairy farmer Michael Eavis.
Although I enjoyed Glastonbury, the reviews have been mixed, and I'm not surprised. Those expecting a traditional concert film, will probably want to look elsewhere.
For a wide-ranging exploration of a major festival, however, this rambling document offers a wealth of riches, including-or in spite of-all the acid-addled hippies, lager-filled punkers, and ecstasy-fueled ravers (and most of the former are nude).
While I enjoyed a few fests back in the day, I no longer have the time or patience. Glastonbury allows music fans to enjoy the sights and sounds without having to experience the smells and other "fringe benefits" of the festival experience.
*****
Please don't shit in the hedges.
-- Sign on the Glastonbury grounds
Gls-Pulp.jpg
Pulp's Jarvis Cocker
I have no idea whether Temple's Joe Strummer doc (The Future is Unwritten) will play this year's SIFF, but I'm crossing my fingers. It garnered raves at Sundance, and seems like a great fit. Glastonbury is currently playing at the Varsity Theater. The Varsity is located at 4329 University Way N.E. For more information, please visit Landmark and/or THINKfilm. You can also call the Varsity at 206-781-5755.

Please don't piss in the ditches

GLASTONBURY
(Julien Temple, UK, rated R, 138 mins.)


photo05hirespt2.jpg
Mrs. Matthew Barney

If you've seen the ads for Glastonbury, you've probably noticed the familiar visage of Chris Martin. If you're a Coldplay fan, you've probably been intrigued. If not, you've probably been turned off. Adding to the Lollapalooza vibe, the poster features splayed legs, peace signs, and the tagline, "The mud. The music. The madness."

Either way, you might have assumed the film documents one year at the world's longest-running music festival. That's what I was expecting -- and that's what Glastonbury: The Movie (1995) delivers -- but nothing could be further from the truth.

Directed by Julien Temple (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, The Filth and the Fury), Glastonbury explores all aspects of the UK event, from its inception in 1970 up to 2005. What wasn't shot by Temple and his crew comes from previously existing footage, some shot by fans and some by pros, like Nicolas Roeg and producer
David Puttnam for Glastonbury Fayre (1972), Peter Neal's take on the early days.

glastonbury-0.jpg
Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow
In other words, you can't really compare Glastonbury to Woodstock, Festival,
Message to Love, or even more contemporary films, like Coachella. It's a mash-up
of all the above -- from Terry Reid to Toots and the Maytals, Melanie to the Scissor Sisters, Richie Havens to, well, Coldplay [above], although festival regulars Van Morrison, Hawkwind, and Elvis Costello are conspicuous by their absence.
For me, the highlights are Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ("Red Right Hand"), Pulp ("Common People"), and Björk ("Human Behavior"). (Radiohead's fine performance of "Fake Plastic Trees," unfortunately, isn't allowed to play in its entirety.)
Since Glastonbury is a full-on documentary, not a concert film, the focus isn't on complete sets. And when Temple does feature songs, which is often, there are
lots of cutaways (he was one of Britain's premiere video directors in the 1980s).
Radiohead_thumb.jpg
Radiohead's Thom Yorke
That means the movie isn't just about the performers, but the millions of music lovers who've been traveling to the West Country for over 35 years. It's also about the festival workers, the townspeople, the travelers, the authorities, the gate-crashers, and festival founder and bushy-bearded dairy farmer Michael Eavis.
Although I enjoyed Glastonbury, the reviews have been mixed, and I'm not surprised. Those expecting a traditional concert film, will probably want to look elsewhere.
For a wide-ranging exploration of a major festival, however, this rambling document offers a wealth of riches, including -- or in spite of -- all the acid-addled hippies, lager-filled punkers, and ecstasy-fueled ravers (and most of the former are nude).
While I enjoyed a few fests back in the day, I no longer have the time or patience. Glastonbury allows music fans to enjoy the sights and sounds without having to experience the smells and other "fringe benefits" of the festival experience.
*****
Please don't shit in the hedges.
-- Sign on the Glastonbury grounds
Gls-Pulp.jpg
Pulp's Jarvis Cocker
I have no idea whether Temple's Joe Strummer doc (The Future is Unwritten) will play this year's SIFF, but I'm crossing my fingers. It garnered raves at Sundance, and seems like a great fit. Glastonbury is currently playing at the Varsity Theater. The Varsity is located at 4329 University Way N.E. For more information, please visit Landmark and/or THINKfilm. You can also call the Varsity at 206-781-5755.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Speaking of Godard

Like Kathy, I saw the 2 or 3 Things screening at the NWFF and I agree, of the 17 Godard films I've seen [also counting Histoire(s) as 1], it's among my least favorite.

I also watched John and Mary the other night, a Peter Yates movie from 1969 with Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow. It's not a particularly good picture and, aside from a few temporal shifts, it's certainly not Godardian, but Godard is invoked early on in a scene where Hoffman [John] first meets Farrow [Mary] at a bar. He's making his way through the crowd, when he overhears a conversation about one of my favorite films, Weekend.

Dean - Whatever type of person made that movie must be sick in the head. Ten miles of traffic james and human beings eating each other in the bushes? He must be sick.

Fran - Maybe we're sick. Does that occur to you?

Dean - No it doesn't. It doesn't occur to me at all.

Mary - You blow your mind in traffic.

Dean - So, I blow my mind in traffic, but I don't eat my girlfriend.

Fran - I should be so lucky.

Dean - You know what I mean. I like a movie that has a beginning, a middle, and an end and in that order so you can follow it.

Mary - It's meant to be symbolic, Dean.

Dean - Pardon me?

Mary - I said it's meant to be...

Sensing a conversational opportunity, John interjects.

John - Symbolic. That's right. That's exactly what it's meant to be.

Mary - I beg your pardon?

John - I saw that movie at the film festival. I thought it was totally symobolic of our materialistic age.

Mary - Yeah, that's right. That's exactly what it is. Thank you very much.

John goes to fetch a round of drinks at the bar and Mary appears next to him.

John - I'm glad you liked that movie.

Mary - I didn't.

John - Really?

Mary - Not much. I just didn't like him not liking it.

Speaking of Godard

Like Kathy, I saw the 2 or 3 Things screening at the NWFF and I agree, of the 17 Godard films I've seen [also counting Histoire(s) as 1], it's among my least favorite.

I also watched John and Mary the other night, a Peter Yates movie from 1969 with Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow. It's not a particularly good picture and, aside from a few temporal shifts, it's certainly not Godardian, but Godard is invoked early on in a scene where Hoffman [John] first meets Farrow [Mary] at a bar. He's making his way through the crowd, when he overhears a conversation about one of my favorite films, Weekend.

Dean - Whatever type of person made that movie must be sick in the head. Ten miles of traffic james and human beings eating each other in the bushes? He must be sick.

Fran - Maybe we're sick. Does that occur to you?

Dean - No it doesn't. It doesn't occur to me at all.

Mary - You blow your mind in traffic.

Dean - So, I blow my mind in traffic, but I don't eat my girlfriend.

Fran - I should be so lucky.

Dean - You know what I mean. I like a movie that has a beginning, a middle, and an end and in that order so you can follow it.

Mary - It's meant to be symbolic, Dean.

Dean - Pardon me?

Mary - I said it's meant to be...

Sensing a conversational opportunity, John interjects.

John - Symbolic. That's right. That's exactly what it's meant to be.

Mary - I beg your pardon?

John - I saw that movie at the film festival. I thought it was totally symobolic of our materialistic age.

Mary - Yeah, that's right. That's exactly what it is. Thank you very much.

John goes to fetch a round of drinks at the bar and Mary appears next to him.

John - I'm glad you liked that movie.

Mary - I didn't.

John - Really?

Mary - Not much. I just didn't like him not liking it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Dead Objects Live On

Two or Three Things I Know About Her / 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle
(Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1966, 35mm, 90 mins.)


2ou3choses5sm.jpg
Juliette Janson: housewife, zombie, robot, prostitute

Living people are often dead already.
-- Narrator

*****

By my count, I've seen 11 Godard films. I'm counting the monumental Histoire(s) du cinema (1988-1998) series as one, just as I'm counting the short Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a Still (1972) as another (it's an extra on the Tout va bien DVD). I suppose that's a lot, although I've yet to see Les Carabiniers, Alphaville, Pierrot le fou, La Chinoise, Sympathy for the Devil, and Le Petit soldat. That's a lot, too, but once I've seen those six, I may call it a day as far as JLG is concerned.

Between 1960 and 1967, the director was on a roll. My favorites from this period include /Ae bout de souffle (Breathless), Bande /* part (Band of Outsiders), and Le Mepris (Contempt). Of course, they're important, influential pictures, but they're also terribly enjoyable-despite the fact that all three end tragically. After that, his work becomes increasingly sour and schematic. The last film I caught was 2001's /aloge de l'amour (In Praise of Love), which has some lovely DV images, but turned me off the man for good. I found the shots at America, in general, and Steven Spielberg, in particular, mean-spirited. And it felt more like jealousy than genuine criticism.


Godard can be fun! (1964's Band of Outsiders)
This long-winded prelude is to say that I didn't much care for Two or Three Things I Know About Her, one of his most celebrated works. Maybe my expectations were too high. As J. Hoberman (The Village Voice) opines, it's "one of the top ten films of the 20th century." Now that I've read a bit about the movie, I appreciate it more, but I also think it marks the point at which the rot starts to set in. I'm not arguing that Godard didn't make any significant films afterwards, but his anti-American, anti-consumerist message starts to drown out character, story, and sense of fun.
Not only did I find my mind wandering during Two or Three Things, which isn't that long, but I felt like I was being hectored. Interestingly, Godard's voice of God narration is whispered rather than spoken. For some reason, I found that even
more irritating. It's as if he were personally criticizing my vile materialistic ways.
Godard may not have felt the same about his intended audience, but he does feel that way about Juliette Janson (Marina Vlady, one of his least expressive leading ladies), who spends the entire time shopping, hanging out in coffee shops, and turning tricks. (The title refers as much to Paris as to automatons like Juliette.) Her husband appears to make a decent living, but she's just gotta have all those cute designer dresses. Other attractive young women pop up throughout to testify about the glories of consumer goods. All are dressed in the latest 1960s styles.
As Michael Guillen (The Evening Class) notes, "I found the film's maverick sensibility quaint, if that's a word that can be used with regard to Godard's iconoclastic adventures. Quaint and oddly nostalgic; dated enough to make it palatable but not so much so that I lost complete interest." Similarly, I didn't enjoy the film as essay, but I did appreciate it as a time capsule of a particular time, place, and mindset.
I don't doubt that many of those who hold Two or Three Things in high esteem enjoy it as much as they appreciate it, but for me any enjoyment was surface. I like the way the film looks, and the famous close-ups, like "the world in a coffee cup" sequence, are just as cool as I expected. (The widescreen images are credited to Godard regular Raoul Coutard.) And yes, I did find it amusing that Juliette's day care doubles as a brothel-Godard's sense of fun hadn't completely abandoned him.
Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian) also feels that the "movie shows the great man apparently on the point of becoming unmoored from his early transparent approach to narrative and character, and drifting off downstream into the thickets of impenetrability and theoretical complexity." Phillip French adds that "the picture is alternately naive and sophisticated, silly and profound, and Godard's commentary,AePis an anti-American, anti-Gaullist and anti-capitalist diatribe." God, I love the British.
I've been making an effort to see all the major movies, so Two or Three Things counts as one down, hundreds to go. Once I've seen it again-assuming I can muster the enthusiasm-I'll probably appreciate it more. Maybe I'll even enjoy it. I just don't think watching films should feel like work. And after being hectored for 90 minutes about being a brain-dead consumer, it just made me want to go shopping.
Pax Americana: jumbo-sized brainwashing.
-- Narrator
2or3webgraphic_Bsm.jpg
Two or Three Things I Know about Her, in a new 35mm CinemaScope print, plays the Northwest Film Forum through April 5th at 7 and 9pm. The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. For more information, please click here. You can also call 206-329-2629 for general info and 206-267-5380 for show times.

Dead Objects Live On

Two or Three Things I Know About Her / 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle
(Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1966, 35mm, 90 mins.)


2ou3choses5sm.jpg
Juliette Janson: housewife, zombie, robot, prostitute

Living people are often dead already.
-- Narrator

*****

By my count, I've seen 11 Godard films. I'm counting the monumental Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-1998) series as one, just as I'm counting the short Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a Still (1972) as another (it's an extra on the Tout va bien DVD). I suppose that's a lot, although I've yet to see Les Carabiniers, Alphaville, Pierrot le fou, La Chinoise, Sympathy for the Devil, and Le Petit soldat. That's a lot, too, but once I've seen those six, I may call it a day as far as JLG is concerned.

Between 1960 and 1967, the director was on a roll. My favorites from this period include À bout de souffle (Breathless), Bande à part (Band of Outsiders), and Le Mépris (Contempt). Of course, they're important, influential pictures, but they're also terribly enjoyable -- despite the fact that all three end tragically. After that, his work becomes increasingly sour and schematic. The last film I caught was 2001's Éloge de l'amour (In Praise of Love), which has some lovely DV images, but turned me off the man for good. I found the shots at America, in general, and Steven Spielberg, in particular, mean-spirited. And it felt more like jealousy than genuine criticism.


Godard can be fun! (1964's Band of Outsiders)
This long-winded prelude is to say that I didn't much care for Two or Three Things I Know About Her, one of his most celebrated works. Maybe my expectations were too high. As J. Hoberman (The Village Voice) opines, it's "one of the top ten films of the 20th century." Now that I've read a bit about the movie, I appreciate it more, but I also think it marks the point at which the rot starts to set in. I'm not arguing that Godard didn't make any significant films afterwards, but his anti-American, anti-consumerist message starts to drown out character, story, and sense of fun.
Not only did I find my mind wandering during Two or Three Things, which isn't that long, but I felt like I was being hectored. Interestingly, Godard's voice of God narration is whispered rather than spoken. For some reason, I found that even
more irritating. It's as if he were personally criticizing my vile materialistic ways.
Godard may not have felt the same about his intended audience, but he does feel that way about Juliette Janson (Marina Vlady, one of his least expressive leading ladies), who spends the entire time shopping, hanging out in coffee shops, and turning tricks. (The title refers as much to Paris as to automatons like Juliette.) Her husband appears to make a decent living, but she's just gotta have all those cute designer dresses. Other attractive young women pop up throughout to testify about the glories of consumer goods. All are dressed in the latest 1960s styles.
As Michael Guillén (The Evening Class) notes, "I found the film's maverick sensibility quaint, if that's a word that can be used with regard to Godard's iconoclastic adventures. Quaint and oddly nostalgic; dated enough to make it palatable but not so much so that I lost complete interest." Similarly, I didn't enjoy the film as essay, but I did appreciate it as a time capsule of a particular time, place, and mindset.
I don't doubt that many of those who hold Two or Three Things in high esteem enjoy it as much as they appreciate it, but for me any enjoyment was surface. I like the way the film looks, and the famous close-ups, like "the world in a coffee cup" sequence, are just as cool as I expected. (The widescreen images are credited to Godard regular Raoul Coutard.) And yes, I did find it amusing that Juliette's day care doubles as a brothel -- Godard's sense of fun hadn't completely abandoned him.
Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian) also feels that the "movie shows the great man apparently on the point of becoming unmoored from his early transparent approach to narrative and character, and drifting off downstream into the thickets of impenetrability and theoretical complexity." Phillip French adds that "the picture is alternately naive and sophisticated, silly and profound, and Godard's commentary:is an anti-American, anti-Gaullist and anti-capitalist diatribe." God, I love the British.
I've been making an effort to see all the major movies, so Two or Three Things counts as one down, hundreds to go. Once I've seen it again -- assuming I can muster the enthusiasm -- I'll probably appreciate it more. Maybe I'll even enjoy it. I just don't think watching films should feel like work. And after being hectored for 90 minutes about being a brain-dead consumer, it just made me want to go shopping.
Pax Americana: jumbo-sized brainwashing.
-- Narrator
2or3webgraphic_Bsm.jpg
Two or Three Things I Know about Her, in a new 35mm CinemaScope print, plays the Northwest Film Forum through April 5th at 7 and 9pm. The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. For more information, please click here. You can also call 206-329-2629 for general info and 206-267-5380 for show times.