Sunday, August 25, 2013

Five Films that Challenge the Mind in Time

"The cinema of the avant-garde represents a number of different approaches to the mainstream and is informed by a contrasting set of ideological models. In terms of production, the avant-garde has a history of private sponsorship and state subsidy, as its relationship with the audience is usually one of artisanal self-expression rather than commodity-based economic exploitation. These forms of self-expression run from individualism (as championed by Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage) to collectivism (Surrealism to the various filmmakers' co-ops the world over)". - Rob Bridgett

Un Chien Andalou from amisgal on Vimeo.

Un Chien Andalou
Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) (1929) is a silent surrealist short film by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. It was Buñuel's first film and was initially released in 1929 with a limited showing at Studio des Ursulines in Paris, but became popular and ran for eight months.

The film has no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The chronology of the film is disjointed, jumping from the initial "once upon a time" to "eight years later" without the events or characters changing very much. It uses dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes.

L'Age d'Or
L’Age d’or (The Golden Age) (1930) is a French surrealist comedy directed by Luis Buñuel about the insanities of modern life, the hypocrisy of the sexual mores of bourgeois society and the value system of the Roman Catholic Church. The screenplay is by Salvador Dalí and Buñuel. L'Age d'Or was one of the first sound films made in France, along with Prix de Beauté and Under the Roofs of Paris.

Meshes Of The Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) from SeriousFeather on Vimeo.

Meshes of the Afternoon
Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) is a short experimental film directed by wife-and-husband team, Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid. The film's narrative is circular and repeats several motifs, including a flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a mysterious Grim Reaper–like cloaked figure with a mirror for a face, a phone off the hook and an ocean. Through creative editing, distinct camera angles, and slow motion, the surrealist film depicts a world in which it is more and more difficult to catch reality.

In 1990, Meshes of the Afternoon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", going into the registry in the second year of voting.

Towers Open Fire
Towers Open Fire (1963) is a short film written by William S. Burroughs and filmed by Antony Balch. It was released in 1963 and the cast features Antony Balch, William S. Burroughs, BBC presenter David Jacobs, British sex film producer Bachoo Sen and Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi. Parts of the text read by Burroughs such as the Shitola excerpt is from The Soft Machine. It includes an example of practical magic with Burroughs reciting a curse he composed against the Moka Coffee Shop, for ‘outrageous and unprovoked discourtesy and poisonous cheesecake’ ("Lock them out"). Towers Open Fire uses looped images and audio, sound effects and footage of The Dream Machine device created by Brion Gysin ("Flicker administered to large areas of the brain"). Moroccan music is also included in the mix.

The Cut Ups
The Cut Ups (1963) Directed by Antony Balch. With William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin.
The Cut Ups was completed in 1963 but played much later at the Cinephone Academy Moviehouse in Oxford Street in 1966. Audience members are reputed to have walked out complaining that the film was "disgusting" and then were referred by cinema staff to the "U" certificate it had been granted. It ran for a fortnight and eventually had to be shortened from 20 minutes to 12 minutes because staff and manager couldn't stand running it five times a day. Roy Underhill, the assistant manager at the time, told Balch that during the performances an unusual number of strange articles such as bags, pants, shoes, and coats were left behind, lost property, probably out of complete disorientation.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Andrei Tarkovsky: A Poet in the Cinema (1983)

Rare Extensive Interview with Master Director Andrei Tarkovsky conducted in 1983 by Donatella Baglivo.

Those who find their way into the rich emotional and aesthetic realm of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (see our collection of Free Tarkovsky movies online) might at first assume that nobody can put the experiential appeal of his cinema into words. The well-known writer and Tarkovsky fan Geoff Dyer demonstrated this, in a sense, with his highly entertaining book Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, which ostensibly describes the director’s acclaimed Stalker but actually heads off in a thousand different digressive directions, all of them driven by the writer’s appreciation for the movie. Pictures like Stalker, Solaris, Nostalghia, or The Mirror may set off within you a range of reactions to film you’d never thought possible, but wouldn’t that only make them more difficult to talk about? Rarely do the much-discussed musical rather than intellectual properties of cinema as an art form seem as relevant as when you watch Tarkovsky; the old line comparing writing about music to dancing about architecture comes to mind.  -  From Open Culture

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914)

The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914) is a silent film made by L. Frank Baum's The Oz Film Manufacturing Company. It was based on the book The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum, is a children's novel, the seventh set in the Land of Oz. Characters include the Woozy, Ojo "the Unlucky", Unc Nunkie, Dr. Pipt, Scraps, and others.