Showing posts with label Films. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Films. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chris Bentley's The Wandering Era

Exposure Project collaborator Chris Bentley e-mailed me today to let me know that his new short film, The Wandering Era, is now online. Shot on Pixelvision, the film follows a small group of humans as they travel through the desert in search of other survivors after a series of apocalypses.

The Wandering Era from Chris Bentley on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Marie Menken's Go! Go! Go! (1962-64)

Sometime last year, I saw a collection of Marie Menken's experimental short films at the Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge. I had never seen any of her work before and was, on the whole, really impressed by her sensitivity to light and cinematography. Towards the end of the program, Go! Go! Go! screened and I was truly awed. This 12 minute silent film, comprised of single frame cinematography, presents urban life as a chaotic, fractured and largely hyper-sensory experience.

You can watch more of Menken's short films here.

"Go! Go! Go!"
(1962-64, 16mm, color, silent, 12 min.)
© Marie Menken

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tacita Dean's Kodak

Ubuweb recently added Tacita Dean's 2006 documentary Kodak to their archives. Shot at the Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-Saône, France after the discovery of the closing their film production facility, Dean's film is a beautiful and self-referiential homage to a process whose future is shrouded in uncertainty. As Ubuweb states:

"The 44-minute-long work Kodak constitutes a meditative elegy for the approaching demise of a medium specific to Dean's own practice. Kodak's narrative follows the making of the celluloid as it runs through several miles of machinery. On the day of filming, the factory also ran a test through the system with brown paper, providing a rare opportunity to see the facilities fully illuminated, without the darkness needed to prevent exposure."

To view the film in its entirety go here.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cine Stills: Toby Dammit

I just recently watched Federico Fellini's largely forgotten 1968 film Toby Dammit. Part of a three-episode film released under the moniker Spirits of the Dead, Toby Dammit tells the story of an inebriated British actor (Terrence Stamp) who arrives in Rome on a publicity tour only to be haunted by the devil, who appears to him in the form of a little girl with a bouncing ball (pictured above).

Each episode in based on a different Edgar Allan Poe story. Fellini's film takes its inspiration from "Never Bet the Devil Your Head," while Roger Vadim directs "Metzengerstein" and Louis Malle interprets "William Wilson." I have yet to see Vadim or Malle's efforts, however, Toby Dammit is a surreal and grotesque masterpiece. Anyone familiar with Fellini's work will find definite thematic parallels to many of his others works. As Vicent Canby writes:

"Unlike Poe's story, there is nothing especially cheerful about Fellini's film except its extravagance of visual detail. The last hours in Toby Dammit's life become a typical Fellini fantasmagoria, a descent into a maelstrom of grotesque settings, props and faces, including that of a little girl with long blond hair, not unlike the girl who called soundlessly to Marcello Mastroianni across the tidal rift at the end of "La Dolce Vita." Except for the fact that she has crimson fingernails and a definite leer, you'd hardly recognize her as Old Nick."

Still from Toby Dammit (Spirits of the Dead), 1968. (dir. Tomas Federico Fellini, cine. Giuseppe Rotunno)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Photography On Film At The MFA

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is currently screening a series of films entitled Photography On Film. Unfortunately, I only found out about this series yesterday; it's been ongoing since November 13th. The screenings that still remain are listed below:

Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson
Saturday, December 13, 2008, 10:30 am & Saturday, December 20, 2008, 10:30 am, Remis Auditorium

Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind: Making Pictures
Saturday, December 13, 2008, 12 pm, Remis Auditorium

Manufactured Landscapes
Saturday, December 13, 2008, 2 pm & Thursday, December 18, 2008, 2:30 pm, Remis Auditorium

Karsh: The Searching Eye
Sunday, December 14, 2008, 1:30 pm & Thursday, December 18, 2008, 4 pm, Remis Auditorium

By the Ways: A Journey with William Eggleston
Sunday, December 21, 2008, 10:30 am, Remis Auditorium (Trailer)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cine Stills: Let The Right One In

I saw Tomas Alfredson's Swedish vampire masterpiece Let The Right One In last night. I can safely say it was one of the best films I've seen all year, easily rivaling Man On Wire, Tell No One and Mister Lonely in overall brilliance. Alfredson has created a unique film of incredible stylistic breadth and emotion. Amalgamating genres as diverse as horror, thriller, romance, coming of age tale and, at times, comedy, Let The Right One In is a complex film that subverts the stereotypes typically associated with the genre. The film's beautifully wistful and haunting cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema greatly enhances Alfredson's vision and establishes him as an important voice in contemporary cinema.

Do yourself a favor and go see this film. If you are an American viewer, however, Let The Right One In will reinforce that the vast majority of innovative film is being produced outside the United States.

Still from Let The Right One In, 2008. (dir. Tomas Alfredson, cine. Hoyte Van Hoytema)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cine Stills: Mister Lonely

I saw Harmony Korine's new film Mister Lonely about a month ago, and despite my reservations (due to the fact that I really disliked Julien Donkey Boy) I was pleasantly surprised. The plot centers around a Michael Jackson impersonator who befriends a Marilyn Monroe impersonator in Paris, who in turn persuades Michael to live at a commune in Scotland full of other impersonators. Marilyn Monroe is married to Charlie Chaplin, who have a daughter named Shirley Temple. If that wasn't enough, there is also a subplot with Werner Herzog and skydiving nuns.

The film is beautiful, funny, sad and exceptionally well shot. It possesses some of the enchanting surrealism of Fellini's best films. You can see the trailer for the film here.

Still from Mister Lonely, 2007. (dir. Harmony Korine, cine. Marcel Zyskind)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dan Graham's Rock My Religion

In the early 80's conceptual artist Dan Graham made Rock My Religion, a film that endeavored to understand the links between rock music and religion in contemporary culture. In a description of the film on the Ubuweb site, it states:

"Graham formulates a history that begins with the Shakers, an early religious community who practiced self-denial and ecstatic trance dances. With the "reeling and rocking" of religious revivals as his point of departure, Graham analyzes the emergence of rock music as religion with the teenage consumer in the isolated suburban milieu of the 1950s, locating rock's sexual and ideological context in post-World War II America."

The film is almost a full hour long, but is well worth the time. It feels particularly applicable to American culture even today, almost 25 years after its release. The evangelical crusade against the "subversiveness" of popular culture, and specifically against rock & roll, makes Graham's film an interesting meditation on religious and cultural ideologies.

Image © Dan Graham

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Criterion Collection Releases The Delirious Fictions of William Klein

Acclaimed street photographer/filmmaker William Klein has recently been given the Criterion Collection treatment. The Delirious Fictions of William Klein box set includes the films Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966), Mr. Freedom (1969) and The Model Couple (1977), which have all been digitally remastered and are now available for your viewing pleasure. Below are the informative Criterion synopses.

The Model Couple

In 1977 France, the Ministry of the Future chooses two "normal," white, middle-class citizens, Claudine (Anémone) and Jean-Michel (André Dussolier), for a national experiment. They will be monitored and displayed for six months in a model apartment outfitted with state-of-the-art products and nonstop surveillance—the template for "a new city for the new man." A searing satire of the breakdown of individual freedoms in the face of increasing governmental control, William Klein's The Model Couple deftly investigates the fine line between democracy and totalitarianism.

Mr. Freedom

William Klein moved into more blatantly political territory with this hilarious, angry Vietnam-era spoof of imperialist American foreign policy. Mr. Freedom (John Abbey), a bellowing good-ol'-boy superhero, decked out in copious football padding, jets off to France to cut off a Commie invasion from Switzerland. A destructive, arrogant patriot in tight pants, Freedom joins forces with Marie Madeleine (a satirically sexy Delphine Seyrig) to combat lefty freethinkers, as well as the insidious evildoers Moujik Man and inflatable Red China Man, culminating in a star-spangled showdown of kitschy excess. Delightfully crass, Mr. Freedom is a trenchant, rib-tickling takedown of gaudy modern Americana.

Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?

After a nearly decade as New York Vogue's most subversive fashion photographer, William Klein made this wild, pseudovérité peek into the world of Parisian haute couture. Elegant, scathing humor ties together the various strands of this alternately glamorous and grotesque portrait of American in Paris Polly Maggoo (Dorothy MacGowan), a mannequin-like supermodel who becomes the pinup plaything of media hounds and the fragmented fantasy of haunted Prince Igor (Sami Frey). Klein's first fiction film is a daring deflation of cultural pretensions and institutions, dressed up in ravishing black and white.

Still from Mr. Freedom (dir. William Klein, 1969)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Christian Boltanski Documentary

I came across an hour long documentary about the conceptual artist Christian Boltanski tonight. For anyone who knows, or for that matter doesn't know, Boltanski's work this film will either be a wonderful introduction or a nice addition to what you already know. In either case, it's a fascinating portrait of an important artist.

Image © Christian Boltanski

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cine Stills: Decasia

I just watched Bill Morrison's haunting and hallucinatory experimental film Decasia. Amassed from decaying archival footage, Decasia fuses disparate elements into a cacophonous visual experience. Despite the chaos, or perhaps because of it, the film is incredibly beautiful and viscerally powerful. It is accompanied by an arresting, albeit dissonant, score by composer Michael Gordon, which is ultimately as important an element in the film as the actual footage. The combination of the images and sounds fuse together to create a hypnotic and intensely rhythmic film. In an essay about Decasia on the Creative Capital website, an anonymous author had this to say about the film:

"There are ghosts in Bill Morrison's work -- shadowy illusions that emerge out of a haze of static, scratches, or discoloration for brief moments, then disappear into a chemical darkness. Morrison's intention is to restore meaning to these little apparitions from the dawn of the film age, if not singly, then in a collage with dozens of other similarly retrieved moments."

I highly recommend giving this film a chance. It is at times challenging to watch, but the rewards become evident pretty quickly.

Still from Decasia, 2002. (dir. Bill Morrison)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cine Stills: Nói

I just watched Dagur Kári's film Nói (also called Nói Albínói). Shot predominantly in the winter landscape of Iceland, Nói tells the story of a complex and often bleak adolescence. Beautifully photographed and wonderfully acted, this subtly tragic film distills the searching desire for a different, perhaps better life.

You can find great interviews with both Tómas Lemarquis (the actor who portrays Nói) and director Dagur Kári here.

Still from Nói, 2003. (dir. Dagur Kári, cine. Rasmus Videbæk)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ben Safdie & Red Bucket Films

Since its inception, photography has been revered for illuminating aspects of daily life that exist outside human perception. The Modernist photography movement based much of its authenticity on this very principle, challenging the conventions of artistic consciousness in favor of new ways of viewing the world. This is reminiscent of how I feel about the photographs of Ben Safdie. They depict objects and places that are familiar yet unseen, commonplace yet imaginative. These juxtapositions are what give Safdie's photographs the deadpan humor and vibrancy they possess. You can see more of Ben's photographs here.

Safdie is also a talented filmmaker who works closely with the film collective Red Bucket Films. Their newest film The Pleasure of Being Robbed just recently premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. I was lucky enough to see a screening of it and was truly overwhelmed by how good it was. Stay tuned to their website for updates on future screenings. In the meantime you can see the trailer here.

From Top To Bottom:

Booth on the Rocks , 2006

A Holiday Window , 2006

A Bleached Curtain , 2006

A Rock Exhibit at the Zoo , 2006

All Images © Ben Safdie

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cine Stills: 2046

The films of Wong Kar-Wai are beautiful, melancholic and above all stunningly visual. His longstanding relationship with cinematographer Christopher Doyle has culminated in a recognizable aesthetic that the majority of Kar-Wai's films possess. This collaboration has produced some of the most visually arresting sequences in recent cinema. Doyle's often extreme use of color and texture coupled with his utilization of wide-angle lenses and panning slow motion shots, combine to create whimsical, often surreal imagery.

In addition to 2046, Doyle has collaborated with Wong Kar-Wai on Chung King Express, Fallen Angels, Happy Together, In The Mood For Love and Eros. In The Mood For Love is absolutely one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. However, none of Kar-Wai's films are likely to disappoint.

Still from 2046, 2004. (dir. Wong Kar-Wai, cine. Christopher Doyle)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cine Stills: Paris, Texas

As a new feature on this blog, I am going to start posting still frames from cinematographically significant films. The influence that film has had on photography is unquestionably apparent. It is in many ways hard to separate the two; each has historically informed the other through a closely linked visual past. Some of the most interesting contemporary photography has continued to blur these lines even further. Photographers like Philip Lorca-DiCorcia, Jeff Wall, Lisa Kereszi and Alessandra Sanguinetti are just a few of the more obvious people finding inspiration in cinema.

When I was considering which film to start with, I kept coming back to Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas. The imagery in this film is absolutely breathtaking. It presents a unique vision of the American landscape, one in which beauty is found in the vast, and often, desolate vernacular of the west. The film's power is also heightened by the distinctive use of color and lighting. Robby Müller's camerawork relies on these qualities, and as a result, the film is just as much an exploration of the psychology of color and light as it is a meditation on pain and loss.

Still from Paris, Texas, 1984 (dir. Wim Wenders, cine. Robby Müller)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Joel Meyerowitz's Pop

I recently got my hands on the Joel Meyerowitz directed documentary Pop, a road trip film of sorts chronicling the journey of three generations of Meyerowitz men on the road. More specifically, however, the film reads as a visual journal of Joel's father Hy's battle with Alzheimer's disease. The film begins with Joel and his son Sasha picking their respective father and grandfather in Florida with the goal of bringing him to the Bronx to revisit his familial roots. As Joel states: "Our quest was to see if along the way the adventures and experiences we would have could stimulate his now rapidly failing memory." The film is at times poignant, funny and sad. The emotional strength of the film overshadows the filmmaking from a technical standpoint, which in this particular case is not inherently negative because the story is quite compelling.

You can see an excerpt from Pop here, and if you're so inclined, you can read a review of the film by This American Life's Ira Glass here.

Now that I'm thinking about it, it's kind of oddly coincidental that two of the most prominent color street photographers of the 1970's (Meyerowitz and Mitch Epstein) both made documentaries about their fathers. Epstein's film Dad recounts his father's failing furniture business in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project

Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project is a feature length documentary exploring the work and intimate relationships of photographer Tierney Gearon. The film was shot over a period of three years, capturing an especially tumultuous time in Gearon's life as she relocates from London to Los Angeles and has her third child at the age of 41. The primary of focus of The Mother Project, however, revolves around Gearon's relationship with her mother, who's affliction with mental illness has greatly impacted the lives of those close to her. She therapeutically examines this relationship while simultaneously exploring the dynamic that exists with her own children. In 2001, as Gearon was making a name for herself, her work aroused intense controversy regarding a her series of intimate portraits taken of her children in the nude. As directors Jack Youngelson & Peter Sutherland write:

The documentary addresses the questions that have long been associated with Tierney's controversial work, and by extension, questions that face all artists who draw on their family for inspiration. Are the photographs as therapeutic for her subjects as they are for her? Is the camera Tierney's way of communicating with her family, or is it a protective shield?

For anyone in the Boston area, the Museum of Fine Arts will be showing The Mother Project throughout the month of November. For specific showtimes, click here. The film will also be airing on the Sundance Channel (check here for details) and is also available for purchase here.

Image © Tierney Gearon

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Robert Frank: The Complete Film Works Vol. 2

Robert Frank's influence as a photographer is without question, paramount in scope. After publishing The Americans, Frank attained profound photographic notoriety and arguably authenticated the photography book as a legitimate form of artistic expression. Subsequently, his focus shifted from making still photographs to making films. He spent the better part of the next 20 years building an impressive body of filmic work, one that for a long time was not widely accessible to the masses. Steidl has taken it upon themselves to bring Frank's achievements in film to a broader audience. They will release Robert Frank The Complete Film Works Vol. 2 in September, which includes OK End Here, Conversations In Vermont and Liferaft Earth. Below are descriptions of each of the films.

OK End Here is Frank’s 1963 short film about inertia in a modern relationship. The film alternates between semidocumentary scenes and shots composed with rigid formality, and appears to have been directly influenced by the French Nouvelle Vague and Michelangelo Antonioni’s films. The characters are often only partially visible or physically separated by walls, doors, reflections, or furniture, and the camera relays the story with little rhyme nor reason, a roaming gaze, which seems to lose itself in things of little importance, while at the same time capturing the dominant atmosphere of routine, alienation, and apathy.

Conversations in Vermont
“This film is about the past … when Mary and I got married…. the past and the present … Maybe this film is about growing older … some kind of a family album.” Robert Frank in the Prologue. Produced in 1969, this was Frank’s first autobiographical film, telling the story of a father’s relationship with his two teenaged children, and his fragile attempts to communicate with them by means of a shared story. The shared story is partly told through Frank’s narration over filmed images of his photographs, family photographs and world famous images.

Liferaft Earth begins with a newspaper report from Hayward, California: “Sandwiched between a restaurant and supermarket, 100 anti-population protesters spent their second starving day in a plastic enclosure…. The so-called Hunger Show, a week-long starve-in aimed at dramatizing man’s future in an overpopulated, underfed world….” This film accompanies the people on this “life raft” from 11 to 18 October 1969, and was made by Robert Frank for Stewart Brand, the visionary founder of the international ecological movement and publisher of the bestselling Whole Earth Catalog (1968-85).

Conversations In Vermont, 1969
Image © Robert Frank

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Shadow Of The House

I recently got a chance to see Shadow Of The House, a new documentary film by Allie Humenuk that chronicles the artistic journey of photographer Abelardo Morell over the course of 7 years. For as incongruous and haphazard as the filmmaking is at times, the underlying meditations on the artistic process are quite illuminating. Morrell's photographs expose the beauty in banal everyday objects, things that are often overlooked and deemed commonplace. It is this fundamental curiosity in the world around him that transforms Morell's work from still-life studies into an exploration of the subtle beauties that surround us. At one point in the film, he declares, "It is more fun to photograph the thing, than it to show it." This seeming disinterest in the marketable, "end product" mentality that many contemporary photographers possess enables Morell the artistic liberation to distill these uncharacteristic nuances.

While watching Shadow Of The House I was introduced to Morell's early street photography. He speaks of being highly influenced by masterful street poets such as Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Having only been familiar with Morell's later work, I was pleasantly surprised by his lyrical and spontaneous approach to the street.

The most interesting and poignant part of the film comes toward the end when Morell is commissioned to travel to his native Cuba to make photographs. Conflicted about going, and not wanting to betray his parents wishes, he struggles with the notion of unearthing his Cuban heritage. Ultimately he does go and reconnects with his familial and cultural roots. While visiting with family, Abelardo absorbs first-hand the sorrow and emotional unrest inflicted upon the people by the Castro dictactorship. He explains his reasons for going when stating:

"Trying to figure out the past and not let it haunt you...was the reason I went back...Not letting the demons of memory dictate what I felt about the place."

Photography allowed Morell the opportunity to face his past and almagamate it with the present. Cultural identity is an extremely important element in peoples lives, especially for those who have become expatriates. Abelardo Morell's trip to Cuba appeared cathartic, finally enabling resolution to the 40 void in his cultural lineage.

From Top to Bottom:

Laura and Brady in the Shadow of Our House, 1994

Two Men Behind Glass, 1979

Lisa, Co. Clare, Ireland, 1978

Camera Obscura Image of El Vedado, Havana, Looking Northwest, 2002

All images Copyright Abelardo Morell

Monday, July 2, 2007

Manufactured Landscapes: A Film about Edward Burtynsky

Manufactured Landscapes, a new documentary film by Jennifer Baichwal (Director of The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Adams' Appalachia) follows renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky as he documents the vast industrialization of China. It played the festival circuit over the last year, receiving numerous awards and plenty of acclaim. Now it has been given a well deserved, all be it small national release. In an age of excessive production and consumption, the relevance of Burtynsky's work seems to multiply with every passing day.

Here are the Theaters I found that are playing it:

Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Film Forum
209 W Houston St.
New York, NY

Ritz Five
214 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA

NuArt Theater
11272 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

"A protracted exploration of the aesthetic, social and spiritual dimensions of industrialization and globalization... Raises some sigificant and sobering questions about the impact that we, as humans, make on our environment"

"Manufactured Landscapes tracks the beauty and the horror of industry's imprint on the earth"

All images copyright Edward Burtynsky