Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Brief Moment In "Late Spring"

From Yasujiro Ozu's "Late Spring", 1949.

Ozu's images are very concise, avoiding the sort of techniques that would muddle the image—a dissolve, a fade, a moving camera—which is why this quiet, perfect film posed a bit of a challenge to my fetishistic urge to extract the type of near-abstract frames I've pasted all over this blog.  Here is what I found: a spare image of a train as it emerges from a tunnel.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hitchcock's Cynicism.

From Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps", 1935.

A businessman holds up an artifact; there is demand for brassieres and profit must be made so we shall sell brassieres.  At the same time, under the guise of commerce, he and his companion will winkingly indulge in a little titillation.  The man's wry expression typifies Hitchcock's attitude toward sex in his films.  He knows that the salivating hordes want innuendo, that a glimpse of stocking will increase the box office gross, so he will provide it but at an arm's length.  He would never be so base as to actually be aroused by it (wink).  The viewer is doubly manipulated: Hitchcock satisfies our appetite for sex while simultaneously flattering us by letting us in on the joke.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Marilyn Connects

From Fritz Lang's "Clash By Night", 1952.

"Costumes Are Witchery and Brine"

This is not a film, more an interactive web installation, but I'd like to draw your attention to it anyway.

Jason Nelson's Evil Hypnotizing Robots.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Pianist

From William Klein's "Mr. Freedom", 1969.

Serge Gainsbourg does his best Adrien Brody.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Inner "Outer Space"

Eleven consecutive frames from the forty-third second of Peter Tscherkassky's "Outer Space", 1999.  

This monumental ten-minute film begins with the coruscating image of a house at night, an effect created using a contact printer; Tscherkassky illuminates different portions of the same "found" footage image in each frame.  The resulting stroboscopic montage is beautiful and ominous, disjointed and unsettling.

An archetypal horror image:  the exterior of the victim's house from the perspective of an unknown, presumably malicious force lurking in the darkness.  The house is brightly lit—all the better to be seen from the shadows.  The interior of the house is also dark, its inhabitants unaware and vulnerable.  The refracted image of the facade hints at the ensuing sublimation of the female resident.

These frames pass before the eye in just under half a second.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Outer Space": Essential Films #1

Peter Tscherkassky, 1999.

This short can be found on Other Cinema's compilation DVD "Experiments In Terror".

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tonight On the Little Screen #2

A positive review of Sergei Paradjanov's "The Legend of Suram Fortress", 1984.

The Suram Fortress repeatedly collapses in spite of the dogged efforts of the Georgian people.  A fortune teller is consulted and offers a prophesy:  in order for the fortress to stand, the son of the princess must be walled up inside the building.

Paradjanov constructs the narrative from symmetrical tableaux, straight-on look-into-the-camera close-ups, densely populated wide-angle spectacles, and Mellies-style special effects.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Atlantic City": Killers #2

Louis Malle, 1980.

Robert Joy's peaceful expression suggests a minimal acquaintanceship with the condition of being stabbed in the chest.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Blind Shaft": Killers #1

An early scene from Yang Li's "Blind Shaft", 2003.

Two partners will murder a fellow worker, pass it off as accidental and extort hush money from the owner of the mine.

Of the two, I find this shot more chilling for the man's casualness as he cracks his victim's skull.

Here the expression on the other conspirator's face reminds me of Goya.  For example:

Goya's "Hobgoblins".

Take a few minutes and be humbled by Goya's Caprichos.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Belle De Jour": Feet of unbridled/bridled lust.

Luis Bunuel, 1967.

Severine spends her afternoons working in a brothel as "Belle De Jour", not for money but to be treated as a sex object. Marcel is a thief who will avail himself of her services and become possessive and jealous.

A few details: Severine's shoes have become a prop for her sexual role-play, a carry-over from her "real life" role as the prudish wife of a businessman. The enormous cosmetic buckles fallaciously imply chastity while her rigid legs are submissive without consenting—she maintains the fantasy of virginity seized by a lustful brute, the latter role Marcel gleefully, albeit unwittingly, accepts. Only one of Marcel's shoes has been removed, as though while taking his shoes off he had become impatient and pounced on Severine. His stocking foot curls possessively around Severine's calf, appearing dominant while the symbolic hole in his wrinkled sock reveals his weakness, his vulnerability, his instability. In the end Severine will wield the power, denying Marcel's love and leaving him to lash out violently and impotently.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Brief Encounter

From Louis Malle's "Atlantic City", 1980.

Wallace Shawn's decanting technique suggests a lack of research for his role.  Click the picture to enlarge.

Saturday, July 5, 2008