Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Hey it's spring. Time for adventures. Time to get hooked on magic, investigate mysterious places, and navigate minefields of romance. Am I right?
Post-production on Speed of Sound is still going on. I'm happy with this new version and am not making deadlines like I was in 2013. However, the only reason I'm not saying it's almost complete is because I've said it before and I don't want to be like the boy who cried wolf. So I'm not saying it's almost done, because of that. I'll be submitting it to festivals starting next month.
I'll be posting here a memoir-like five part making-of "diary" on Speed of Sound in the coming weeks. Maybe because of my friendship with David Fetzer and how we were working on the film, and everything else that followed, I felt compelled to write this. It's been exactly a year since our Indiegogo campaign.
I've been starting some exciting new projects, including Ages Ago-Go, a big, weird concept you'll be hearing more about in the future.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
A behind the scenes doc with the puppeteering involved in the making of Jim Henson's Muppet Show. Beautiful stuff.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Hey there, how's it going? This is casual. A casual introduction to an important Czech filmmaker who passed away today, Věra Chytilová (1929-2014).
In the last month, I've been thinking and journaling about Věra Chytilová so much that I can spell her last name without checking the internet and sort of pronounce it. She was the Czech film director of "Daisies" and "Fruit of Paradise"-- two feature films with one foot in experimental film and one foot in narrative.
To the American watcher, Chytilová is the maker of three available movies: Daisies (1966), Fruit of Paradise (1969), and the short film, Automat Svet (1966), which is part of the omnibus film, Pearls of the Deep. Since the rerelease of Daisies (beautifully done by Janus Films or whoever is responsible for that) and of it's soundtrack (by the wonderful Finders Keepers), its reputation has been growing in the last five years or so.
She made a lot more films than that, but I haven't been able to find them even in bootleg fashion.
Daisies stands out. From descriptions of many of her unavailable films, Daisies remained an unusually bold film for the rest of her career, and many of its attributes were not consistent in her following films. In other words, if you've seen Daisies and want more, get in line. None of us here in the line are really expecting Daisies-calibre awesome shit, though.
But there is Fruit of Paradise, a beguiling and at least equally unconventional feature she made after Daisies. Fruit of Paradise is for now only available from a Facets DVD, and it's print quality doesn't look great. Maybe its reputation will grow once Janus and Finders Keepers get their hands on it, please?
Fruit of Paradise is a great film but let's talk about Daisies.
It's an explosion of creativity and inspiration. It's Chytilová's second feature film. Her first in color. Her husband, Jaroslav Kucera, was the cinematographer on it and was a writer on it. They were expecting their first child while making it. And I think that's interesting.
Another major collaborator was Ester Krumbachová, who worked on the script and design---two big contributions on any film but especially Daisies, since the speeches were the only thing they kept from the script and much of the film plays out in beautifully designed tableaus. Krumbachová was a filmmaker, but primarily a costume designer who worked a bunch of times with Jan Nemec and also did Fruit of Paradise. She's a great, resourceful designer; the more I look at this work the more I admire it. She also co-wrote and designed Valerie and Her Week of Wonders---another amazing film with an amazing soundtrack released by Finders Keepers, and the design is one of the best things about it.
In my readings on Daisies, I haven't found anyone talking about Miroslav Hájek, who edited the film. He also edited Fruit of Paradise and a lot of other big Czech films from the 60's and 70's, like Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde, for instance. I think it's interesting because Daisies has a lot of razzle dazzle in the editing department. And both Daisies and Fruit of Paradise have Stan Brakhage-esque parts with flash edits and unconventional printing that help define them as experimental films. Which isn't to say Hájek is responsible for them, but it raises some interesting questions.
If you haven't seen Daisies, it's available bootleg-style on youtube multiple times, and lookin good on Criterion's Hulu page and DVD.
It's a movie that benefits from multiple viewings. It also avoids easy categorization completely. Psychology feels mocked by the film, like consumerism and romantic relationships. So the traditional arch of storytelling, with one event leading to another while the characters learn about themselves and change, is thrown into Chytilová's bonfire. And yet something keeps Daisies from being angry. It magically stays buoyant and wonderful despite trashing everything. Maybe it's because it's so sexy, funny, and unpredictable. It's a dense 74 minutes.
Based on my amateur research, seems like we've got a couple of films bookending her available films to look forward to checking out. Her first feature, Something Different (1963), which Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote influenced Jacques Rivette's Out 1, and The Apple Game (1976), her first film after being banned from making films and the beginning of a more naturalistic style. She made a lot more films after that but its hard to find much info on them. People writing about Chytilová will refer to other things written about her which I can't find anywhere, including something written by Rivette. What I've been able to find was in Peter Hames expensive book The Czechoslovak New Wave, the liner notes of the record for Daisies, and the internet.
Monday, March 10, 2014
The above clip is from the bizarre psychological drama, Grazie Zia (1968). The soundtrack for this movie by Ennio Morricone is a cult favorite, and readers familiar with my soundtrack night dj-ing in Milwaukee might recognize the music @:43. This film is the source of the beyond sublime "Guerra e pace pollo e brace".
I finally saw the movie recently, from a bootleg-ish version from Scarecrow. It's a dissatisfying, sort of angry and disturbing movie about an incestuous relationship. It's full of great imagery though, as this clip attests. I think its probably even better if you know nothing about the context.
Monday, March 3, 2014
This silent film always seemed like an anomaly to me, not fitting into historical groups or genres of silent film. I was reading about it recently and saw that the director made over 100 features, including Gate of Hell (1953) - which is streaming on Hulu's Criterion section. Also, Yasunari Kawabata wrote it, whose novels and short stories I've read and loved. If you've never seen "A Page of Madness" check it out sometime. It's never gotten a nice release or restoration so this youtube video really is as good as it gets nowadays.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Here's a ninth iteration of soundtracks and library music mixes. This one comes from various sources. You can hear VHS transfers, vinyl-rips, and CD-quality releases hobnobbing together in a volcanic explosion of cinematic sound. Enjoy!
1. I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale - Guido and Maurizio De Angelis
2. Run Cheetah Run - Nico Fidenco
3. Celeste - Guy Pedersen
4. Ah! Mon Cher Hector - Dani
5. Watergate - Hugo Busoni
6. Bumbling Along - Nino Nardini
7. Capriccio - Piero Piccioni
8. Motore A Ioni - Piero Umiliani
9. The President is Gone - John Carpenter
10. Éternels Indécis A - Paul Piot
11. Les Levres Rouges - François de Roubaix
12. A Blue Shadow - Gianni Oddi
13. Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? - Bruno Nicolai
14. Bree's Abandon (Take it Higher) - Michael Small
15. Jazz Graphics No 3 - Derrick Mason
16. Sei Donne per l'Assassino - Carlo Rustichelli
17. Anche Si Voless I Lavorare - Ennio Morricone
18. Alice au pays des syllogismes - Antoine Duhamel
19. Sililoquio - Gianni Ferrio
20. Un Altro Mare - Ennio Morricone