Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thundercrack!

US 1975. PC: Thomas Bros. D+DP: Curt McDowell - b&w - 16mm. SC: George Kuchar, Mark Ellinger. M: Mark Ellinger. Starring: Marion Eaton (Ms. Gert Hammond), George Kuchar (Bing), Melinda McDowell (Sash), Mookie Blodgett (Chandler), Moira Benson (Roo), Rick Johnson (Toydy), Maggie Pyle (Willene), Ken Scudder (Bond), Pamela Primate (Medusa), Bernie Boyle (Senor Tostada), Mark Ellinger (Charlie Hammond), Virginia Giritlian (Sarah Lou Phillips). Ur-version reportedly 158 min. This print ran 120 min. Jack Stevenson, 16mm. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 28 Feb 2009. - Introduced by Jack Stevenson. San Francisco in the 1970s, liberated, at the height of the sexual revolution. A dialogue-driven movie with a million metaphors, impossible to prepare an introduction, I am completely at loss for words. Curt was positive, George was negative in their attitudes about sex. - It starts with a thundercrack. Fine music by Mark Ellinger. A good definition of light. Gross-out scenes. Sleaze elements. Hard-core sex scenes, both homosexual and heterosexual. A rarity: a conversation sequence with fellatio. Enter the gorilla. "People come and go, but the cucumbers must stay".

Exploring Your Inner Demons

A programme compiled by Jack Stevenson. Viewed at Cinema Orion, 28 Feb 2009. 16mm
The programme note with comments.

EXPLORING YOUR INNER DEMONS: A SAMPLING OF AMERICAN UNDERGROUND CINEMA
Presented by Jack Stevenson
"American author and print collector Jack Stevenson has complied an entertaining and thought-provoking program that spans American Underground cinema from the Mid-60’s to the modern day and captures the essence of what personal (aka ‘underground’) filmmaking is all about."
In order of play:
BEHIND EVERY GOOD MAN - 1966, 9 min., by Nikolai Ursin. Home movie style docu-drama about a day in the life of a negro transvestite living in mid-60's Los Angeles. / AA: recovered by Jack from an unmarked cardboard box
HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED - 1966, 15 min., color, by George Kuchar. One of the best loved films of the 60s underground, a playful satire of motion picture making: the fantasy of Hollywood glamour collides with the reality of loneliness in the Bronx. /AA: colour ok in GK's most famous film, exploring his own feelings in a mode now familiar from webcams, the diarist format, 0 budget
THE CRAVEN SLUCK, 1967, 23 min. b/w, directed by Mike Kuchar. This film concerns itself with the sordid domestic routines of a typical Bronx married couple, Adel and her goofy salaryman husband, Brunswick, played by Bob. Adel - played with verve by Floraine Connors - seeks escape in the arms of a secret lover, Morton, played by George Kuchar. To complicate matters, Morton is married, to a rotund, pill-popping frump called Florence, played by Bob in a cheap wig. Yet all these complications of the flesh are suddenly rendered inconsequential by a squadron of attacking UFOs that vaporize the leading lady and bring the plot to an unexpected and gloriously implausible halt. The skillful use of music in the Hollywood tradition makes the story come alive. / AA: the fascination with glamour, living in the most unglamourous Bronx, the mixture of horror, melodrama, scifi, 0 budget
ROCKFLOW: 1968, 9 min. color, directed by Bob Cowan. This 9 minute film is constructed largely of footage Bob shot at The Electric Circus (in NYC) in connection with the opening of a boutique there at which the Chambers Brothers rock band played. Mod fashions are on display as folks pack the dance floor, including Donna Kerness (in trademark antenna headgear) and Hopeton Morris (their outfits designed by Hope). But what appears to be a straightforward if experimental fashion/dance/rock document changes mid-point into a psychedelic nightmare as eerie music creates an ominous mood, the images grow more hallucinatory and the editing more rapid-fire. Donna now reappears in a solitary setting in close-up, swinging giant earrings and staring at the camera as if she's casting a spell. The effect is sinister and trance-like as special effects bombard the screen. / AA: a fascinating psychedelic discovery, a fine example of rock music and dance film, a great sense of rhythm
LOVE IT / LEAVE IT: 1970, 15 min., color. This second film by Tom Palazzolo more fluidly weaves sound and image together to create an hallucinatory montage of urban America at the height of anti-war demonstrations. Equal parts totalitarian nightmare and candy-coated consumer fun fair, it is like most of his work: devoid of overt editorial comment and full of ambiguity – a searching to capture the spirit and times and people without imposing the filmmaker’s own political agenda. /AA: a nudist movie juxtaposing militarism and nudism, with a fine musique concrète score
SIAMESE TWIN PINHEADS - 1972, 4 min., b&w, Kurt McDowell and Mark Ellinger do their perverse ‘siamese twin pinhead’ act.The two would stand at the center of San Francisco’s rebellious underground film scene of the 70’s. / AA: the makers of Thundercrack! in an offensive short film of two masturbating imbecile twin pinheads, compared by Jack with Lars von Trier's Idiots
ASTHMA – 1995, 2 min., by Martha Colburn / an early collage film on the subject of smoking. One of her most straight-forward films, it hints at the more frenetic style she would later adopt. / AA: belongs to the music video phenomenon, wonderful, broken, rapid cutting, rhythm, dots, patterns, signs, interesting music by Smoking Jaunties
SPIDERS IN LOVE – 2000, 2.5 minutes, by Martha Colburn / A gloriously chaotic take on sex, spiders and various other hallucinations – handmade annimation and some found footage clips. / AA: belongs to the music video phenomenon, "an arachnorgasmic musical", rapid cutting, penis obsession, death imagery
END

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wild Harvest

Kuumaa kiihkoa / Hetsande lidelse. US (c) 1961 Hollywood Artists Productions. D: Jerry A. Baerwitz. Based on the novel by Stephen Longstreet (1960). DP: Gordon Avil - b&w - 1,85:1. M: Bert Shefter, Paul Sawtell. Narrator: Walter Winchell. Starring Dolores Faith, Arlynn Greer, Kathleen Freeman, Susan Kelly. 78 min. A vintage 35mm print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 Feb 2009. Introduced by Jack Stevenson. - I watched the start. This is a rare case of a film with strong social comment. The subject: the migrant workers of California, harvesting grapes. It is also about the sexual exploitation of the female workers by the male bosses. Belongs thematically with Grapes of Wrath. There is grim, vital, sexual energy in this film. Some actors are clumsy, but vitality compensates. It is nice to see Kathleen Freeman, the Jerry Lewis / Frank Tashlin / John Landis regular in a serious role.

Jack Stevenson: A Journey Into Grindhouse (lecture)

A lecture in the series of the Film Society of the Helsinki University Students' Union. At Cinema Orion, 27 Feb 2009. With many clips. An exciting lecture with a lot of fertile ideas.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

THE 81ST ACADEMY AWARDS ( FOR FILMS OF 2008)

Nominees & Winners for the 81st Academy Awards

Performance by an actor in a leading role
* Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)
* Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
* Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)
* Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
* Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)
* Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
* Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)
* Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
* Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)
* Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
* Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
* Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Best animated feature film of the year
* “Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
* “Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton

Achievement in art direction
* “Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando
* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Achievement in cinematography
* “Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

Achievement in costume design
* “Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky

Achievement in directing
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle

Best documentary feature
* “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
* “Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
* “The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
* “Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall in association with Red Box Films Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
* “Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Best documentary short subject
* “The Conscience of Nhem En” A Farallon Films Production, Steven Okazaki
* “The Final Inch” Vermilion Films in association with Google.org, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
* “Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
* “The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306” A Rock Paper Scissors Production, Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

Achievement in film editing
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

Best foreign language film of the year
* “The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
* “The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
* “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
* “Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
* “Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel

Achievement in makeup
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
* “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Alexandre Desplat
* “Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
* “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
* “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
* “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam

Best motion picture of the year
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), A Kennedy/Marshall Production, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
* “Milk” (Focus Features), A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production, Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti and Redmond Morris, Producers
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production, Christian Colson, Producer

Best animated short film
* “La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
* “Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
* “Oktapodi” (Talantis Films), A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
* “Presto” (Walt Disney), A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
* “This Way Up” A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

Best live action short film
* “Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
* “Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
* “New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
* “The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
* “Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank

Achievement in sound editing
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Glenn Freemantle and Tom Sayers
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
* “Wanted” (Universal), Wylie Stateman

Achievement in sound mixing
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
* “Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

Achievement in visual effects
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

Adapted screenplay
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
* “Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Original screenplay
* “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
* “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
* “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

http://www.oscars.org/awards/81academyawards/nominees.html

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fire and Ice

















Fire and Ice. The Winter War of Finland and Russia. / Talvisota: tuli ja jää! USA 2006. (c) 2005 MasterWork Media LLC. P+D+SC: Ben Strout. DP: Michael Bowie. M: Jamie Lawrence. ED: Kurt Poole. Dvd, 1,85:1, DD 5.1, 79 min. Russian and Finnish comments with English subtitles. Masterworks Media dvd, American release, received as a gift from my American relatives in St. Paul, Faye and Ken LeDoux. [There is also a Finnish dvd release: Karelia Klubi.] Viewed at home in Helsinki, 22 Feb 2009.

A many-sided documentary with modern Finnish-Russian war enactments, newsreel footage, interviews, quotes from vintage testimonies, some animation. American, Finnish, and Russian views make up a balanced picture of the amazing war. The author and poet Eeva Kilpi, a refugee from Karelian Hiitola, has a strong presence. So has John F. "Jack" Hasey, Volunteer, Iroquois Ambulance Corps. We see F.D. Roosevelt denouncing USSR on news footage. League of Nations banishes USSR. The Terijoki puppet government. Mannerheim's considerations. The interviewees include William Trotter (author, Frozen Hell), Gunnar Laatio (veteran, Mannerheim line), Major Mauno Uoti, Erkki Palosuo (veteran pilot), Aulikki Olsen (veteran, Lotta Svärd), Dr. Tomas Reis, Dr. Ohto Manninen, Inkeri Kilpinen, Minister Max Jakobson, Pasi Kesseli, Ermei Kanninen, Niilo Halkola (Suomussalmi veteran), Mauno Laaksonen, Lemmetty veteran; Anna Tukia, Lotta Svärd veteran; Tami Leinonen, Karelian refugee; Marko Seppänen, Suomussalmi, Raatteen Portti Museum; Raino Kurtti, Suomissalmi veteran; Mauno Uoti, Parola Tank Museum. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is examined. The German Blitzkrieg on Poland. The Finnish specials: the Molotov cocktail, the satchel charges, jamming a log into a tank's treads, the "motti" blocking tactic, snipers: "the white death". The feats of Taipale, Summa, Lahde, Tolvajärvi (the first victory). The sausage war. Suomussalmi, the Raate road. The meaning of Winter War not only for Finland which was not occupied but also for the Red Army which Stalin had to rebuild.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Joensuu 1685: Crystal Light

A music video. Finland 2009. PC: Bare Bone Business. P: Asko Keränen. D+ED: Mika Taanila. DP: Mika Taanila (16mm, 8mm), Leo Taanila (8mm), Martti Jämsä (8mm). FEAT: Mikko Joensuu, Markus Joensuu, Risto Joensuu. 7'30". - The strong flicker can cause headache, malaise, or migraine. - The music video was first screened in Cinema Orion, Saturday 14 Feb 2009, but I missed it as I was in Berlin. - Viewed at home on dvd 21 Feb 2009. - A flicker video. Big water. Waterfalls. Blue. Ultra rapid cutting. Acceleration. Performance footage: hard rhythmic electric metal sound, first instrumental, then with vocals. Time lapse. Negative. Leader. Holes on film. Red colour. Yellow colour. Extreme close-ups. Fire. Flowers. Back to the waterfalls, back to big water. - Pure elementary observations.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pasi Nyyssönen: The Beginning of New Hollywood (lecture)

A lecture in the U.S. Independent lecture series of the Film Society of the Helsinki University Students' Association at Cinema Orion, 20 Feb 2009. With many video clips.

Humain, trop humain

FR 1974. PC: NEF. D: Louis Malle. DP: Etienne Becker - looks like 16mm blown up to 35mm - colour. ED: Suzanne Baron. S: Jean-Claude Laureux. 73 min. AFF / CNC beautiful restored 35mm print with e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio [but there is no commentary nor significant dialogue]. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 19 Feb 2009.

An industrial documentary film shot in July 1972 at the Citroën factory in Rennes, Bretagne and at a Car Fair in Paris. All phases of the car assembly. The steel plates arrive on rolls. They are cut. The assembly line principle. The assembly of the body. Grinding and sanding. Washing. The assembly of the motor. The cable systems. Long tracking shots to give a full view of the whole process. A film without commentary, without dialogue; the hardly audible words belong mainly to the soundscape. The endless rows of cars waiting by the railway station. The women soldering. The seats. The finishing. The polishing. Welding. The sounds of the factory: musique concrète. Qf. Tati: the machine world, the mechanical world, cybernetic. Qf. Chaplin: Modern Times. The final episode: a young woman turning steel plates. A freeze frame on her face, her look. The noise goes on.

A remarkable and original vision of the factory world.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Soy Cuba

SU/CU 1964. PC: Goskino / ICAIC. D: Mihail Kalatozov. SC: Enrique Pineda Barnet, Jevgeni Jevtushenko. DP: Sergei Urusevski - b&w - 35mm - 1,37:1. M: Carlos Farinas. 141 min. A Mr. Bongo print of the Cuban version, via MK2, with English subtitles. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 19 Feb 2009. - Revisited: the opening of the amazing film of Communist propaganda rejected by everyone at the time and only returning to wide awareness outside Cuba since Telluride 1992. - Astounding opening with a helicopter view of the Cuban jungle. Infrared lenses catch a wild and marvellous vision of the village. The camera moves irresistibly from the rooftop of the hotel inside the pool. This is a camera adventure of Cuba, following the Bazinian philosophy of forbidden montage. "Loco amor" sung by the Platters crooner. - A thrilling, inspiring film. I do not see it as an apology of tyranny, on the contrary, it is a rebellious film, and that certainly was a main reason to the shelving in the USSR.

Laurel & Hardy: the Birth of the Comedy Duo

The Second Hundred Years / Toiset sata vuotta / De andra hundra åren. US 1927. 16mm, 20 min
Big Business / Joulukuusikauppiaat / Svindlande affärer. US 1929. 35mm, 20 min
Liberty / Vapaus / Friheten. US 1929. 35mm, 20 min
PC: Hal Roach Studios. EX: Hal Roach. P: Leo McCarey. DP: George Stevens.
Bonner Kinemathek prints with e-subtitles in Finnish by Aretta Vähälä and piano music by Joonas Raninen. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 18 Feb 2009.
The starting programme of the Leo McCarey retrospective. McCarey was with Stan Laurel the co-creator of the concept of the Stan and Ollie comedies at Hal Roach Studios.
It was good to see on screen the full-length The Second Hundred Years, and 35mm screenings (good prints, too) of Big Business and Liberty, so familiar from home viewing.
Comedy at its best, funniest, laughingest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Last Movie

US (c) 1971 Universal Pictures / Alta-Light. D: Dennis Hopper. DP: Laszlo Kovacs. ED consultant: Alejandro Jodorowsky. Starring Dennis Hopper, Stella Garcia, Julie Adams, Tomas Milian, Roy Enger, Samuel Fuller. 109 min. A Théâtre du Temple print avec sous-titres francais viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 17 Feb 2009. - Print ok, a slighly duped look. - Revisited: the beginning only. An acid trip. Strong energy. A sense of disaster. Kris Kristoffersson's "Me And Bobby McGee" effective (a special recording for this film?). Samuel Fuller's signature role.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Berlin, 12-15 February, 2009

I visited Berlin 12-15 February, 2009 during the Berlinale, the Berlin Film Festival, but the days were so packed with meetings that I missed the films altogether!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Calcutta

FR 1969. PC: NEF. P: Louis Kastner. D+SC+commentary reader: Louis Malle. DP: Etienne Becker - 16mm blown up to 35mm. ED: Suzanne Baron. S: Jean-Claude Laureaux. AFF / CNC restored print, e-subtitles Lena Talvio. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 10 Feb 2009. - I viewed the beginning. The print not as brilliant as The Phantom India. - The bathers in the holy river Ganges. The cameraman as Peeping Tom. Plunging into a reality that is different from ours. The endless bustle of humanity. The long start of the film without dialogue, without commentary. Goats in the city traffic. The music starts. Beggar children. An elephant being washed. People staring at the camera. The poor ones of the street. At 15 minutes, Malle's voice is heard. The story of a man. The chamber of death. The hit songs of popular movies. In 1967 in Bengal, a coalition government, a demonstration, vive la révolution. The gorgeous statues of Saraswati.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Moana

Moana - auringon poika. US © 1926 Famous Players-Lasky. D+SC+DP: Robert Flaherty - Akeley. With Frances Flaherty and David Flaherty. LOC: Safune village at Savai'i, Polynesia. WITH: Ta'avale, Fa'amgase, Tu'ugaita, Moana, Pe'a. Copyright renewed by Paramount (1953). The Monica Flaherty music version © 1980, 16 mm print of Sami van Ingen, 70 min. Viewed at KAVA Pursimiehenkatu screening room, 9 Feb 2009.

Revisited, I had seen this version before in ca 1985 in Berlin, presented by Monica Flaherty. She utilized early May rebellion songs recorded by David Flaherty. She remembered also Samoan songs from her childhood there. Three principal actors (Moana, Faangese, Pea) were still alive in 1975. Robert Flaherty always wanted Moana in sound, and Monica realized his wish.

A print stretched in all sequences with human motion and equipped with soundtrack. The film was apparently shot at 18 fps, every third frame doubled in the human motion scenes. The sound was recorded in 1975 in Samoa by Monica Flaherty and Richard Leacock. - The original negative was burned by Paramount maybe already in the 1940s. This print is based on the Stockholm dupe. - This masterpiece is the film that was the first to be called a work "of documentary value" in the English language (by Grierson).

The harvest. Fa'angase, the highest maiden. Beautiful harvest songs. The only dangerous animal: the wild hog. The hunting song. Setting the trap. Water out of the tree trunk. The song of returning from the woods. The songs are gentle and tender. Pua a tele! - it's big! The lethal fangs of the hog. A beautiful song as the hog is carried on bars. The sea. The long boat for three. Swimming in the clear water. Fishing with a sharp stick. Peeling the tree bark. Tanning the bark. The manufacture of the Tava cloth from bast (the inner bark) of the mulberry tree.

How the cloth is made. - The interest in little gestures, how hands are moving. - Sandalwood seeds to produce colour. A beautiful sandalwood song. - Lavalava: the national dress. - The boat at sea: sharpening the sticks. - Climbing high to the top of the cocoanut tree in a memorable long shot. - The storm, the big waves. The blow-holes. The rainbow. - The song of the boatmen. Rowing against the waves, falling into the water. The giant splashes. - Expressive close-ups. - The strange animal hiding in the rockpile. - Making fire by rubbing two pieces of wood against each other. - The boy smokes the the coconut crab out of the rockpile. (Expressive close-ups).

The boys hunting the giant turtle. Magnificent reflections. The song of the turtle hunters. The song of the turtle shell. - Faangese cannot eat the oyster but loves raw small fish. - Cocoanut milk out of the cocoanut. The palusami dessert. Baked inside leaves. Breadfruit. A long montage on food. Taro, qf. dioscorea (in Finnish: jamssi). - Green bananas. - A volcanic island. - Faamgase & Moana, at the end of the day, Faamgase decorates Moana with flowers. Massage with cocoanut oil. Age-old rite. Tinkling shells in the ankle. Soft drumming, chorus singing, harmony. - A dance sequence: the pride of beauty and strength. The art, the worship, the courtship of the race. The mating dance. Music imitating birdsong. - Rhythmic music. - The ritual of the tattoo, three weeks, painful. The bone nail. The old-style clothes. Little by little. At great pain. The tattoo music. Light up your oven. Add colour. Dance music: the encourage Moana. Manhood through pain. Beautiful tattoo chorus music. In three weeks, the whole body is tattooed. - Let the kava be prepared. - The kava is prepared in a big bowl. The virgin of the village, the princess, makes the kava. Youth comes into its own. Dances. Harmonious song. Beautiful music as the little boy falls asleep. UA UMA LA VA = THE END.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Films of Mika Taanila 3

Tampereen elokuvajuhlat 2008 traileri / Tampere Film Festival 2008 Trailer (2008) 35mm, 0'30"
Pidän tästä hiljaisuudesta / I Like This Silence (1983-1986) dvd, 1'20"
Fysikaalinen rengas / A Physical Ring (2002) 35mm, 4'40"
Täydellisen pimennyksen vyöhyke / The Zone of Total Eclipse (2002) 2 x 16mm, 6'
Optinen ääni / Optical Sound (2005) 35mm, 2,35:1, 6'
Thank You For the Music - elokuva muzakista / Thank You For the Music - A Film About Muzak (1997) 35mm, 24'
RoboCup99 / RoboCup99 - We Have a Dream (2000) 35mm, 25'
Total duration of the programme: 75 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 7 Feb 2009.

A great programme with a wonderful variation, and the many technical challenges were met perfectly, including the special double-16mm presentation of The Zone of Total Eclipse with two moving 16mm projectors.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

L'Inde fantôme 1-7

Based on the episodes I have seen: the best film by Louis Malle, the best film on India I have seen, and one of the all-time best films. It changes the way I see the world. Also a marvellous restoration by AFF / CNC.

L'Inde fantôme 6: En marge de l'Inde

L'Inde fantôme: Réflexions sur un voyage 6: En marge de l'Inde / Phantom India 6 / Intian päiväkirja 6: Muukalaiset Intiassa. FR 1969. P: NEF / ORTF. D: Louis Malle. 52 min. An AFF / CNC restored print (colour, 16mm blown up to 35mm), with e-subtitles by Lena Talvio, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 5 Feb 2009. - A brilliant, full-coloured print. Magnificent cinematography.
The Bondo: the oldest inhabitants, mountain-dwellers, hunting with bow and arrow, women with many pendants, ancient weaving patterns, no cattle taboo, no taxes, making of the mud hut, making of brooms, complicated mythology. Wives older than husbands, severe exogamy, divorce common. No alphabet, no names. The common sleeping houses for the young, no sexual restrictions.
The Communist: with red flag, denouncing the officials, the land-owners, the usurers.
The Christians: Christian churches in Kerala, no succcess, in Goa, the Englishmen restrained the missionaries. The Christians of India are fanatic, with a sense of inferiority.
The Jews: the Jews have lived in Cochin since 1900 years, since before the fall of the Second Temple. Simon Coder, merchant. Never persecuted, except during the Portuguese rule. Some came 200 years ago from Baghdad. Very happy in India. Some leave for Israel. But there is something weak and sickly, as a result of strict marriage rules, marriage allowed among Jews only.
Pondicherry, a former French center of commerce. Illumination is ever-present. "I was a chef in over 10 countries, looking for inner peace" (an Italian meditator). Bhagavad Git. A Swedish woman: I was not aware that I have a soul. Aurobindo: a synthesis of yoga. The building of meditation. Ashram: sport. Active, flourishing. Exemption from taxes. Standing on one's head. Celibacy, no smoking, no alcohol. Senior sport. The eldest is 85 years. Comes a day when the human body experiences a change.
Hatha Yoga. Ambu, teacher of hatha yoga. Asanat. Incredible flexibility, a human snake. "I don't practise every day". Hatha = tenacity, stubbornness.
Auroville. A rich Indian businessman. The road to Damascus. The savior of the world.
The Toda. Nilgir Mountains, 2400 m over the sea level. Toda: an ideal society. Sumerians? Descendants from the age of Alexander the Great? No Toda girl is a virgin until 13 years of age. Free love. There is no word for sex. Children don't go to school. Collective poems. Houses out of wood. There is a shortage of women. Absolute sexual freedom. Shepherds, vegetarians, not farmers. No wars, no weapons, no leaders. The buffalo: pure, holy, unique. Men take turns as priests, alone in the temple, with a holy piece of metal. There are 800 Toda. They are the last representatives of a free society.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

MARKKU LEHMUSKALLIO, ANASTASIA LAPSUI, SAKARI TOIVIAINEN

Publication of Sakari Toiviainen's book in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 4 Feb 2009. With presentations by Sakari Toiviainen and Markku Lehmuskallio.
We celebrate the 70th anniversary of Markku Lehmuskallio with a complete retrospective of the feature films of Markku Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui and their carte blanche series. Today, Sakari Toiviainen's book Kadonnutta paratiisia etsimässä (In Search of Paradise Lost) was published, with exquisite illustrations edited by Kai Vase in collaboration with Markku Lehmuskallio.
Markku Lehmuskallio is a great artist of both documentary and fiction films. Their common subject is the life of the Northern peoples in Lapland, Siberia, and Canada. What Robert Flaherty started in Nanook of the North, Lehmuskallio has done during his whole film career, rescuing the vanishing, primordial cultures of the Sami, the Nenets, the Nganasan, the Selkup, the Inuit, and so on, for instance in his great I Am, the history of the art of the people in the tundra.
He is the documentarian of immemorial tradition and man on the last threshold of survival.
He is also a poet of the forest and of nature. He is an ecological visionary.
Since 1992, Lehmuskallio has made his films with Anastasia Lapsui, a Nenets who belongs to a family of shamans.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

THE JUSSI AWARDS FOR 2008

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
Niko - lentäjän poika / The Flight Before Christmas - producers Petteri Pasanen, Hannu Tuomainen
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Tummien perhosten koti / The Home of Dark Butterflies - Dome Karukoski
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Putoavia enkeleitä / Falling Angels - Tommi Korpela
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Putoavia enkeleitä / Falling Angels - Elena Leeve
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Tummien perhosten koti / The Home of Dark Butterflies - Pertti Sveholm
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Putoavia enkeleitä / Falling Angels - Elina Knihtilä
SCREENPLAY
Niko - lentäjän poika / The Flight Before Christmas - Hannu Tuomainen, Marteinn Thorisson
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Käsky / Tears of April - Rauno Ronkainen
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC
Risto Räppääjä / Risto the Rapper - Iiro Rantala
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND DESIGN
Sauna / Sauna - Panu Riikonen, Vesa Meriläinen
ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
Tummien perhosten koti / The Home of Dark Butterflies - Harri Ylönen
ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
Sauna / Sauna - Antti Nikkinen, Ville Vauras, Vladimir Bedrich Dvorak
ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
Sauna / Sauna - Anna Vilppunen
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Katastrofin aineksia / Recipes for Disaster - John Webster
THE FAVOURITE OF THE AUDIENCE
Tummien perhosten koti / The Home of Dark Butterflies.
...
All fair and well, but for years by favourite film of the year has not even been nominated. For 2008, I would have voted for Risto the Rapper for both best picture and best director (Mari Rantasila).