Monthly Archives: March 1988

The Cursed Village

The most famous silent Spanish film, this 1929 feature directed by Florian Rey, La aldea maldita, is a melodrama whose political overtones made it a favorite among progressive critics of the period. The plot concerns the diastrous forced separation of a family from their idyllic country life and from each other; when they finally reachieve this stability, the romantic notions of their earlier life are thrown into question. Filmed largely on location with many nonprofessionals in the cast.… Read more »

The Counterfeit Traitor

Although William Holden stars in this wartime spy story of an oil importer blackmailed by the Allies into becoming a double agent, George Seaton’s direction is so limp and his dialogue so long-winded that this might be billed as a counterfeit thriller. With Lilli Palmer, Hugh Griffith, and Eva Dahlbeck (1962). (JR)… Read more »

Clara The Brunette

Taking advantage of a favorable populist political climate in 1936, Spanish director Florian Rey filmed this interracial love story in which a prominent young judge falls in love with a Gypsy servant (Imperio Argentina). The film proved to be an enormous box office success, established Argentina as a star, and continued to be screened for both Republicans and rebels after the Spanish civil war broke out. (JR)… Read more »

Carmen, The Girl From Triana

A Spanish-German production of 1938starring Imperio Argentina, the biggest Spanish star of the period, and directed by Florian Reythis version of the famous Carmen plot, spruced up for the Spanish censors, allowed Germany to break into the Latin American film market. A very popular and successful movie when it came out, the film reportedly features Argentina’s singing and dancing at its most effective.… Read more »

Bruce Connor And The Cinema Of “Found Footage”

An interesting parallel to Hollywood’s recycling mania is the much more fruitful phenomenon of the found-footage filma practice within independent cinema of working creatively with already existing film footage. In recent years, many of the most inventive experimental filmmakers in the U.S. ranging from Ken Jacobs and Leslie Thornton have worked in this mode, but there is almost certainly no figure who has done more with the form than Bruce Connor. This program features 11 of his best shorts and two other major examples by other filmmakers, Joseph Cornell’s remarkable Rose Hobart (1939) and J.J. Murphy’s more recent Print Generation (1974). The Connor films to be shown: A Movie (1958), Cosmic Ray (1961), the extraordinary Report (1967the best film treatment to date of the assassination of John F. Kennedy), Vivian (1964), The White Rose (1967), Breakaway (1967), Permian Strata (1969), Marilyn X 5 (1973), Mongoloid (1978), Take the 5:10 to Dreamland (1975), and Valse Triste (1977). Connor works wonders with nostalgic and historical materials of various kinds, reshuffling and juxtaposing media fragments into mosaics that are simultaneously analytical and evocative. If you’ve never encountered his work before, this program offers a superb introduction to his very special talent.… Read more »

Tales Of The Brothers Quay

The films of the London-based American twins provide an interesting test case for someone like me who resists both puppet films and the gallows humor of eastern European animation. In a selection of films made between 1986 and 1993, ranging from their magnum opus Street of Crocodiles to their Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies, one certainly encounters a good deal of invention and unkempt activity built around their distinctive brand of nostalgic old-country surrealism. As critic Raymond Durgnat points out, the theoretical implications of this work are fascinating, because puppetry knows so many (and such heterogeneous) syntheses of realistic and nonrealistic elements as to blur all possible elements between them. But most of the esoteric quasi-narrative structures employed by the brothers Quay and their collaborator Keith Griffiths make their movies closer to work than to play: arcane intertitles that usually seem to have a vague or tenuous relation to the action are flashed on the screen so quickly that one often feels at a loss trying to follow the obscure meaning structures, and the thematic bases of these shortswhich also include The Comb (1985) and Anamorphosis, among other itemsoften seem to get in the way of their free-floating pleasures. At their best, as in Street of Crocodiles, these films give off some of the eerie mood and texture of a David Lynch film, and one clearly can’t accuse the Quay brothers of predictability.… Read more »

Au Revoir Les Enfants

Louis Malle’s polished, sentimental memory piece (1987)about his glancing brush with the Nazi holocaust while attending a French Catholic boarding school in 1944works mightily to flatter the audience’s sense of compassion and virtue. The plot involves the hero’s growing friendship with a brilliant Jewish boy hiding incognito at the school (along with a few other Jews and members of the French resistance), whose identity is uncovered by the gestapo. In keeping with the more enlightened, liberal brand of French anti-Semitism, which depicts Jews as cute, lovable, and exotic rather than venal and sinister, the featured victim is treated as a rare objet d’art rather than an ordinary kid. Malle is certainly sincere in his efforts to describe the overall milieu accurately, and the film is less obnoxious than his pious Lacombe, Lucien (1973), which dealt with a related theme. With Raphael Fejto and Gaspard Manesse, especially good as Malle’s alter ego. In French with subtitles. 103 min. (JR)… Read more »