Daily Archives: January 8, 1993

The Hours and the Times

Christopher Munch’s brilliant and concise account of what might have happened during John Lennon and Brian Epstein’s four days on vacation in Barcelona in 1963–written, directed, produced, and shot by Munch (who also photographed The Living End) on location in black-and-white 35-millimeter. Visually spare and running for only an hour, this benefits not only from one terrific performance (David Angus as Epstein) and a pretty good one (Ian Hart as Lennon), but also from a filmmaking confidence and lack of pretension that makes every passing nuance register keenly. On the same program, Stephen Cummins and Simon Hunt’s Australian short Resonance (1990), about gay bashing in Sydney. (Music Box, Friday through Thursday, January 8 through 14) Read more

Prerevolutionary Russian Films

Perhaps the most remarkable film-history revaluation currently in progress (highlighted at the Film Center this month) concerns Russian films made during the teens, fascinating today for their highly modern handling of space and decor, their resourceful mise en scene, their unambiguous feminism, and their embrace of tragic endings, among other things. If you assume, like most people, that world cinema has been steadily improving over the past 70-odd years, there’s plenty here to challenge that premise; this work, like the equally neglected work of Louis Feuillade from this period, is arguably in advance in some respects of not only D.W. Griffith’s films but also most contemporary mainstream movies. I’ve seen two of the four films on his program, which seems to be an excellent introduction to this cinema as a whole. Nicolai Larin’s beautifully shot rural thriller The Merchant Bashkirov’s Daughter (1913) belongs to the odd subgenre of “blackmail film” that flourished briefly during this era. (A film company would threaten to recreate a wealthy family’s scandal on film to procure hush money, then make the movie anyway with the significant names changed.) Petr Chardynin’s no less impressive The Wet Nurse (1914) concerns a peasant housekeeper made pregnant by her employer. Read more