Monday, November 12, 2007
Perhaps the most famous and influential of all silent films, Metropolis had for 75 years been seen only in shortened or truncated versions. Now, restored in Germany with state-of-the-art digital technology, under the supervision of the Murnau Foundation, and with the original 1927 orchestral score by Gottfried Huppertz added, Metropolis can be appreciated in its full glory. It is, as A. O. Scott of The New York Times declared, "A fever dream of the future. At last we have the movie every would-be cinematic visionary has been trying to make since 1927." Metropolis takes place in 2026, when the populace is divided between workers who must live in the dark underground and the rich who enjoy a futuristic city of splendor. The tense balance of these two societies is realized through images that are among the most famous of the 20th century, many of which presage such sci-fi landmarks as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner. Lavish and spectacular, with elaborate sets and modern science fiction style, Metropolis stands today as the crowning achievement of the German silent cinema (taken from www.kino.com/metropolis).
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
An excerpt from a Guy Maddin's Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1988). Over the course of a career that has spanned nearly two decades and 25 films, both short and feature, filmmaker Guy Maddin has provided his viewers with more than their fair share of unique, cinematic moments. To provide just one example, in Tales, his first feature film, the audience is allowed to watch as one of the director's many eccentric characters, a male who is attempting to make himself more attractive to the ladies relaxing on a nearby beach, disappears behind a dilapidated building, troubled that his hair is dry and in such a mess. At this point, the audience may expect that some grooming is in order, but most first time viewers could never predict how such a grooming process will eventually unfold. Out of sight from the women, the character manages to find a shiny, dead fish, which he then squeezes frantically over his head, until its guts are wretched open, spilling fish oil all over the man's hair. The character soon reemerges, hair slicked back and full of fish oil. He is now ready to properly swoon the ladies still lying on the sands of Gimli beach (Senses of Cinema).
Excerpt from Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike's 2003 film Gozu.
MS: You recently went to Cannes with "Gozu." Was the atmosphere different from the other festivals you've attended?
TM: "Gozu" was in the Directors' Fortnight section -- it's not the same as being in the competition. Within the larger festival I was able to find a time and place that suited my film -- a weekend evening screening. I also got a good reaction from the audience. They laughed and enjoyed it in a way that was very heartening.
MS: Before seeing "Gozu" I'd heard that, with its mixing of the horror and yakuza genres, it was another departure for you, but now that I've seen it, I feel that it's very much in line with your other work.
TM: That's right, "Gozu" is not a completely new type of film for me. But it was the first one in which I was involved from the planning stage. "Gozu" was originally supposed to be just another yakuza movie -- the producer came to me and asked me about making it that way. Ordinarily, once I say yes I try to make the film the way the producer wants, but in this case I didn't think the star he had in mind should be doing a yakuza movie. We wrote the script fairly quickly, but we didn't have much money, so we decided to set the film in Nagoya where we could save on costs. Then we shot the film -- it was the father's first film as a producer. That film was a big exercise in self-gratification. First the producer was making it for his son. Second, we were able to raise financing from new sources in Nagoya that gave us a freedom we might not have had otherwise. Third, we were able to go to Cannes and enjoy that experience together. In that way, it was different from my other films. The press materials talk about the film's resemblance to the work of David Lynch, but for me the biggest resemblance was to the manga of Yoshiharu Tsuge (excerpts from a Mark Schilling's interview with the filmmaker).
Brothers Quay's 1995 film Insitute Benjamenta , a bizarre odyssey, tightly composed and beautifully printed in black and white. The use of shifts in focus and depth, and the wild juxtapositions of the most mundane actions, creates a floating dream-like atmosphere, as if we are dumped into this world with no idea of what is going on, or what is going to happen.