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January 2009 Archives

January 24, 2009

Film Comment Selects: 2009 Line-up


The 2009 Film Comment Selects line-up has been announced, and I'm happy to see Philippe Garrel's The Frontier of Dawn and Michael Almereyda's new film, Paradise in the program. The series runs from February 20 to March 5, 2009.

Paradise (Michael Almereyda, 2009)
Fri Feb 20: 6:30pm

The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Thu Mar 5: 7:00pm


A l’aventure (Jean-Claude Brisseau, 2009)
Sat Feb 28: 9:15pm
Wed Mar 4: 4:00pm

Adam Resurrected (Paul Schrader, 2008)
Tue Mar 3: 9:00pm

Better Things (Duane Hopkins, 2008)
Mon Mar 2: 6:30pm
Tue Mar 3: 4:30pm

The Chaser / Chugyeogja (Na Hong-jin, 2008)
Sat Feb 21: 6:00pm
Sat Feb 28: 1:30pm

The Frontier of Dawn / La frontière de l’aube (Philippe Garrel, 2008)
Sun Feb 22: 7:00pm

Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008)
Fri Feb 27: 8:45pm
Mon Mar 2: 4:30pm

Lake Tahoe (Fernando Eimbcke, 2008)
Fri Feb 27: 7:00pm

The Mugger / El Asaltante (Pablo Fendrik, 2007)
Fri Feb 20: 9:15pm
Sun Feb 22: 1:00pm

Revanche (Götz Spielmann, 2008)
Tue Feb 24: 8:30pm
Sat Feb 28: 6:45pm

The Tiger’s Tail (John Boorman, 2006)
Sat Feb 21: 1:30pm and 8:30pm

A Week Alone / Una semana solos (Celina Murga, 2007)
Mon Mar 2: 8:30pm
Tue Mar 3: 6:30pm

A Woman in Berlin / Anonyma – Eine Frau in Berlin (Max Färberböck, 2008)
Fri Feb 20: 3:30pm
Wed Feb 25: 6:00pm



The Killing of Sister George (Robert Aldrich, 1968)
Sat Feb 28: 4:00pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (Lou Adler, 1981)
Wed Feb 25: 8:30pm

The Third Generation / Die Dritte Generation (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979)
Sat Feb 21: 3:45pm
Tue Feb 24: 6:15pm



Demon Lover Diary (Joel DeMott, 1980)
Sun Feb 22: 2:30pm

Seventeen (Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines, 1983)
Sun Feb 22: 4:30pm



In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (Guy Debord, 1978)
Sun Mar 1: 2:00pm

The Society of the Spectacle / La société du spectacle (Guy Debord, 1973) screening with Réfutation de tous les jugements, tant élogieux qu’hostiles, qui ont été jusqu’ici portés sur le film ‘La société du spectacle’ (Guy Debord, 1975)
Sun Mar 1: 4:10pm and 8:40pm

Hurlements en faveur de Sade (Guy Debord, 1952), screening with On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time / Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps (Guy Debord, 1959), and Critique de la séparation (Guy Debord, 1961)
Sun Mar 1: 6:15pm

Posted by acquarello on Jan 24, 2009 | | Filed under 2009, Quick Notes

January 21, 2009

L'Enfance nue, 1968

enfance_nue.gifPart autofiction in its reflexive tale of emotional abandonment and part social realism in its clinical illustration of the nation's overtaxed foster care system, Maurice Pialat's L'Enfance nue finds greater kinship with Jean Eustache's studies on hybrid modes of representation than with a deconstructed cinéma du papa that François Truffaut's involvement as the film's co-producer would suggest. This intersection is established in the opening shot of a workers' solidarity march that cuts to the image of a working class woman, Simone (Linda Gutemberg) fitting her foster son, François (Michel Terrazon) for a jacket, attempting to elicit the word "mom" from the taciturn boy after leaving the shop with their purchase. Like the young protagonist, Daniel (Martin Loeb) in Eustache's Mes petites amoureuses, François has been placed in the custody of others by an absent mother, and the uncertainty of his place within his surrogate family surfaces in acts of displaced aggression. However, while Daniel remains in the care of biological relatives, François has been scuttled from one foster home to another, unable to be permanently placed while his mother continues to reserve her right to regain custody. Despite Simone and her husband Roby's (Raoul Billerey) sincere attempts to welcome François into their home, his makeshift room on the stairwell landing is a constant reminder of his temporary station within the family. Frustrated by his increasingly destructive behavior and propensity to steal from shops around town, his foster parents return him to the custody of the state, where he is escorted by social workers traveling on their monthly return trip to bring back abandoned children who were not able to be placed for adoption in Paris in the hopes of finding local families willing to take them in. Placed in the care of an older couple affectionately called Mémère (Marie-Louise Thierry) and Pépère (René Thierry), François gradually begins to adjust to his new life with his older foster brother and roommate, Raoul (Henri Puff), until a family tragedy seemingly reinforces his insecurity and leads to a senseless act of adolescent mischief. By placing François' destructive nature within the context of workers strikes that defined the sociopolitical landscape of 1968, Pialat illustrates the intrinsic connection between personal and social history. In this sense, Pépère's chronicle of his family history as members of the resistance who were killed during occupied France not only serves as a gesture of inclusion, but also introduces the idea of rebellion as a necessary passage towards defining one's identity and sense of place. Juxtaposed against images of transit that occur throughout the film - a train ride from Paris, an overloaded station wagon transporting abandoned children, an ill-fated passing car - Pialat reframes François's sense of dislocation and rootlessness as an ironic act towards a newfound, if familiar identification, where home continues to represent a distant and elusive ideal.

Posted by acquarello on Jan 21, 2009 | | Filed under 2009

January 5, 2009

Innisfree, 1990

innisfree.gifAs in Tren de sombras, José Luis Guerín ambiguously prefaces Innisfree as a series of images and observations recorded from the site of a historical event, in this case, the filming of John Ford's The Quiet Man around Cong village in the Irish countryside. And like the film, Guerín alternates between modes of non-fiction - documentary and found footage - to explore the amorphous nature of image creation and representation, the impreciseness of translation, and the imprinting of historical (and geographical) memory. Guerín prefigures the deconstruction of Ford's film (and, implicitly, Ford's persona as the town's famed native son) in the opening commentary by the director's friend and colleague, Michael Killanin (producer of The Rising of the Moon) on the absence of primogeniture tradition in Irish culture that had led to large scale emigration during the last century (as subsistence farmers inherited subdivided land or were completely disinherited and forced to seek their fortune elsewhere). Framed against a shot of two men (presumably Ford's relatives, the O'Feeneys) surveying the stone wall ruins of a farmhouse, Guerín illustrates both the reality (of abandoned land) and implied fiction (of returning émigrés) intrinsic in Ford's seemingly autofictional premise of an Irish American boxer, Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returning to his ancestral land in order to reclaim his homestead.

This duality is also reflected in the juxtaposition of Killanin's comments with the appearance of a hitchhiker. On one hand, Killanin points out that Thornton is, to some extent, an alterego (whose shared history with Ford involved immigrant parents who settled in Pittsburgh) and represents an idealized, other gaze that goes against the grain of historical reality. On the other hand, the hitchhiker represents an antithesis to the immigrant story by describing her experience as having worked as an au pair and in a millinery factory in Pittsburgh before deciding to return home to Ireland. The convergence of disparate realities is further developed in the young woman's employment as a concession stand attendant for one of the local, film-themed sightseeing tours that now capitalize on the popularity of The Quiet Man. In a sense, fiction and reality not only coexist (an idea that is also suggested in the deliberately staged shot of the attendant, still in her Maureen O'Hara costume, riding home that evokes a shot of the bicycling couple in Ford's film), but that fiction has also transfigured into reality by creating (and perpetuating) its own illusion.

The transformation of Innisfree from scouted, rustic town suitable for the location shoot to one now defined by - and economically reliant on - perpetuating the fictional images created by the film also reflects Guerín's theme of cinema as simultaneously a medium of illusion and conjurer of reality (a theme that also surfaces in Tren de sombras in the figurative conjuring of the dead by restoring amateur filmmaker, Fleury's lost film from the turn of the century). In one episode, film reality diverges from geographic reality when an IRA partisan describes the war torn, mine-filled landscape that was cleared to create the film's idyllic images of pastoral life. In a subsequent episode, the two realities again converge in a staged explosion caused by an errant cow for Guerín's film. In both cases, the landscape has been altered by artificially constructed, historical realities. Similarly, by using repeated shots of the attendant shuffling full-scale cutouts of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara at a tour site (the scenes wryly cued by opening and closing the shutters of the small, puppet-theater sized concession stand), Guerín reflects on the idea that the town, too, has become a modern day, real-life staged spectacle. Concluding with images of the hitchhiker moving on to another town in search of job opportunities, she becomes an embodiment of the immigrant paradigm and a traveling performer for Guerín's camera.

Posted by acquarello on Jan 05, 2009 | | Filed under 2009, José Luis Guerín