Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Another dirty dozen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another dirty dozen

It's time for another annoying list - this one occurred to me during Piper's 12 Movies Meme. Over at Out 1, James Hansen selected L'Amour fou and admitted he was doing so because he hadn't seen it and would love the opportunity to do so. My own list included many of my all-time favorites, but this different approach started the wheels turning. So now I propose a new list-making venture for all of you reading this: imagine that you can screen 12 hard-to-see movies that you've personally never viewed before. And since all memes need a catchy name, call this the "Holy Grail" list.

Here are the rules:


1. You must not have seen any of the films on your list, either in theatres or on video.

2. The films on your list should not be available on Netflix (this will be the criteria for "availability" since it's too hard to track down what's available where, to who, etc.)

3. You can organize the list however you want, in themed couplets like Piper's original list, or just as twelve semi-random films.

4. You must credit and link to my blog, Piper's blog for getting the original ball rolling, and for good measure, the guys at Out 1 for planting the seed.

5. Tag five people to keep the meme going.

6. If you're too lazy to follow all of these rules, but still want to participate, you have my blessing (the more the merrier). Except for the rule about linking to my blog. That you still have to obey.

Without further ado, here's my own list, with summaries or comments from imdb instead of by me (since the whole point is that I haven't seen them):

1. The Big Parade (1925, dir. King Vidor)"The idle son of a rich businessman joins the army when the U.S.A. enters World War One. He is sent to France, where he becomes friends with two working-class soldiers. He also falls in love with a Frenchwoman, but has to leave her to move to the frontline." (Philip Aps)

2. L'Amour fou (1969, dir. Jacques Rivette)"its about the disintegrating (sort-of) relationship of a theatre director-actor (jean-pierre kalfon) and his actress-wife (bulle ogier). its not so overwrought and turbulent as Last Tango in Paris, the people are more quietly anguished, and they only play at being crazy, great lovers." (mr_white692)

3. Le vent d'est (1970, dir. Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin)"Without question, the images of the film are astounding and easily amongst the most beautiful and provocative scenarios that Godard has ever documented; with the image of these ancient, anachronistic figures, Bergman-like in their presentation, wandering through this glorious field; eventually giving way to more complicated scenes, in which we return to the territory of Week End in those radical final moments." (Graham Greene)

4. High School (1968, dir. Frederick Wiseman)"Wiseman stated: 'When [High School] was first shown in Boston, in 1969, one of the people who saw it was… a very conservative member of the Boston School Committee. I thought she'd hate the movie. But she came up and said, 'Mr. Wiseman, that was a wonderful high school!' I thought she was kidding me – until I realized she was on the other side from me on all the value questions. Everything I thought I was parodying, she thought was great. I don't think her reaction represents a failure of the film. Instead, we have an illustration that reality is ambiguous, a complex mirror – that the 'real' film takes place where the mind of the viewer meets the screen. It's how the viewer interprets the events.'" (Daniel Yates)

5. Senso (1954, dir. Luchino Visconti)"Venezia, spring of 1866, in the last days of the Austrian occupation. A performance of Il Trovatore ends up in confusion due to an anti-Austrian demonstration, organised by Count Ussoni. His cousin Countess Serpieri falls in love with vile Austrian Lieutenant Franz Mahler, but the times are changing." (Vincent Merlaud)

6. Wavelength (1967, dir. Michael Snow)"WAVELENGTH is NOT a 45 minute single-zoom shot. In fact, it is a rather artfully orchestrated SERIES of individual pieces of film (and sometimes TWO layered upon one other). Cuts, flashbacks, repeated shots, different film stocks, assorted F-Stops, jump cuts, filters and lens are just some of the tools in Snow's bag of tricks to convey the illusion of a Single Shot broken up by alternate realities of perception. The Soundtrack as well, is a layered fusion of natural sound, synch dialogue, radio broadcasts and an overwhelming buzz creating by a crescendo sine-wave." (Joe Stemme)

7. Chronicle of a Summer (1961, dir. Jean Rouch)"With a 'caméra vivant' (living camera) and the question 'Are you happy?', they went out to the streets of Paris to make a survey, showing passages in the life of students, workers and migrants (including Joris Ivens' future wife), with a short escapade to the St. Tropez beach, and a final confrontation of the creators and subjects with the footage and the idea of constructing objective pieces of reality on film." (Edgar Soberon Torchia)

8. Heaven and Earth Magic (1962, dir. Harry Smith)"The animation is mind boggling and the use of sound is unforgettable. You will find yourself looking at the world in a very different way after this film. It's very much like Paradjanov in the use of symbols and allegory. Watching Heaven & Earth is like being exposed to a magical universe. A world you've forgotten that you actually already know." (SDY)

9. Bigger Than Life (1956, dir. Nicholas Ray)"A seriously ill schoolteacher becomes dependent on a "miracle" drug that begins to affect his sanity." (Eugene Kim)

10. Marketa Lazarova (1967, dir. Frantisek Vlacil)"A minor Czech clan falls afoul of the King in medieval times, against the backdrop of Christianity replacing Paganism." (Joyojeet Pal)

11. Red Psalm (1972, dir. Miklos Jancso)" It takes place on a great plain or meadow, I think; and there's a cast of what seems to be a hundred dancers, dancing in the circle-dances not unlike the end of Bertolucci's "Last Tango In Paris," Communism and film form all one. The shots are long and languid, like Bela Tarr: there's something like 17 edits in the entire 90 minute film. And the last image is still seared on my mind's eye: a beautiful woman slits her palm with a knife, holds it to her breast, and then faces the camera, showing us her wound: instead of blood, a red scarf is tied around her hand, a banner that combined with her defiant pose speaks revolution, the red psalm of the title." (Lucia Joyce)

12. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, dir. Chantel Akerman)"Jeanne Dielman, a young widow, lives with her son Sylvain following an immutable order: While the boy is in school she cares for the flat and receives her clients in the afternoon." (Volker Boehm)

So there they are, and now it's your turn. What do you think of my choices - have you seen any? Discuss below. And, of course, add your own list to the mix.

I'll tag the following, but anyone and everyone is welcome to join in:

Erich Kuersten, Acidemic-Film
Joseph Campanella, Cinema Fist
Tony Dayoub, Cinema Viewfinder
Brandon Colvin and James Hansen & co., Out 1
T.S., Screen Savour

And anyone else who reads this. Please post your link in this comments section if/when you participate. Thanks & good luck in your (imaginary) film viewing...

UPDATE (8/30): I have been keeping track of all the submissions here. Please notify me through the comments section if your blog has been missed. Thanks.

16 comments:

James Hansen said...

Thanks for the link and tag! I'm sure we'll follow up the meme with our own soon.

I've seen a couple of these on your list in theaters (Wavenlength (twice), Jeanne Dielman (once in theaters, once on a Region 2 DVD))...really great stuff. I've also seen a beat old copy of Red Psalm, which is remarkable. I have a copy of Jansco's "Cantata" which I haven't watched yet. If I ever find a way to make copies or anything, I'll let you know!

Nice list! Much appreciated!

Erich Kuersten said...

Wow, the only one I've heard of on hear is that psycho Nick Ray one. Jesus, I don't know if I can even think of 12, most of my holy grails have been found, but I'll try... hail Arthur, King of the Britains!

Tony Dayoub said...

Alright, I took your challenge, and posted my 12. Visit my site if you want to see them.

thetathx1138 said...

Dan from GK's blog here: I got tagged by Tony. Thanks for the meme!

MovieMan0283 said...

James,

I saw Jansco's The Red and the White a few years ago on the big screen and was really impressed. I unfortunately missed screenings of these while I lived in NYC, which I'm kicking myself over now. At least I got to see Out 1!

Erich,

Yeah the list was hard to assemble at first - luckily, since what would have been my list of 2 years ago has mostly been caught up to by now.

Tony,

Great - I think you're the first to go for it & I look forward to checking it out.

thetathx1138,

Welcome on board!

Keep 'em coming, folks...

T.S. said...

Thanks a lot for including me. This was a fun exercise.

My list is here.

polarisdib said...

I've actually seen Wavelength (was perty neat!) and Chronicles of a Summer (seriously, nowadays comes across like a sketch comedy of some sort... that said, still really good).

I got tagged by ThetaTHX1138, so my list is here: http://polarisdib.livejournal.com/358675.html . Fun activity, I really enjoyed it!

--PolarisDiB

Dean Treadway said...

Okay, this is a hard challenge to folow for me, since I've seen so many movies. But I'll take it. Gimme a coupla days, movieman! I might, however, make it a half-have-seen and half-haven't seen list, since I have a label on my blog entitled Movies The Should be on DVD but Aren't.

At any rate, it'll be an edumacational list.

JOSEPH CAMPANELLA said...

This list will be very hard to make.

The whole concept of this is frustrating, considering that, none of the movies I and everyone else picks will not be available, therefore making the meme just a tease of motion pictures I'll probably never see.

Thanks a lot movieman!

Thanks for the tag, by the way. Seriously. Just give me a few days!

JOSEPH CAMPANELLA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Hansen said...

Do you still live in NYC area? Wavelength is showing multiple times over the next month or so at MOMA and Anthology...

James Hansen said...

PS- Sorry we haven't posted our lists yet. I was out of town this weekend and wasn't able to do any writing. I'll try and get them up tonight or tomorrow.

MovieMan0283 said...

No, sadly I do not nor will I be in town. I actually almost went to Wavelength once (it used to play at Anthology all the time) and chickened out, thinking well, I'm not in the mood for it today, there'll be another screening. One of these days...

MovieMan0283 said...

Just noticed that I mistakenly listed Jack Smith, instead of Harry Smith, as director of Heaven & Earth Magic. Oops. Very different filmmakers as I understand it (though I havne't seen either of their works.)

Joseph B. said...

MovieMan,

Just posted my own response after being tagged by Adam at DVD Panache.

It can be found here

Sam Juliano said...

Finally, Movie Man, we have someone here (namely you!) who acknowledges MARKETA LAZAROVA, which is the greatest Czech film of all-time, and one of the masterpieces of world cinema. I'm still trying to find out what you meant by 'not having previously seen any film in theatres of on video' but I did see ML for the frst time on a bootie DVD, and now own the Region 2 First Run DVD.

Of course I applaud so many other choices here, like THE BIG PARADE, the Wiseman, the Visconti, SENSO, the Jansco, etc.