Monday, August 29, 2011

Film Recommendations of the Week

DVD Recommendations:

La Pointe Courte (1955) by Agnes Varda - Agnes Varda's first feature film is a lovely, understated, and formalist precursor to the French New Wave. Varda fuses documentary and fiction and uses parallel editing (the film was edited by Alain Resnais) to tie the story of a small fishing town with lovers analysis their relationship. An early statement of what would later be the explosion of the French New Wave. Available on DVD from the Criterion Collection. You can find it on Netflix and Facets.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) by Howard Hawks - One of Howard Hawks' greatest and most fully realized films. I always felt this film got pushed to the side in favor of Hawks' more famous works (Red River, Rio Bravo, The Big Sleep), but I find this to be one of his greatest achievements and a beautiful summation of the style and themes Hawks explored throughout his career. Available on DVD through Netflix and Facets.

Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (1978) by Chantal Akerman - Akerman's follow up to Jeanne Dielman and News from Home is less formally rigid, but just as masterful. It was her most "mainstream" film to date in 1978, but is just as insightful and beautiful as anything she has done. I actually recommend watching this film before Jeanne Dielman to get a taste for Akerman, especially if you are at all put off by Jeanne Dielman's epic length and formalist reputation. Les Rendex-vous d'Anna is an excellent introduction into the films of Chantal Akerman and one of her most personal statement about herself as a filmmaker. Available on DVD through Netflix and Facets and released as part of Criterion's Eclipse series entitled Akerman in the Seventies.

I'm Gonna Explode (2008) by Gerardo Naranjo - The second feature film from Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo is a fresh, youthful, and radical take on the teenage, criminal lovers on the run genre. I have heard it described as a Pierrot le fou from the girl's point of view. I believe that Naranjo is one of the best young filmmaker's working today and one of the most interesting coming out of Mexico. Available on DVD through Netflix and Facets.

Region 2 Pick of the Week:

Le Lit de la vierge (1969) by Philippe Garrel - Another film from the Zanzibar film group, Philippe Garrel's Le lit de la vierge is a bizarre, minimalist, radical take on the story of Christ starring Pierre Clementi. Filled with long takes, anachronistic music, and revolutionary ideas, Le lit de la vierge is was one Garrel's best early films and one of the few available on DVD. It is available in France as a region 2 DVD with subtitles and can be obtained through Facets, the University of Pennsylvania library has a copy of it as well.

Free Movie of the Week:

Flaming Creatures (1963) by Jack Smith - Surely one of the most infamous films to come out of the American Underground in the 1960s, Flaming Creatures is strange, insular, insane, and beautiful. A film influenced as much by classic Hollywood cinema as by pornography and modern art. The film is difficult and strange, but it is worth checking out. You can view it on ubuweb for free.

Download of the Week:

Ticket of No Return (1979) by Ulrike Ottinger - Ottinger is a new discovery for me as well; she is a filmmaker I have been wanting to watch for a long time, but her films remains sadly unavailable in the United States. She is a colorful, kitschy, outlandish, and hilarious German filmmaker who came in at the tail end of the New German and has carved out a following among dedicated cinephiles for her bold and bizarre films. Ticket of No Return is a nice introduction to her work. You can download it on Pirates Bay. There is also an un-subtitled version of her film Freak Orlando (1981) on UbuWeb for those who know German.

As always, start threads on the Shooting Wall Message Board with your own recommendations and thoughts on these or any other of the recommended films.

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