Friday, September 30, 2011

Screening Strongman Ferdinand at Wooden Shoe on Sunday

Wooden Shoe (704 South Street • Philadelphia, PA 19147) will be screening Alexander Kluge's Strongman Ferdinand (1976) on Sunday October 2 at 7:00 pm. Shooting Wall has been extolling the films of Alexander Kluge online and in print over the last year, so Philadelphia cinephiles should jump at the chance to see one of his most witty and intriguing films. As always at the Wooden Shoe, all screenings are free. Please check out this amazing film from one of the best filmmakers of all time.

I have included a few links below to some reviews of the film and some writing about Kluge for those who are interested in learning more about this filmmaker.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We put up an initial review of Drive about a month ago by a SW friend. Since then I was able to attend the movie. Refn's film, like his others, centers on emotionality, metaphor, and masculinity. I was thinking this film would alienate me since it seemed like Refn purposely moved to film production in England with his Bronson (2008) as to get the ears of Hollywood. Making an amazing piece of cinema with Bronson only as a means to become a millionaire filmmaker in America. My delusional analysis sometimes yields falsities and with Drive, this was the case.

Seemingly coming off as an addition to the Fast and the Furious franchise from the poster or trailer, the film is actually a more subtle variant of Refn's other films. With Refn's Pusher Trilogy, Bronson and Valhalla Rising, masculinity comes to the fore. Male directors, I would say a majority of them in Hollywood like Kubrick to Tarantino, obviously are over-obsessed with masculinity, and even though I have no definitive proof of this, a lot of the male producers who make Hollywood films probably get off on these director's manly meditations. Yet, with Drive and Refn's other works, the masculinity is not glamorized, rather it is contrasted with and destroys the character's hopes, dreams, and social interactions. These usually yield a dialectic that can be symbolized in an amazing scene in Drive, in which the protagonist grabs in his love interest for a kiss in slow motion -- the lights fading in a non-motivational and surreal manner -- and then abruptly, after the long slow motion kiss, he attacks a man in the elevator who the protagonist had already known was trying to kill them both. The violence that results is extreme, too much, and it is then suggested that the main character is like the scorpion that adorns the back of his jacket. That masculinity can have two sides and Refn points out that there are some extreme issues with the concept.

The film also evokes Le Samourai in the sense the main character barely speaks any dialogue. Every aspect of his personality is generally projected onto him by the characters around him or put on him by the audience. The film, seemingly about a stunt car driver involved in an underworld crime plot, like in Refn's Pusher Trilogy is not about a stunt car driver involved in an underworld crime plot. Rather, each character is metaphorical; the conflicts from the characters keep the story going, and all the characters are moving in a direction toward the climax.

Are there car chases? Not many, but there is one which evokes Hitchcock in the beginning and one which evokes Bullitt toward the end. For a film called Drive, most of the driving isn't action packed - the car, like all the characters, is just a metaphor for several things, and you'll have to go out and see this film to figure it out.

This, as the end of the year draws near, might be one of the better cinematic outputs from America for 2011. This film's PR campaign has been ridiculous, so I hope you're just reading this after seeing the film and would like to comment or critique some of the things I brought up. Yet, if for some reason you haven't heard of this film and only now are hearing about it, I would suggest to go see it. In many ways, it's a good introduction to Refn's work and I would highly suggest obtaining Bronson to have a double feature to watch after the film, as in my opinion Bronson constitutes a better film. But in terms of the nightmares you will hear about non-American directors coming to Hollywood, Drive breaks the mold.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

DVD Recommendations of the Week


White Material (2010) by Claire Denis - One of Shooting Wall's top 10 films of 2010, if you didn't get a chance to see this film in the theaters, it is out on DVD in an excellent edition by Criterion Collection. All of us at Shooting Wall highly recommend this and other Claire Denis films. Available on DVD from Netflix and Facets.

Japon (2002) by Carlos Reygadas' strange and remarkable first film is essential viewing. Reygadas has proven himself to be one of Mexico's most interesting new filmmakers and his first film confirms this. Available on DVD from Netflix and Facets.

River of Grass (1994) by Kelly Reichardt - Kelly Reichardt made her first film amid the explosion of independent films in America in the early 1990s and it got lost in the shuffle. Watching it now, after Reichardt's recent successes, the film is different than what she has been working toward, but is every bit as fascinating. I highly recommend checking out this, her first feature. Available on DVD from Netflix and Facets.

Sex is Comedy (20020 by Catherine Breillat - Breillat's followed-up Fat Girl with this funny and personal film about filmmaking. She uses the filming of Fat Girl as the jumping off point for her examination of the making of an art film. Breillat is not known for being funny, but this film is a sharp and pointed look at filmmaking from one of the best directors working today. Available on DVD from Netflix and Facets.

Region 2 Pick of the Week:

Palmero of Wolfsburg (1980) by Werner Schoreter - One of Schroeter's most ambitious and challenging works, this three hour epic traces one worker's migration from life in a small town in Sicily to life working at the BMW factory in Germany. Like all Schroeter's films, this one is strange, mysterious, esoteric, and totally original. I highly recommend this film and don't let the three hour running time scare you as it is worth the work. Available on Region 2 DVD which you can be rented through Facets.

Free Movie of the Week:

Thriller (1979) by Sally Potter - Thriller is British filmmaker Sally Potter's 32 minute feminist examination of the film thriller. Potter was a decidedly more experimental filmmaker at the beginning of her career and if you like Thriller, I highly recommend her first feature The Gold Diggers as well, which you can watch on Mubi for $3. Thriller is available to watch for free on Daily Motion.

Download of the Week:

The Scenic Route (1978) by Mark Rappaport - Mark Rappaport has been making independent films in New York since the early 1970s, but has garnered little if any attention. Many of films have remained unavailable in the USA in recent years, but his highly theatrical, funny, absurd, and strange films are worth tracking down. The Scenic Route is a nice introduction to his work. You can find this and three or four other of his films for download on Pirates Bay.

Be sure to add your thoughts on any of the recommended films to the Shooting Wall Message Board.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shooting Wall Screening Tuesday September 13th at 8pm

Greetings Soldiers and Cinephiles,

Shooting Wall will be hosting a night of some of our favorite short films at Filter Cafe at 331 Race Street on Tuesday September 13th. We will be playing films by Chantal Akerman, Hal Hartley, Ulrike Ottinger, Luc Moullet, Kenneth Anger, Jean-Marie Straub-Danielle Huillet, and many more. Come and enjoy an evening of great short films!
Link to event here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


We're currently hard at work on our third issue of our zine, which will be out in late Sept-early Oct. In the midst of discussion about what the issue means and in-turn ourselves, we have started to come to some rough conclusions. On a night that I was feeling the stress of the failure of film theory and how I felt I was doing an epic task trying to fill in the gaps with a piece in issue #3, I made this chart:

In many ways an narcissistic exercise, this chart does though propose some of the ideas being thrown at each-other in our continued struggle. It suggests new ways-informed by our growing investigations into the successes of past film and art theory outfits admixed with our eternal interest in discovering the best ways to propagate and make good cinema-of confronting the current film situation. Overall, it has colors! And is "fun" and notes some of what we're doing as a group. If you like what you see, we're an open membership group so throw us a email and we'll discuss what ways you can get involved.

If you live outside of Philadelphia and feel the same apathy towards modern cinema as we do, please contact us. We feel our model of a film theory and action organization does offer a lot of tactically superior methods than the one film theory groupings in the academy or through reactionary newspapers currently find themselves. 


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

DVD Recommendations of the Week

Below are this weeks film recommendations. Again, be sure to offer feedback and start threads on our Message Board, if you want to discuss these films.


The Unbelievable Truth (1989) by Hal Hartley - The first feature film from American independent filmmaker Hal Hartley is a great introduction to the world of this now largely unknown filmmaker. Hartley was part of the "wave" of American independent filmmakers who were popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Hartley, unlike many of his contemporaries, remained steadfastly independent and never met with mainstream success, which has made it more difficult for him to make films in the last 10-12 years. As far as I'm concerned, Hartley was the most original and innovative filmmakers of that group and one of the most intelligent and cinematic American filmmakers of the last 30 years. Available on DVD on Netflix and Facets.

Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003) by Tsai Ming-Liang - Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang's ode to a dying movie theater finds the director in full minimalist and absurdist mode. Utilizing long static takes, comedic tableaus, and a possible ghost story, Goodbye Dragon Inn is both one of the filmmakers most engaging and most difficult works to date. Available in DVD on Netflix and Facets.

Ratcatcher (1999) by Lynne Ramsay - Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay's first film in a dark, sad, moving, and poetic film about a lower class neighborhood in Glasgow during the garbage strike of 1973. The film is told through the point of view of a 12 year old boy living among the filth, decay, and disarray of 1970s Scotland. Ramsay has not been prolific (her third film will be released this year), but her films are moving, exciting, and visually dynamic. Available on DVD from Netflix and Facets. Also available to watch instantly via Netflix.

Everyone Else (2009) by Maren Ade - The second feature from German filmmaker Maren Ade was one of the surprises of last year. A sharp, insightful, and challenging film about a failing relationship. Ade is a filmmaker to lookout for. Available in DVD on Netflix and Facets. Also available to watch instantly via Netflix.

Region 2 Film of the Week:

Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) by Jacques Rivette - One of Rivette's most famous and playful films, Celine and Julie is a joyful, absurdist, and fantastical film. It is long, complex, and yet one of Rivette's most accessible and entertaining films. The lack of an American DVD release of this film is pretty appalling. BFI has an excellent 2 disc set, which can be obtained via Facets.

Free Film of the Week:

Ode (1999) by Kelly Reichardt - Between her first feature, River of Grass (1994), and her so-called comeback, Old Joy (2006), Reichardt shot several small films on Super-8. Ode is the longest (48 minutes) and most famous of these films. It is available to watch free in 10 minute segments on You Tube.

Download of the Week:

The Death of Maria Malibran (1972) by Werner Schroeter - Enter the bizarre cinematic world of Werner Shroeter, which is part camp, part high art, part opera, part stage tragedy, part experimental film. Schroeter was a marginal figure in New German Cinema, who carved out an extremely unique and insular film style, which has gone largely unnoticed in America. The Death of Maria Malibran is available for download with English subtitles on Pirates Bay.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Redbox Rant or Every Redbox In Existence Should Be Systematically Destroyed In Order To Salvage Intellectual Integrity And Liberate The Masses From Bad Cinema by Leila Hilali

Walk into a Ralph’s or Walgreens and you see it lurking near the entrance. Stop outside a 7-11 and it will taunt you as you pass by. Nearly everywhere I go I spot this crimson parasitic menace from the corner of my eye; seemingly omnipresent and seductive to passersby. Its popularity amongst consumers stems from the fact that Redbox signifies the achievement of 21st century convenience. It offers cheap and accessible DVD rentals to an already sedentary and asinine society; greatly akin to fast food restaurants, Redbox being the McDonalds of movie rentals. Most of the DVDs available to rent are new and current releases. Naturally, the selection of titles it offers is repulsive to any sound cinephile (ranging from the latest Tyler Perry movie to straight to DVD releases). Entirely lacking in any cinematic diversity as well as human warmth, it disheartens me when I see a line form in front of a Redbox. I witness the tired miserable faces; young and old; waiting to get their fix of this detrimental sedative. Why is it that mind-numbing cinema resonates with the public? Is it because of sheer ignorance, conditioned idleness, and cultural conformity? Probably. As ardent cinephiles, we should no longer allow ourselves to accept what’s being crammed down everyone throats. First order of business: obliterate every single Redbox in sight.

-Leila Hilali