THE SANDS ARE REVERSED: A PLACE OF IDEAL QUIET   A film series





Projected at 327 Brown St, Iowa City


Sundays at the end of evening civil twilight



Sponsored by Tokyo/Vermont Films


First series   THEY ARE ALL GONE INTO THE WORLD OF LIGHT



30 August   8:11 p.m.   Werner Herzog   FITZCARRALDO


6 September   7:59 p.m.   Jean-Pierre Melville   ARMY OF SHADOWS


13 September   7:46 p.m.   Robert Bresson   AU HASARD BALTHAZAR


20 September   7:34 p.m.   Michelangelo Antonioni   L'ECLISSE


27 September   7:22 p.m.   Miklós Jancsó   THE ROUND-UP


4 October   7:10 p.m.   Ingmar Bergman   SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE


11 October   6:59 p.m.   Jean-Luc Godard   PIERROT LE FOU


18 October   6:48 p.m.   Terrence Malick   THE THIN RED LINE


25 October   6:38 p.m.   Carl Th. Dreyer   ORDET


1 November   5:29 p.m.   Kenji Mizoguchi   SANSHO THE BAILIFF


8 November   5:22 p.m.   Andrei Tarkovsky   MIRROR


15 November   5:15 p.m.   Béla Tarr   SÁTÁNTANGÓ





Second series   FORGOTTEN LAND



24 January   5:42 p.m.   Béla Tarr   WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES


31 January   5:50 p.m.   Andrei Tarkovsky   ANDREI RUBLEV


7 February   5:59 p.m.   Kenji Mizoguchi   UGETSU


14 February   6:07 p.m.   Carl Th. Dreyer   DAY OF WRATH


21 February   6:15 p.m.   Terrence Malick   DAYS OF HEAVEN


28 February   6:24 p.m.   Jean-Luc Godard   CONTEMPT


7 March   6:32 p.m.   Ingmar Bergman   SHAME


28 March   7:55 p.m.   Miklós Jancsó   SILENCE AND CRY


4 April   8:03 p.m.   Michelangelo Antonioni   THE PASSENGER


11 April   8:11 p.m.   Robert Bresson   PICKPOCKET


18 April   8:20 p.m.   Jean-Pierre Melville   UN FLIC


25 April   8:28 p.m.   Werner Herzog   AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD





First series   THEY ARE ALL GONE INTO THE WORLD OF LIGHT



30 August   8:11 p.m.


Werner Herzog   FITZCARRALDO


1982   color   158 minutes   German with English subtitles



“The most benign movie ever made about 19th-century capitalism . . . Mick Jagger . . . Financial failure of such consistency . . . in one piece over a mountain . . . who is very visible . . . 'behind which lies the reality of dreams.' "


(http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?_r=1&res=9B01EFDB143BF933A25753C1A964948260)



6 September   7:59 p.m.


Jean-Pierre Melville   ARMY OF SHADOWS


1969   color   145 minutes   French with English subtitles



" 'Wagnerian. Unfilmable.' . . . Dark as pitch and utterly without compromise . . . 'awful, horrible . . . marvelous' . . . bleak and beautiful by turns, that rare work of art that thrills the senses and the mind. . . . cruelly vulnerable anew . . . through the geometry of their gazes . . . You can get lost in the blackness of its heart and its shadows. You might never come back."


(http://movies.nytimes.com/2006/04/28/movies/28shad.html)



13 September   7:46 p.m.


Robert Bresson   AU HASARD BALTHAZAR


1966   black and white   95 minutes   French with English subtitles



"Of things and themes (and things as theme) . . . whose evil is never explained but who adequately answers one set of his community's needs, just as Balthazar answers another set of needs . . . the most richly evocative sequence in all of Bresson and surely one of the most affecting passages in the history of film. . . . the degree to which it accepts and sustains a multiplicity of actions, objects, even, in an almost traditional sense, 'character.' . . . he has expanded it to include a superbly precise and compassionate awareness of the physical universe. In this film we are given not only the movements of souls and bodies, but also the knowledge of hands and hearts and of the ground we walk on."


(http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9E07EFDE173DE136A05753C2A9649C946190D6CF)



20 September   7:34 p.m.


Michelangelo Antonioni   L'ECLISSE


1962   black and white   118 minutes   Italian with English subtitles



"The Man Who Set Film Free . . . And then, the movie. A Mediterranean cruise, bright sunshine, in black and white widescreen images unlike anything I'd ever seen--so precisely composed, accentuating and expressing . . . what? A very strange type of discomfort. The characters were rich, beautiful in one way but, you might say, spiritually ugly. Who were they to me? Who would I be to them? They arrived on an island. They split up, spread out, sunned themselves, bickered. And then, suddenly, the woman played by Lea Massari, who seemed to be the heroine, disappeared. From the lives of her fellow characters, and from the movie itself. Another great director did almost exactly the same thing around that time, in a very different kind of movie. But while Hitchcock showed us what happened to Janet Leigh in 'Psycho,' Michelangelo Antonioni never explained what had happened to Massari's Anna. Had she drowned? Had she fallen on the rocks? Had she escaped from her friends and begun a new life? We never found out. Instead the film's attention shifted to Anna’s friend Claudia, played by Monica Vitti, and her boyfriend Sandro, played by Gabriele Ferzetti. They started to search for Anna, and the picture seemed to become a kind of detective story. But right away our attention was drawn away from the mechanics of the search, by the camera and the way it moved. You never knew where it was going to go, who or what it was going to follow. In the same way the attentions of the characters drifted: toward the light, the heat, the sense of place. And then toward one another. So it became a love story. But that dissolved too. Antonioni made us aware of something quite strange and uncomfortable, something that had never been seen in movies. His characters floated through life, from impulse to impulse, and everything was eventually revealed as a pretext: the search was a pretext for being together, and being together was another kind of pretext, something that shaped their lives and gave them a kind of meaning. The more I saw 'L’Avventura'--and I went back many times--the more I realized that Antonioni's visual language was keeping us focused on the rhythm of the world: the visual rhythms of light and dark, of architectural forms, of people positioned as figures in a landscape that always seemed terrifyingly vast. And there was also the tempo, which seemed to be in sync with the rhythm of time, moving slowly, inexorably, allowing what I eventually realized were the emotional shortcomings of the characters--Sandro's frustration, Claudia's self-deprecation--quietly to overwhelm them and push them into another 'adventure,' and then another and another. Just like that opening theme, which kept climaxing and dissipating, climaxing and dissipating. Endlessly. Where almost every other movie I'd seen wound things up, 'L'Avventura' wound them down. The characters lacked either the will or the capacity for real self-awareness. They only had what passed for self-awareness, cloaking a flightiness and lethargy that was both childish and very real. And in the final scene, so desolate, so eloquent, one of the most haunting passages in all of cinema, Antonioni realized something extraordinary: the pain of simply being alive. And the mystery. 'L'Avventura' gave me one of the most profound shocks I've ever had at the movies . . . changed my perception of cinema, and the world around me, and made both seem limitless. . . . I was mesmerized by 'L'Avventura' and by Antonioni's subsequent films, and it was the fact that they were unresolved in any conventional sense that kept drawing me back. They posed mysteries--or rather the mystery, of who we are, what we are, to each other, to ourselves, to time. You could say that Antonioni was looking directly at the mysteries of the soul. That's why I kept going back. I wanted to keep experiencing these pictures, wandering through them. I still do. Antonioni seemed to open up new possibilities with every movie. The last seven minutes of 'L'Eclisse,' the third film in a loose trilogy he began with 'L'Avventura' (the middle film was 'La Notte'), were even more terrifying and eloquent than the final moments of the earlier picture. Alain Delon and Ms. Vitti make a date to meet, and neither of them show up. We start to see things--the lines of a crosswalk, a piece of wood floating in a barrel--and we begin to realize that we're seeing the places they've been, empty of their presence. Gradually Antonioni brings us face to face with time and space, nothing more, nothing less. And they stare right back at us. It was frightening, and it was freeing. The possibilities of cinema were suddenly limitless. . . . the painted landscapes (literally painted, long before CGI) of 'Red Desert' . . . an explosion that sends the detritus of the Western world cascading across the screen in super slow motion and vivid color (for me Antonioni and Godard were, among other things, truly great modern painters); and the remarkable last shot of 'The Passenger,' where the camera moves slowly out the window and into a courtyard, away from the drama of Jack Nicholson's character and into the greater drama of wind, heat, light, the world unfolding in time. . . . Images that continue to haunt me, inspire me. To expand my sense of what it is to be alive in the world."


(http://nytimes.com/2007/08/12/movies/12scor.html)



27 September   7:22 p.m.


Miklós Jancsó   THE ROUND-UP


1966   black and white   90 minutes   Hungarian with English subtitles



"Who made formal patterns on the screen with humans and horses . . . To watch . . . for the first time is to witness a kind of film ballet entering the realms . . . virtually divested of characters we can either sympathise with or hate. Instead, it deals largely in formal, abstract generalities. . . . A man running on the horizon is calmly shot down. . . . Short words of command seem to be the apotheosis of dialogue. . . . 'a total absorption of content into form' . . . All this takes place on a very particular landscape: the vast, summer-scorched Hungarian plains where whitewashed buildings, cloaked men and their horses appear to be the only occupants. It seems like a world apart . . . and part of the story of mankind . . . so precisely choreographed that the patterns play on the mind until they become clear and obvious in their meanings. The camera style is beautiful but almost merciless. . . . it can't be for its absence of power or for its cold appreciation of the situation it illustrates."


(http://guardian.co.uk/film/2000/oct/19/derekmalcolmscenturyoffilm.derekmalcolm)



4 October   7:10 p.m.


Ingmar Bergman   SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE


1973   color   169 minutes   Swedish with English subtitles



"A movie of such extraordinary intimacy that it has the effect of breaking into mysterious components many things we ordinarily accept without thought, familiar and banal objects, faces, attitudes, and emotions, especially love. . . . Later the rumpled white sheets suggest an abandoned Arctic landscape on a planet in a universe that might be contained within the head of a pin. . . . intensely, almost unbearably moving. . . . The look of the film has something to do with this. . . . he has blown up the 16mm negative to 35mm, which gives a kind of pointillist effect. . . . Although we seldom see more than two persons at a time, and usually only one, the theater screen is bursting with information, associations, and contradictory feelings. . . . a kind of windless plateau . . . (who always remain offscreen) . . . who also remains offscreen. . . . 'In an earthly and imperfect way.' "


(http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF173BE770BC4E52DFBF66838F669EDE)



11 October   6:59 p.m.


Jean-Luc Godard   PIERROT LE FOU


1965   color   110 minutes   French with English subtitles



" 'I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple' . . . This man . . . begins to fulfill his vast artistic plans when he and the young woman . . . take to the road. . . . 'I remember that when I began Pierrot le fou, one week before, I was completely panicked, I didn't know what I should do. Based on the book, we had already established all the locations, we had hired the people . . . and I was wondering what we were going to do with it all.' . . . new heights of spontaneity . . . 'In my other films, when I had a problem, I asked myself what Hitchcock would have done in my place. While making Pierrot, I had the impression that he wouldn't have known how to answer' . . . 'a kind of happening, but one that was controlled and dominated' . . . 'a completely unconscious film' . . . appropriately vast, cosmic . . . Ferdinand sits in his bathtub and reads to his young daughter a passage from the art critic Elie Faure that begins, 'Velázquez, past the age of fifty, no longer painted specific objects. He drifted around things like the air, like twilight, catching unawares in the shimmering shadows the nuances of color that he transformed into the invisible core of his silent symphony.' The first scene thus announces Godard's own search for another kind of cinematic art, one that goes beyond the visual presentation of objects and characters . . . 'Not to write about people's lives anymore, but only about life--life itself. What lies in between people: space, sound, and color. I'd like to accomplish that. Joyce gave it a try, but it should be possible to do better.' . . . the couple will exist together, in isolation at a wild seaside . . . 'What can I do? I don't know what to do' . . . emotion would go from the filmmaker to the viewer not analogically but in concentrated, sublimated form, by means of style. The rejection of naturalistic drama in favor of shards of images, voice-over recitations, incongruous insert shots, and intrusive music hall-like interludes is not a deflection or avoidance of emotion but an attempt to evoke--to provoke--an intensity and spectrum of feeling of an ineffably romantic scope . . . that Ferdinand drives into the sea . . . filling the sky above a verdant landscape . . . The romantically transcendent self-immolation . . . booed when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival . . . the influential critic Michel Cournot wrote, 'I feel no embarrassment declaring that Pierrot le fou is the most beautiful film I've seen in my life,' . . . it inspired a generation . . . The self-destructive romanticism, the artistic self-consciousness, the frenetically unhinged form, the blend of emotional extravagance and cool self-mocking, the vanished boundaries between irony and sincerity and between symbol and reality, the overt cinematic breakdown and breakup . . . the world around him."


(http://criterion.com/current/posts/525)



18 October   6:48 p.m.


Terrence Malick   THE THIN RED LINE


1998   color   170 minutes   English



"With its prologue in paradise . . . Mr. Malick's huge new opus begins. His intoxication with natural beauty, fused so palpably and strangely with the psychic sleepwalking of his human characters, remains exactly as it was. So does the innate momentousness . . . so hauntingly majestic . . . drift far afield . . . into something hazier . . . Disjointed poetic effects and ravishing physical beauty now supplant the nuts and bolts of wartime experience, even if this film--like 'Saving Private Ryan,' with which it happens so bizarrely to overlap--depicts a military landing on a beach and a terrifying assault on a hillside bunker. For all their surface similarities, Steven Spielberg's film was about character and Mr. Malick's is about spirit. . . . it leaves behind any ordinary opportunities for individuals to emerge from the fray. Actors here, whether famous or unknown, are concealed behind helmets and grime as they move--often wordlessly--through the initially unspoiled landscape . . . filmed magnificently . . . to capture every blade of grass gloriously while also reminding the audience over two and three-quarter hours how very many blades of grass are here. . . . 'I belong to you. . . . Be with me now.' . . . in summer dresses . . . purity . . . lightness that would be rare in any film. . . . it disappoints anyone in search of a plot. . . . remarkably little happens. . . . The way light filters through the canopy of the rain forest means at least as much here as the specifics of battle. . . . it wanders almost randomly . . . handsome, beatific . . . 'How did we lose the good that was given us? Let it slip away. Scattered. Careless. What's keeping us'."


(http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C07E5DC133CF930A15751C1A96E958260)



25 October   6:38 p.m.


Carl Th. Dreyer   ORDET


1955   black and white   125 minutes   Danish with English subtitles



"You're inside, it is impossible to escape. Lean, quiet, deeply serious, populated with odd religious obsessives, it takes place in winter in Denmark in 1925, in a rural district that has a cold austere beauty. . . . and it is now, although we may not have noticed, that the film has taken its grip. We will not be able to look away again until the end, and we will think of nothing else. . . . this film . . . simply intends to see. That it does astonishingly well. The rude, simple sets have the solidity of a universe. The outdoor shots, of searches for the runaway Johannes on the moors, or a buggy ride across the horizon, are almost abstractly beautiful. Much is offscreen: The Borgensfarm sow that has had piglets is much watched, never seen. Peter's house has only a sign and a doorway. The doctor's car is established only by its headlights. The grim reaper is seen only by Johannes. The camera movements have an almost godlike quality. At several points, such as during the prayer meeting, they pan back and forth slowly, relentlessly, hypnotically. There are a few movements of astonishing complexity, beginning in the foreground, somehow arriving at the background, but they flow so naturally you may not even notice them. The lighting, in black and white, is celestial--not in a joyous but in a detached way. The climactic scene could have been handled in countless conventional ways, but the film has prepared us for it, and it has a grave, startling power. When the film was over, I had plans. I could not carry them out. I went to bed. Not to sleep. To feel. To puzzle about what had happened to me. I had started by viewing a film that initially bored me. It had found its way into my soul. Even after the first half hour, I had little idea what power awaited me, but now I could see how those opening minutes had to be as they were. . . . The film stands utterly and fearlessly alone. Many viewers will turn away from it. Persevere. Go to it. It will not come to you."


(http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080308/REVIEWS08/914866035/1023)



1 November   5:29 p.m.


Kenji Mizoguchi   SANSHO THE BAILIFF


1954   black and white   124 minutes   Japanese with English subtitles



"At the end he finds her . . . sitting by the sea. I have given the barest outline of the plot, which is immensely complicated and full of events--of a sensational and ultimately exemplary nature. It is typical of the method . . . that during their captivity Zushio and Anju should overhear a song . . . about two lost children named Zushio and Anju. . . . their misery is also their glory . . . repeated many times in the subtitles and taken seriously by this very serious film. . . . the film defines its characters as much by what they suffer as what they do . . . The expanse of time is necessary to accommodate the accretion of events that change people--not to define character so much as to let them submit, to become a part of their environment. In Mizoguchi's world, the end of living is to achieve minimal differentiation from the landscape--like the daughter walking to her watery death or the mother sitting at the edge of the sea. . . . a film of breathtaking visual beauty, but the conditions of that beauty also change--from the ethereal delicacy of its beginning (before the kidnapping), through the dark masses of the Bailiff's compound, to the ordered perspectives of Kyoto and the governor's palace, and finally to the spare symbolic horizons at the end."


(http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9803E7D6123CEE34BC4F52DFB4678382679EDE)



8 November   5:22 p.m.


Andrei Tarkovsky   MIRROR


1975   black and white and color   108 minutes   Russian with English subtitles


"Let her open the door, enter, not recognise . . . and the boy won't recognise . . . and in this state she will leave and close the door. It's a state of human soul which is particularly close to me, a state of some kind of despondency, spiritual restriction--it was important for me to see this. . . . certain feeling of being brought down. . . . She is standing in the rain, she is explaining something, talking about something, why in the rain? What for? . . . A mission. Beautiful. Here I would agree with you completely. . . . I'll quote an example which I find utterly spellbinding. In mediaeval Japan there lived many painters who would find shelter at shoguns' courts or stay with some feudal lords--Japan was partitioned into many provinces back then--and they were excellent artists, highly praised, they would reach heights of fame. And having attained this, many of them would suddenly disappear, walk away. They would disappear completely and then reappear at another shogun's court as completely unknown individuals, under different names, and they would begin from scratch the career of a court painter creating works in a totally different style. And in this manner some of them would live five or six lifetimes. . . . you mention the merciless time which annihilates the characters . . . After all those characters are not exclusively 'material.' Everything material undergoes destruction but these characters are not only matter--first and foremost they are spirit. . . . That's why I always thought it important--to the extent human spirit is indestructible--to show matter, which is subject to decay, destruction--as opposed to spirit which is indestructible. . . . we have for example this house which doesn't exist anymore and perhaps a touch of the spirit of the place which remains forever. The mother, when she goes outside--remember that?--always remains the same. It was important for me to show that this figure or soul of the mother was immortal. And the rest undergoes decay; this is of course sad--as a soul feels sad sometimes watching itself leaving the body. There is some nostalgic longing in it, an astral sadness. It is also self-evident to me that this destruction does not concern the characters, only objects. That's why it was important to obtain this contrast--so as to present reality from the perspective of transitoriness, if not for its having grown old, outliving its time, and its existence at a particular time in general--while man always remains the same, or more appropriately, does not remain the same but develops, to infinity. . . . And you talk about the path, the journey. . . . It awaits this moment."


(http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~tstronds/nostalghia.com/TheTopics/interview.html#On_Mirror)



15 November   5:15 p.m.


Béla Tarr   SÁTÁNTANGÓ


1994   black and white   435 minutes   Hungarian with English subtitles


" 'Devastating, enthralling for every minute of its seven hours. I'd be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life.' . . . Susan Sontag . . . And I wanted to be a philosopher and they said immediately 'No because what you do is incredible.' . . . And afterwards when we made a second movie and a third we knew better that there are not only social problems. We have some ontological problems and now I think a whole pile of shit is coming from the cosmos. And there's the reason. You know how we open out step by step, film by film. It's very difficult to speak about the metaphysical and that. No. It's just always listening to life. And we are thinking about what is happening around us. . . . We read his manuscript and we decided immediately we would like to make this Sátántangó. You know, we never use the script. . . . Storyboards are stupid, stupid things. No, we never use the script. . . . The pre-production is a very simple thing. It takes always a minimum of one year. We spend a year looking all around and we see everything. . . . for us every story is always the same old story from the Old Testament. After the Old Testament we have no new stories. We have no news. But movie stories are not new and that's the reason why we think 'okay, the story's only a part of the movie because the other things, time, rhythm, noises and.' . . . Music, of course. And we are just trying to find something like a complex or total movie which isn't only the story. And that's the reason why we look for the locations, and why we spend so much time location hunting because we have some main characters but the location must be the other main character as must Time. . . . We take a lot of impressions. In this case we had nowhere . . . Because in this case we know everything. That's the reason why we don't use the script, because we know everything. . . . I'm sorry, in the past four years I haven't seen anything. . . . Yes, I know. . . . I just wanted to tell you I know nothing."


(http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/01/12/tarr.html)





Second series   FORGOTTEN LAND



24 January   5:42 p.m.


Béla Tarr   WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES


2000   black and white   145 minutes   Hungarian with English subtitles



"He believes this is a big thing, bigger than humanity. And in this case he says 'Maybe.' Maybe God still exists, that's all. He just says everything is wonderful. God creates this big whale. . . . No, I just wanted to make a movie about this guy who is walking up and down the village and has seen this whale. And, you know when we are working we don't talk about any theoretical things. We only ever have practical problems. And it's the same with the writer. Mostly we just talk about life. How it's going on the street. We never talk about theoretical things. We never talk about Chaos or existential things. We just talk about someone coming into the room and he wants something and the other guy who is sitting there doesn't want these things. That's all. . . . We have a composer and we've worked with him for more than fifteen years. And he is a good friend of ours and I always ask him 'Please create something' before we start shooting. And he just goes into the studio and writes some music. And, you know, in this movie we used only two themes and we used them during the shooting. Like a main character, the music's always present. . . . Some of the tracking shots are among the most complex I've ever seen. Were they achieved using a steadycam or. . . . It depends on the ground. I prefer tracks, but if you can't use the tracks, then you must use the steadycam. . . . There's one very long tracking shot of the hero and the musician walking along the pavement, with a bit of dialogue at the start and finish but mostly silent, which is very impressive. . . . It was on tracks. 150 metres long. . . . The use of wind in it was wonderful. . . . We used the wind machine. You know, everything is artificial. . . . Somewhere you mentioned Pieter Breughel as an influence. . . . We like him very much. We have seen nearly all of his paintings. If we have a chance we always go to see them. . . . But when we go outside."


(http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/01/12/tarr.html)



31 January   5:50 p.m.


Andrei Tarkovsky   ANDREI RUBLEV


1966   black and white and color   185 minutes   Russian with English subtitles



"A man launches himself on an Icarus-like flight in a patchy air balloon soaring above the vast Russian landscape. This prologue is an unfolding meditation on our spiritual relationship to the world of appearances. The land becomes traversed by the abstract patterns of rivers, fleeing livestock, scattered and anonymous spectators. Reality is a complex, breathtaking and intricate tapestry. When the balloonist finally crashes back to earth, the grassy ground that awaits his landing is momentarily freeze framed, as if it were possible, just for a second or so, to resist his inevitable fall. Then follows an image of a huge, regal horse also collapsing heavily to the ground. . . . Snow falls in a ransacked church, a displaced horse walks through, birch trees dissect airy landscapes, rivers flow and engulf, a young woman plaits the hair of another who lies dead amongst the massacred, pagans carrying flaming torches rush through dark woods, concentric crowds fringe the frame. In a white cathedral, the camera pans from archway to archway and into an open room. Trestles and ladders redefine the space, while the camera lingers on still-life compositions of its inhabitants. Achingly long, slow pans across Slavic faces, staring, still and direct. A cavalry tramples the snow-covered landscape, bearing a crucifix, imitating Bruegel. Andrei Rublev, under a vow of silence, journeys through this dark . . . He comes upon the casting of a great bell. . . . Amid confusion, rain and treachery the bell is finally cast and raised. Within this cacophony. . . reckoning . . . wasteful inactivity . . . faith, feeling and madness alone. . . . The two men embrace as the camera pans past them over burning logs and dying embers, as the black and white images slowly dissolve into colour fragments of Rublev's frescoes. But even now the camera refuses to pull back."


(http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/01/15/andrei_rublev.html)



7 February   5:59 p.m.


Kenji Mizoguchi   UGETSU


1953   black and white   97 minutes   Japanese with English subtitles



"In one of the greatest of all films . . . The opening shot is one of Mizoguchi's famous 'scroll shots,' so named for the way it pans across the landscape like a Japanese scroll painting. We see a village, the roofs of the rude houses weighed down by tree branches to keep them from blowing away in the wind. . . . Although gunshots on the wind suggest an army is near . . . The famous lake scene is the most beautiful in the film. Shot partly on a tank with studio backdrops, it creates a world of fog and mist, out of which emerges a lone boatman . . . on the shore . . . At the castle, she drifts from behind screens and curtains . . . 'How is such beauty created?' . . . Mizoguchi . . . was famous for the theory that one scene should equal one cut, although sometimes he made exceptions. The great Yasujiro Ozu had the same theory, with the difference that Ozu's camera never moved in his later films, while Mizoguchi's style was constructed around flowing, poetic camera movement. Consider a scene where Lady Wakasa visits Genjuro as he is bathing in an outdoor pool, and as she enters the pool to join him, water splashes over the side and the camera follows the splash into a pan across rippling water that ends with the two of them having a picnic on the grass. . . . as if they are flames. . . . and there is a haunting scene when Genjuro sees the castle as it really is, a burned ruin. . . . and we understand the gentle, forgiving spirit that inspired it. . . . by its . . . invisible nearness."


(http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040509/REVIEWS08/405090301/1023)



14 February   6:07 p.m.


Carl Th. Dreyer   DAY OF WRATH


1943   black and white   97 minutes   Danish with English subtitles



"A passionate ambiguity that leaves all major questions frustratingly unresolved yet vibrantly open, quivering and radiant with life and meaning. . . . camera movement he invented: the camera gliding on unseen tracks in one direction while uncannily panning in another direction. It's difficult to imagine--a three-dimensional kind of transport that somehow combines coming and going in the same complex journey--but a hypnotic experience to follow. . . . when we follow Anne in her sinuous progress . . . The camera tracking with Anne around a pillar prompts our involvement while its simultaneous swiveling away from her establishes our detachment. And enhancing the strange sense of presence that results is Dreyer's rare employment of direct sound rather than studio post-synching--giving scenes an almost carnal impact . . . lending a multidimensional impact to each gesture, word, and emotion. We bear the frightening knowledge . . . in this confined world, but without a capacity to locate it . . . find it everywhere and nowhere."


(http://criterion.com/current/posts/127)



21 February   6:15 p.m.


Terrence Malick   DAYS OF HEAVEN


1978   color   94 minutes   English



"It is seen at a distance, as a phenomenon, like the weather . . . 'Days of Heaven' is above all one of the most beautiful films ever made. Malick's purpose is not to tell a story of melodrama, but one of loss. His tone is elegiac. He evokes the loneliness and beauty of the limitless Texas prairie. In the first hour of the film there is scarcely a scene set indoors. The farm workers camp under the stars and work in the fields, and even the farmer is so besotted by the weather that he tinkers with wind instruments on the roof of his Gothic mansion. The film places its humans in a large frame filled with natural details: the sky, rivers, fields, horses, pheasants, rabbits. Malick set many of its shots at the 'golden hours' near dawn and dusk, when shadows are muted and the sky is all the same tone. These images are underlined by the famous score of Ennio Morricone, who quotes Saint-Saens' 'Carnival of the Animals.' The music is wistful, filled with loss and regret: in mood, like 'The Godfather' theme but not so lush and more remembered than experienced. Voices are often distant, and there is far-off thunder. . . . She was 16 when the film was made, playing younger, with a face that sometimes looks angular and plain, but at other times (especially in a shot where she is illuminated by firelight and surrounded by darkness) has a startling beauty. Her voice tells us everything we need to know about her character (and is so particular and unusual that we almost think it tells us about the actress, too). It is flat, resigned, emotionless . . . Her voice sounds utterly authentic; it seems beyond performance. I remember seeing the film for the first time and being blind-sided by the power of a couple of sentences she speaks near the end. The three of them are in a boat on a river. Things have not worked out well. The days of heaven are over. She says: 'You could see people on the shore, but it was far off and you couldn't see what they were doing. They were probably calling for help or something--or they were trying to bury somebody or something.' . . . Since it was first released, 'Days of Heaven' has gathered legends to itself. Malick, now 53, made 'Badlands' with newcomers Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen in 1973, made this film five years later and then disappeared from view. Because the film made such an impression, the fact of his disappearance took on mythic proportions. He was, one heard, living in Paris. Or San Francisco. Or Montana. Or Austin. He was dying. Or working on another film. . . . 'Days of Heaven's' great photography has also generated a mystery. . . . one of the greatest of all cinematographers. . . . created a film whose look remains unmistakably in the memory. What is the point of 'Days of Heaven'."


(http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19971207/REVIEWS08/401010327/1023)



28 February   6:24 p.m.


Jean-Luc Godard   CONTEMPT


1963   color   103 minutes   French with English subtitles



"Radiant, ambiguous, serenely perverse . . . in startling color and elegant, ribbony CinemaScope . . . it's beginning to look like one of those movies we can't do without for very long: a classic. . . . The novel is interested primarily in the psychology of its characters, while the film is concerned with something so different that it seems, at times, almost to mock the very idea of psychology. . . . in a lovely grove on the island of Capri. The camera keeps its distance, as it does throughout the film; you can measure this picture's indifference to psychology by the near-total absence of close-ups. No, what 'Contempt' is most profoundly interested in is what Lang is interested in: the relation of man to nature, here represented by Capri and the tranquil Mediterranean and, of course, by the less restful beauty of Ms. Bardot. . . . A full half-hour of 'Contempt' is set in the couple's sleekly modern high-rise apartment, where they roam and bicker among angular, primary-colored chairs and sofas, which stand out more strongly against the stark white walls than the tones of the hero's, and even the heroine's, flesh. Ms. Bardot’s body, in that first scene, and Capri, in the concluding scenes, are the natural world that nobody in this movie seems quite capable of harmonizing with, or of seeing, as entirely, irreducibly real, the way Homer did. And it isn't, of course. As 'Contempt' does not allow us to forget, Lang is shooting a movie, and we in the audience are watching one, and here, as in every other movie ever made, we gaze, like Odysseus in this film's gorgeous final shot, at a reality that's a projection of our own desires, an Ithaca turned hazy by artifice and distance. The greatness of 'Contempt' is that Mr. Godard is not, finally, nostalgic for the Homeric harmony Lang speaks of. He knows that ship has sailed. In this picture everything, ancient or modern, 'real' or 'unreal,' has its own stunned dignity, and the movie wants us to see it all as beautiful . . . an extraordinary grace. (The crisp natural-light cinematography, by Raoul Coutard, and Georges Delerue's mournful score have something to do with this too.) Maybe we need 'Contempt' because it's one of the few movies of the anxious past half-century that seems equally at home with history and modernity. . . . its audacity, we now see, is breathtaking. The world of 'Contempt' is epic in a new way: a world growing in harmony, not opposition, with artifice."


(http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/movies/09raff.html)



7 March   6:32 p.m.


Ingmar Bergman   SHAME


1968   black and white   103 minutes   Swedish with English subtitles


"Dry, beautifully photographed, almost arid in its inspiration . . . 'What if that person should wake up one morning' . . . The war is no longer a moral context. It is part of the order of things, the sides are not defined, no one is responsible for it. Bergman has moved, exhausted, straight out of the human condition to take on the universe again. He is getting to be the Job of directors, in the tired, outraged realm at the edge of things where there is nothing to be said. . . . They take ferries on their nameless island very like--in their quotidian indifference to the soldiers aboard, the war around--the ferries in the delta of Vietnam. . . . By the end, they set off in a boat through a sea littered with military corpses for the mainland or another island, where, presumably, there will be another war. 'Shame' could be a film about the tenacity of civilians, but it is more like a document just before extinction. There is no strength in it. It is at Bergman's wits' end. Even the idea that a childless couple would go to such limits of energy simply not to die is not self-evident or even convincing any more."


(http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A06E5DC1430E034BC4C51DFB4678383679EDE)



28 March   7:55 p.m.


Miklós Jancsó   SILENCE AND CRY


1967   black and white   74 minutes   Hungarian with English subtitles



"Intimate . . . elliptical . . . shot in the brilliant, breathtaking long takes that are Jancsó's trademark . . . 'A masterly, hypnotic stylistic exercise by a major director . . . Jancsó's depiction of the suspended reality and Kafkaesque despair produced by war is now complete'."


(http://cinematheque.bc.ca/four-miklós-jancsó/silence-and-cry)



4 April   8:03 p.m.


Michelangelo Antonioni   THE PASSENGER


1975   color   126 minutes   English


"Antonioni's Characters Escape Into Ambiguity and Live . . . the world as we understood it, the world of infinite horizons and seemingly endless possibilities . . . arguably Mr. Antonioni's greatest film . . . as well as a further exploration of a feeling, a mood, that Mr. Antonioni had, in discussing 'L'Avventura,' described with elegant simplicity: 'man is uneasy, something is bothering him.' . . . played with a stunning admixture of emotional lethargy and sexual heat by Mr. Nicholson . . . he abandons the safety of objectivity . . . with a new, uncharted subjectivity. . . . predicated on the belief . . . that there is a self from which he can flee. . . . its ambiguity delighted, enraged, bored and confused audiences and helped liberate film from one of the cherished conventions of classic narrative cinema, specifically that we have to know exactly what happens when a story ends (and why). . . . When 'L'Avventura' was released there was a sense that whatever the story meant there was something distinctly new in the air, something new in cinema. These days, that film's free-floating anomie seems fairly beside the point next to the way Mr. Antonioni throws a frame around the world so that it looks as alien as a distant planet. And, as is also true of 'The Passenger,' what seems to matter most now is that few filmmakers have revealed so much beauty inside a film frame. . . . it dazzles from first shot to last."


(http://movies.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/movies/28choi.html)



11 April   8:11 p.m.


Robert Bresson   PICKPOCKET


1959   black and white   75 minutes   French with English subtitles


"As these replace, obliterate and re-create the object itself . . . it is the tactile which can constitute a pure sensory image, on condition that the hand relinquishes its prehensile and motor functions to content itself with a pure touching. In Herzog, we witness an extraordinary effort to present to the view specifically tactile images which characterize the situation of 'defenceless' beings, and unite with the grand visions of those suffering from hallucinations. But it is Bresson, in a quite different way, who makes touch an object of view in itself. Bresson's visual space is fragmented and disconnected, but its parts have, step by step, a manual continuity. The hand, then, takes on a role in the image which goes infinitely beyond the sensory-motor demands of the action, which takes the place of the face itself for the purpose of affects, and which, in the area of perception, becomes the mode of construction of a space which is adequate to the decisions of the spirit. Thus, in Pickpocket, it is the hands of the three accomplices which connect the parts of space in the Gare de Lyon, not exactly through their seizing an object, but through brushing it, arresting it in its movement, giving it another direction, passing it on and making it circulate in this space. . . . (this is the originality of Bresson's any-space-whatevers)."


(http://books.google.com/books?id=WKGsHmlEfYkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Cinema+2#v=onepage&q=Pickpocket&f=false)



18 April   8:20 p.m.


Jean-Pierre Melville   UN FLIC


1972   color   98 minutes   French with English subtitles



"A deserted modern landscape, an image . . . It's raining. . . . the men are perfectly still. . . . before, while, and after it happens . . . not in words. Instead, its meaning is conveyed purely by action--and the action in this film is fascinatingly mechanical, whether it involves a human being . . . In the end--which, like the beginning, features characters staring wordlessly into space . . . strangely elegant . . . Mr. Melville's obsession with technical information is sometimes taken to lengths that border on the crazy. . . . Nothing is left."


(http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A07EFDD1438E732A25753C3A9679D946890D6CF)



25 April   8:28 p.m.


Werner Herzog   AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD


1972   black and white   93 minutes   German with English subtitles


926   

"God never finished his creation. . . . It is further. Always further. . . . one of the great haunting visions of the cinema. . . . while clouds of mist obscure the peaks. . . . The music sets the tone. It is haunting, ecclesiastical, human and yet something else. . . . Herzog told me, 'We used a strange instrument, which we called a "choir-organ." It has inside it three dozen different tapes running parallel to each other in loops. . . . All these tapes are running at the same time, and there is a keyboard on which you can play them like an organ so that [it will] sound just like a human choir but yet, at the same time, very artificial and really quite eerie.' . . . their result is incalculable, and there is no telling where they may lead: They conclude not in an 'ending' but in the creation of a mood within us--a spiritual or visionary feeling. I believe he wants his audiences to feel like detached observers, standing outside time, saddened by the immensity of the universe as it bears down on the dreams and delusions of man. . . . If they find nothing, he says, the attempt will be abandoned. . . . swiftly and silently . . . The film's final images, among the most memorable I have ever seen . . . crushed by an implacable universe. . . . who wanted to fly forever . . . crushing himself against stones and trees. Of modern filmmakers, Werner Herzog is the most visionary and the most obsessed with great themes. . . . he wants to lift us up into realms of wonder. Only a handful of modern films share the audacity of his vision . . . There is a kind of saintly madness . . . for transcendence."


(http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19990404/REVIEWS08/904040301/1023)





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