I’m not entirely sure where the film is set, though my best guess is northwestern Africa or Western Asia. The Sun has just set and a group of young people assemble on the roof of a theatre for a summer film. There is not much going on here, but there it does capture the simple joy of going to the movies. Especially emphasizing the communal aspect, as while without any real dialogue, there are constant conversations and interractions going on between the people who have assembled to watch a film.
Une Belle Journee
There is a small theatre in the middle of seemingly endless and beautiful farm land, and a lone viewer comes to see an afternoon show. He’s greying, and sweating. He sits down on one of the few seats that’s unbroken in a small empty theatre, waiting for the film to start. The projectionist seems particularly inept, and the show is stopped several times. The man doesn’t seem to be frustrated, so much as bored, yet he stays the whole length of the film. The film he watches is about two young friends, and they also seem to be boxers. It’s wrought with the same fighting spirit this lone man seems to have. Film seems to be an escape, and for that, he doesn’t seem to allow it to stress him out despite the difficulties. By the time he leaves, the sun is setting, and it’s clear he spent at least 4 hours watching what couldn’t have been a film longer than an hour and a half. Again, nothing particularly inspiring, but the cinematography is nice enough, and it’s fairly quaint.
Trois Minutes a la memoire de M.M.
Starring Jeanne Moreau, this film is a tribute to one of the screen’s most beloved and acclaimed actors, Marcello Mastroianni. Angelopoulos blends new footage with what seems to be one of Mastroianni’s films so seamlessly, if someone didnt’ know better they could have sworn they were made at the same time. Moreau drifts through what may be a museum, or theatre, that is filled with silent men dressed in yellow raincoats. She comes to a room, and looks ahead, seeing Marcello sitting on a stage. Delivering a beautiful and captivating monologue, she delivers not only a personal and critical tribute to his work, but reveals more broadly a deep relationship between the audience and it’s actors.
“Dans le Noir”
Charming in the most peculiar way, this film set in Russia is surreal in such a way that would make Fellini proud, without being derivative of his work. An older, rather haggard woman is sitting in an almost empty theatre, tears going down her face as “Fine” comes up on the screen. The lights come up, and the sound of a couple going at it hot and heavy dominates. The woman is both a spectator and employee it seems, she converses with the projectionist explaining the second act jumped again. He comes down to fix something, while she cleans up and stares at the increasingly involved couple gets louder and louder. They’re having sex by the time the projectionist gets the film going again, and proceed to leave just as the opening titles for “8 1/2” begin. The quality of the film is beautiful, I love the coldness of the colours, and the use of space. Small touches like the coca cola machine add some strange spark and interest to the film. It’s a rich and entertaining short.
Journal d’un spectateur
This one is very close to my heart, as it’s simply about a man telling us short stories about the films and theatres in his life. The films are not always exceptional, they’re not even always good… but they meant something to him, because of who he went to see them with, where and why. Cinema is a rich experience that if you partake in it, will effect your life in one way or another. This short is about life with art, and how the art is sometimes secondary to the experience and the relationships around it. My favourite part is perhaps when he’s talking about an actresses’ feet, describing her toes, and why the fact her second toe being longer than her big toe is a sign of excellence.
The Electric Princess Picture House
Hou Hsiao Hsien
Told through 3 shots, this film seems to depict a memory and the magic of a single theatre. The first shot that drifts along the front of the building, emphasizes the rich life of a theatre and it’s bustling nature. The street is packed, as people of all walks of life, from children to merchants to grandmothers assemble in this one special place. The film seems to be set in the past, probably the 60s, and it seems to reflect a life that is long gone. It’s absolutely beautifully shot, reminding me of great and fine watercolour paintings rather than the real world. The film moves into the theatre, and everything is once again rich and alive. Two children prepare to see a film with their parents, excited and marvelled by the setting. All 4 dissapear into an opulent rich curtain, and the film’s final shot emerges. It’s the inside of the theatre, though far removed from the time of these first events. It’s abandoned, broken and desolute… empty. Is cinema dead? Or has it just changed. Life is always changing, things die, things dissapear, but it still persists
The Dardennes Brothers
A young teen crawls along the floors of a movie theatre, it’s unclear why until he stops beside a young woman entranced by the screen. Remaining on the floor, he reaches for her bag slowly, reaching inside to steal something. She is in tears, watching the action unfold. She reaches her hand to her bag for tissues, grabbing his hand instead. Instead of being lost in the picture, she takes his hand up to her face and presses it against her tears. The boy is in shock and awe. This film relies very much on the mysterious and suspence of life and cinema itself. We aren’t quite sure what’s happening, but we are intrigued and finally moved by the girl’s gesture and feeling. It’s simple, but highly effective.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
From what I have seen frrom Inarritu, he has an aptitude, or at least a fetish for melodrama. This film falls into that trap, but in a very powerful and emotional way. It balances between many ideas, despite the limited scope. A blind woman watches Contempt with a man, one she clearly loves. She listens to the dialogue with tears in her eyes, and every once in a while he describes to her what is happening. The performance by Luisa William is rich and there is ambiguity over why she is crying. Is it the cinema of the mind she is constructing? Or the sadness she feels over missing these images. She walks out during the scene to get a cigarette, soon followed by the man. She hugs him, though her expression remains distant and yes, even contemptuous… then though, she asks “Was the film in black and white, or in colour”. He tells her with an assuring tone, it was in colour. It’s heartbreaking on so many levels, and the choice of film allows for that added layer of interest and depth. The problem and the strength of many of these shorts is that it helps to have seen the films being watched or referenced, or else something extra will be lost
En Regardant le film
Brimming with excitement, a small village prepares for the special occasion of watching an outdoor film. Everything begins in the afternoon, as the equipment and screen is set up in an open square. A young boy in particular is bouncing with joy at the prospect of watching a film. The film is very much about the process and the community of film watching. Young and old come out to play, young and in love, children, grandparents. It’s about community as much as it is about cinema. The final moments are touching, as just as the film begins, the little boy is already fast asleep, exausted by his excitement.
Le Dibbouk de Haifa
I don’t have much to say about this one, it mostly went over my head as I don’t really know what ties together the two time periods together, and what is trying to be said. It feels political… but I don’t know. I also didn’t like the Gance on steroids approach to the cinematography.
The Lady Bug
Absurdist and amusing, this features a woman dressed as a bug and the projectionist who tries to squash her. She does a delightful little dance, but meets a terrible fate. There are many feminist readings into this one, especially considering the voice over from some sort of radio program about the “place of women” in society (done with a very dry sense of humour). The male dominance of the artistic world, and how they literally try to squash out the women. It’s more fun than that reading suggests though.
The film begins with something akin to an indictment on the passivity of modern audiences as two friends go to different movies, only to text each other throughout. Then, the first who went to see Vivre sa Vie writes “Artaud is so beautiful”, proceeding to send a video file of the scene. The second friend, watching the Adjuster, becomes entranced by the footage matched against the fiery burn of the screen. Much like Vivre sa vie, where two films meet to create a singular effect, now it seems 4 or 5 films meet, creating an even richer tapestry of understanding and power.
Another one that evades me, it begins in what looks like a steel plant or something, and it’s the end of the day. Instead of going home, the workers proceed to a small back room where a film is put on. It appears to be Lumiere’s film of people leaving the factory, but with a strange pop song played over it. Not very interesting, I only enjoyed how the “usher” had a jacket that was WAY too big.
A man watches a beautiful woman as she walks into a theatre with her date. He follows her intently, and seems to know her. During the film as she gives her date a kiss, he moves beside her and steals her purse, then leaves the theatre. Later, once the film is over she calls her own cell-phone to which he answer “it’s me”. Though ambiguous, it seems to be a story of betrayal. I didn’t find it particularly relevant or interesting.
47 Ans Apres
Chahine makes a film about his own experiences at Cannes, going back to 1950, when his first film was chosen at Cannes. Him and what could be wife, a girlfriend or an actress talk about his film and how only they’re getting so few word of mouth. She then tells him, it should be honour enough to be nominated.. the film begins, and he assuredly looks at the screen, focused and passionately. 47 years later, footage from the Cannes awards, Chahine finally gets his recognition, and he says “I’ve been waiting 47 years for this”. He also remarks on how you have to keep up your passion for cinema no matter what… truthfully, though the message is a good one, the film isn’t. It’s amateurish at best, even the font choices are bad. I have classmates who could do better. Even as an autobiographical work, it’s not particularly interesting
C’est un Reve
Tsai Ming Liang
A dream bending time and space, emphasizing both the ritual and fetish quality of cinema. Young is old, old is young. No one is the right age. Food plays an important part in this film, and it joins family and people together. It’s more than communal, it allows for paternal extinct, as well as sexual appetites to come through. Not particularly thrilling or interesting, the short nonetheless has a lot going for it.
Lars Von Trier
A departure from what I’m used to in the Trier oeuvre, it might also be his best work. It’s not Dogma in the least, which is a plus, but the dark sense of humour is mostly flat. We get it, critics, the wealthy, loud, phillistines don’t appeal to you. Don’t need to create a single entity to prove it. Having some guy interrupt a film to say he has 8 cars, and is very wealthy is not great writing in my books, especially not when yuo’re obviously trying to make a commentary on obsessions with financial success, and the ego. Trier bashing someone’s head open with a hammer is great though, at least he understands how I feel when I’m watching one of his sadistic and over-indulgant films, like he’s beating me over the head with a hammer, while he’s getting off on making me suffer. **** him.
Didn’t really get it, had a hard time keeping up with the french. THere was a blind man, who explained the film to a woman who wasn’t blind but didn’t get it. She said something about hallucinagents, and there were butterflies.
Cinema de Boulevard
A beautiful autobiographical film about his life and the movies. Lelouch begins with his parents who met while watching a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical, and fell in love when his father tried to sing “cheek to cheek”. It’s a beautiful and effortless moment, that really captures for me, why cinema is so evocative for so many people. As the most popular art, it is filled with incidental emotions as well as created magic for so many. We learn, we breath and we experience film. It’s wonderful.
Gus Van Sant
Banal mostly, I disliked the cinematography especially. It only serves interest, because it reminds me of a story by a teacher once, who explained he learned everything he knew about love and relationships from the movies. Especially how to kiss. I don’t know if this is meant to be channeling that idea, but it doesn’t strike me as it. Worth an extra point nonetheless, because it’s a sweet and sometimes scary concept.
Cinema Erotique de Roman Polanski
Amusing, and tragic… while watching an erotic film, a middle aged couple are dismayed when they hear a man in the back of the theatre moaning very loudl. The wife asks her husband to do something, and then everyone seems to pass along the responsability until finally a manager confronts the gentlemen, only to find he was moaning in pain. Fairly amusing.
No Translation Needed
Another fairly amusing short, a man uses a small camera to shoot a music video. He presents it to the band with some of his avant-garde editing, and the lead singer goes crazy. Very funny, the director reminds me very much of several of my classmates.
At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World
Actually very potent, it works dramatically and comically, taking jabs at the media and both it’s innane idiocy and it’s indifference and carelessness towards other cultures and violence. Cronenberg stars in the film, as the last Jew, and his performance is actually heartbreaking. Put against the strange and absurd voice overs, that actually aren’t that far removed from something I’d hear on CNN, it makes for an all around unsettling film.
I travelled 9000km to give it to you
Wong Kar Wai
Would have been perfect without the subtitles. Lush, fragmented and erotic, a perfect mood and ambiance is captured in such a little amount of time. Beautiful really.
Where is my Romeo
Extremely simple, but still very poignant, where is my Romeo is little more than a theatre filled seemingly only with women, each silently watching and crying over a viewing of Romeo and Juliet. I find tears to be so tender and rare in the world, almost beautiful. Are these women crying for Juliet? Or are they crying for themselves, or their own loved ones? That is cinema.
The Last Dating Show
A nice little film that defies expectations, in a sweet and simple way. It’s nothing exceptional, but is an interesting commentary on race and communication. Can cinema really bring us together in such a way? I’m not sure.
I’m not sure what’s going on here, but it’s deligtfully neurotic and funny. There is some amazing physical comedy in the bathroom involving hand drying, toilets and a cell-phone. Feels as though it’s channeling Tati. Good stuff.
Manoel de Oliveira
An amusing if not slight silent comedy, imagining the interraction between a communist leader and the pope. I didn’t like the quality of the image in the least, or the prologue in the projection room.
Miguel Pereira, Bresil… a 8944 de Cannes
Filled with personality, it’s little more than an amusing and energetic song about the Cannes film festival by people who’ve clearly never been. The performers are very funny and enigmatic, however, making it very fun.
War in Peace
Wim Wenders & company
A documentary, the only one so far, in a small village in the congo a small movie house plays a film on a small television. The place is packed with children. The film playing seems to be a war film, and even the youngest children cannot help shedding a tear at what is being shown. As I said earlier, tears are a powerful tool, and none ever felt more real… maybe because they are real in this case. The film ends by saying, that the film was shown in the first year of peace in over a hundred years in this area of the country. It raises so many ethical issues, and concerns from the western world. Also, highlighting our disconnect from the suffering of others. Very moving, almost essential.
Again, children are brought into the equation, because they seem to take the most joy in the magic of film. This time, young boys break into the movie house and set up the projector to watch Chaplin. The electricity goes, so they hook up their bikes to a battery and watch while powering. THere is a lot of laughter, an ode to Chaplin’s internationality, and then there is one boy who is just dumb-struck. His mouth is open, and for him, cinema truly is magic. Though, it seems in the end, he is blind. Interesting that so many of these shorts are about being blind, and still being taken in by cinema.
A father and a son try to decide what to see in the theatre. All generic and ridiculous choices, much comedy is derived from the simple plots that are just one step removed from the real thing. The best is probably the double bill horror films, one about wasp women, the other Hitler’s revived corpse. In the end, they decide to hell with movies, and go to a football game.