Month: May 2009

Earthsea (Robert Lieberman, 2004)

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I was in the mood for some sci-fi, so I hit up this dvd of Earthsea that I inherited from someone else’s parents.  I’m pretty sure I’d actually seen it before, and it was better than I remembered.  I’ve read some of the books so I knew the context, which I think helped a lot.  I really liked a lot of the themes in the story, and enjoyed the experience overall.  I didn’t realize, when starting it at 10:30, that it was like 137 minutes long.  But yeah, you get some nice special effects, a dragon, an amulet, and some all-around good fantasy fun.

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Scotch Tape (Jack Smith, 1963)

b&w and color, 3 min, USA

imdb

Jack Smith was one of the masters of the underground film-making ‘group’ in New York city in the early 60s, and this was one of the few films that Smith finished and screened. While nowhere near the notorious nature of Flaming Creatures or the color-grandeur of Normal Love, Scotch Tape is significant because in a 3-minute stretch of time Smith is able to convey a lot of energy and excitement over some footage that is hard to make out. It looks as those there are figures dancing among garbage or something, moving about, maybe even at 16 frames-per-second, and all done to a super catchy swing tune from the 30s.

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Rembrandt Laughing (Jon Jost, 1988)

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Jon Jost’s ninth feature focuses rather elliptically on the everyday lives of a group of friends in San Francisco–chiefly Claire (Barbara Hammes), who works in an architect’s office, two of her former lovers (Jon A. English and Nathaniel Dorsky), who are close friends, and a recent boyfriend (Jim Nisbet). Masterfully shot and for the most part very persuasively acted, mainly by nonprofessionals (the film’s use of locals is one reason it captures the San Francisco milieu so perfectly), Rembrandt Laughing is a good deal more ambitious than it might first appear. A sense of the timeless and the cosmic hovers over the seemingly casual scenes, and the uses of a Rembrandt self-portrait and Beethoven’s opus 132 string quartet are integral to the film’s overall project–to discover the universe in a bowl of miso soup. Part of Jost’s method, like Godard’s in A Married Woman, is to convert the dramatic into the graphic, and his various means of carrying that out are unexpected and frequently beautiful (1988).

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