Being lost in the fog has never been so mesmerizing!
Some shorts, some features, and some great movies,
Un Chien Andalou (1929, Luis Buñuel, France) ***
A series of disturbing but well crafted images. I’m not sure if Un Chien Andalou is trying to say something, in fact I don’t think the imagery is alluding to anything beyond pushing boundaries. That makes the film interesting, but less than rewarding. I enjoyed the way the images were framed, and the brazen approach of Luis Buñuel to the idea of what a film should be. However, I didn’t consider what I was seeing great, the film was missing that extra something to make me consider it great.
Sans Soleil (1983, Chris Marker, France) **
The imagery and visuals are fantastic, but I found it difficult to latch on to the central theme of memory. The way the film is presented, with an omnipresent narrator guiding the viewer through the images, is very distancing. I know people don’t like this criticism, but by the very end I felt Sans Soleil was mainly boring with only a few brief glimpses of the film breaking out of its monotonous routine. Those moments were when the film was at its best, but those moments were few and far between.
One Week (1920, Edward F. Cline & Buster Keaton, United States Of America) ***1/2
A single image of a house, a smiling couple, and the irascibly sweet face of Buster Keaton. These are the elements that make One Week such a great short, and yet another gem from the career of Mr. Keaton. He’s such an earnest actor and One Week is a film with lots of earned moments. In twenty or so minutes Mr. Keaton’s character of The Groom manages to be hilarious, daring, and completely in love with his wife. One Week accomplishes the hard task of being funny and charming without seeming overly sentimental. Did I mention that One Week is really funny? Because it’s a really funny movie, the antics of Mr. Keaton had me chuckling and laughing out loud. Yeah, I liked One Week a great deal.
Signs (2008, Patrick Hughes, Australia) ***1/2
A charming film that is propelled by a pair of photogenic leads and a pitch perfect score. The basic gist of the film has been conveyed before, but the themes of loneliness, the monotony of everyday life, and taking a chance are presented in such a nice package. The film has a momentum to it that is hard to escape. At first I wasn’t totally on board with yet another film about a loner guy finding a girl, who can only exist in the movies, and their quirky way of communicating. However the further I got into the twelve minutes that comprised Signs the more I found myself smiling and enjoying the simple pleasures that the film offered.
Yozhik V Tumane (Hedgehog In The Fog, 1975, Yuriy Norshteyn, Soviet Union) ****
It’s in the English translation, and fog is everything to Yozhik V Tumane. The fog represents many things within the framework of the story and it is responsible for one of the loveliest and yet most haunting animated effects I have ever seen. I read the fog as existence, it is murky, it is hard to read and it presents those who undertake it with joys, terrors, hardships, and rescue. The jam that the Hedgehog brings with him is his tether to the mortal coil, it is both something he needs to hold onto and something he needs to be able to willingly be without. At this point in time the Hedgehog can’t be without the jam, but he is introspective and thus one day he will let his tether go. Beyond my ruminations Yozhik V Tumane is a beautiful to look at and a film that stirs the soul. It is one of the greatest animated efforts I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and for its fog technique alone it is a film that every animation fan should seek out.
I watched some great movies this week, but one completely blew me away. Not only is Yozhik V Tumane a great film, it’s top 100 of all time great. Neigh, it’s top 50 of all time great, that’s how blown away I was. The movie of the week is easily Yozhik V Tumane. Until next week, watch more movies!
I agree with you on Sans Soleil. It’s essentially a solo exercise in Editing, not filmmaking. Take some vacation footage, mix in footage taken from other films, overdub it with someone reading Deep Thoughts, and voila – a movie. It got really old for me after a while.
Yep, about fifteen minutes in I felt like the film had said it’s piece and was dragging on for no discernible reason.
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