Daily Archives: February 2, 2007

Secret Beyond The Door

Fritz Lang’s third thriller with Joan Bennett (after Scarlet Street and The Woman in the Window), a Freudian version of the Bluebeard story, is probably the most psychoanalytically oriented of his features, and because it’s Lang, the murkiness is mainly a strength. Silvia Richards, who later worked on both Lang’s Rancho Notorious and King Vidor’s Ruby Gentry, is credited with the script, adapting a story by Rufus King. With Michael Redgrave and Ann Revere. 99 min. (JR)… Read more »

Backstage

As a publicity stunt, a pop superstar (Emmanuelle Seigner) turns up at the small-town home of an obsessive teenage fan (Isild Le Besco) and the girl responds by fleeing to her room. Soon afterward she runs away from home and manages to get taken in by her idol as a kind of resident groupie and gofer sent to reclaim the star’s clothes from her estranged boyfriend. But what starts out as a kind of edgy variant of The King of Comedy devolves into something closer to All About Eve in cowriter and director Emanuelle Bercot’s hands. The limiting factor, despite serious performances by the two leads, is that neither character is entirely believable; the star’s imagined as a standard-issue diva, while the fan oscillates a bit too neatly for my taste between hysteric and conniver. In French with subtitles. 115 min. (JR)… Read more »

Wavelength And Back And Forth

Michael Snow’s two early masterpieces of inexorable camera movements, metaphysical speculation, and painterly meditations. Wavelength (1967) is a stuttering 45-minute forward zoom across a Manhattan loft in which a man’s death and the subsequent discovery of his corpse, both presented in sync sound, provide two of the on-screen events; an electronic sine wave moving steadily up a musical scale accompanies the camera’s journey. In Back and Forth (1969), also titled as arrows pointing in opposite directions, a camera pans right to left and left to right across a classroom at varying speeds over 52 minutes while various events intervene and a clapping sound marks the start and end of each trajectory. A great Canadian conceptual artist who works in several media, Snow has achieved perhaps his greatest international fame with these films and his subsequent three-hour epic of camera movement, La Region Centrale (1971). (JR)… Read more »

The Poor Little Rich Girl

Maurice Tourneur (The Blue Bird, The Last of the Mohicans), onetime student of Auguste Rodin and father of the better-known Jacques Tourneur, was one of the most talented and cultivated directors of the silent era, and like his son made films in both Europe and the U.S. This 1917 American feature with Mary Pickford was an enormous commercial success when it came out, and is reputed to be one of his most visually inventive as well. 99 min. (JR)… Read more »

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Mike Wallace Interviews

I saw this 1957 interview with the architect when it was originally broadcast, and it’s the most indelible portrait of Wright’s crusty personality that I know. (At one point, goaded by Wallace’s baiting, he makes a crack about the cigarette Wallace is smoking — the brand of which happened to be the show’s sponsor.) Well worth checking out. 53 min. (JR)… Read more »

RE-Defining Video: Work by Kyle Canterbury

This dazzling program, the first devoted to Michigan artist Kyle Canterbury, features two dozen experimental videos, all but one silent, ranging in length from 34 seconds to 11 minutes. Most feature some play between representation and abstraction, with subjects encompassing nature, domestic and public spaces, and politics–A Video depicts George W. Bush’s features decomposing. I don’t feel fully qualified to evaluate Reader critic Fred Camper’s claim that Canterbury has already “done for video something like what [Stan] Brakhage has done for film.” But such pieces as Color Shifts, Building in Detroit #2, 7 New Videos #3, 7 New Videos #7, and LX evoke for me some of the graphic power of the very different Oskar Fischinger, which goes to show the diversity of Canterbury’s work. And he does some things with rhythm and texture I haven’t seen before in film or video. What’s all the more astonishing is that he was only 16 when he made most of these pieces–he’s 17 now. a Sat 2/3, 8 PM, Chicago Filmmakers. … Read more »