Monthly Archives: August 2015

My Contributions to DVDs and Blu-Rays

A fairly complete and reasonably up to date checklist. All of the printed essays listed here are available on this site. – J. R.

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mikey and nicky DVD    BiggerThanLifeMason

ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (Madman DVD, Australia: original essay)

BIGGER THAN LIFE (BFI DVD, U.K.; video conversation with Jim Jarmusch)

THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT (Madman DVD, Australia: original essay)

BREATHLESS (Criterion DVD & Blu-Ray, U.S.; scripted video essay)

CASA DE LAVA (Second Run Features DVD, U.K.: original essay)

LA CÉRÉMONIE (Home Vision Entertainment DVD, U.S.: reprinted essay)

CLOSE-UP (Criterion DVD & Blu-Ray; audio commentary with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa)

THE COMPLETE JACQUES TATI (Criterion Blu-Ray box set, U.S.: original essay)

THE COMPLETE MR. ARKADIN (Criterion DVD box set, U.S.: original essay & audio commentary with James Naremore)

CONFIDENTIAL REPORT (Madman DVD, Australia: original essay)

CRUMB (Criterion DVD & Blu-Ray, U.S.: original essay)

DAVID HOLZMAN’S DIARY (Second Run Features DVD, U.K., & Survivance DVD, France: original essay)

DAY OF WRATH (Madman DVD, Australia: original essay)

LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT (BFI DVD, U.K, and Criterion Jacques Demy DVD box set, U.S.: reprinted essay)

DRIVER X 4: THE LOST AND FOUND FILMS OF SARA DRIVER (Films We Like DVD box set, Canada: video interview)

DRÔLE DE DRAME (Home Vision Entertainment DVD, U.S.: original essay)

L’ECLISSE (Criterion DVD & Blu-Ray, U.S.: reprinted essay)

EMILE DE ANTONIO box set (Home Vision Entertainment DVD, U.S.: reprinted essay on MR.… Read more »

THE ENCHANTED DESNA

Written for Sight and Sound on August 15, 2015. — J. R.

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The Enchanted Desna (1964)

There are few masterpieces harder to access than this 70-millimeter, stereophonic poem by Moscow-born Yuliya Solntseva (1901-1989), widow of the great Alexander Dovzhenko, who devoted most of her filmmaking career, after playing the title role in Aelita (1924), to assisting her Ukrainian husband and then filming his unrealized projects after his death. I’ve never seen this subtitled, but Godard’s favorite film of 1965 was periodically screened at the Paris Cinémathèque over the following decade, and I’ve managed to fill in a few details by reading an English translation of Dovzhenko’s extended memoir of the same title. It’s a rambling but exalted account of his impoverished rural childhood, where, as in his best features, it becomes impossible to distinguish reality from fantasy or imagination, or pantheistic epic from a kind of music dreamt in images — a reciprocal dance performed by nature, family, and other eccentric local touchstones in perpetual, mysterious collaboration.  (Jonathan Rosenbaum)

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Orson Welles: Two New BFI Releases

 

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Two new British Film Institute digital releases related to Orson Welles, both due out later this month, arrived in my mailbox yesterday, the day after I submitted my Fall DVD column to Cinema Scope Around the World with Orson Welles (1955) on Blu-Ray and Chuck Workman’s 2014 Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles on DVD. In their very different ways, both are worthy items that are well worth having, which is largely why I’m posting something about them here.

Orson Welles in Vienna

Around the World with Orson Welles is a shamefully neglected TV series directed by Welles of six half-hour episodes, made around the same time as Mr. Arkadin (for the same French producer, Louis Dolivet), with a remarkable range of topics including Basque culture (two episodes), Vienna coffee houses and pastry, the bohemian avant-garde in Paris (including a reading of Lettrist poetry: see still below), London pensioners, and the Spanish bullfight (with Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Tynan as cohosts); a seventh episode — the first to be shot, but never completed — was an investigative crime report set in the French provinces, The Dominici Affair, and an English version of Christophe Cognet’s 52-minute, 2000 French documentary about this project is one of the two extras included.… Read more »

THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN

Written for Sight and Sound on August 5, 2015. — J.R.
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The Day I Became a Woman (2000)
Marziyeh Meskini’s first feature, shot exclusively in exteriors on gorgeous Kish island in Iran, tells three successive tales of rebellious female empowerment at separate ages: Havva enjoys sharing tamarind pulp and a lollipop with a male friend a few hours before she turns nine and officially loses her freedom by becoming a woman. Ahoo fiercely pedals her bicycle with other women while her husband and other male relatives on horses try to restrain her. Houra, a dowager, buys a beach full of home furnishings at a nearby mall and has them hauled out to sea. All three tales are both allegorical and sensual, and the leisurely pacing of the first is followed by the constant motion of the second. The Surrealist deconstruction of domestic space in the third brings all three characters together, and once again turns the censorship rules into creative opportunities.   (Jonathan Rosenbaum)
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