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Dream is not a revelation. If a dream affords the dreamer some light on himself, it is not the person with closed eyes who makes the discovery but the person with open eyes lucid enough to fit thoughts together. Dream -- a scintillating mirage surrounded by shadows -- is essentially poetry.

Michel Leiris


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Friday, November second, 2007

Movie choices

Ellen and Sylvia are in town watching Bee Story; I am at home with Even Dwarfs Started Small.

... Minimalistic dialogue is great -- watching the movie with a fairly rudimentary grasp of German you can get a good deal of it without having to rely too much on the subtitles.

(Here is the post that first alerted me to the existence of this movie -- looks from A White Bear's comment like I need to go back and watch with the commentary track turned on, that sounds pretty great.)

posted evening of November second, 2007: Respond
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Four Movies about Outcasts

I want to be able to see the following four movies in a combined viewing, or at least close in time to one another:

I think the middle two movies are better movies than the first and last; but they seem to sort of go together well. The movement from the final scene of Vagabond into Even Dwarfs would be pretty cool. Thinking about it, I am really liking this line-up as a quadruple feature.

(Also, this video goes very nicely with the Herzog, though it does not really bring any of the others to mind.)

posted evening of November second, 2007: Respond
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Sunday, November 4th, 2007

An excellent line from the commentary track of Even Dwarfs Started Small, Herzog saying that the strictures of bourgeois propriety are "almost as monstrous and oppressive as the objects we surround ourselves with."

posted evening of November 4th, 2007: Respond
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Friday, November 30th, 2007

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

This is a fantastic movie that anyone whose æsthetic tastes are similar to mine should hurry down to the video shop and take a look at it. This movie is exquisitely good like an elegant meal. I'll try to write more about it later when I've had a little more time to reflect upon it.

posted evening of November 30th, 2007: Respond
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Saturday, December first, 2007

Spurious associations...

...and random thoughts while watching Aguirre, the Wrath of God.

  • I wonder if anyone has made note of how strongly (if memory serves) Richard O'Brian's character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show resembles Klaus Kinski. Wonder if that was a conscious choice by the Rocky Horror people. Seriously, when the camera came in close on Aguirre standing next to the river, I thought Oh my God, it's Riff Raff!
  • Aguirre's first appearance in the movie, talking to (I think?) Pizarro, they reminded me of Tintin and Captain Haddock a little bit, which was amusing.
  • This movie has the dreamlike atmosphere that pervades some of my very favorite works of art, like e.g. Gravity's Rainbow -- indeed I think this is a movie that could have been very competently produced by some of Pynchon's characters.
  • The brilliant, brilliant title sequence makes me think of nothing so much as Escher's paintings. I keep thinking Wow, I didn't know you could do that with film.
  • The soundtrack might be the best movie soundtrack ever. At least the best in some subcategory of motion picture soundtracks. From the church music at the beginning, to the piper, to Perucho's threatening hums and hisses... It is in the substance of the film, it complements and enhances the imagery. Perfect.

'Minimalist' is, it seems to me, the best category of foreign language film, the most fun for me to watch because there is some chance I will catch the dialogue. And indeed, here I find I am getting a lot of it (with help from the subtitles).

One thing that really turned me on about this movie was the mix of different influences and realities -- like the characters were Spanish but speaking German, they were dressed in period costume but their makeup and hair and general bearing seemed much more contemporary. Etcetera.

posted afternoon of December first, 2007: 3 responses
➳ More posts about The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Focus

When I am watching Aguirre, the Wrath of God I notice that I am not thinking at all about what might be going on off-camera -- the focus is so sharply on whichever characters are on screen at any moment, they are obviously the most important thing in the movie.

posted evening of December first, 2007: Respond

Monday, December third, 2007

Great Cinema

My brother asks in e-mail, "Really, did you actually love 'Aguirre, etc.' or did you just understand that it's a Great Film?" by way of saying that he understood it to be Great Film but did not find anything to enjoy in the film itself. This is interesting to me because (a) I did actually, authentically enjoy this film and (b) I worry, when I am liking something that I know is Great, about whether my enjoyment is real.

In "On Reading: Words or Images", Pamuk says,

When we notice [our surroundings while reading], we are at the same time savoring our solitude and the workings of our imagination and congratulating ourselves on possessing greater depth than those who do not read. I understand how a reader might, without going too far, wish to congratulate himself, though I have little patience for those who take pride in boasting.

So that is the worry when I tell myself I loved Aguirre, the Wrath of God or My Name Is Red or whatever -- how do I distinguish between the externally-directed pleasure of fancying myself a connoisseur of fine film or literature, and the internal, actual pleasure of understanding and appreciating the work in question? I have an unexamined prejudice that the former pleasure is in bad faith, is boastful and something to be ashamed of.

Herzog's (and Kinski's) genius is certainly front and center in Aguirre -- it seems to me like it would be difficult to watch the movie without having the thought that it is the work of a genius, that it is Great Film. But, I'm not quite sure how to put this, the movie itself is so powerful and moving, the second-hand attributes of the movie are not primary in my mind while I'm watching it.

posted evening of December third, 2007: Respond
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Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Hmm, this is a great deal...

...If it pans out. I just bought from an e-bay seller located in Shanghai, a 24-dvd box set of Werner Herzog's movies, for about $1.50/disk. (Plus $1/disk shipping.) Thing is I can't find info about this particular box set at Amazon, which has various other 6- and 8-dvd sets of Herzog. But, well, the photo looks legit. The price is low enough and the product (cross fingers) good enough that I decided to gamble on it.

(It makes the gamble seem like more of a likely one, that the seller has numerous positive feedbacks. FWIW.)

posted afternoon of May 15th, 2008: 1 response

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Box Set

My package arrived in the mail today! -- Well it arrived Monday, no-one was home to sign for it; I picked it up at the post office this morning. (WTF? There is now overnight parcel service from Shanghai to New Jersey! This totally boggles my mind. Makes the large sum the seller was charging for postage seem much more reasonable.)

And, well, it seems legit. I have not yet popped a disc in the player to watch it; but all the dvd's are there, and marked as region 0. It weirds me out a little that I can't find any reference to this collection (The Master of Cinema: Werner Herzog Collection) anywhere on the web except for Chinese e-bay auctions. It's a pretty recent collection, includes a movie from 2005. This seems like it might be a signal of piracy but I can't figure out what the incentive is for pirates to produce a 24-dvd collection of Werner Herzog, with obscure titles and professional-looking packaging and everything -- the target audience seems tiny. (Also weirding me out is the inclusion of disc #23, My Best Friend by Patrice Leconte. Which one of these dvds does not belong?)

Well unless somebody convinces me it's unethical, I will be buying more box sets from this seller -- s/he has collections of all the classic directors I'm interested in.

Title list below the fold.

Update: Note if you're thinking about buying this, many of the titles will not play on a US region DVD player -- the seller claims they are region 0 but this is false in many cases. Also some of the discs have screwed-up aspect ratio.

posted morning of May 21st, 2008: 1 response

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Two movies to look forward to

Today I read about two movies -- neither one will be coming out for a while yet, but they both sound like something to look forward to.

  • David Lynch is collaborating with Werner Herzog on My Son, My Son: a "horror-tinged thriller" based on Œdipus Rex. This has every potential to be a fantastic movie; or it could also possibly stink.
  • Jonathan Demme is going to be directing a biography of Bob Marley, taking over from Martin Scorsese, who is leaving the project. This is just fine with me; I like Marley and I think Demme makes the best movies about music. (Scorsese's are good too, but I prefer Demme's.)

posted afternoon of May 22nd, 2008: Respond

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