Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hofbauerkongress 13: ratings

***** Deep Inside, Joseph W. Sarno, 1968
***** Vanessa, Hubert Frank, 1977
***** Erich Lusmann, Rainer Knepperges, 2008
**** Atemlos vor Liebe, Dietrich Krausser, 1970
**** Wegen Verführung Minderjähriger, Hermann Leitner, 1960
**** Wang Yung - Stahlharte Hongkong-Killer, Chang Cheh / Tsai Yang Ming, 1973
**** Assembly Line, Mort Heilig, 1962
**** Sigi Götz Collectors Item, Ulrich Mannes, 1998
**** Ce corps tant desire / Mädchen des Lasters, Luis Saslavsaky, 1959
**** Dir muss er ja nicht gefallen, Stephan Franz, 1979
*** Holiday in St. Tropez, Ernst Hofbauer, 1964
*** Drei Schwedinnen in Oberbayern, Sigi Rothemund, 1977
** Eskimo Limon / Eis am Stiel, Boaz Davidson, 1978
** Dirty Lily, Chuck Vincent, 1978
* Grün ist die Heide, Harald Reinl, 1972
* Rätten att älska / Das Recht zu lieben, Mimi Pollak, 1956
* Underground, ?, ?
* Desiderando Giulia, Andrea Barzini, 1986
* Hedonistic Communication, ?, ?

Locarno 2014: Antinea, l'amante della città sepolta, Edgar G. Ulmer, 1961

Three guys arrive in the film flying in a helicopter. They come from nowhere, from the outside, from the invisible (=from the modern world). They might be on some kind of mission, but it doesn't matter at all... urban nobodys all of them (doen't matter one bit that one of them is played by Trintignant...), they're the very image of indifference. They sit in the helicopter side by side, staring blandly through the windshield, one of them actually reads a lifestyle magazine.

The film takes them in, embraces them, transforms them, does away with their indifference, with their anonymity.

First they have to be taken away from their helicopter, their lifestyle magazines, they have to be brought down, to the ground, they have to give up their distancing perspective. Only the cheapest special effects will do the trick. The first part of the film is a complete breakdown of Hollywood studio aesthetics, first the landing scene with a toy helicopter dangling in the air, then the sandstorm and the first refuge in a cave, a complete unmaking of technique, world building, the visible.

But after having passed through this zero point of representation, the film reasserts itself: He builds another world, beneath the invisible, unreachable, perhaps uninhabitable first one. Ulmer's Atlantis is pure b-movie bliss, a complex fantasy set firmly against reality. Here, where earth opens up into itself, the three men are no longer interchangeable, no longer able to hide behind a noncomitted gaze, which was schooled by magazines and windshields.

It's not about a return to some natural habitat untouched by civilization, though. The men aren't confronted by nature, by "the real exterior", but by total artifice, "the real interior". Ultimately, Atlantis isn't a place for action, but for introspection.

Locarno 2014: ratings

9 La prima notte di quiete, Valerio Zurlini, 1972
9 Antinea, l'amante della citta sepolta, Edgar G. Ulmer, 1961
9 Uomini e lupi, Giuseppe de Santis, 1957
9 Amore mio, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1964
9 Time and Tide, Tsui Hark, 2000
9 La spiaggia, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1950
9 Ingrid Bergman, Roberto Rossellini, 1935
9 Il tallone di Achille, Mario Amendola / Ruggero Maccari, 1952
8 L'angelo bianco, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1955
8 La ragazza con la valigia, Valerio Zurlini, 1961
8 Concorso 4 Attrici 1 Speranza, Alfredo Guarini, 1953
8 Scuola elementare, Alberto Lattuada, 1954
8 Torna!, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1954
8 Un eroe dei nostri tempi, Mario Monicelli, 1957
8 Estate violenta, Valerio Zurlini, 1959
8 Giorni di gloria, Giuseppe de Santis / Mario Serandrei, Marcello Pagliero, Luchino Visconti, 1945
8 L' uccello dalle piume di cristallo, Dario Argento
8 Anna Magnani, Luchino Visconti, 1953
8 Figli di nessuno, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1951
8 Il sole negli occhi, Antonio Pietrangeli, 1953
8 La trappola, Eugenio Perego, 1922
8 Listen Up Philip, Alex Ross Perry, 2014
7 La legge della tromba, Augusto Tretti, 1962
7 Tormento, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1950
7 Toto lascia o raddoppia?, Camillo Mastrocinque, 1956
7 Un jeune poete, Damien Manivel, 2014
7 Casa mia, donna mia..., Charles Krauss, 1923
7 Buzzard, Joel Portykus, 2014
7 Il giorno piu corto, Sergio Corbucci, 1963
7 I dolci inganni, Alberto Lattuada, 1960
7 La sapienza, Eugene Green, 2014
6 Anonimas cocottes, Camillo Mastrocinque, 1960
6 Maria Denis e le sue prigioni, Giorgio Bianchi, 1948
6 La battaglia di Maratona, Jacques Tourneur, 1959
6 La carne e l'anima, Vladimir Strizhevsky, 1945
6 Hold Your Breath Like a Lover, Kohei Igarashi, 2014
6 Cronaca nera, Giorgio Bianchi, 1948
5 I magliari, Francesco Rosi, 1959
5 La princesa de Francia, Matias Pineiro, 2014
3 Bound for Glory, Hal Ashby, 1976
2 I fidanzati, Ermanno Olmi, 1963
2 Ventos de Agosto, Gabriel Mascaro, 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

taking screenshots

Was bekommt man vom Film, wenn man screenshots nimmt?

Die Verzögerungen des screenshot-Nehmens:
-Im vlc-Player erscheint der shot, nachdem man die Tastenkombination gedrückt hat, kurz direkt im Filmbild, oben links (Statik in die Bewegung eingeschrieben), aber nicht gleich, erst nach ca einer Sekunde.

-Wenn ich ein Bild sehe, das ich behalten möchte, brauche ich eine gewisse Zeit, bis ich die Tastenkombination gedrückt habe. Befinden sich meine Finger bereits über den Tasten, ist das Intervall kürzer, seine Existenz fällt umso mehr auf.
Die zweite Verzögerung scheint (zwingend) zu verhindern, dass ich das Bild bekomme, das ich will. Es gibt die Möglichkeit anzuhalten, ein wenig zurückzuspringen, den exakten Moment zu suchen. Ich mache das selten. Noch seltener durchsuche ich Filme nach dem Anschauen noch einmal nach den "besten Bildern". Lieber lasse ich mich auf die Verzögerung ein.
Ich möchte nicht, was ich sehe, sondern, dass sich etwas zeigt, im Moment der Stillstellung. Dass sich etwas zeigen könnte, kann ich allerdings doch wieder nur: sehen, am Bild ablesen.

Filme, von denen ich keine screenshots nehmen will, weil sie eh schon alles zeigen.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Locarno 2014: Concorso 4 Attrici 1 Speranza, Alfredo Guarini, 1953

The compilation film is called Siamo donne, or, in english, "We, the Women". Four of the five segments bear the names of famous actresses who more or less play themselves (Anna Magnani: definitely more). The most interesting (not the best, of course, for there'll always be this hillarious Rossellini short in which Ingrid Bergman chases a chicken through her garden) part of the film is the first episode, though: before cinema can expose a famous woman, it has to produce her, select her, name her.

The title of this episode doesn't make much sense (maybe I just don't understand it), for there are way more than four women involved. One of the most impressive shots shows a long line of them in front of the Titanus studio gate, waiting for a chance to take a screen test (for a film called Siamo donne, that is... just one more proof that classical cinema never was a stranger to reflexivity). Many will have to walk back almost immediately, being rejected by the selecting studio personal (all or at least mostly male, of course...) shortly after entering. The others will procede to the weirdest part of the selection process: A dinner, where the candidates are seated next to judges, and told to behave "naturally" - while a spotlight swoons over the chairs, illuminating the hopeful women / girls one after another. For most of them, this "fluorescent long shot eating" will remain the only encounter with show business... This one moment, when, instead of trying to charm the weird guy next to me, I proceeded to eat pasta clumsily - and just then I felt the light hitting my face... Some of them, however, will bloom at this first encounter with the limelight, this first step towards public individualisation, and they'll move on towards the real screen test, towards another, way more intimate gaze.

The special ploy of the film: Not only has the selection already been made, the film recognizes this (its own...) selection from the start. We enter the selection process not as objective observers, but together with one of the women (Anna Amendala, I think - all wanna-be-actresses are adressed by their real given names), through the prism of her hope to escape a confining family environment, of finally earning her own money etc. Of course, she is one of the two who'll finally make it (searching for one, finding two - cinema is also a multiplier of women). So is the main part of the film only a "rite of passage" she has to go through? Not really... Perhaps the most interesting thing about "Concorso 4 Attrici 1 Speranza" is the way her individuality is somehow swept aside as soon as she enters the studio facility: The film is taken over (never completely, though...) by the selection process, the camera angle changes to a god-like perspective, almost as if the cinema suddenly did own up, rather unvoluntarily, to its own bias towards voyeurism and monitoring - as if the cinema suddenly realizes, that every shot implicates an act of selection and therefore exclusion. And accepting this fact might be the most important prerequisit for anyone (and in a sexist world maybe especially: any woman) trying to enter the gaze of the cinema.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Locarno 2014: Scuola elementare, Alberto Lattuada, 1954

Once again the not-quite-neorealism of Lattuada, a quiet discovery.

Once again his film starts at a train station, although this time not directly at the tracks, but in the shop area of Milano Centrale: before the older, rather sad man, the school caretaker Pilade Mucci, meets his friend at the station, he puts money in some kind of machine (maybe to make a picture?). From the very first shot: A film about consumer culture. The first stroll of Dante Trilli - the friend, a school teacher arriving in the big city for reasons that are never completely disclosed - through the big shopping street is all excitement. And the first time he sees the woman who will make him almost lose his path, she is framed by the display of a jewellery store, as if she herself would be for sale.

Maybe she is for sale in the end, when she leaves teaching for a pursuit of a modelling career? But no, Lattuada is everything but a cynicist, her leaving IS a weakness, but one that is strictly psychological in nature. In the first scene of their story, all fault lies with Trilli, who doesn't recognize her individuality and who will continue to miss something about both her, and his own desire: Only when she leaves him for another life, he starts working at a advertising agency, as if realizing that his pursuit of her was always already motivated by his urge towards consumer capitalism (but jumping to the wrong conclusion).

Where, then, is love? In the past, maybe, or out of reach, outside the window, on the other side of the street, like the nosy (but completely unavailabe) girl his older friend sometimes "talks" to in some kind of minimalistic sign language. (Crammed lower middle class space effortlessly transformed into pictorial elegance: The girl next door framed by two different windows, sometimes also by the kitchen door).

Then, of course, the love story of two men, two friends, two (crippled) idealists, whose mutual bond is much stronger than the trajectory of Trilli's regular love story. His resolute decision to move in with Mucci, Mucci's growing sadness while waiting for him, his gushing joy when he sees Trilli at christmas eve throught the window of a restaurant (maybe this second gaze through a commercialized window someehow frees Trilli from the power of the first one).

Then, of course,Trilli's love for his vocation - not only educating, but, much more important, recogninzing young boys, every single one of them, as individuals: not "children" like some strange species, but so many small men.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Locarno 2014: La spiaggia, Alberto Lattuada, 1954

The first shot of the first film (a trailer for someting called Attanasio cavallo vanesio) I saw at this year's festival: A man standing next to a horse, and praising it by singing a weird, decidedly upbeat song. What more could I possibly wish for for the rest of Locarno.

After the trailer (featuring many other highlights; unfortunately the film itself isn't part of the nonetheless already glorious Titanus retrospective) a beautiful discovery: Alberto Lattuada's La spiaggia, a film (maybe) about holiday culture and its discontent. Or, once again maybe: about both the inescapable necessity for and the impossibility of holiday.

The first (?) shot: A train station, framed much like in the famous Lumiere film. Two nuns (btw: already a lot of nuns in this year's festival...) lead a small girl towards the camera, until the documentary-like framing has given way to a close-up of her face filling the whole screen. Is this Lattuada announcing his complete control over the image? Maybe, but there's still the weird look on the child's face. Lattuada conquers the frame not for himself, but for his actors.

Martine Carol, the main actress, arrives by train (the first few shots of her: maneuvering, searching for an equilibrium). She's the mother of the girl, together they start a vacation, which might become permanent. But first, they need to work through different social spaces: The train cabin, a hotel, and the small town the hotel is a part of. Lattuada constantly switches between the story of mother and daughter and the panoramatic exploration of these spaces: fun on the beach, gossip on the terrace, parading on the promenade. 

Already at the beginning, in the train, things get crowded, but there's still a sense of fluidity. Just throw everything out of the window: bad habits, sins, the past; your companions won't mind, they'll be gone in a short while anyway. Later on, when arriving in the hotel, escape's no longer an option. They see / hear / find you, they know you, they circle in. You have to deal with the economics of space.

The economics of holiday space in 1950s Italy: british ladies having fun with their wild beasts / Italian lovers; rebellious daughters piling up debts, wearing colorful trousers, pouting almost constantly (and spectacularly), finally taking off to Paris; microeconomics of dinnertime (who orders what? who has to sit alone?); microeconomics of childhood at the beach (actually: pretty hard economics...); the microeconomics (or: mastereconomics?) of gossip, including one fake queen of gossip.

Above all: a double leadership. One democratic, conventionally handsome, but ultimately powerless against the forces of gossip: the mayor, who has managed to turn a sleepy town into a tourist attraction; but who is ultimately too middle-class to fight middle-class prejudice. The other feudalistic, sleazy but sexless, money trenched, completely despotic, but ultimately benevolently so: A millionaire, scanning the beach with binoculars, accompanied by a small apecommanding the other tourists at will.