HarryTuttle's Spontaneous Impressions - F
Le Faisand'Or
Faraway, So Close!
Fast Film
Father and Daughter
Faust (1926)
Faust (1994)
Une Femme de Ménage
La Femme Papillon
The Fifth Element
Finis Terrae
The Firm
Five Evenings
Floating Weeds
Flowers of Shanghai
For One Moment
The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse
Freud: The Secret Passion
My Friend Ivan Lapshine

> CRIT <Le Faisan d'Or
2001 - Marat SARULU - Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan

My Brother Silk Road / Altyn Kyrghol
Beautiful Black&White square format film!!!
Around a railtrack, on the ancient Silk Road running through the desertic steppe of Kyrgyzstan, a "gang" of 4 children wander in quest for adventure, and hope to take the train to get away. Awesome pictures of the nature, the fog, the wind, animals...
Meanwhile, we follow the story of few characters onboard of the train that will pass by. a woman-controller, her beautiful as much as independant daughter, and her ex-husband hopeless drunkard. her co-worker, who enjoys a quickie with passengers. an artist who sell pencil portraits and regret the poor taste of his clients...
original cinematography and interesting editing between the 2 parallel worlds, in a poetical perspective.


> CRIT <Faraway, So Close!
1993 - Wim WENDERS - Germany

sequel of Wings of Desire (1987), after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), Wenders comes back on his tracks, see how the fallen angel, Damiel (Bruno Ganz), is doing on Earth. 2 new angels Cassiel (Otto Sander and Nastassja Kinski), oppose the plans of a demon (Willem Dafoe). Cassiel also wants to become human
this cheap sequel doesnt compare with the original and the addition of hot topics like weapon traffic, WW2, nazi films, and porn??? is so superficial and wasted. same gimmick with the B&W/Color switch. and a circus troup of acrobats turned robbers on top.


> CRIT < Fast Film
2003 - Virgil WIDRICH - Austria

14', Color, no dialogue, stop-motion.
An homage to cinema through screen captures from 300 famous international films (Westerns, James Bond, Hitchcock, Gozilla, Frankenstein...)
Amazingly this film didnt use CGI inserted footage, it is entirely made on stop motion animation of frame by frame captures from the archive sequences (see pic above and making of clip here) photographed with a digital photo camera and not a video camera : 80,000 Xerox prints, 65,000 paper models folded origami-style, 18 months of work... this is just crazy! And the result is awesome!!! a must see for film buffs. It's not only a funky animation with spectacular 3D effects, fluid movements, and amazing hand-made special FX, not only an endless film citation, but it's also a surprising re-interpretation of the genre film (like found footage pervertion), creating an epic train pursuit with the most famous figures of cinema history cast in a different film.


> CRIT < Father and Daughter
2000 - Michael DUROK DE WIT - Netherlands

8' short film
Beautiful wordless ellipse of a life span in a few bicycle rides by a girl becoming eldery. A father kisses goodbye his 5 yold daughter, rowing away on a small boat. The daughter will come back often to the same spot hoping for his return. The visits space out as she grows up, distracted by her friends, and her boyfriend then husband, until she's grandmother... From a single place, flat, planted of cypress, with high grass and cycling passer-by, typical of the dutch landscape, this simple story suggests the weight of the abscence throughout a lifetime, an endless mourning left open by the hope for life over death. Did he flee during the war? Did he know it was a one way trip? Did he found a new family on the other side? Did he forget about me? Did he stop loving me? Only a corpse could bring peace to the heart. 80 years later, these three cypress planted on the shore still remind her of her father everytime she passes by.
Entirely handpainted with highly contrasted shadows, black ink on sandy background paper. Few details, opaque silouhettes delicately animated, birds, vivid weather effects of the rain and the wind, reflections in the poddles. Magnificient piece of animation reducted to its simplest elements.

C:+++ W:++ M:++ I:++++ C:++++


> CRIT <Faust
1926 - F. W. MURNAU - Germany

Splendid adapatation of Goethe's poem, with Jan Jennings as a wicked Mefisto in satin cape. The photography of this fight between light and shadows is exceptional. A really bad print for my screening tho...


> CRIT <Faust
1994 - Jan Svanjmaker - Czech

Unfortunately I never read the literary source of Faust, however I knew the gist of the story, which helps to follow through into this madness. Apparently here, Svankmajer compiles all possible versions of this myth in one film : english, german, french, latin, czech, performed with various storytelling techniques : theatre, marionettes, novel, film, animation.
It's delightful to walk through the streets of Prague, Kafka's city, (not a touristic tour in the cutest quarters tho!) but like others have mentionned above, the bland look of the real-life images are a turn off. These are too passively realistic, meaning there is no effort to create an aesthetic environment, even within the bleak aspect... Too much of a TV-like, and not the 90ies look, we're thrown back in 70ies-TV dull photography. Acting direction going along the same passivity. I guess I was disappointed Svankmajer left out animation on a secondary plan, making most of the film with live performances and live actors (even the shots of the marionettes in the real world).
Anyway after a while I went over my "expectations", taking it as a "real film with animated special FX", and enjoyed his new concept to blend animation into the real world, which was already developped in Alice (more powerfuly in my humble opinion). Especially since the animations become masterfull towards the end! The clay animation of Gollum (a czech jewish tale of the creation of a human being out of clay, Adam-like, put to life and killed by writing/erasing an hebraic word on his forehead), Mefistopheles' morphing head, the stop motion animation of the marionettes.
The set design, and the set ever changing mutations into something else, faithful to the theatre tradition of removable backgrounds, are spectacular. Svankmajer explodes the wall of the theatre to transpose action into real life, with a travelling theatre set "teleported" into various places, from Portugal to a church ruin. The protagonists go through this mutating process too, alternatively human or marionette, back and forth. This fantastic disruption of narrative rules and physics laws fit perfectly the story of Dr. Faust, who is an alchemist playing with the nature of matter seeking for total knowledge of all things, which leads him to sign a pact with the Devil, signed by his own blood, to sell his soul. In svankmajer's film, Faust is anybody, people baited in the street by an advertisement leaflet. Curiosity is the human weakness leading this man into an horror trip escalating closer to Hell and the dark side of reality. Simultaneously curious to see what will happen, and dubious of the existance of this myth, the man goes through a serie of impersonations of Dr. Faust, ployed to go ever further into the infernal malediction. Firstly mocking the grotesque curse, and gradualy scared deeper by the outcome of this seemingly harmless spectacle.
I liked the constant dialogue between fantasy and reality, between the passive position of the audience and the active position of the actor. The film keeps on going mixing different levels of reality. We really get into surrealist territory when he shows crying babies in the background of the central action, and the wine geyser from the bar table, or when a strom breaks lose after the man opens an egg shell found into a loaf of bread.
The full circle conclusion of it all, closing the story like a nightmare, like a parenthesis in our life, like a swift glimpse into the backstage of the world's entrails, a place nobody should ever look into...


> CRIT <Une Femme de Ménage
2002 - Claude Berri - France

Jean-Pierre Bacri (in Agnes Jaoui's "The Taste of The Others") and Emilie Dequenne (in Dardenne's "Rosetta") are 2 antagonist characters. One is old, newly dumped by his wife, loves classical music, works as a music engineer, living a boring life between his job, a local café, and his messy apartment. One is young, simple, unexperimented, unemployed, recently broken up, likes to listen to loud bad commercial music, looking for a part time house cleaning job, full of energy and initiative.
they will meet in a posh parisian quarter, where he lives for years. She sneaks in his life, little by little, despite his unwelcoming bachelor life, and soon she asks him to offer her a shelter for a few days... a very simple story about feelings and individualism, single life and generations gap. slow paced yet riveting character study, with credible additional supporting characters.


> CRIT <La Femme Papillon
2003 - Virginie BOURDIN - Belgique/France

10' animated short film
A wordless fable of naive puppets in a manipulated world ironically mirroring our fated existence.
A puppet theatre in a clockwork music box, opened on an audience of birds also hung to threads coming from a dark uninhabited sky. A sexy butterfly woman performes her routine number with tiny paper butterflies flying about like sparks. A bird applauses so hard he falls off his threads and walks away to live his own life, the thread of his head hanging on his beak like a turkey. He sneaks in backstage behind the red velvet curtain, and looks around amidst a forest of threads and the frightening props and sets lying lifeless in the dark, attempting to free the beautiful creature off of her threads.
The work on lighting and photography is simply outstanding! I couldn't tell if it was real puppets or 3D models. The seamless animation suggested CGI, while the non-uniform textures gave away handmade puppets.

C:++ W:+ M:++ I:+++ C:++++


> CRIT <Fétiche
1935 - STAREWICZ - France

The Mascot
Animation of toys among real people on film with incredible realisme. The sawdust-stuffed dog and the fishbone or hen-squeleton stop-motion show the determinant influence on the later czech animator genius Jan Svankmajer. The story of a puppydog's adventures to find an orange for his little girl owner remind of Spielberg's A.I. especially in the toy's hell.


> CRIT <The Fith Element
1962 - Luc BESSON - France/USA

Le 5e Element
i dont understand why everyone complains about the childish story? it is practicaly a fairy tale, and certainly inspired by manga/comics books and designed by a famous illustrator of similarily silly fantasy graphic epics : Jean 'Moebius' Giraud, assisted by Jean-Claude Mézières (another famous french comics designer)
the sets are amazing and really original compared to the usual Sci-Fi flick. the aliens have a strong personality and a whole culture surrounds them without being exposed in lenghts by the film. the defenders of the 5th Elements, with the tiny head and round body (Mondoshawan) are my favorites! the mangalore are pretty kool too.
Gary Oldman is excellent
Chris Tucker's character
Tricky as a henchman
Maïwenn as the diva!
Matthieu Kassovitz as the mugger
a futuristic NYC in daylight up to par with Blade Runner's nightscapes.
the music by Eric Serra
the costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier
everything is so kool in that film.
i agree the ending is very silly, and could have been less predictible. but it's for the kids you know...


> CRIT <Film
1965 - Alan SCHNEIDER - USA

Samuel Beckett's Film
written by Beckett and staring Buster Keaton!
the shaky camera moves, make it a very personal experiment. Keaton wearing his famous flat hat, is true to his silent movie attitude, with the cold and gloomy mindset of Beckett. it's black humor and absurdity, very close to surrealism.


> CRIT <Finis Terrae
1929 - Jean EPSTEIN - France

132' Silent B&W
photo : Barth/Kottula/Née/Tulle
fiction-documentary. the title is the latin for "end land", and is the ethymology for a region of France on the extreme north-west atlantic coast : finistère (britany).
Epstein uses a small melodrama to live up his documentary on a community living on the island of Sein.
4 fishermen sail off to a wasted island for the summertime, while fishing season is off. there they rack up the sea weed (goémon) and burn it after a secret recipe, to transform it into rich ashes for the chemical industry and fertilizer. they work as teams of 2, one old experimented fisher and one strong teenager, and rivalize everyday to see who will fish the largest mount.
a quarrel outbursts between the 2 young boys when one lose his knife and accuse the other one to hide it, he also broke the last bottle of wine by accident. offended and proud he slits his thumb to show off.
from then on, the 2 teams ignore each other, on this bare isolated desertic island where the water supply is counted and tools have no spare parts. the next inhabited island is hours away.
unfortunately the wounded thumb gets infected, and the pain becomes unbearable as the boy tries to keep up with the daily hardwork to accomplish. he wants to go back home, but the wind is dead.
meanwhile at the village the lighthouse warns the population that there is only a smoke column from one campfire on the remote island, so they suspect there is a problem, but there is no way to communicate. Epstein portrays a few main town figures like the priest, the doctor, the mayor, the children, the widows, and the 2 mothers of the boys gone away. the village will organize to make sure everything is going alright.


> CRIT <The Firm
1988 - Alan CLARKE - UK

Gary Oldman is a clean middle class father of a young child in a cosy little home. But he's bored and need the rush of a good fight and gang up with his pals of the Hooligan of their local soccer team. The film shows the clash between our perception of Hooligans as idle dumb fanatics and the normal life of respected grown up people who care more for the gang rivalry/loyalty than for the sport itself.
Alan Clarke directs a powerful and disturbing docu-drama by showing the escalation of violence between "factions", organized like a mafia, as well as the suspicion within friends.
Most of the fights were improvised and non simulated. Some images were censored and edited out by Clarke.
The visual violence is strong but short, the bulk of the story focuses on the hierarchic relationship between individuals and the verbal provocation. Maybe a much heavier psychological violence.


> CRIT <Five Evenings
1979 - Nikita MIKHALKOV - Russia

a five-fold story through 5 successive evenings, when Sasha comes back in Moscow in 1957, a city he left shortly after the war, because he rebeled against university and gave up on a promising engineer career to respect his ideals.
the clever selective events over few days, gathering a lone woman, her nephew, his girlfriend and the stranger who used to rent a room in her appartment 18 years before. how can 2 people who got separated by the war can meet again and rebuild their love story after so much silence and a a couple of lies...


> CRIT <Floating Weeds
1959 - Yasujiro OZU - Japan

I finally got to see the sound-color remake of the silent A Story of Floating Weeds, a much better accomplished direction from an almost identical storyboard. With all the mature style of Ozu latest films. Introduced with a conference by Eugene Green on the formation of this atypical style in cinema history.


> CRIT <Flowers of Shanghai
1959 - HOU Hsiao hsien - Taiwan

The period : I was completely taken by surprise by the film, like if it was a documentary from another time. It really gets us at the heart of a world so distant from us for many reasons: period, culture and geography. Other films depict the life of asian red light districts but this one seems to be focused on the way of life from the inside.
The costumes and sets are sublime, without show off, yet we can wonder how they made so much money... and it tells about what we never see : the sexual activity of a brothel. The atmosphere is not less sensual. Any weak minded director would have heavily emphasized on graphic sex scenes, or noises or something degrading obscenity. Here HHH keeps an impecable image to these most respected ladies at any time! Image and appearance being a key factor in asian honor, be it aristocratic, popular or unlawful.
Another unusual detail is the abscence of British colons, and the law enforcement representatives (we only hear them down the street, but never see them)
It's very interesting to watch and learn how this unlawful community functions : training, hierarchy, promotion scale, rule of priority/exclusivity, curtesy/manners, parties, royal-like court/courtesans, "moral" code...
The relationship between the prostitute and her madame is multifaced, and doesn't only depend on the girl's success, but also the women's personality. It's delightful to see Emerald and her madame playing alternatively dominant/dominated and vice versa when it is about money or about legal freedom...

The cinematography : The film is coated in a consistant gimmick, the lingering fade in/out from/to black enclosing long plan sequence of a quasi static camera, limited to pan-rotation and narrow lateral travelling. This reproduces the imaginary point of view of someone being present in the room with the characters, or the perspective we might conceive when reading a book, and we make ourselves the extra invisible person who observes the action from outside. The other effect is to encompass the entire film in darkness, even the opening and closing credits are entirely black, some of the black transitions are used as inter-titles to note the location and the girl's name (so we can learn them).
There are several plan-sequences for each chapter in the same room/day, covering discontinuous events, like if we opened and closed our eyes at various moments of the day with large periods of nap in between. In fact most of the action is cut out, we are left assuming what happened or what is going to happen from the character's words, or from their mood alteration. Most of the time even the characters don't know why the mood changed and speculate like us, in silence or by arguing, to figure what feelings simmer under.

I truly understood the point of this gimmick when Tony Leung spies on Crimson in the next room with a sneak peek under the door. The plan sequence fades out and fades back in at floor level, looking into the bedroom. This is the only subjective plan of the film I think, but it fully reveals the "eye lid" fade in gimmick, and the spying position of the camera.
Even the limited camera movements are slow and langorous, not even pointing at the person speaking, like if the camera operator was under the influence of opium too. Thus the character speaking is often off-screen, and by the time we pan to his/her face it's the other one speaking, or they could vacate the frame altogether leaving an empty screen with off-screen dialogue. The camerawork is totally independant from the dialogue (breaking off with the most basic conventions) and comfirms the independant presence of the camera in the room, not there to serve the lines delivery but to impersonate an abstract point of view.
Another unconventional, personal touch is the way the camera plays with the blocking objects between us and the characters. The rooms are tight, and the furniture against the wall, yet he manages to place in the way a see-through lamp, a flower vase, or somebody's head that will block or deform the character we're looking at each swing of the pan. It is disturbing at first, but contributes to enhance the distance between us and the characters, and make us part of the guests at the same time.

So the camerawork doesn't snap on people when they talk or when they are talked to, to heavy-handedly focus on expressive close ups, and manipulate the audience's anticipation. It lives a life of its own and provides a refreshing point of view, introducing us in another dimension of the cinema perception. In this aspect HHH reinvents cinematic codes (not that this was never done by others before) and at least creates a very personal contemplative atmosphere to thicken the screen message and further the film experience.

The opening scene with this game is somptuous, and already features the defining style/atmosphere of the film in one plan!
I was lost among so many new faces, I couldn't tell who they were, what was their connection, and couldn't remember so many names at once (even if the dialogue strives to introduce all characters). Unfortunately I am easily overwhelmed by too many characters, especially if they are only mentionned and not present on screen. Nonetheless I was immersed into this atmosphere, thrown into the film with a simple plan.

the drinking game : I assumed it was a common drinking game where one has to remember a serie of figures (from Mah-jong pieces maybe) in a certain order. 8 and immortal being the ideograms written on the card. Either that or it's a complex version of "paper-scissors-stone". Often seen in other HHH or taiwanese films.

It's not necessarily tedious because the game is not the only thing going on. We can see how certain characters are enthousisatic to play (and drink) while others are shy or pass or are being begged to participate. This seem to be a very popular game, and a socializing protocol. So we're looking at the social/psychological state of each character, alternatively, along the succession of the "backstage" events in their love life.
The girls organize these receptions at their place, which is funded by their best patron/protector, and is an opportunity for them to show off and make the other girls jealous. This is typical courtesan behavior! The game takes place at different palace/brothel, home of one or the other of the girl, and features opera singer, musicians, food and alcohol, number of guests according to what they can or cannot afford.



> CRIT <For One Moment / Für einen Moment
2001 - Marco ANTONIAZZI - Austria

12', Color, No dialogue, Speed up footage
A couple lives a boring repeating daily life. The action is accelerated to fast speed, and the man breaks off from the speed madness until he moves so slowly that he appears in real motion on fast speed. His surrounding moves
too fast for him, and him seem immobile to them. His wife leaves him, and he lives on his own, unable to connect. The film depicts the barrier of depression from the patient POV, apathy, lack of interest, unfocus, unability to catch up with people's changing/evolving moods/train of thoughts/actions. Helplessness, miscommunication, alien world. Very impressive and thought provocating.


> CRIT <The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
1962 - MINELLI - USA

I thought I was up for the 1921 original version... thankfully Ingrid Thulin saved my day.
A decent cast actually with Glenn Ford, Charles Boyer, Paul Henreid, Karlheinz Böhm.
A remake adaptating the WW1 context to WW2 in a very melodramatic way where each member of the family has incidentally a key role in the war on either side, one is a genrman general, another is a SS colonel, one is a neutral wealthy argentin, and others are in the french resistance... Leading situations, ultra-conventional cinematography bordering B-grade (the funky effect with the protagonist eyes overimposition on explosive scenes of battlefield...)


> CRIT <Freud : the Secret Passion
1962 - John HUSTON - USA

i was far from expecting this monument when sitting for this new Huston film (only my 5th)... it almost looks like an early Bergman trip into existentialism. A screenplay disowned by its original writer Jean-Paul Sartre.
this film is clearly freudian in shape and content, here the birth of the psychoanalytic theory is a quasi documentary, faithful to the timeline, exploring the biography of young Dr. Sigmund Freud (a great Montgomery Clift). His discovery of the use of hypnosis with Dr. Charcot in France, and his researches of the edge with his mentor and spiritual father the Dr. Breuer in Vienna. the fastforward narration is quite overwhelming in vocabulary but focuses on the key discoveries and a couple of interesting cases like miss Cecily Koertner who has a crush on the fatherly figure of her therapists.
the B&W photography (Douglas Slocombe) is asthonishing!!! there is also a dream sequence (not quite as surrealist as Dali's vision) is haunting and mysterious. a great inspired biopic and a great suspenseful documentary!


> CRIT <My Friend Ivan Lapshine
1984 - Alexei GERMAN - Russia

a beautiful sepia (monochrome) photography recreating an oldish aspect of pre-war movies. but the film itself is too much of an improvised theatrical performance in a serie of long plan-sequences. just like in 20 days without War, the "same" troup of actors interact with 5 friends living in the same appartment, some are cops, other are journalists...
there is an interesting police operation to capture a runaway criminal, described step by step. and outside the jokes and rivalry between the guys, we see the blind corruption of authorities who has access to expensive goods like sugar, wine, food and other advantages, just like the actors social cast. and on the other hand, normal people who struggle to get firewood and food.
but everyone hope to get away from this country town.


> CRIT <Fury
1936 - Fritz LANG - USA

Tracy had few moments alright, but teh role is over the top... the second part is the one i like less! only the riot scene has some cinematic values, tho the dramatization of it all is barely credible... who sees sense of chaos and crowd movement in there? it's all choreographed, so everyone can fit his/her line on camera... the newsreel is silly! come on, it's a joke! even today we could get this kind of convenient close up on a night riot shot on the fly by someone who ignores what is going!
not to mention the plot holes, and the anti/moralizing speeches of Spencer Tracy...
the story is very interesting : to study the mass hysteria (like in Capturing the Friedman), compared to the rage of a cornered wounded wolf. unfortunately this film isnt the best development that could be ever made.