Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ISF Showcase: International Avant Garde Cinema from the '20s

Photo from: Ménilmontant (1926)

ISF: Ballet Mécanique (1924) Dir: Fernand Léger Date Seen: April 20th, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5

In its heightened speed, Léger’s aggressive style of montage gets his point across. In his experimentation with mise en scene, specifically camera placement, Léger seduces us with the tantalizing promise of new technology.


ISF: Ménilmontant (1926) Dir: Dimitri Kirsanoff Date Seen: April 20th, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5

The most engaging of the avant garde shorts shown today. Writer/director Dimitri Kirsanoff’s presentation of the uniform bleakness of humanity is intriguing, positing that despite its lurid appeal, that the city is no more brutal in its repression than the country. Very heady and rather disturbing in how its final scene of graphic violence is expected and hence not nearly as disturbing as it might otherwise be.


ISF: The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928) Dir: Germaine Dulac Date Seen: April 20th, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5

The ideawork in Dulac’s film is stirring but predictably cold for the most part. Though he’s never trying to really ingratiate himself to his viewer, the fact that he takes the effort to sporadically teases us, as with the mystical images of the tiny archipelago that the titular clergyman (“theater of cruelty” founder Antonin Artaud) conjures from his repressed imagination, suggests that he’s more than content to tease.


ISF: Symphonie Diagonale (1924) Dir: Viking Eggeling Date Seen: April 20th, 2009 Rating: 3.25/5

As a visualization of Vertov’s theory of “interval”-based montage editing, it works. And it’s pretty.


ISF: Un Chien Andalou (1929) Dir: Luis Buñuel Date Seen: April 20th, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5

Fitfully engaging. I seriously have nothing intelligent to say about this film and I’m not sure there’s much to say save for I laughed at its humor and was perplexed by its surreal imagery.

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