Alice

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#76 Post by MichaelB » Tue May 24, 2011 4:31 pm

Oh all right, conventionally pornographic image. In fact, one of his friends showed it to his nine-year-old son, who unsurprisingly failed to detect any of the intended perversions and simply enjoyed it as a film about a silly man who likes dressing up as a big chicken.
Last edited by MichaelB on Tue May 24, 2011 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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swo17
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#77 Post by swo17 » Tue May 24, 2011 4:37 pm

Just because you don't understand us doesn't make us silly. [-(

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#78 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Wed May 25, 2011 3:23 am

both Alice & the Švankmajer shorts on their way to me right now (as well as getting carried away, and including all of MoC's Pialat releases - poorer and richer, simultaneously).

on the David Lynch connection, I suppose you could make a case for similarities in subject matter between LITTLE OTIK and ERASERHEAD, but really, I think Lynch is just one of those filmmakers whose name gets tossed around a lot when the writer has no easy way of describing a less than conventional film, whether it's for a review, criticism or a film festival blurb.
The latter's probably the biggest culprit, with the most extreme example I've seen being a number of year's ago in the catalogue for Melbourne Int. Film Festival (at a time when it seemed a 1/4 of the films at MIFF were compared to Lynch, Tsukamoto etc).
One film (can't remember what) was described as being very like Eraserhead. On watching it, the only similarity appeared to be that they were both shot in black & white!

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#79 Post by MichaelB » Wed May 25, 2011 3:31 am

Adam Grikepelis wrote:on the David Lynch connection, I suppose you could make a case for similarities in subject matter between LITTLE OTIK and ERASERHEAD,
You could make a stronger case for similarities between Little Otík and Larry Cohen's It's Alive!.

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bunuelian
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#80 Post by bunuelian » Wed May 25, 2011 12:57 pm

The cliche that watching the BD feels like seeing the film for the first time is quite apt. Such a treat. The red hats on the horrors that accost Alice while she's hiding out in the doll house just pop from the screen. The Czech soundtrack has alot of surprises that are missing from the English dub. Great release!

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#81 Post by MichaelB » Thu May 26, 2011 6:48 am


zombeaner
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#82 Post by zombeaner » Fri May 27, 2011 3:53 pm

I finally got around to watching the Blu-ray last night and the A/V is astonishing. Well done! I haven't tackled the extras yet, I wish BFI provided the DVD with the review package when there are DVD exclusive extras.

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colinr0380
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#83 Post by colinr0380 » Sun May 29, 2011 10:07 pm

The extra films on this set were all fascinating for their highly unorthodox usage of the Alice story for their own ends! The 1903 Alice In Wonderland is interesting to see though very episodic and there doesn't seem to be much of a cause and effect on any of Alice's actions which makes it play very much like a series of moving illustrations of significant scenes - no particular 'dream logic' seems in evidence and no attempt at trying to move Alice flowingly from one place to another, instead once the meat of the scene has been completed there is a fade out and the next scene starts. Perhaps this is why the best scene of the film is the final one in which there is the parade of cards (a bunch of children in the costumes, who appear to be having the best time in the film - and who wouldn't be having fun getting to dress up and parade for the film camera!), Alice bopping the executioner and then after being chased offscreen (with one of the smallest children/playing cards bringing up the rear in an extremely cute manner!), waking up on the riverbank. There is at least some developing action here, rather than just a tableau that presents an image that goes nowhere, as in the previous scenes.

Elsie and the Brown Bunny (aka the Bournville Chocolate promotional film, although whether the company had intended to suggest that their chocolates have a knock-out gas, hallucenogenic trip-like effect on children might be debatable!) is quite strange. I can see what they were trying to do in trying to suggest, in the oppressively whimsical manner of Disney in future years, that their factories were literal wonderlands of joy, happiness and constant supplies of chocolate (though Elsie doesn't seem to get any free samples on her tour!) rather than oppressive, micro-managed production lines, but Alice In Wonderland seems entirely the wrong story to use in this manner. Alice in Wonderland is all about over-arching institutions with arcane rules being systematically dismantled by one precocious little girl who both doesn't understand, and refuses to play by, the rules. Turning that character into corporate shill Elsie, marvelling with wide-eyes at the leisure grounds on which presumably all employees have to do company mandated strict exercise regimes (to work off all the chocolate they eat, I presume!) and taking trips with the 'Brown' Rabbit on the company boat and steam engine (I kept hoping whenever Elsie asked the Rabbit in the intertitles if he could really punt on the river or drive a train, that the rabbit had given the muffled response "Not in this bloody restrictive costume, I can't!" No wonder the rabbit faints on the lawn of the factory once they get to their destination - the poor actor must have been exhausted!) to show off their limitless resources just felt wrong-headed in so many ways.

It was a very amusing film though! I wonder what all those women shown in one shot at the factory must have thought at the concept of a version of Alice in Wonderland being set in their place of work! As long as the kid wakes up and keeps stuffing her face with chocolate, and therefore everyone still in business supplying her with the wonderously addictive cocoa product, they could live with it I suppose!

Alice In Label Land is a much more appropriate use of the source material to describe how new regulations about the labelling of food are going to affect people. In this case it seems as if the film is directed at housewives, just to provide the basic information to look out for on their weekly shop, which lets the film poke some wry fun at overly bureaucratic legalese of government departments (with the usual inference that this whole new layer of extra legalese is going to finally make things more understandable for everyone!), as well as the final broadside at the ungrateful members of the family back home (portrayed in the form of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party) who, even though everything is properly and clearly labelled, will still complain about the food you put in front of them. Housewives of Britain - we salute your attempts to bring sanity to a crazy country even while being assailed on all sides by incomprehensibility and ungratefulness! You go girls and continue toiling on in your thankless roles, knowing the COI are standing behind you all the way!

I'm rather unqualified to talk much about the Quay Brothers animations for the two His Name Is Alive music videos. I loved the image in Are We Still Married? of Alice (seen from the knees down until the striking final push into the face) shifting up and down on her feet with the cute rabbit starting off by mimicing her at first and then having a kind of fight with the ping pong ball - is the rabbit trying and failing to prevent the ball from reaching the door handle and setting off the ominous figure tapping at the door trying to get at her, or is he just curious of what is outside?

In Can't Go Wrong Without You? there is a fascinating use of drips of blood which could be from a cut or the onset of Alice's womanhood set against a caged egg (potential new life?) with the rabbit as a guardian against another frightening figure peeping through a series of keyholes (a little Cocteau-esque) this time. Ending with the rabbit looking through a keyhole in that back of Alice's ankle, it feels like a poetically coded interior examination of strange, roiling adolescent emotions that is very difficult to describe with any clarity (is Alice doing her back and forth feet rocking on a pair of scales this time suggestive of the girl having a weight problem, or latent eating disorder? Or is that putting too coherent an interpretation on it?(!)) I really loved the cute way the rabbit waggled its ears in both of the music videos though!

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#84 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:46 am

More Alice reviews:

The Arts Desk;
Electric Sheep (by Peter Hames, author of Dark Alchemy: The Cinema of Jan Švankmajer);
Eye For Film;
Filmclub;
Filmwerk;
The Incredible Suit;
The Quietus;
Twitch.

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#85 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:45 pm


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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#86 Post by MichaelB » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:34 pm

Bright Lights Film Journal:
To those weaned on CGI effects and Pixar toy stories, the stop action animation here, though exquisitely done, might appear jerky and unconvincing, but I wouldn't bet on anyone, young or old, coming out of this film unscathed by its strangeness and by its often untethered cruelty.

Orlac
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Re: Alice

#87 Post by Orlac » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:38 pm

I wonder why the Cheshire Cat was not in Svankmajer's version. Can you imagine how creepy that would be?

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