Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

A subforum to discuss film culture and criticism both old and new, as well as memorializing public figures we've lost.
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Particle Zoo
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 12:01 pm
Location: South of England

#301 Post by Particle Zoo » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:42 am

Hi,
I dont think anyone has mentioned Barbara Meter. I recently bought a DVD 'Zuiver Film' (Pure Film) containing 11 short films. I bought the DVD from the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. Here is a link.

I don't if you can order it online, I bought it on site whilst visiting.
The DVD contains:
1 From the Exterior
2 Song for Four Hands
3 Penelope
4 Sculptures for a Windless Place
5 Convalescing
6 Appearances
7 Quay
8 Ariadne
9 Stretto
10 Portraits
11 A touch
Extra: Interview with Barbara Meter
There is also a dual language 20 page booklet. (English, Dutch)

'Barbara Meter's extreme emphasis on the grain structure of film is often considered to be her trade mark. Yet Meter not only produces a pure material film image; her method of working touches deeper layers of meaning. The effect of memory and the passage of time are the most important subjects of her films.'
This was a blind buy for me and a very pleasant surprise.

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Faeton
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#302 Post by Faeton » Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:38 am

Particle Zoo wrote:Hi,
I dont think anyone has mentioned Barbara Meter. I recently bought a DVD 'Zuiver Film' (Pure Film) containing 11 short films. I bought the DVD from the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. Here is a link.

I don't if you can order it online, I bought it on site whilst visiting.
You can order it online from Moskwood. Great DVD. btw :D

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Particle Zoo
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 12:01 pm
Location: South of England

#303 Post by Particle Zoo » Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:02 am

Yes it is indeed a great DVD! :D
I particularly like 'Quay', the forshortened perspective is simultaniously disconcerting and exhilarating. Its most impressive viewed through a projector.

yoshimori
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
Location: LA CA

#304 Post by yoshimori » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:20 am

Caught the new Pat O'Neill (Horizontal Boundaries) and Bruce Conner (Easter Morning) at the London Film Festival last night. Both are worth seeking out. The O'Neill is 23 minutes the first five and last 10 of which superimpose heavily manipulated images (mostly of LA) in four horizontal slices of the screen, jerking them from area(s) to area(s). Much more frantic than his (amazing) Trouble in the Image. The middle (less "horizontal", less frenetic) section of the movie was less successful despite the Irish (?) folk music.

The posthumous Conner was a delight. The saturated greens and yellows and reds of flowers - in the Conner signature step-frame - were "explored" by little, superimposed but perfectly natural, orange and blue phantom lights. The hokey, Christmasy music was perfect.

Also, for those in LA, be sure to catch "Observando in cielo" in one of the shorts programs at the AFI Fest. Saw it last year in Hong Kong. Amazingly beautiful time-lapse shots of the rotation of the earth seen from locations around the world. Great soundtrack.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

#305 Post by zedz » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:03 pm

A heads up that the price of the Raro Video Warhol 6 DVD box-set has been temporarily reduced to 65 Euro. Whatever the murky rights situation, it's an essential set and this is a steal, and the films don't look like they'll be available anywhere else for some time, if ever.

The special lasts until the end of the year, apparently.

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carax09
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 2:22 am
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#306 Post by carax09 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:55 pm

Speaking of Warhol, I just saw 13 Most Beautiful, which is 13 of his early screen tests (Nico, Lou Reed, Dennis Hopper, Edie Sedgwick, et al.) with live band accompaniment provided by Dean and Britta from Luna. By my count, 10 out of the 13 compositions were originals, and I have to say that I found the whole thing really enjoyable. If it comes to your town, I highly recommend checking it out.

Apparently, the dvd is coming out via Plexifilm early next year.

Adam
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#307 Post by Adam » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:09 pm

Do you have notes for it, with any information of who organizes it? I'd like to program that in Los Angeles.

EDIT: I just looked it up on line myself. Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh...
let's see what can be done. The films of course are no problem.

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carax09
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#308 Post by carax09 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:55 pm

Good luck, Adam. It looks to be jointly commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Adam
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#309 Post by Adam » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:29 am

carax09 wrote:Good luck, Adam. It looks to be jointly commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
Thank you. The issue will really just be cost & scheduling for Dean & Britta. It woudl appear that they might cost enough to require both of those organizations, which might be too much for us, but we shall see.

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Cinephrenic
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:58 pm
Location: Paris, Texas

#310 Post by Cinephrenic » Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:07 am

More Stan Brakhage coming! - via Criterion Collection

planetjake

#311 Post by planetjake » Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:41 am

Astonishing news if true.

The first set literally and completely changed my life.

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

#312 Post by Gregory » Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:50 pm

The tip says they're focusing mainly on longer films, and there are enough of those to keep us guessing. Something tells me they'll want to include The Text of Light.
Seems safe to assume this will be on Blu-Ray. Unless someone is yanking our chain again, that is.

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#313 Post by Adam » Tue Oct 28, 2008 4:49 pm

I can confirm that it's true, although you didn't hear it from me. :-)

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Faux Hulot
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#314 Post by Faux Hulot » Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:49 pm

carax09 wrote:Speaking of Warhol, I just saw 13 Most Beautiful, which is 13 of his early screen tests (Nico, Lou Reed, Dennis Hopper, Edie Sedgwick, et al.) [...] Apparently, the dvd is coming out via Plexifilm early next year.
Indeed

planetjake

#315 Post by planetjake » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:13 pm

Adam wrote:I can confirm that it's true, although you didn't hear it from me.
While you're not confirming anything, would mind not confirming what's going to be on the three discs? :P

Adam
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#316 Post by Adam » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:44 pm

I was told that it will be a 2 disc Eclipse, by the by.
But I'll have to inquire further about the specific titles.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#317 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:09 pm

Having made my way through PWA's brilliant Polish Experimental Animation set, I was particularly blown away by the brace of Zbigniew Rybczynski shorts (there's another brilliant pair on the first animation set).

Both of his films on the experimental set are masterpieces. New Book is a far more elaborate version of Figgis’ Timecode, with nine continuous ten minute takes (arranged Hollywood Squares fashion) that don’t just narratively interlock, but visually interlock as well (so that, as figures or objects leave the left side of one frame they enter the right side of the adjacent one, even though the physical spaces presented in each frame are not contiguous): an overwhelming technical feat that has to be watched multiple times.

Oh, I Can’t Stop! is hilarious – a brilliant coupling of the world’s longest (and accelerating!) tracking shot with the world’s funniest foley track. I get the compulsion to rewatch this film every couple of days.

Anyway, I've just noticed that there's a two-disc Rybczynski compilation available from Raro Video, containing three hours of material. Has anybody seen this?

Raro have a trailer for the set up on YouTube.

You can also find a few of his music videos there. 80s nostalgists may recall Art of Noise's 'Close (to the Edit)'.

karmajuice
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:02 am

Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#318 Post by karmajuice » Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:05 pm

Wow, I just happened on one of Zbigniew Rybczynski's animations online just yesterday. I think it's one that's more widely known (Tango), but I was considerably impressed. I seldom see ideas conveyed so elegantly and unobtrusively as they are in Polish animation (or Eastern Europe in general). Considering how much I love the stuff, I really need to get that set soon. Does the set have English subs? (For the most part I think it wouldn't need them, I'm just curious.)
Is Schabenbeck's Stairs on the set? I remember seeing it on a list someplace, possibly a supposed release on this set, but it may have been removed or I may be mistaken. That's another doozy.

I'll have a region-free player within a few weeks, so I may try to get this before the year is out.

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zedz
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#319 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:11 pm

Tango and Stairs are both on the first (indispensible) PWA animation anthology, which is completely English-friendly, including the thick book.

The Raro Rybscynski set is also advertised as containing English subs, and their releases also tend to have generous, bilingual booklets.

criterionsnob
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#320 Post by criterionsnob » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:33 am

Many Zbig shorts are available on 3 separate R1 sets directly from his website.

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Antoine Doinel
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#321 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:37 pm

Manhatta has been digitally restored and was screened at MOMA over the weekend in a 35mm print. Interesting to hear curator Bruce Posner sing the praises of digital over film.
Last edited by Antoine Doinel on Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#322 Post by Gregory » Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:50 pm

Posner wrote:The second time our print was screened, I saw two new pieces of dirt on it. I started laughing. Here we go, I’ll never look back again
I'll bet celluloid can also act as a breeding ground for all kinds of dangerous germs.

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zedz
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#323 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 16, 2008 6:37 pm

zedz wrote:Anyway, I've just noticed that there's a two-disc Rybczynski compilation available from Raro Video, containing three hours of material. Has anybody seen this?
I have, Mr zedz!

Unfortunately, it's not great news.

The packaging and documentation is up to Raro's high standard, with a thick MoC scale book (and bonus Zbig-designed bookmark), but the transfers are generally rough and analogue. The films shared with the PWA releases (Soup, New Book and Tango) look much much worse and most of the other film-based works are on the same level. The later video works fare better. The set seems to be Zbig-endorsed, so the source for the sub-standard transfers may well be himself. I'd be interested to hear whether his own DVD releases are any better.

The set is all English-friendly, but there are no sub options on the films. In practical terms, this means that the minimal dialogue in New Book goes untranslated and the English dialogue in Steps and the Orchestra making-of has forced Italian subtitles.

So, disappointing presentation in general, but the films are great (and the liner notes suggest that there are greater riches to be unearthed).

Other than the classics already available on the PWA sets (which benefit from the extra info in the books - those who have already had their minds blown by the achievement of New Book now have to deal with the information that it was filmed in three different cities), the highlights are three brilliant and very brief late seventies / early eighties shorts:

Mein Fenster - a single static shot of a birdcage, a television and bottle, the contents of which (bird, news report and wine) do a slow, elegant 360 turn before our eyes - an ingenious variation on Astaire's Royal Wedding stunt.

Weg zum Nachbarn - a bonus short, not credited on any of the packaging or menus, but playing right after Mein Fenster. It's almost the reverse of that film. Here, a man stands near a signpost in the landscape. The film has been treated to look like a very old, battered silent film. Gradually, the entire world starts to tilt (farm equipment slides past), turning upside down and leaving the man momentarily hanging over the abyss, clinging to the weakening wooden signpost.

Media - Even shorter and with the same ingenious minimal clarity and wit of the previous two films. Here footage of a man appears on the screen of an editing bed. He's playing with a balloon, which is 'encased' on a television screen (enacting Rybczynski's own 'suspension' between film and video at the time), so the television itself is gently bouncing around the editing equipment as the film plays. When the balloon is popped, the television comes smashing to the ground and soon after the film runs out in the gate of the editing bed. It's a completely magical, 'how-did-he-do-that' miniature.

The 'major works' on the disc, in terms of running time, are three ambitious video works Rybczynski made in the USA. For me, they're sort of a mixed bag:

Steps - this film has a gob-smackingly brilliant premise. A pushy Russian entrepreneur offers Americans a guided tour of the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin - quite literally, with the contemporary colour Americans inhabiting Eisenstein's frames and montage. Unfortunately, the film doesn't live up to its potential. The video compositing technology is brilliantly deployed, but it's only barely up to the technical challenge Rybczynski presents. More damagingly, the lazy characterisations and obvious gags don't deliver. For every inspired interpolation (a bystander's ghetto blaster gets swept away by the baby carriage) there's a badly executed joke that's as dumb and crass as the behaviour it's trying to skewer.

The Fourth Dimension - a fascinating experiment that twists still compositions (including human figures) into spiralling sculptural forms, but the transfer was poor and at 30 minutes this soon turned into a glorified screen-saver.

The Orchestra - or six classical music videos. This actually worked really well, pushing pre-CGI video technology to expressive heights. My favourite sequences were Chopin's Funeral March played one note at a time by a cast of thousands along an infinite piano keyboard; Schubert's Ave Maria gracefully embodied by a naked couple floating under the roof of Chartres Cathedral; and the film's grand finale, Ravel's Bolero embodied as the glorious march of Communism (against a hellish setting sun) up an endless flight of steps. This is another cast-of-thousands affair, staged as a historical pageant-cum-relay race. The Orchestra is nearly an hour long (the publicity all insists it's 71 minutes, but that seems to be the combined running time of the film itself and the okay making-of that's also included) but it's inventive enough to justify its length.

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MichaelB
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#324 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:48 pm

zedz wrote:Having made my way through PWA's brilliant Polish Experimental Animation set, I was particularly blown away by the brace of Zbigniew Rybczynski shorts (there's another brilliant pair on the first animation set).

Both of his films on the experimental set are masterpieces. New Book is a far more elaborate version of Figgis’ Timecode, with nine continuous ten minute takes (arranged Hollywood Squares fashion) that don’t just narratively interlock, but visually interlock as well (so that, as figures or objects leave the left side of one frame they enter the right side of the adjacent one, even though the physical spaces presented in each frame are not contiguous): an overwhelming technical feat that has to be watched multiple times.

Oh, I Can’t Stop! is hilarious – a brilliant coupling of the world’s longest (and accelerating!) tracking shot with the world’s funniest foley track. I get the compulsion to rewatch this film every couple of days.
It turns out I'd seen both of these before, and indeed most of the other titles Zedz mentions elsewhere, courtesy of Channel 4's Zbigniew Rybczynski retrospective back in December 1991 (doesn't the whole notion of that sound completely unbelievable today?) - though having them on a superb quality DVD as opposed to an off-air VHS made it like watching them for the first time. Oh, I Can't Stop! now really reminds me of Shinya Tsukamoto's early work - both visually and aurally: I wonder if Tsukamoto had seen it?

Adam
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#325 Post by Adam » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:24 pm

Just wanted to give you all a heads up that in conjunction with the release of Treasures from American Film Archives IV, which is avant-garde work listed in the A-G on DVD thread, there will be a few shows of restored films from the collection. Each show is a little different.

Two will be at Anthology Film Archives, on March 18 & 19
http://www.anthologyfilmarchives.org/sc ... 2009-03-01" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

One will be at the San Francisco Cinematheque on April 15
http://www.sfcinematheque.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And I'll be having one at Los Angeles Filmforum, date still to be determined, but probably late March.
http://lafilmforum.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
:D

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