Archive for October 28th, 2008

by Sam Juliano

     Ah, woe/Woe is me/Shame and sorrow for the family.


    It has been argued in scholarly cinematic circles that “there are two Lewton masterworks: I Walked With A Zombie (visually the more eloquent and elegant) and The Seventh Victim (the more poetic and profound).”  It has furthermore been argued that “Neither film employs a conventional narrative structure although the subjects, voodoo and devil worship, are the stuff of traditional horror movies.”  For both films Lewton formulated a mosaic-like structure that doesn’t so much as present a full story than suggest it’s “possibilities.”  Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthasar  would be an example of this practice, as it eschews conventional narrative for possibilities that the audience is expected to connect on.

     The same theme seems to prevail in Lewton’s films: the power of reason vs. the power of obscurity.  The concerns are given the same attention, but Lewton, a studied man with a literary slant, is in essence a measured artist whose greatest gift was always reveling in the humanity of his characters, a gift that once won effusive praise from the great critic James Agee.  Hence it is assumed that the powers of darkness will in the end be negated by rational thinking.  Perhaps the most startling element in I Walked With A Zombie, the second in his famous low-budget horror series, is that diabolical forces emerged victorious at the film’s conclusion. (more…)

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number 15…

by Allan Fish

(Brazil 1931 113m) not on DVD

The unknown masterpiece

d/w  Mario Peixoto  ph  Edgar Brasil  ed  Mario Peixoto  m  Sergei Prokofiev, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, etc.

Taciani Rei, Paul Schnoor, Olga Breno, Brutus Pedreira, Iolanda Bernardes, Carmen Santos, Mario Peixoto,

It isn’t often a film connoisseur can count himself privileged to have seen a film, but Mario Peixoto’s seminal avant garde silent classic is one such occasion.  It was none other than Georges Sadoul who famously called it “the unknown masterpiece“, and added in a footnote that he travelled to Brazil to see the film, only to get nowhere, told that Peixoto had retired to a desert island and was hiding it.  Filmed in 1930, it remained largely unseen after its premiere on May 17th 1931, and didn’t start turning up again until championed by the likes of compatriot Glauber Rocha and shown publicly in the 1970s.  It topped two polls from Brazilian film bodies, the last in 1995, as the best Brazilian film ever made.  What is most incredible of all is that, firstly, the film was made by a 21 year old, and, secondly, it was his only film.  Like Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique and Clive Brook’s On Approval, one of only four films in this list whose directors only directed that single movie.  (more…)

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