Recent releases from the BFI

Heroin addict Alex (Dexter Fletcher) retreats to a seedy hotel in Nichola Bruce & Michael Coulson's Wings of Death (1985)

Recent BFI releases offer a selection of amateur and professional short films from the 1950s to the ’80s in volume 3 of Flipside’s Short Sharp Shocks series, as well as a provocative documentary lecture from filmmaker Nina Menkes which asserts that the apparatus of cinema itself is gendered and weighted against women.

Two Films by Marguerite Duras: Criterion Blu-ray review

Vera (Claudine Gabay) is trapped by emotional inertia in Marguerite Duras' Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977)

Criterion has released a two-disk set of Marguerite Duras’ mid-’70s features India Song (1975) and Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977), highlighting the novelist’s idiosyncratic approach to cinema, particularly striking in the separation of image from sound in the earlier film, though the languid pacing and slow, exploratory camerawork gives both a hypnotic effect in their exploration of bourgeois marriage, infidelity and ennui.

Seeking cinematic truth: two new Criterion Blu-rays

Mouchette (Nadine Nortier) has a rare moment of uncomplicated pleasure in Robert Bresson's Mouchette (1967)

Two new releases from the Criterion Collection showcase very different approaches to filmmaking. Robert Bresson’s Mouchette (1967) and William Greaves’ Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Two Takes (1968/2005), although both made during the turbulent late ’60s, display radically different styles and attitudes towards exploring authenticity in the cinematic representation of reality.

Perverse Families & Dysfunctional Kids

Girly (Vanessa Howard)'s eroticized immaturity is used to trap unsuspecting men in Freddie Francis' Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (1970)

While they form one of the main building blocks of society, families are often mysterious when viewed from the outside, providing opportunities for mystery, suspense and horror since we began telling ourselves stories. Outsiders who penetrate the strange membrane between community and family may be faced with codes and rituals which can turn dangerous … as in four recently viewed movies: Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide (1961) and Games (1967), Freddie Francis’ Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (1970) and Ted Post’s The Baby (1973).

Recent miscellaneous viewing, part two

Charles Bronson as real-life career criminal Joe Valachi in Terence Young's The Valachi Papers (1972)

More random viewing: two obscure independent films from the BFI, Margaret Tait’s poetic Blue Black Permanent (1992) and Maurice Hatton’s gritty fake-umentary about the film business, Long Shot (1977); and three from Twilight Time – George Sluizer’s interesting Americanization of his existential thriller The Vanishing (1993), Terrence Young’s straightforward fact-based crime saga The Valachi Papers (1972), and D.W. Griffith’s monumental but deeply troubling Birth of a Nation (1915).

Whatever Happened to Jim McBride?

Jim McBride was one of the most interesting and accomplished filmmakers to emerge in New York City in the ’60s, debuting with the remarkably assured and inventive David Holzman’s Diary in 1967. One of the earliest, and finest, examples of faux documentary, it fooled many people with its convincing portrayal of a filmmaker (L.M. Kit […]

An evening with Craig Baldwin

I had an interesting evening last Friday, thanks to Dave Barber at the Cinematheque. Dave and his co-workers at the WFG brought Craig Baldwin in from San Francisco for a weekend workshop on found-footage filmmaking. I didn’t have time for the workshop itself, but did make it to the Friday night screening of Tribulation 99 […]

Blasts from the past

DVD of the Week: A Night to Remember (1958)

Joseph Losey’s The Servant (1963): Criterion Blu-ray review

Canoa, A Shameful Memory (1976): Criterion Blu-ray review

Haunted by the past: Karl Marx City (2016)

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