MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things
Archive for the ‘Cinema Studies’ Category
An exotic and elegant meta movie, “Golden Slumbers” shores the fragments of a ruined cinema—namely the 400 or so films made in Cambodia between 1960, when an indigenous movie industry was inspired by king and sometime filmmaker Norodom Sihanouk, and 1975, when that industry was destroyed in the Khmer Rouge bloodbath that murdered over a million people.
Rene Clair’s 1942 fantasy “I Married a Witch” has some distinguished artists among its fans. Jack Smith included it in the syllabus for a class he never ever came close to teaching; Guy Maddin writes a long appreciation for the new Criterion DVD, out in time for Halloween. But I’m afraid I can’t join the club.
New York Film Festival ends this weekend with a segue into the giant Jean-Luc Godard retrospective and… too much stuff to see in New York, including MoMA’s always fascinating “To Save and Project” and an ongoing Jacques Demy retro, through October 17.
Mario—who was born Rene Rivera in Puerto Rico in 1935 and died of a stroke last week at his Florida home—was an unclassifiable gender blur and underground luminary of the first order. A post office clerk “discovered” and given his stage name by Smith, he first graced the screen as a Spanish dancer in Smith’s “Flaming Creatures” (1963), billed as Dolores Flores and making a regal, giggling entrance that’s all the more impressive for its false start.
Although Mario would appear in subsequent films by Smith, including “Normal Love” (1964), in which he appeared as a mermaid, and “No President” (1968), as well as movies by Ron Rice, Bill Vehr, Piero Heliczer and José Rodríguez-Soltero, and various productions in the Theater of the Ridiculous, his best-known performances were in a half dozen or more Andy Warhol films, made during the Factory’s mid ‘60s Silver Age. Mario appeared in Warhol’s first sync-sound movie, “Harlot” (1965), wearing a platinum-blond wig while lasciviously peels and eats a bushel of bananas; he starred in “Screen Test #2” (1965), auditioning for the role of the gypsy girl Esmeralda in a remake of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
“Shark,” originally called “Caine” and re-released as “Man-Eater,” is the first movie that Samuel Fuller made after the slap in the face that was “The Naked Kiss” effectively terminated his Hollywood career. It was shot in Manzanillo, Mexico during the Summer of Love and returns to us now courtesy of the intrepid catalog scroungers of Olive Films.
Katzelmacher” wasn’t the first movie by Rainer Werner Fassbinder I ever saw—that would have been “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant,” for which I bought a ticket at the 1973 New York Film Festival. (As I wrote last year in a piece on Fassbinder’s American reception, I recall enjoying “The Bitter Tears” while at the same time being distracted by the action around the screen right exit in Alice Tully Hall. After half an hour it was like happy hour in a Western saloon. The door was swinging open and banging shut, as people fled in droves.)
Say this for the folks at Anthology Film Archives, the former courthouse that’s best movie venue in the East Village (or Bushwick) and a strong contender for the most innovative, shoe-string film programming in NYC—they don’t need a weatherman. Air-conditioning notwithstanding, they’ve decided to match the mid-August heat with a pair of intertwined screen-scorching shows: “The Glandscape Artist: Russ Meyer” (August 15-25) and “That’s Sexploitation!” (August 21-29)