Daily Briefing. Experimental Conversations 8

The DailyThe Pawnbroker

The Pawnbroker (1964)

"Sidney Lumet: Experimental Filmmaker?" That title's a grabber and the link to Fergus Daly's essay in the new Winter 2011 issue of Experimental Conversations, Cork Film Centre's online journal of experimental film, art cinema and video art, began bopping around, given a propulsive boost from Girish Shambu and Catherine Grant:

When Lumet died and tributes started to flood in from luminaries such as Scorsese, Allen and Pacino, it was easy to forget the disdain with which Lumet was often met with throughout his career, most notably the appalling attacks on him by the likes of celebrity reviewer Pauline Kael, an unaccountably influential figure in American film criticism who assassinated Lumet time and again, personally and professionally… In the final analysis, Kael's type of neurotic and unconsidered attack may be entertaining for celebrity culture devotees but in the end it has nothing to do with the cinema.

But on to the question at hand: "Lumet, an experimental filmmaker? Yes, in the sense in which experimentation is understood in the long tradition of American Pragmatist philosophy."

Also in Issue 8, which appeared in December but is definitely worth catching up with now: Esperanza Collado on José Val del Omar,  "one of the greatest visionary personalities of the 20th century, an eccentric creator maudit within the heart of Spanish cinematography." As it happens, just yesterday at DC's, Pisycaca posted a Val del Omar roundup with clips and imagery.

And: Philippe Dijon de Monteton on Adolfas Mekas, Rouzbeh Rashidi on the Experimental Film Society, Phillina Sun on Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tony McKibbin on "The Filmed Body in Recent Narrative Cinema," Gianluca Pulsoni's interview with Michelangelo Frammartino, the second part of David Brancaleone's essay, "The Thin Line Between Documentary and Fiction," Maximilian Le Cain on a selection of Lithuanian experimental films and documentaries recently programmed by the Solus Film Collective, Rosemary Heather's Toronto 2011 report, Esperanza Collado on Maximilian Le Cain's performance piece Dark, Plastic, Reversal, Christopher O'Neill on Crash!, a short that aired on the BBC in 1971, and on Frank V Ross's Audrey the Trainwreck (2010).

Shopper's Market

John Vicario's Shopper's Market (1963)

Los Angeles. "Filmmakers who were using experimental approaches within an art-world context often managed to preserve a more heightened sense of documentary reality than documentarists and producers of topical fiction," writes Gustavo Turner in the LA Weekly. "An excellent example of that paradox is the brilliantly curated program Los Angeles Observed, being shown at Cinefamily by Filmforum as part of the series Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980. These short films are indispensable viewing, particularly for the many fans of Thom Andersen's 2003 documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, the essential portrait of LA through film history, and also as a corrective for anyone who thinks Mad Men is so good because it's 'realistic.'" Scheduled to be present this evening are Thom Andersen, Baylis Glascock and John Vicario.

Chicago. Ben Sachs in the Reader: "Given the retrospectives devoted to Sergei Eisenstein, Mikio Naruse and Sergio Leone currently underway in Chicago — not to mention the Robert Bresson retrospective beginning [today] at the Siskel Center and the new print of Wages of Fear that [opened] at the Music Box [yesterday] — it's easy to overlook the one-off screening of Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End (1970) at Doc Films this Sunday at 7 PM. But it's a rare revival of a major film—and one that's still unavailable on DVD in the US. Dave Kehr called it 'one of the most authentic films about adolescence that I know,' noting how Skolimowski's recent departure from Poland enhanced its 'unusually strong sense of displacement, unfamiliarity and isolation' (it's also blackly funny and the soundtrack, which features Cat Stevens and Can, is an added bonus)." See, too, Ben's interview with Skolimowski and the roundups on Skolimowski and Deep End.

Boston. "The early Hollywood musicals are unsurpassed when it comes to integrating sound into cinema, as is evident in the wonderful retrospective Gotta Dance: The American Movie Musical 1929-1953 at ArtsEmerson," blogs Peter Keough for the Phoenix.

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