Interviews Sightsurf and Brainwave: Blake Williams’ PROTOTYPE by Michael Sicinski In the Shadow of the Magic Kingdom: Sean Baker on
By Jonathan Rosenbaum
So far, this column has mainly devoted itself to available as opposed to unavailable items, following the popular notion that serving the consumer rather than exacerbating the consumer is the major aim. But sometimes I wonder if the only way that certain items might ever become available is if consumers become sufficiently exacerbated and thus exercised to do something about their exacerbation. Therefore I’ve included some unavailable items, inserted like bitter almonds, in the following shopping list.
Agee. Ross Spears’ conventional and conventionally pious 1980 documentary, nominated for an Oscar, is available from www.ageefilms.org. I’m not crazy about the kitschy “dramatizations” of Agee texts with offscreen recitations and on-screen actors, but at least two bits on this are well worth having: Jimmy Carter’s intelligent appreciation of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and a few short clips documenting Agee’s cameo as the town drunk in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky (Bretaigne Windust, 1952)—a film I’ve never seen, which now appears to be impossible to access on either VHS or DVD. It was originally paired with an equally unavailable adaptation (by John Brahm) of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer in an independent feature called Face to Face (1952) that, to all appearances, has disappeared completely.
The Battle of Chile (Icarus Films). A definitive, four-disc edition of Patricio Guzmán’s three-part political documentary classic (1975-9), packaged with Guzmán’s
Chile, Obstinate Memory (1997), which recounts his return to Chile to show the film after two decades of exile. But this isn’t to say that certain textual questions don’t arise. I’m grateful that Pauline Kael’s 1978 rave review is included in the 16-page booklet, along with an essay by Cecilia Ricciarelli. But it’s confusing to discover that Kael is reviewing a version with English narration by a woman, so that when she rightly criticizes this narrator saying, “This is the face of Fascism,” near the end of Part I—after the Argentinean cameraman filming the street skirmishes we’re seeing during the coup is shot dead by a soldier, while we watch—this isn’t the narration that’s on the subtitled, Spanish-language version in this box set, spoken by Guzmán himself, which says, more precisely, “This is the true face of a sector of the Chilean army.” And the fact that even this definitive edition doesn’t note or explain such a discrepancy is hardly exceptional; like the failure of Criterion to do justice to the German version of Lola Montès (1955) on its definitive edition of the French version (see below), it’s just one of the ways that film history gets routinely short-changed by either expediency or commerce (which sometimes amount to the same thing).
The Mel Brooks Collection (Fox/MGM). I’ve been getting a lot of pleasure lately from this new nine-disc Blu-Ray box set (despite its unwieldy and impractical widescreen shape and expendable 120-page coffee-table book), especially in catching up with the two Brooks features I hadn’t seen before, The Twelve Chairs (1970) and Silent Movie (1976). The others, mostly rewatchable, are Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein (both 1974), High Anxiety (1977), History of the World—Part I (1981), To Be or Not To Be (1983, which Brooks stars in and produced but neither directed nor co-wrote), Spaceballs (1987), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). The only gaping absence for me in this collection isn’t The Producers (1968), which is easy enough to find elsewhere, and it certainly isn’t his weakest and most recent, Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)—it’s Life Stinks (1991), which, for all its unevenness, still has some of his best slapstick, as well as one of his best musical numbers. And frankly, there’s much more point in seeing Brooks’ idiosyncratic version of Sullivan’s Travels (1941) than his dutiful and not-that-interesting Lubitsch remake. The latter loses much of its raison d’être once it becomes a “timeless” postwar classic, whereas the former, even if it’s post-Depression, still has a few things to say about being homeless in the ‘90s.
A Closed Book. If, like me, you’ve been curious to see Raúl Ruiz’s 2010 adaptation of the Gilbert Adair novel, scripted by Adair himself and starring Tom Conti, Daryl Hannah, and Miriam Margolyes, it’s supposed to be coming out on DVD in the UK by late February, and you can order it from Amazon UK pretty cheaply; I just did.
Le Costume de marriage/Expérience (Les Films du Paradoxe). If you can cope with French subtitles, this is the only DVD edition of two of Abbas Kiarostami’s early features, each about an hour long: The Experience (1973, black and white, based on a story by Amir Naderi) and The Wedding Suit (1976, colour). Personally, I prefer Kiarostami’s 1974 The Traveler (released by the same DVD label as Le passager), not to mention his subsequent Close Up (1990), released more recently in France by Editions Montparnasse and currently set to come out in June from Criterion, with a joint commentary by Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and myself. I also prefer his short films made over (roughly) the same period, for the same government-sponsored production company (his own), Kanun, which remain unreleased on DVD—especially Two Solutions for One Problem (1975) and Orderly or Disorderly (1981), both masterpieces—and presume that these still haven’t been released only because, alas, Kiarostami himself doesn’t value them very much.
Alexander Dovzhenko. The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture has privately issued a ten-disc box set devoted to the work of Alexander Dovzhenko in what appears to be optimal form, with optional English as well as French subtitles. (The former, as often happens in such projects, are by someone whose English is far from fluent.) Although I don’t know of any plans so far to make this package commercially available (for more details, see www.columbia.edu/cu/ufc/news/news_2007_may_dovzh.html), the current absence of Dovzhenko’s work on DVD in anything approaching optimal form—and the total absence of his sound work on DVD in any form—is probably the single most lamentable and glaring lacuna in the art of film that we have to put up with these days, so I can only hope that this situation will change, and that anyone with access to the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture will make a plea. (Note: a correspondent informs me that Dovzhenko’s Earth  will shortly become available on DVD in the UK courtesy of Mr. Bongo Films—buymrbongo.com—but I don’t know anything about the source or quality of the print.)
Now that we’re slightly better equipped to understand some of the gaping differences between “Soviet cinema” and “Russian cinema” that many decades of Cold War propaganda have served to obfuscate, the separate interests and definitions of Ukrainian cinema and Russian cinema have begun to become clearer, and some of this distinction may help to account for the degree to which a major figure like Dovzhenko has been misplaced (or at least displaced) in the shuffle. But even this doesn’t account for the continuing absence on DVD of Lev Kuleshov’s major feature, The Great Consoler (1933), about the short fiction and career of O. Henry, which I’ve written about elsewhere (see movingimagesource.us/articles/hidden-treasures-20080717).
Coffret Allan Dwan: Une Légende d’Hollywood (Carlotta) offers seven features (on five discs) of the ten Dwan directed for Benedict Bogeaus in the mid-‘50s, all with colour cinematography by John Alton and art direction by Van Nest Polglase (which on 1956’s Slightly Scarlet, the last in this batch, often looks like bargain-basement Sirk during his Ross Hunter period). Carlotta does full justice to Alton’s special flair for noir lighting in ‘Scope and colour and adds plenty of useful interviews (including trailers, several chunks from Peter Bogdanovich’s audio interviews with Dwan, two half-hour TV dramas directed by Dwan in 1956, and separate video interviews with screenwriter Robert Blees, actors Harry Carey, Jr. and Stuart Whitman, and Bogdanovich). My only complaint is that they fail to mention the features’ original English titles anywhere on the packaging, which highlights only the original French posters. So let me cite those titles here: from 1954, Quartre étranges cavaliers is Silver Lode, Tornade is Passion, and La reine de la prairie is Cattle Queen of Montana; from 1955, Les rubis du Prince Birman is Escape to Burma, La perle du Pacifique Sud is Pearl of the South Pacific, and La mariage est pour demain is Tennessee’s Partner; and Deux rouquines dans la bagarre is Slightly Scarlet. Probably the two best in this lot are the first and the sixth, both westerns—an anti-McCarthy allegory and a Bret Harte adaptation, respectively (and the second of these, incidentally, is a particular favorite of Raúl Ruiz).
Fallen Angels (Kino). For some followers of Wong Kar-wai, he became a mannerist with his fourth feature, Ashes of Time (1994). Maybe this is so, but I wonder if Western ignorance about Louis Cha’s novel The Eagle Shooting Heroes might be at least partially responsible for this impression. And there’s no doubt, in any case, that mannerism takes over in his fifth feature, his Chungking Express (1994) spinoff Fallen Angels (1995), which, thanks to its wide-angle chokers and its rapid editing, somehow seems to make the leap from staggering to monotonous within the first half-hour or so. Certainly Kino’s Blu-Ray edition does plenty to enhance the staggering parts, but for me it doesn’t do a lot to lessen the monotony. In his new book on the filmmaker for University of Illinois Press’ Contemporary Film Directors series, Peter Brunette concedes that “the film does represent something of an artistic dead end for the director,” but then spends over ten pages arguing that it’s “a much richer and more innovative work than it first appears.”
In his even more detailed discussion in his 2005 book on Wong for the BFI, Stephen Teo concludes, intriguingly, that “Fallen Angels is Wong’s most social and political work,” although his reasons for arriving at this judgment turn out to be rather abstract and theoretical.
Une femme mariée (Masters of Cinema). For me, this 1964 feature is the most visually interesting as well as visually inventive of Godard’s black-and-white films, so I’m grateful that Masters of Cinema, whose DVD edition I reviewed two issues back, decided to give this the Blu-Ray treatment as well, along with Murnau’s Sunrise (1927) and City Girl (1930) and Lang’s M (1931). It’s a pity, by the way, that the original French and English titles of this film, La femme mariée and The Married Woman—the former nixed by the French censor, but the latter retained by the original American distributor 30-odd years ago—appear to have fallen by the wayside, because the definite article better suits the sociological tenor of this movie, for better and for worse.
The Girl from Monday (Artificial Eye). Hal Hartley’s hilarious and underrated 2005 DV feature can be bought very cheaply from various Amazon vendors in the US, as I discovered after picking up Artificial Eye’s somewhat pricier PAL edition at a shop in Edinburgh last fall. A sexy and satirical SF story clearly derived in part from Alphaville (1965), it concerns a “dictatorship of the consumer” in which citizens carry bar codes on their wrists and are regarded as “investments with growth potential” (especially when they have sex).
Hipsters/Stilyagi. I include the Russian as well as the English title of Valery Todorovsky’s big-budget, postmodernist 2008 Russian musical about 1950s Moscow teenagers, because as far as I know the Russian DVD, without subtitles, is the only version available, at least on Amazon. This movie was the opening night attraction at the Tromsø International Film Festival in the northernmost reaches of Norway, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary in January, and I must confess that I didn’t expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did, especially because it could be described with fair accuracy as the Russian equivalent of Rob Marshall at his cheesiest and is full of preposterous plot developments. But then again, shame on me, I also enjoyed watching Daniel Day-Lewis in Nine (2009), even after loathing every minute of Chicago (2002), so perhaps you shouldn’t trust me. All I can say is that I sufficiently enjoyed Hipsters, partly for its curiosity value and partly for its sheer pizzazz—without ever imagining that it had anything to do with Russian history or the history of the musical, Russian or otherwise—to order the unsubtitled version of it from Amazon. So enter at your own risk.
Lola Montès (Criterion). The only complaints I could conceivably make about this superb Blu-Ray edition of the 2008 restoration of the French-language version are that (a) it doesn’t also include Stefan Drössler’s earlier restoration of the German-language version, which for me has even better colour but which Max Ophüls’ son Marcel has adamantly outlawed, for reasons that I still find incomprehensible (it apparently has something to do with the simple fact of it being German) and (b) for reasons that are understandable (from consumerist and legal standpoints) but no less regrettable, the existence and repression of the German restoration has to be avoided/ignored in this edition (Criterion clearly finding itself between a rock and a hard place on this matter), a decision which necessarily plays a bit fast and loose with the interests of film history, as some consumerist/legal decisions do. Last July, on Dave Kehr’s blog, Joseph McBride posted the following: “I prefer the German restoration, partly because Anton Walbrook is more fluent in his original language, and so his performance is more affecting. Both play very well, though. I wish Criterion would include the German version with the French on its upcoming DVD edition, although Marcel Ophüls seems hostile to it for reasons that seem obscure. His father made the film in both languages, and his native language was German.”
Make Way for Tomorrow (Criterion). Five columns back, I wrote about the French release of Leo McCarey’s 1937 masterpiece on BAC Video as Place aux jeunes, with unremovable French subtitles. Criterion does the film proud, and Gary Giddins provides an informative video interview about McCarey’s career, as does Peter Bogdanovich— although the latter, in my opinion, undervalues some of McCarey’s post-’30s work, perhaps most notably 1948’s Good Sam (the most consistently underrated of McCarey’s features), My Son John (1952), and An Affair to Remember (1957). Tag Gallagher’s detailed visual analysis in the accompanying booklet is limited by its insistence on taking Gallagher’s subjective responses towards the characters as objective facts, but is provocative nevertheless.
Martín, El Gaucho aka The Way of a Gaucho. I haven’t had much luck recently with Spanish FNAC, which tends to charge an arm and a leg for postage for items that then don’t always arrive. DaaVeeDee charged me $27 for this invaluable Spanish import of Jacques Tourneur’s 1952 feature (it’s very tempting to hope for a Pedro Costa remake of this one!), but then added only $3 more for shipping, which made it seem like a relative bargain. (Spanish FNAC charges just a little over $17, but then has the nerve to ask for a staggering $45 more to ship it across the Atlantic.)
Georges Méliès Encore (Flicker Alley). The five-disc Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema is one of the best box sets ever released. Since then, 23 more Méliès films and three more fragments, made between 1896 and 1911, have been found, and these are all included here, along with a couple of formerly misattributed-to-Méliès films that are actually by Segundo de Chomon. Not surprisingly, the print quality here varies enormously: half a dozen are in colour, and five are provided with their original narration tracks (optional) in French or English, although if you opt for English, expect to hear most of these commentaries spoken with fairly heavy accents.
Miss Mend. Another Flicker Alley item, this one on two discs. In their essay about “Soviet Americanism” comprising nearly all of the gorgeously illustrated 16-page booklet accompanying this entertaining release, rich with both frame enlargements and Constructivist designs, Ana Olenina and Makim Pozdorovkin note that this high-energy 1926 “adventure serial” in three parts, co-directed by Fedor Ozep and its co-star Boris Barnet, drew 1.7 million spectators during the first six months of its release. They further note that its undeniable power as a crowd-pleaser seems to have had a direct effect on its poor critical reception, which is why it’s taken so long for many of us to hear about it. Another factor might have been the political incorrectness of “Soviet Americanism” itself, which is already so pronounced in some of the early films of Lev Kuleshov—The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924), By the Law (1926), Horizon (1932), and The Great Consoler, all of which have American characters, American settings, or both—that it comes as little surprise to learn that Barnet, with his American-sounding name, attended Kuleshov’s cinema workshop, and played “Cowboy Jeddy” in The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West. But as long as I’m harping in this column on missing gems, I’m still awaiting a DVD release of Ozep’s Der Mörder Dimitri Karamazov (1931), an early talkie and Dostoevsky adaptation made in Germany, co-directed by Erich Engels, and one of the all-time favourites of the late Raymond Durgnat.
Mother. Ever since my filmgoing days as a freshman at NYU, I’ve generally regarded this 1926 Maxim Gorky adaptation as my favourite of Pudovkin’s silents (with the possible exception of his hilarious co-directed short of 1925, Chess Fever, which might be regarded as hors concours), even though it seems to have less of a profile in this part of the world than its immediate follow-ups, The End of St. Petersburg (1927) and Storm Over Asia (1928). (I still haven’t caught up with his 1926 documentary, Mechanics of the Brain.) I’m unfamiliar with the US DVD of Mother that came out back in 1999, but while attending the Tromsø film festival’s screening of The End of St. Petersburg in January, I picked up their own DVD of a restoration from the Norwegian National Library that screened at their festival last year. The musical accompaniment in both cases is (or was) industrial electronic music, which for me is anachronistic in the worst postmodernist fashion. I have to confess that the young audience I saw St. Petersburg with seemed positively delighted with this clunky and seemingly random clatter—to the point where they seemed to regard Pudovkin, not the music, as the accompaniment to this main attraction. But at least on the DVD of Mother you have the option of shutting this noise off.
Manoel de Oliveira 100 years 22-DVD Anniversary Box Set. I can’t afford this humongous Portuguese PAL release, and it irritates me no end that it excludes two of my three favourite Oliveira films—Benilde, or the Virgin Mother (1975) and Doomed Love (1978)—because it’s restricted to later stuff, apparently everything from 1986 through 2007, starting with Mon cas (1986) and including Inquietude (1998), but nothing before. But you should know about it because DaaVeeDee, which is charging $280 for it, claims it has optional English (as well as French and Portuguese) subtitles. If anyone wants to send me a review copy, I’ll have more to say about it in a future column.
Non Stop Travels with Michel Petrucciani/Trio Live in Stuttgart. I’ve been a fan of the dazzling jazz piano of Petrucciani (1962-99) ever since falling in love with his first American album (a solo effort), 100 Hearts, many years ago—especially the title track, a rapturous waltz. But it seems that most of the prominent American jazz critics, with the respectable exceptions of Whitney Balliett and David Hajdu, have preferred to skip past him; I can’t even find his name in any of Gary Giddins’ or Francis Davis’ indexes. It’s hard to know how much of this may be circumstantial and how much might derive from discomfort with the peculiarity of Petrucciani’s lifelong physical disability: a genetic disease, osteogenesis imperfecta, popularly known as “glass bones,” that both stunted his growth and weakened his bones. As an adult, he was only three feet high, weighed 50 pounds or less, and had to walk with crutches, and he lived for virtually his entire life in constant pain. A French-born music prodigy with classical training, he moved to Big Sur during his 20s and died in New York of a pulmonary infection shortly after he turned 36. And the most remarkable thing about him revealed in Roger Willemsen’s inspiring hour-long 1995 documentary, which set me off on a sustained and still-continuing Petrucciani binge, is how happy he was. Willemsen, a German TV host who initially knew Petrucciani as an employer and clearly became a good friend of his, has the good sense to make this clear without ever making a big deal of it. He doesn’t even bother to give us any sort of conventional bio (for that, go to Hajdu’s Heroes and Villains), so that we pick up most anecdotal information about him (such as the fact that he fathered two children and had a stepson) either haphazardly or not at all. What remains front and centre is Petrucciani’s music (including a recording session with Stéphane Grappelli) and his exuberant personality—including, for instance, his explanation of often playing 40-minute sets straight through because he didn’t like the audience to applaud after separate numbers (always preferring their laughter), which he explains at one point to Charlotte Rampling, another friend. The playing here is generally better than it is in the 1998 Stuttgart trio concert that’s paired with this documentary as a separate disc—and this disc as a whole is much better than the earlier subtitled French DVD that pairs the 1996 Concert Solo with Frank Cassenti’s 1983 Lettre à Michel Petrucciani. For the music, I can also recommend the DVD Michel Petrucciani Trio Live at the Village Vanguard (1986), where he gets in some lovely licks with guest guitarist Jim Hall on another waltz, by Hall, based on the chords of “Someday My Prince Will Come.” But the musical and filmic highlight here has to be Willemsen’s glorious ending: a fulfillment of his own previously stated fantasy to film, from a helicopter, Petrucciani playing one of his best and brightest tunes, “Looking Up,” on a grand piano on top of a New York skyscraper. The song’s title succinctly captures this wonderful musician’s angle of vision and his state of mind at the same time.
Postscript about the absence of other important French jazz pianists on DVD: the most glaring instance of this is Martial Solal, almost certainly the greatest of all living French jazz musicians, now 83—perhaps best known outside the world of jazz for his score to Jean-Luc Godard’s À bout de soufflé (1960), featuring his own piano solos. I can’t believe that there isn’t a lot of prime filmed or videotaped Solal material squirrelled away in France, so let’s hope this absence is only temporary. Meanwhile, after years of regretting that the lesser-known figure of Georges Arvanitas (1931-2005)—a pianist from Marseille in the Bud Powell mode, and my third favourite French jazz pianist after Solal and Petrucciani—seems inadequately represented on records and CDs and completely unrepresented on DVD, I was delighted to find him performing in a 1962 Belgian concert on Coleman Hawkins Live in ‘62 & ‘64, one of the latest releases in the ever-expanding Jazz Icons series. And there are other excellent reasons for having this particular DVD: not just the magisterial presence of Hawkins himself, but an astonishing five-minute drum solo by Jo Jones on “Caravan” (England, 1964) that, as Scott Deveaux remarks in his liner notes, registers at times like graceful dancing.
Paris, Texas (Criterion). I haven’t gotten around to reseeing this yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed Kent Jones’ conversation with Claire Denis about her various experiences as an assistant director on this 1984 Wim Wenders/Sam Shepard opus. This was, incidentally, Denis’ fifteenth film as an assistant director: her first was Makavejev’s Sweet Movie a decade earlier, and her seventeenth and last was Wenders’ Wings of Desire in 1987. (Among the other directors she worked for were Costa-Gavras, Eduardo de Gregorio, Robert Enrico, and Jim Jarmusch.)
People on Sunday (BFI). The DVD release of this celebrated, semi-fictional silent city symphony (1929) by Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer coincides pretty closely with the publication by Yellow Now in France of Raymond Bellour’s meticulous book-length study of the film, Les Hommes, le dimanche. Incidentally, for those who might be curious about the roles played on this low-budget independent effort by Curt Siodmak, Billy Wilder, and Fred Zinnemann, it appears that Curt, Robert’s brother, furnished the original story and collaborated with him and Wilder on the screenplay, and Zinnemann served as a camera assistant to the great Eugen Schüfftan.
The Eric Rohmer Collection (Arrow Films). The last time I checked, in mid-February, this eight-disc PAL box set of many of the best Rohmer features—The Aviator’s Wife (1981), Full Moon in Paris (1984), A Good Marriage (1982), The Green Ray (1986), Love in the Afternoon (1972), The Marquise of O. . . (1976), My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (1987), and Pauline at the Beach (1983)—and many extras (interviews with Rohmer, Rohmer shorts, and trailers) was still available from Amazon UK for the spectacular price of £11.48 (just over $18 US at the time).
George Bernard Shaw on Film (Criterion/Eclipse). In an effort to alleviate, however slightly, my abject ignorance about most of Shaw’s work, I checked out the first and third titles in this collection, both in black and white—Major Barbara (1941), which I hadn’t seen before, and Androcles and the Lion (1952), which I hadn’t seen since the age of nine, two extended reflections about Christianity. (The second is the 1945 Technicolor Caesar and Cleopatra, shot in Cairo.) Despite the presence of Jean Simmons in the second, I find myself preferring the first, mainly for the quality of the Shaw dialogue. (For acting, however, Robert Newton seems to steal both films away from his co-stars whenever he appears.) Although these films seem to owe almost everything to the legendary Hungarian producer and Shaw fan Gabriel Pascal, who began his collaboration with Shaw with the 1938 Pygmalion, the auteur has to be Shaw himself, who’s clearly accorded that status at the beginning of both films: the former starts with a personal message from Shaw to his public, concluding with his signature, and the second, although set in ancient Rome, anachronistically opens with a Roman bust of Shaw himself, in anticipation of the (sometimes excessive) whimsy that follows.
The Silence Before Bach (Sherlock Films). It’s a pricey item, but this Spanish DVD of Pere Portabella’s 2007 masterpiece could hardly be bested in terms of sound (2.0 or 5.1), image, optional subtitles (Castilian, Catalan, English, or Italian), or extras (mainly good interviews with both Portabella and musician-actor Christian Brembeck, and a precise listing of all the film’s musical performances that allows you to access each of them separately). If you’re still unacquainted with Portabella’s remarkable work, this feature, his most recent, is a pretty good place to start.
Les Vacances de M. Hulot (naïve vision:/Les Films de Mon Oncle). This two-disc French package devoted to Jacques Tati’s second-greatest feature includes the restored 1978 version (88 minutes) and the remastered 1953 version with a restored soundtrack (95 minutes). Neither one is equipped with English subtitles, but if this proves to be an obstacle, this could only be because you haven’t yet learned how to watch and listen to Tati’s films. It might prove to be a more legitimate obstacle on some of the many extras, including some new short documentaries, such as Simon Wallon’s Jacques Tati, deux temps, trois mouvements and Stéphane Goudet’s Beau temps, vent léger on the first disc. But even in the Wallon film, about the ambitious Tati exhibition mounted at the Cinémathèque Française last spring, the clips and the equally wordless portions in which the camera follows a boy and his dog through the exhibits tend to be much more edifying than the talking heads (or, more precisely, the pontificating torsos) trying to explain what we’re watching and hearing.
Wholphin No. 10. I haven’t noted this “DVD magazine of rare and unseen short films,”
published by McSweeney’s, since its second issue. But as a subscriber I can report that in the tenth issue you can find, along with much else, a 22-minute documentary about Katrina survivors by Jonathan Demme and a 21-minute fiction film co-starring Lauren Bacall and Ben Gazzara, written and directed by Natalie Portman.