Feature Friday: “My Name Is Albert Ayler” (2007)

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I’ve been wanting to watch this film since I read a review of it in Sight & Sound six years ago. I’m a huge fan of Albert Ayler! Alas, the film is not available on video. So imagine my pleasure when I stumbled across a copy on YouTube…

You can learn more about the film at the official website for the film.

You can watch the film by clicking past the jump.

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Feature Tuesday: “What Time Is It There?”

I think I’ve already featured this on Feature Friday, but this is Feature Tuesday. And in any case I’m sure that other copy is now down.

Tsai Ming-Liang is one of my favorite living filmmakers, and What Time Is It There? was the first work of his that I saw. I recommend everything he’s made, and think that, ultimately, it’s best to watch all of his films in order (since each new film is usually an oblique sequel to the last one). But What Time? made an excellent entry point for me, and it’s a beautiful, wonderful film in its own right, if you watch just it:

Enjoy!

* Some translate the title as What Time Is It Over There?, and maybe that’s preferable somehow, but I prefer the way the title sounds without the preposition.

Feature Friday: “What Time Is It There?” (2001)

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If this is to be your final day on earth, then this is as fine a final film to watch as any other. Finer, even.

It’s the first Tsai Ming-Liang film that I saw. Afterwards, I went and watched all his other films, and have kept up with him ever since. He’s one of my favorite living directors.

I hope you have the same experience.

(Here’s something I wrote about a later film of his, Visage.)

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Feature Friday: “Le monde vivant” (2003)

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I was at Odd Obssession a few years back, and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky told me he had a film he wanted me to see. It was Le monde vivant. I went home and watched it straight away. It’s an utter masterpiece.

Le monde vivant is a minimalist medieval fantasy, replete with ogres and knights, but also Lacanian witches. Its writer and director, Eugène Green, shot it in the French countryside using, for the most part, everyday dress and objects—an inverted response to Jean-Luc Godard’s science-fiction film Alphaville, which used sections of Paris in which the future had already arrived. Le monde vivant continuously illustrates William Faulkner’s famous quote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The film is also about language, and the power of our declarations to reconfigure the world. Two kids are playing, and one of them tells the other, “I am a giant.” And so he is, within that game. (He claims that it’s natural that he should be the giant, since he is bigger.) Then the kids are kidnapped by an ogre, who is an ogre within the larger game of the film. Another example, from a later scene: the ogre’s wife tells the heroic Lion Knight, “We are alone.” “It is strange that we can be alone,” he counters, “even though we are two.” She replies, “Grammar makes it so.”

I could go on about this movie all day, noting how Green conflates contemporary slang with more formal speech, or mention his deep debt to Robert Bresson—but you should just watch the thing. It’s only 70 minutes long, and consistently witty and charming, and easily one of the best films of the past ten years.

le monde vivant farewell

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