Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1925) Ernest B. Schoedsack & Merian C. Cooper - 9/10
I’ve heard this compared to Nanook of the North and certainly as far as silent ethnography goes it’s one of the best. It’s really like nothing you’ve seen, where there’s a sense of the past that might as well be 2000 years old as much as 90. Not that the people here are primitive, just that the area is one with a history so richly embedded into every stone. This is wonderfully captured here, with a strange distance between the fresh and immediate and the wholly removed by time.
Diwan (1974) Werner Nekes - 9.5/10
Hynningen has been a long-time favorite, so when I found out that it’s essentially part of a larger work I jizzd everywhere. This retains just as much enigmatic, mirage-like strangeness only in a more advanced form. Truly marvelous. Really want to find more to say about this but it needs to set in.
Bare Knuckles (1977) Don Edmonds - 7/10
This is about what I expect from a blaxploitation movie. Not that it’s the best of its kind I’ve seen, just what I think a good average bread and butter one should be like. But I guess it’s a bit unique too. It’s very slow and deliberate in its pacing. Very dark too, with some scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in a slasher movie (well, the plot of this is basically a slasher movie with some of dat VIGILANTE JUSTICE). Grim, visceral, funky.
Die Säge des Todes (1981) Jesús Franco - 6.5/10 (Bloody Moon)
A decent latter era Franco. Very gory in more of a traditional slasher style as is traditional for the 80s. It doesn’t have as much of the air of mystery you expect in his best works but there are still some nice shots. Overall though it doesn’t quite feel like Franco with his specialties, even if it’s still fun. But oh well, there were some siqq gore scenes.
The Flamethrowers (1990) Schmelzdahin, Alte Kinder & Owen O'Toole - 9/10
The quality is very poor, even poorer than most experimental stuff I watch, but from what I can see through it this is absolutely fantastic, very much a precursor to some exciting works that the next few decades will bring in chemical film manipulation. All kinds of strange images float through bubbles of uncertainty until we end in pure light. These are alchemical manifestations in full. The sound also really works well, which is hard to do for these kinds of films where usually silence is a safer bet.
Verhängnis (1994) Fred Kelemen - 8/10 (Fate)
I was fond of Kelemen’s Krisana, but this really gives me many more insights into how great he can be. While Kelemen is a totally different filmmaker in style, the sense of desperation conveyed through wordless, aimless people reminds me a bit of Bartas. But his filming style is more intimate, like Dwoskin or Garrel where he manages to convey so much meaning in just an observation of a sinking face. I don’t think it quite matches any of those filmmakers but it’s notable either way. Especially for Kelemen being one of the most quintessentially East European filmmakers I think I’ve ever seen lol.
Black Scorpion (1995) Jonathan Winfrey - 3/10
Sometimes so bad it’s funny, but mostly not.
Latent Light Excavations (2003-2007) Lynn Marie Kirby - 8.5/10
These are marvelous works, with a remarkable ability to transform simple colors into something more complex, but these are not structural works in that simplicity. So rather than a Róbakowski-style mechanical take, these are more like the video/digital equivalent of Stan Brakhage’s more minimal hand-painted works.
Strella (2009) Panos H. Koutras - 5.5/10
This is an interesting enough piece, very much in the style of Northern European handheld intense bleakfests like The Free Will or something. That said, I didn't like the dream sequences too much and I thought they held it back. Overall, eh.
Spirals (1926) Oskar Fischinger - 7.5/10
Studie Nr. 6 (1930) Oskar Fischinger - 6.5/10
Studie Nr. 7 (1931) Oskar Fischinger - 6.5/10
Kreise (1933) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Allegretto (1943) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Radio Dynamics (1942) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Motion Painting No. 1 (1947) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Wachsexperimente (1927) Oskar Fischinger - 8/10
Seelische Konstruktionen (1927) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
München-Berlin Wanderung (1927) Oskar Fischinger - 7.5/10
In some of these, we are able to see the beginning primordial roots of someone like Brakhage, but with a very different sense of "painting." Compared to someone like Brakhage, Fischinger more seems to try to make film into painting rather than find some new purity in cinema like Brakhage that doesn't resemble either other films or paintings. Overall, I don't find them to be any kind of revelation but I enjoyed them all to some degree, especially Wax Experiments.
At Land (1944) Maya Deren - 9/10
A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945) Maya Deren - 6.5/10
Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) Maya Deren - 6.5/10
Meditation on Violence (1948) Maya Deren - 5.5/10
The Very Eye of Night (1958) Maya Deren - 7/10
At Land is just as good as Meshes of the Afternoon. As much as I overuse the phrase "dreamlike," it really is as close as I've seen in a film along with some Brakhage and Quay Brothers works. The rest are more interesting from a dance perspective than a cinematic one for the most part but all have their plusses.
Les Jeux des anges (1964) - Walerian Borowczyk - 8/10
Renaissance (1963) Walerian Borowczyk - 7.5/10
Rosalie (1966) Walerian Borowczyk - 6/10
After Dom, the first is probably my favorite of Borow's animation work. Of course we know him better for his erotica, and for good reason, but his skill at animation is interesting, comparable almost to someone like Bokanowski in the way he crafts very dark and mysterious scenarios. The second is more like Švankmajer than his previous stuff, I think. The third is not as engaging but the titular female is very very beautiful.
Le Cristallin (2002) - Carole Arcega - 8.5/10
Macula (2004) - Carole Arcega - 8.5/10
The first is a strange piece, but near the end especially it becomes extraordinarily beautiful, something like an industrialized, non-romantic response to Commingled Containers. The second too is great. Arcega is a cool gal.