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November 22, 2011

La Jetée (1962)

Filed under: Film Comment — Daniel Min @ 12:27 am

Chris Marker the ultimate media artist and what Alain Resnais would refer to him as the “prototype of the twenty-first century man” [1], created one of the most intriguing circular narratives into an eloquent photomontage consisting of black and white optical photo prints. La Jetée is an extraordinary installment of the science fiction genre that inspired contemporary artists into creating such works of art by reflecting the ingenuity of Chris Marker.

 La Jetée depicts France in a post apocalyptic nuclear war zone. Underneath where the survivors inhabit in their own dwellings. A soldier is picked amongst the mass to become their test subject traveling to the past and future in hopes of saving mankind. Dreams of the future where the soldier see himself at the Orly Airport meeting the hands of death and the woman who will be his significant companion during his time travel. Every shot has a meaning and every piece of artifact becomes the subject of such illustrious photo that conveys such incredible depth of beauty, especially during their visit to Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. A mesmerizing work that left me in a state of awe when I first saw this, La Jetée is ahead of its time and will influence later generations of prospective film makers and photographers over the next millennium.

Chris Marker is by far the most mysterious out of all the left bank directors associated with La Nouvelle Vague. He has worked with a full spectrum of technological medium that experimented with computers, photography, television and films (including an interactive CD-ROM “Immemory” that deals with the concept of perception and reality of memory). A former Resistance member of the Free French Forces and the U.S.A.F. Pararescuemen (rumored), Chris Marker dedication to anti-war fully developed around the time when Algeria seceded from France for its independence (A very painful reminder for the French since they lost the war on colonialism and is heavily brought up in films such as Resnais’s “Muriel”, Godard’s “Le Petit Soldat” and Pontecorvo’s documentary) and the student protest of May 1968. Throughout his career he has traveled all over the world documenting the obscurity and beauty of our planet yet it leaves me to speculate why there are very few interview or articles about him (his hermeticism is quite amusing because he often leaves a picture of a cat upon request for interviews). [2]

 Note: Last film I’ve seen directed by Chris Marker was “Level Five”. A semi documentary about a French video game programmer who is assign to recreate the battle of Okinawa, it is told through haunting memories of the Imperial Japanese soldiers and the lost memory of the Information Technician with her past lover. Unlike most well known directors his films are very difficult to acquire and hard to find online (Thank God for youtube because I can finally see his documentary on Akira Kurosawa for free).






November 10, 2011

Psycho (1960)

Filed under: Film Comment — Daniel Min @ 11:27 pm


Alfred Hitchcock whom I consider the doyen of all horror film directors (maybe except for the founder of the Giallo horror genre, Dario Argento) created such an abhorrent picture that not only did I found disturbing, but outright appalling. An Englishman with a mentally maladjusted sense of humor who can properly utilize such distinctive features throughout his body of work, using countless images of birds, voyeurism, overtly sexual portrayal of women and underlying sadomasochistic male behavior. His most famous work “Psycho” definitely has all the elements to frighten the audience however some might see this film as inferior to all his other works (An argument that I would like to support had if not been Anthony Perkin’s remarkable acting).

One scene that I found displeasing was Norman Bates being in the same room with the prospective murder victim as she’s having a snack, discussing about the trials and tribulation of the human existence, falling into the traps of insanity that society deems unwelcome thus having to establish a mental institution for the mentally insane. A mad house consisting of cries and agonies of the individual such as Norman Bates who happens to be one of many ideal subject of psychoanalysis. The human imprisonment described by Bates made the audience fully aware that he himself is sick much like the distraught relationship with his mother.

The mother and son relationship that was brought forth to conclusion left me puzzled when I first saw this movie however the second screening left me curious as to whether if Hitchcock had shared the same experience that Norman Bates suffered. Overall everybody have their own reason to express some aspects of human misery from the past however society can justify for those who murder and those who don’t.

The last film that I’ve seen with Anthony Perkins is Franz Kafka’s the trial. An alluringly spectacular eye feast that left me deeply attached to his acting that became even more apparent in his portrayal of Norman Bates. His unsettling calm look will certainly unease the audience’s comfort zone and will furthermore lead us into the dark places where we choose not to look. Psycho is masterfully crafted from the hands of Hitchcock. I will be looking forward to watching the rest of Hitchcock’s works later on, especially his take on Patricia Highsmith’s enigmatic novel “Strangers on a Train”.

 The Eye of the Voyeur. . .

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