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selected experimental shorts

Posted by martinteller on August 5, 2005

The following are all from the 1st disc of the Experimental Cinema of the 1920’s and 30’s DVD set.  There’s a lot on here, so I won’t bother reviewing the shorter ones:

L’Etoile de Mer – Man Ray shoots through distorted glass to create an interesting impressionistic, almost mosaic effect.  There’s kind of a narrative here, but still pretty well-seated in surrealism.  I didn’t care for the snatches of poetry, even though that’s what inspired the film.  Scenes of newspaper dancing in the wind pre-dates American Beauty by some 70 years.  Rating: 8

Emak-Bakia – This is more mindless wankery (“let’s see what happens when I do this with the camera”) than true surrealism, but there are a few clever or evocative bits.  Rating: 6

Les Mystères du Château de Dé – Very tedious, not much to get excited about here.  “The juggler” was cute, the rest was rather blah.  Rating: 3

The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra – Clever and witty.  Obvious German expressionist influence, particularly Metropolis and I detect some Lotte Reiniger as well.  Rating: 8

Ménilmontant – This one was also rather dull, although it had a nice poetic sadness to it.  Not as avant-garde as I expected from this collection.  Rating: 6

Brumes d’Automne – Has a similar sad tone as Ménilmontant (by the same director), but its shorter length makes the pace more bearable.  Some very lovely images here.  Rating: 7

Lot in Sodom – Pretty bizarro stuff for a Biblical story.  Can’t say I really liked it, but it’s not too bad.  Rating: 5

Vormittagsspuk (Ghosts Before Breakfast)  – This is the coolest thing on this disc so far.  Delightful dadaism, fun with bowler hats and clocks and collars.  Rating: 9

Ballet Mécanique – Dynamic enough to hold my interest, and somewhat clever in parts, but it didn’t really elicit any reaction from me.  Rating: 6


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