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DVDs We Get

I finally got around to watching Lumière and Company (1995), which is a compilation of forty-odd films shot by various directors with a genuine cinematographe camera made made by the Lumière brothers. The director list is heavy on the European directors, and answers to portentous questions like “Is cinema mortal,” which, for the most part, would be better left unanswered. The constraints were that directors had to make a film consisting of one 52-second sequence, with no synchronous sound. You also get to see that much of the “oldness” of old movies has more to do with flicker from the relatively instability of older film mounts and less with film stock or degradation.

The results are somewhat less consistently enchanting than I thought they'd be, but there are some real gems in this collection. Some common themes emerge:

  • movie technology
  • trains
  • cute kids that can't quite perform for the camera
  • empty spaces
The last failing is unforgivable, especially from Spike Lee, who has made some pretty amazing commercials; you'd think that having about a card-deck's worth of time would concentrate the content of these films.

A few directors, most spectacularly Peter Greenway and David Lynch, manage to skirt the one-shot constraint with what must have been amazingly choreographed scene changes to effect scene changes outside the camera. The most surprising and funny clip is from Zhang Yimou, who starts off with what appears to be a historical recreation on the Great Wall of China before yanking us into the present (well, at least the new China of 1995). All in all, it's a worthwhile rental if you're into movie toys and short attention span theatre.

I also bought the first season of the Muppet Show for O's birthday, and it still holds up. Also, the video quality if very good (a lot better, than, say the Pee-Wee's Playhouse DVDs), and the green fuzz on the packaging is a nice touch. But for some reason, any evidence of when the show was made or its history is absent, as if somebody had pushed the history eraser button. I am not sure why this is, but there's absolutely nothing about when it started (1976) or that it was made in association with a British television company (ATV, ITC). What exactly is Buena Vista/Disney trying to hide ?

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
modpixie
Aug. 22nd, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC)
i kind of liked the spike lee joint. then again, it's been years since i've seen lumiere & company. the lynch and greenaway shorts rattle around in my memory (the greenaway involved the dead animal carcass, yes? wait, that's most of greenaway's output...) and i should see it again.

hey, the conformist is at the brattle next week...
rpkrajewski
Aug. 23rd, 2005 02:02 am (UTC)
Conformista !
Cool, pick a weeknight that's it's playing – the 9:30 time is best for me, and email me at my LJ address.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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