Friday, December 28, 2007

Check out the Links List on the right, hours of joy are yours to be had!

Yes, I finally got around to it, and have put up a few dozen links on the right menu. The creative efforts of some of the show's viewers/friends are first, followed by a really big slew of audio blog URLs, and closed off by some recommended sites and blogs.

If you're not familiar with the audio-blog phenomenon in the Blogspot universe, I recommend that you check out any of the links I provide here, and you will have literally hours (I ain't exaggeratin') of entertainment to be had. The blogspot experience is all about moving through the link-lists, so I thought it was essential that I help this process along (as long as you remember to check back here, do the RSS feed, bookmark, whatever). The Internet has made it possible for fans all over the world to share their treasures and in my short little decade sifting through this medium I'd have to say that the two most blissfully positive developments have been YouTube and the audio-blog phenomenon (I was never one for adding a piece of software to obtain my free music). They truly have forged a community out of a disparate bunch of obsessives — and so it should be....

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Berlin Alexanderplatz" exhibition at MOMA's P.S.1 in Queens (with clips from my recent Juliane Lorenz episode)

Last week's Funhouse episode featured the first half of my interview with Juliane Lorenz, who served as Fassbinder's editor and partner during his life, and has become his chief legacy keeper in the quarter-century since his death, as head of the Fassbinder Foundation. I'm very proud of the ground covered in our interview, as we discussed not only the restoration of Berlin Alexanderplatz, but also her work on acquiring, restoring, and re-releasing various other Fassbinder films. We also discussed Fassbinder's very unique manner of shooting and having his films edited (something that is only suggested for the geniuses among us).

As I prepared the episode, I focused so heavily on finding the appropriate clips from the current mammoth release of Berlin Alexanderplatz from the Criterion Collection that I neglected to mention the current exhibition of the film at MOMA's P.S. 1 out in mine own native borough of Queens. The exhibit runs until January 21st of 2008 (all the info can be found here), and includes showings of each individual episode in 14 separate screening rooms (while the whole thing plays on a main screen). I have yet to make the pilgrimage, but will certainly be doing so during the Xmas holiday from office work. I haven't yet considered which episodes I would choose to rewatch over again after having so recently viewed the entirety of this masterwork (which is a dense, brilliant work that is not as blissfully candy-coated as Fassbinder's best known "German woman" films -- it's anguished stuff for long stretches, but exquisitely anguished). I think that, out of context, it would have to be Franz Biberkopf's happier moments: his girlfriend-swapping with Reinhold (ep. 5) and his first meeting with Mieze (ep. 8). But the most re-viewable passages of this overwhelmingly brilliant work would have to be the completely mind-warping fantasies contained in the epilogue, "My Dream of Franz Biberkopf's Dream." In any case, the P.S. 1 exhibit features a reproduction of his storyboards, his own annotated version of Alfred Doblin's novel (which my Fassbinder obsession in college led me to read), and the audio tapes he recorded for the film's narration. A must-visit for cultists like all of us.

And to whet the appetite, I offer this segment of my interview with Ms. Lorenz, on the topic of Fassbinder shooting only one take of most scenes (with two clips from Alexanderplatz and a fascinating making-of docu):

Click here if the above doesn't work.

And a minute of Fassbinder himself talking about the film and its political message (which has interesting echoes for those of us living in the wildly conservative present-day U.S.). This comes from Lorenz's documentary Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz, which is found in the Criterion box:

Click here if the above doesn't work.

Merry Happy Holly thing: Dean and Frank

Real holiday cheer is hard to obtain (unless one is disposed to altering one's "headspace" in front of coworkers or relatives -- a bad idea all around...). Anyway, I do associate the Yuletide with variety specials, and so had to share this absolute plum with viewers and blog-reading-type people: the Dean Martin Show Xmas special from 1967 that has Dean welcoming his own family and Frank Sinatra and his three grown kids (no wife, it was gonna be odd seeing young Ms. Mia amidst the family gathering). The show starts off with this rousing bit of infectious goofiness. Dean certainly brought out the absolute best in Sinatra. He was a somber fella on TV, whether as host or guest singer, and it seems that only when he was with Dino did he absolutely brim over with enthusiasm for what he was doing. And so I present to you their opening number, a ditty first sung by Bing Crosby but better known to those in "the rock era" for Darlene Love's version on the Phil Spector Xmas record.

Click here if the above doesn't work.

UPDATE: This clip has been taken down by the folks who own the show, but have no plans at all to actually release the sucker. Perhaps it's because half of it is sublimely delightful and the other half is hardcore kitsch, who knows.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Les Rita Mitsouko, as filmed by Godard

Godard has done some gorgeous work with music over the years, and while his taste seems to run more to classical than pop, he has crafted some unforgettable sequences using rock. The ye-ye moments in Masculin-Feminin immediately spring to mind, as does the “Mao-Mao” bit in La Chinoise, the Madison in Band A Part, some terrific bits in Grandeur et Décadence d’un petit commerce de cinéma. Perhaps the most interesting fusion of his seminal ’60s cinema and seminal ’60s music was his documenting of the recording of “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones in One Plus One. Almost two decades later, in his light (and very strange) comedy Soigne Ta Droite (Keep Your Right Up, 1987), he did the same for Les Rita Mitsouko, chronicling the creation of a few songs from their second album The No Comprendo. In honor of the recent death of Fred Chichin, I thought I would upload some scenes from Godard’s film that feature he and Catherine Ringer in the middle of the “process.” And those who know anything about Godard can guess that no completed songs by Les Rita appear in the film, as he is all about process….

Click here if the above doesn't work.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy birthday, JLG: Godard turns 77

Funhouse deity Uncle Jean has a birthday today, so I thought the best way I could celebrate him would be to do another “survey” post, giving you the best of the JLG clips posted on YouTube. All I have to say is that he is one of the greatest cineastes the world has ever seen, and fascinated by the fact that all of the members of the French New Wave (except Truffaut, who died in his 50s of cancer) have had long, healthy lives and are still making kick-ass cinema in their 70s and 80s. Whatever was in the water in France in the 1920s and ’30s bred some pretty durable geniuses….

Uncle Jean was honored this past weekend in Berlin with by the European Film Academy. True to form, he didn’t show up (we fans remain content that he is as cranky and publicity-shy in his 70s as he was when he was in 30s and 40s).
Here’s a partial translation of a German interview with him (with links to a French TV talk):

And now the links:
The trailer for one of the premier achievements of his “golden” period, Pierrot Le Fou:

The unforgettable “music video” trailer for Masculin-Feminin:

The trailer for my favorite of his “comeback” period, Prenom Carmen:

His Marxist film British Sounds, put up by Funhouse friend and vid-liberator Paul Gallagher

An interview with Godard during his heavy Marxist period, with hair and the growth of a beard (!). Even at his most “wild-eyed radical,” he was still a mellow, thoughtful soul:

Soft and Hard, his exploration of the “battle of the sexes,” starring he and his partner Annie-Marie Mieville:

Godard the ad-man, selling cigs:

Selling jeans:

A bit of cinema poetry, from the anthology film Ten Minutes Older.

A slice of his brilliant major work Le Histoire(s) du Cinema:

Something I’d never seen at all, unsubbed bit from Cinema Cinemas:

Rare American TV interview:

And, as a finale, his bit from the very hard-to-find (in the U.S., at least) Room 666, by Wim Wenders: