Thursday, July 3, 2008

For the July 4th weekend: high and low entertainment

To beckon in the holiday weekend, I can think of no better offerings than the following. For the high art, I give you the exquisite work of Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr. I have only seen two of Tarr’s movies, one of them being his overwhelming, hypnotic masterpiece Satantango (1994), which runs a mere seven hours, and his last film, The Man from London (2007). This week I was reviewing the Facets DVD release of the former (coming in July) for my freelance gig, and thought I’d pass on two small segments of work from a filmmaker whose work can, for the most part, not be excerpted (it’s about time, it’s about duration, it’s about sadness and sarcasm). And to experience his work for real, you really need to see it on a movie screen.

In SPITE of all that, I offer:
A dance sequence that contains an air of beautiful desperation from his Damnation (1988):

And a gorgeous short film he contributed to the film Visions of Europe (2004), which he calls “Prologue.” Tarr is a poet of black and white, and his films are sensory experiences.

And because the Funhouse is about nothing as much as the mingling of the high and the low, I give you an utterly ridiculous Swedish music video (yes, the Seventies were a particularly harsh time for the stylistically challenged, but man, are the misfires ever compelling):

And the accordion music heard in Tarr’s features has it all over that of the late great Lawrence Welk (“ah-one and ah-two”). I don’t know which is the more representatively godawful clip from the Welk program (which still runs all over America on public television, as if beamed from outer space, some planet where they still publish the Saturday Evening Post). Dig Larry in his hippie threads, circa any Beach Party movie or Sonny and Cher variety-show appearance (to quote Lenny's jazz cat auditioning, “you got a nutty wig there, Polack”):

and because the Seventies were a confused time, let us view a perhaps oddly chosen cover from the Welk program. “One Toke Over the Line” by Brewer and Shipley:

Thanks to Miss Kat and M. Faust for contributing to this madness.

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