Category Archives: film

RIP Agnès Varda (1928 – 2019)

Agnès Varda was a Belgian-born French film director.

Her films were popular among critics and directors, giving her the status of a cult director.

This is perhaps not the best of times to rid the world of a minor misconception regarding the work of Varda, but it is what I must do after researching her oeuvre following her death.

Agnès Varda made one film about the Black Panther Party, just one. That film was Black Panthers (1968), a color film which can be viewed in its entirety at[1].

Another film from that same year is called Huey! and is directed by a certain Sally Pugh. It can be seen in full on YouTube [below] and has nothing to do with Varda, although the general subject matter as well as some scenes overlap.

RIP Bernardo Bertolucci (1941 – 2018)

And now Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci dies, 13 years the junior of Roeg, also one of the big names of European cinema.

Last Tango in Paris (1972) was the first of his films I saw. I’m sure if I would see it again, it would bore me to death. In contrast, Performance (1970) by Roeg (see prev. post) has aged better. Both films are a testament to the sexual revolution.

The last of Bertolucci’s film that I saw was The Dreamers (2003). I remember liking it and I guess that likely hasn’t changed.

Luck has it that YouTube has an entire copy of The Spider’s Stratagem (1970). Like Performance of Roeg, it is inspired by Jorge Luis Borges.

I’ve never seen it, I’ll watch it now.

Let me end (because I can) with this beautiful juxtaposition only marginally linked to Bertolucci:

Update 27/11: The Spider’s Stratagem is actually a pretty good film: very Italian, surreal, Borgesian and Chirico-esque.

RIP Nicolas Roeg (1928 – 2018)

English director Nicolas Roeg dies at 90.

I believe Performance was the first of his films that I saw. In some Antwerp art house probably.

Roeg’s most intriguing film is Castaway, the true story of an adventurer who publishes an ad looking for a ‘wife’ to spend a year on a uninhabited island.

In the beginning of his career he was a cinematographer. He filmed Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.

Several aspects of Performance were novel and it foreshadowed MTV type music videos (particularly the “Memo from Turner” sequence in which Jagger sings) and many popular films of the 1990s and 2000s.

Roeg belonged to the generation of Ken Russell and Stanley Kubrick and was the last one alive of the three.


RIP Cesare Canevari (1927 – 2012)

Italian director  Cesare Canevari died six years ago but it went unnoticed by me.

I learned of his death yesterday when I landed on Canevari’s Last Orgy of the Third Reich (1977) via Nazi Love Camp 27 (1977). God knows what brought me there.

So this morning I watched Matalo! (1970), the Spaghetti Western directed by Canevari.

It’s a whole lot better than Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot![1] (1967), which I watched this January.

Matalo! sets itself apart by its psychedelic sequences, the silence, the lack of dialogue, the sound effects and the soundtrack by Mario Migliardi.

The full soundtrack is here:


RIP Michel Lemoine (1922–2013)

I finished another ‘roman dur’ by Simenon, L’Enterrement de Monsieur Bouvet, one might say a rather unremarkable novel were it not for the fact that it makes one realize that it used to be possible to lead a double life, to disappear many times in one’s life and start all over again elsewhere without leaving a trace. And were it not of course that this is a Simenon ‘roman dur’ and this is the only ‘genre’ I currently enjoy, and have for a year or three.

 L'Univers de Simenon, sous la direction de Maurice Piron avec la collaboration de Michel Lemoine

L’Univers de Simenon, sous la direction de Maurice Piron avec la collaboration de Michel Lemoine

Wile researching this novel, I came across L’univers de Simenon : guide des romans et nouvelles (1931-1972) de Georges Simenon[1](1983) by Maurice Piron and Michel Lemoine. It’s hard to believe that Michel Lemoine is the same person as the cult actor and director of French cinema of which I will post a photo.

Michel Lemoine in I Pianeti contro di noi (1962) - Romano Ferrara

Michel Lemoine in I Pianeti contro di noi (1962) – Romano Ferrara

RIP Claude Lanzmann (1925 – 2018)

Claude Lanzmann was a French filmmaker known for the Holocaust documentary film Shoah (1985).

Above is a fragment of a Siskel and Ebert review of Shoah.

Siskel and Ebert show two scenes:

One of a Jewish Holocaust survivor standing next to a Polish church where Jews were held prisoner before being murdered.  The holocaust survivor is being ignored by the Polish who reminisce of the moaning and hungry Jews.

A second fragment is of the famous barber Abraham Bomba who cut the hair of women before being gassed. He had to lie to them that it was just procedure, knowing that they would soon be dead.

Update 10/7:

In this clip Abraham Bomba explains how he knew many of the women personally whose hair he had to cut because they were all from his hometown Częstochowa, even from his own street.

“I knew them. I lived with them in my town, in my street, and some of them were my close friends. And when they saw me all of them started hugging me, Abe, this and that, what are you doing here, what’s gonna happen with us? What could you tell them? What could you tell?”

Then, 13:30, the most gripping moment of the whole Shoah documentary:

“A friend of mine, he worked as a barber, he was a good barber in my hometown, when his wife and his sister… came into the gas chamber… I can’t. – Go on Abe, you must go…. You have to. – Cannot. It’s too hard. – Please… We have to do it. You know it … I won’t be able to do it … You have to do it. I know it’s very hard. I know, and I apologize …  Don’t make me go on please …  Please. We must go on … I told you today it’s going to be very hard … They were taking that … [hair] … in bags and transporting it to Germany … Okay, go ahead. What was his answer when his wife and sister came? … They tried to talk to him and the husband of his sister. They could not tell him this was the last time they stay alive, because behind them was the German Nazis, SS, and they knew that if they said a word, not only the wife and the woman, who were dead already, but also they would share the same thing with them. In a way, they tried to do the best for them, with a second longer, a minute longer, just to hug them and kiss them, because they knew they would never see them again.”