I went to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams last night with Brother, in lieu of Early Music rehearsal, which I'm still missing, if not acutely, than with a dull ache and a sense of vague discomfort. I want to tell you this is the best movie I've seen this year and if you see one 3D movie this year, make it this one.... But as gorgeous and must-see as I found this, I expect some of you would get a headache or become bored or uncomfortable. It's okay. Herzog is not for everyone... however, if you're not going to see this film, I would encourage you to find whatever floats your boat and go do it. Creation demands nothing less.

Read more... )
Did I mention my brother has been leaving messages for me in the voice of Werner Herzog?

A very weird interview from the Financial Times article 'signal boosted' by Slate. This does not come across as an interview. It comes across as a guy whose watched lots of interviews with Werner Herzog overusing quotation marks in a sarcastic way. I've heard Herzog say all these things before, but what doesn't come across is his sincerity, generosity, or gravitas. This is Herzog as a pretentious aesthete, which no doubt he is, but does not really access Herzog the filmmaker. I can't describe it except to state that last year the patience and humility with which he fielded people's annoying and insipid questions at the conference of world affairs, was an inspirational look at the man behind the myth, if the two can be separated, which I'm not convinced they can. I'm mostly posting it because it's so strange. And because it's Herzog:


I cannot wait for Cave of Forgotten Dreams which I will be seeing in 3D. Here's a preview. It opens April 29th. Who's making the descent with me?

So... I saw Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn a few weeks ago. It is the story of the German-born American pilot Dieter Dengler who was shot down in Laos during the opening volleys of the Vietnam war. He was one of the only POWs to escape from a prison camp and survive. This is significant as one of the challenges facing Dengler is the fact that it is unlikely that the gov't will trade for him as Laos is officially not part of the conflict and the presence of Americans in Laos is a violation of the terms of the conflict.

Rescue Dawn & Little Dieter Needs to Fly )
I have been incredibly excited about this since I saw Herzog in April. He's made a 3-D film of the 30,0000 year-old cave paintings in France, discovered in 1994 and sealed to the public since:

Here's Andrew O'hehir at Salon

But I like Ebert's coverage at his blog:

The videos of Herzog at the bottom of the blog were filmed at Mackey in Boulder.

Also, here are Errol Morris & Werner Herzog in conversation. Thanks, again, to Ebert:


Some days it is TOTALLY worth it to get out of bed.

I just recently saw Rescue Dawn, but I'm holding my thoughts until I've seen Herzog's original documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. I can't wait to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3-D.
It's snowing this morning: a light, spring, snow, like the petals falling off the the trees that have not yet bloomed.

I thought I would write a few more things about Werner Herzog while they are still on my mind and topical (rather than trivia). With regard to Aguirre specifically, this was a film conceived and written over two and a half days while drunk on a bus with his soccer team. He did not write traditional 'screenplays' in the formate that is used now; it was more of a short story. And as he got together everything he needed to make it (yes this was one of the films made on the 'expropriated' 35mm camera from film school) the story had to adapt to circumstances. Aguirre was shot on a budget of $360K, which is small even by the standards of the day. He used all sorts of shortcuts, including location, to achieve his ends. You also might be surprised to know that most the film was filmed in one-take and sequentially as: 1. he had only 40,000 feet of raw film stock, 2. the journey---first down a mountain, then a river---would be impossible to reverse. There were only three locations: the mountains outside Machu Picchu in the opening shots, then two different rivers (as it would have taken hundreds more miles to continue navigating the rapids on the first river, before getting to the low-lands.)

Read more... )
I was woken at 4 AM by a hail storm. It is cloudy this morning and there is a mist creeping up from the river. I seem to recall I was dreaming about Werner Herzog, which doesn't surprise me, since I've been saturated in this environment since Sunday. Last night's experience was amazing, even if these kinds of events seem to bring out the jackass in Joe Q. Public. Herzog, himself, was amazing with a graciousness and a gravitas that made even the stupidest questions seem astute.

Impressions from last night. )
Seeing Aguirre last night was interesting, though I think I will save my comments until after I've thought about it a little more and given some chance for Herzog & Ebert to speak. The thing I noticed most about the screening was the way the audience seemed to think they were so superior to the characters in the film and through this very mechanism are repeating the errors of the characters in the film. Aguirre is about would-be Spanish conquerers searching for El Dorado on the Amazon and slowly going insane. It may not sound like it has a lot in common with our lives, but a sense of moral superiority pervades the group and ultimately leads them to their doom. I found this attitude on the part of the audience incredibly grating and spent most the film imaging it was actually science fiction occurring on another planet to help me acclimate myself to the material.

More on Aguirre )
Werner says no to yoga and yes to forgery:


Not a must see, but I've posted so much about Herzog, that it seemed silly not to include it. I will probably see both his new films on the small screen. I love Herzog, but his movies make me very itchy. It takes a bit to get through them precisely BECAUSE you don't know what's going to happen next. The level of anxiety and dread rivals Bergman, though unlike Bergman, Herzog provides more unexpected release. (And seems to take his own work less seriously. He seems to think his films are very humorous. And in a sense they are.)

I think Fitzcarraldo is probably the one I would recommend. Though Wild Blue Yonder is probably my favorite. While Kaspar Hauser was the most upsetting. (I would spontaneously burst into tears for days after seeing that film.) But part of this is because I haven't seen very many yet. I creep through his films, just a few a year.
The NYTimes reviews Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo, Werner Herzog's journals about the making of his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo. I saw this movie for the first time about a month ago. It really is an amazing film:

Fitzcarraldo is Werner Herzog's masterpiece about Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald an entrepeneur in turn-of-the-century Amazonian rainforest who is obsessed with building an opera house in the jungle. The movie opens with this marvelous scene of Fitzcarraldo and his companion Molly rowing up to a gala performance featuring Caruso. Even though the performance has started and he does not have a ticket, he manages to push his way in, manically explaining that he has traveled thousands of miles and rowed two days without ceasing to try to get to the performance. He holds up his hands, which are bleeding and covered in bandages.

This is a perfect opening for a film that is about passion and fanatical obsession. Fitzcarraldo keeps coming up with get-rich-quick schemes to fund his opera, only to have them fail through ill-fortune, or an inability for others to see the potential in his business. One scheme for an ice-making business is met with derision by the other wealthy rubber merchants in his town. The audience looks at the ice and imagines all the ways that this rough jungle outpost could improve their quality of life. The rubber merchants look at the ice and ask, 'What would I want that for?'

Read more: no spoilers. )
Last year I saw Werner Herzog's Wild Blue Yonder, a film about space exploration he cobbled together with found footage. There is an extensive sequence involving the Antarctic ocean, which stands in for a planet with a liquid atmosphere. It is exquisite, and I'm not surprised that Herzog decided to go to Antarctica to see it for himself. The result is Encounters at the End of the World a documentary in which he interviews people stationed at McMurdo Station.

I have not seen this film. But I have intentions to do so, both because I am a great fan of Herzog (those his films make me feel like falling apart) and because I feel almost driven to go visit that Antarctic ocean, again.

Something I did not admit when I wrote about Wild Blue Yonder before is that I watched those Antarctic sequences over and over, again. It was so beautiful. So soothing. So melancholic. In some strange way, it made me feel like someone had given voice to my own sense of exile that I experienced while coming through this last depression.

Herzog is not a sentimentalist. His art revolves around a kind of fatalism that is mixed both with humor and compassion. I always remember the part of Grizzly Man, (which is a great and disturbing and also funny film) where he tells one of the Bear Man's girlfriends that he has heard the footage of the Bear Man's mauling and will not be sharing that with his audiences. He is so kind to her. He is so tasteful with his choice of footage. And yet, what is this movie about? It is about someone who walks willingly, if unknowingly, into the jaws of death. It is a fantastic metaphor for the human condition. His entire body of work seems to be an exploration of the animal that is concious of its own mortality and the inherent humor and pathos and absurdity that condition contains.
I've had a bummer week accompanied by some interesting, if bummer, films:

The Lake House )

The House of Sand and Fog )

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser )

Eastwood film of the week: Escape from Alcatraz )

And really, that's what most of these weird (and kind of depressing) films have in common. The library carries serious films. My library is particularly snobbish, which means it has to be one of the following to make it into the collection:

a) British,
b) an adaptation of a book,
c) an award winner, preferably with subtitles

This means there are not very many films with extensive action sequences, fart jokes, or Will Ferrel running around in his underpants in the collection. (Though they do have all of Jacques Tati's Msr. Hulot films, which could be the French 1950s equivalent. Then again, maybe not; Msr. Hulot would never run around in his underpants.)

So, that's my week. If you want to hear about the personal aspects, your going to have to talk to me personally, or wait 'til it comes oozing out late at night under the influence of controlled substances.
This week I got ahold of Werner Herzog's Wild Blue Yonder a science fiction fantasy. It's a speculative film about space exploration utilizing stock footage and archival material primarily from NASA and from a team that dived beneath the ice in Antarctica. The Antarctic ocean stands in for a new planet with a liquid atmosphere.

Read more... )



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