WANDA's Barbara Loden (& John & Yoko)

Indie Film has not progressed very much in 38 years.  I finally caught up with Barbara Loden's 1970's WANDA last night.  It would feel pretty damn fresh today.  It ranks up there among the American Indie greats that's for sure, particularly among the great debut features, and the ones that the director also stars in.  It made me wish that we had somewhere we could go where we could get an immersive course in Loden's life.  If you know, let me know.
I couldn't resist a trip to the Mike Douglas Show, co-hosted by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  First off I learned Loden was married to Elia Kazan.  The struggles she faced as a female director are as real today as they were then.  Except back then you had the most famous creative couple in the world promoting her work.  And they were great & daring artists too; there is no equivalent today.

There's been a lot of good writing done on the film, including this from driftingclouds and filmmaker Mary Brownstien's piece from HammerToNail.  I was really struck by the quality of the performances and Loden's willingness to let the camera linger.  You can tell she is working with a tiny crew (4 people evidently) and the level of intimacy she achieves is a marvel. The budget, back in the day, was $115,000.  It is required viewing.

8/31/10 Update: The New York Times just reported that WANDA is being restored.  Time to rejoice!

The Penultimate Essay Film Artist: Adam Curtis

Okay, so Adam Curtis does not incorporate the personal the way Chris Marker does. And he's not as funny as Mr. Moore, but his films are so full of ideas each one is a couple weeks worth of conversations. The guy also works archive footage like no other. It all started for us with THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES. It took forever for it to come to video here but now you can order it. And Netflix got it as of Aug 5th this year.

Or you can watch it courtesy of the Internet Archive:

One Of The Top Films Of All Time: Chris Marker's La Jetee

Chris Marker's LA JETEE haunts many filmmakers' work.  When I went to NYU, it was required viewing and I think you can see it's influence in many grads' work.  Its marriage of form and content has rarely been equaled.  His film SANS SOLEIL has also forever provoked me to deliver a true Essay Film -- and I will one day.  Both are Required Viewing.  

One of the beautiful things about his work is that its effect runs far beyond the work at hand; he changes how we look at things, makes us reflect upon our own choices.  Marker is a true believer in the power of the dialogue between screen and audience. He recognizes how some of the best work is created when our imagination fills in the gaps.  Today far too much is actually shown, preventing us from becoming complicit in the narratives. His great essay on Hitchcock's VERTIGO makes clear his passion for this process.  If only others could follow this lead...

There's a lot of great writing on this film out there. Here's Senses Of Cinema's...