Late in August, we posted a preview of this year’s 50th anniversary edition of the Viennale as well as the trailer for it, made by none other than the late Chris Marker. While the Viennale opens today and runs through November 7, in a sense, part of it has been off and running since last Thursday, when the festival teamed up with the Austrian Film Museum to launch Fritz Lang. The Complete Works, a retrospective “dedicated to an artist whose life and career can be viewed as bridges from one empire to the next: a 19th century Austrian, a creator of the largest spectacles known to 1920s Europe, and a mid-century Hollywood artist. Fritz Lang is a Viennese born in 1890 but, above all, he is cinema. He reveled in the potentials and glories of narrative filmmaking in a way that very few other representatives of the art form could ever lay claim to.” The retrospective runs through November 29.
Meantime, as reviews in English come in, we’ll be gathering links to them here, and we can already begin with one that Ignatiy Vishnevetsky has written for the German film magazine Cargo, the original English version of which he’s just posted: “Designed in various shades of lamplight, soap scum, and cigarette ash—with contrapuntal dashes of lilac, powder blue, and crabshell red—Terence Davies‘ The Deep Blue Sea is one bleak, glum-looking movie. Every interior is underlit, and the actors, their faces grayish-pale, often resemble corpses. In short, the world of The Deep Blue Sea is a dead world—and yet, it’s a dead world that moves, breathes, and, above all, sings.”
Tomorrow, by the way, sees a double feature: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the doc about it that’s been making waves, Room 237. As it happens, here in Keyframe today, Adam Nayman talks with Room 237‘s makers, Rodney Ascher and Tim Kirk.
Update, 10/29: For those who read German, Lukas Foerster‘s filed a first dispatch to Cargo.
Update, 10/30: On his first day at the festival, Daniel Kasman saw Lang’s Siegfried and Kriemhild’s Revenge (both 1924), and Ministry of Fear (1944): “[N]othing seems larger than the myths consecrated shot by shot in Die Nibelungen; nothing more inconsequential and generic than the slipshod Graham Greene adaptation of the war years, underfunded, undercast, underwritten. Yet I prefer the latter for its minute detail, its precise abstraction of the moment’s atmosphere/fear into a sinuous trail of ominous, nearly dreamlike cause and effect.”
Updates, 11/5: “For reasons not clear to me,” writes Daniel Kasman, “Fritz Lang’s An American Guerilla in the Philippines is almost totally unknown, at least in America, and most existent awareness is tainted by it having the worst reputation of the director’s already generally undervalued (but superior) American period. I got a rare chance to see the film on 35mm at the Viennale and was unexpectedly moved by its vivid adventure.”
Lukas Foerster‘s rankings.
Update, 11/7: Daniel Kasman on James Benning’s the war: “This short feature was initially scheduled at the festival before the Russian activist group Voina (‘war’), whose footage makes up the bulk of the war‘s imagetrack, requested that Benning not show the work publicly. I was lucky enough to see it at a private screening in Vienna, where, in the context of Benning’s other new work here, it also appears as a re-visitation, but of a different kind: neither precisely personal (as when he re-finds his old movies in his old city) nor contemplatively analytically cinephilic (as with Easy Rider, and 2011’s Faces), but rather starting from a kind of private curiosity then shared with the public. It is a simple but powerful archival record of present history, configured in such a way as to challenge the audience’s engagement with contemporary digital video in a highly politicized, and dangerous, context.”