Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Posts Tagged ‘american film institute

Hollywood Mavericks (1990)

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Here are the first few segments of an American Film Insitute documentary, Hollywood Mavericks. Though not specifically focusing on short films, this documentary is incredible valuable for auteur studies because of its emphasis on film history, Hollywood ideas and anti-Hollywood sentiments, and the philosophy of auteur filmmakers. Some of these sound bites will be essential as I highlight some of the master auteurs recognized by the short film industry today. Many of the filmmakers and critics featured in this documentary focus on how “mavericks” (i.e. auteurs) revolutionized the film industry with their unique vision and central themes.

And skipping along, specifically to 4:40 in this next part…

You can find this entire documentary posted on YouTube, and it is definitely worth viewing the whole thing! It’s some of these ideas of “iconic” filmmaking and filmmaker uniqueness that I want to underline with my research on auteur films.

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Written by Alisa Hathaway

May 6, 2011 at 10:44 am

The Grandmother (1970)

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If there’s any one filmmaker that could define auteur cinema for me, it would have to be David Lynch. I saw Eraserhead (1976) of course, a few years back, and now after having seen its predecessor in this film, perhaps I’m making a bit of progress as a film student. The similarities abound in theme, Spartan imagery, and most notably, that “creeping dread, that beautiful paranoia” (Coilhouse) that his films build slowly. The aesthetics of The Grandmother and Eraserhead are quite different, but the Lynchness of tone persists.

The story of how this movie was made is pretty incredible. Given $5000 to fund the project by the American Film Institute, Lynch painted the third floor of his Philadelphia house entirely black and used his friends as actors. He collaborated with Alan Splet, who would also work with him on Eraserhead and Blue Velvet (1986) for the sound effects, which take the place of any dialogue. His original allowance ran out before he had time to finish the film, but after screening what he had so far, the AFI agreed to fund its completion. The total cost was $7200. The Coilhouse blog writes this of the soundtrack:

The lack of dialogue, with everything conveyed through guttural noises, barking, and a score from a local group, Tractor, compliments the stylized, stripped down atmosphere that’s since become the Lynch standard.

For me, analyzing his style and themes felt like a recitation of various bodily fluids. The child’s parents abuse him for his incontinence, in response he uses his own ejaculation to grow a grandmother. While a grandmother’s love may be the only source of unconditional love and support the boy could come up with, for the audience I think the idea of that love and its birth on the boy’s bed is an intensely uncomfortable experience. From the Lynchnet.com write-up:

There’s something about a grandmother…It came from this particular character’s need – a need that that prototype can provide. Grandmothers get playful. And they relax a little, and they have unconditional love. And that’s what this kid, you know, conjured up.

All in all, I can appreciate David Lynch. Enjoyment is a separate issue.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

March 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm

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