Sunday, September 28, 2014

LOVE AFFAIR; OR THE CASE OF THE MISSING SWITCHBOARD OPERATOR (1967)

LOVE AFFAIR has the same naturalistic, almost documentary, feel to it that I liked so much in Dusan Makavejev's first film MAN IS NOT A BIRD. At the beginning we're given a short lecture on sex and then introduced to a very cute switchboard operator, she meets a guy on the street, then we see her corpse being pulled out of a well and taken to the morgue where they do an autopsy (off camera). Next we're back with her on her first date with the man.

Makavejev's style is very unconventional, but absolutely genius.  He's all over the place with the story, with pictures and text on the screen, with an almost news footage-style report about rats invading Europe in the 18th century, with a sex expert talking about eggs and giant penis statues and then, most shockingly, the main character suddenly, nearly at the end of the film, turning and directly addressing the audience!  And yet with all of these unusual things going on...it all works!  How the Hell did he do it?!

As much as I liked MAN IS NOT A BIRD I like LOVE AFFAIR; OR THE CASE OF THE MISSING SWITCHBOARD OPERATOR even more.  Makavejev's ability as a filmmaker has grown, the acting is stronger, the editing tighter, the photography is magnificent, the story more engaging and Eva Ras' body just won't stop!  LAOTCOTMSO is definitely not for everybody, but the ones who are willing to give it a chance will be in for a treat.  Recommended.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MAN IS NOT A BIRD (1965)

Told with an almost documentary style (lots of handheld cameras and tight indoor shots that make you feel like you're actually inside the room with the characters) MAN IS NOT A BIRD is the story of an engineer who comes to a small mining town in eastern Serbia to oversee the installation of some machinery. Without even trying he starts a relationship with a beautiful hairdresser. Is she really into him or just looking for a way out of this filthy dead end town?

There's more going on than just the relationship between these two and director Dusan Makavejev captures it all beautifully: a worker who gives his wife's dresses to his mistress and the wife in turn beats the whore up in the town market; a singer getting stabbed in a bar brawl; workers stealing stealing copper wire; the rush to get the machinery installed before schedule; a truck driver who's always on the prowl for some fresh trim; a hypnotist convincing people that they are birds, etc. I'm a huge fan of Emile Zola and even though this film was set 80 years after Zola's "Germinal" it reminded me a lot of that book. Mostly with the interactions between the workers and how they all live in such close proximity that they all know each other business even down to the smallest details.

I enjoyed MAN IS NOT A BIRD.  The second half wasn't as good as the first half, but it's still in interesting picture.  I really liked the photography.  If you like realism and the documentary's of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris then I think you'll dig this as well.