Posts Tagged ‘Lucrecia Martel’

Favorites from the decade that was

January 5, 2010

Fifty fillets of film, alphabetically ordered. Now I can finally get on with my life.

Click here to check out the list/encyclopedia.

The ghostly and the grotesque

December 17, 2009

You can now read my review of “Antichrist” over at the Daily Cardinal’s website. The review is especially loaded with sentimental value, it being my final article of this nearly dead semester and all. Complicated movie. Complicated, complicated movie.

On a very slightly related note: Lucrecia Martel’s “The Headless Woman” (2008) is now available on DVD at Four Star Video Heaven. Highly recommended. If I could go back and revise my favorite films of ’09 list (well, I mean, I could, but I won’t), “The Headless Woman” would easily challenge for the #1 or #2 spot. Martel’s really one of the best filmmakers working today. Watching her films is like trying to stare a hole through a paper-thin wall, and I mean that as praise.

(Visual) Quotes of quotes of quotes, 10/12

October 12, 2009

from Lucrecia Martel's "La niña santa" (2004)

From Lucrecia Martel’s La niña santa (2004).

Alive, well, and in the mood to make recommendations

September 9, 2009

And he woke the next morning feeling approximately 93% better than he did the day before, when even his hair felt sickly and his toenails trembled with self-pity.

Anyway, on to more important matters. For the past two years I’ve been in the habit of watching at least a film a day, if not two or three. I’m definitely not boasting about renting DVDs at a rate most would be embarrassed to admit to, I just reckon that it’s a truth worth stating. But since I take in such a large volume of films each week, I think I’m in an unusually good position to make some recommendations. And recommend I shall.

With this (rather than sinus inflammation) in mind, I’d like to offer a couple tips as to what you may want to consider renting, whether it be from Four Star, any of the Madison libraries, NetFlix, or wherever.


La ciénaga (dir. Lucrecia Martel, 2001) – A damp, noisy and profoundly unnerving exercise in cinematic mood-conjuring. Martel’s camera changes its position and angle abruptly, alternating between slight shakiness and occlusive, unsettling stillness. Her style of montage effectively constructs an image of space and time that’s thoroughly synthetic and yet eerily incomplete, like a mosaic with two or three tiles missing. The film’s somnambulist narrative does threaten to jump the proverbial shark towards the end, but even so: I can’t recommend this ghostly family drama highly enough.


Magnificent Obsession (dir. Douglas Sirk, 1954) – Come for the camp, the kitsch, the corn, the self-parody, the pervasive suggestiveness; stay for the incredibly stimulating palette, the luscious shadows and a handsome, hilarious Rock Hudson, who can seemingly appropriate any “serious” line and flip it on its head without giving himself away. Indeed, much of Sirk’s sensibility can be described as “hiding in plain view.” Robert Bresson once remarked that the best ideas in a film are usually the most hidden ones, but if there’s any artist whose work serves to refute this thesis, it’s Sirk. Yet it’s also important to emphasize that Sirk was more than just some cynical, subversive, psychoanalytically-informed jester wreaking havoc on the screen without being noticed by the powers that be: he was also a masterful creator of images.

For the love of a ‘Headless Woman’

August 19, 2009

Last night one of my dearest friends, who has always seemed to me generally cultured though not quite as cinephilic as yours truly (I hope no one is), sent me a trailer he’d seen recently on Apple’s website for a film with a more-than-slightly enigmatic title; the film was Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel’s latest, La mujer sin cabeza (English: The Headless Woman). For my friend, the experience of watching the trailer generated a brief yet intense chain of “what the fuck” moments; for me, the biggest “what the fuck” moment of all comes when one wonders why local film exhibitors aren’t going out of their way to bring The Headless Woman to Madison.

Earlier this summer I interned at Manhattan’s Film Forum, which is currently running The Headless Woman from now until September 1st. Of all the films that Film Forum rolled out this summer, so many of which were terrific (and, for me, free to attend), the one which I’d wanted to see most was The Headless Woman. The film has been described by critics as the aesthetic equivalent of enduring a rather severe concussion, that is to say, it alters your perception of the world in remarkable and seemingly permanent ways; as Martel herself tells Chris Wisniewski in this interview from Reverse Shot,

There is a beautiful and at the same time horrifying mechanism in society: if you want to protect someone, you can disown his or her responsibility across his or her class. This sounds really beautiful, but it only works for some layers of society. The film reveals a blurred moment of a woman’s life, and shows how things become more secure by making certain things disappear. Like my other films, The Headless Woman doesn’t end in the moment that the lights go up, it ends one or two days later.

A couple years ago I seem to recall that the UW Cinematheque ran a series of recent films directed by Argentinean women, and I’m fairly sure (but don’t quote me on this) that some of Martel’s previous work was included. Based on the critical reception that The Headless Woman has been getting thus far, the film seems to be a significant step in the never-ending revolution that is cinematic modernism. Again, I’ll admit to my own ignorance as far as the politics of film distribution is concerned, but nevertheless: We need this film in Madison within the next 6 months, while the window of opportunity is still glaringly open. Would the MMoCA, the Cinematheque, Sundance or whoever have passed on the chance to show Antonioni’s L’avventura or Bergman’s Persona during those films’ initial American runs?

In so many ways, Madison is on the verge of having an irrefutably awesome film scene, and if local exhibitors were to go the extra distance to get their hands on films like The Headless Woman, it could be precisely what it takes to shove our dear town off the proverbial ledge. Someone, anyone: Make this happen.