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Author: Steve Erickson

A Documentary Reality: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub’s “The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach”

No moment in the oeuvre of the late Danièle Huillet and her life and filmmaking partner Jean-Marie Straub matches the sense of ecstatic triumph of one scene in their 1968 The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, which opens in a new restoration at New York’s Quad Cinema March 2nd. Shot from a slightly tilted angle, it depicts Johann Sebastian Bach (Gustav Leonhardt) playing a clavier — a precursor to the harpsichord — in front of a torch with one hand while conducting an off-screen orchestra and turning his sheet music’s pages with the other. The scene takes place at night,...

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MoMI First Look: Tinselwood by Marie Voignier

Marie Voignier is a French director whose documentaries, International Tourism (2014), and Tinselwood (2017), reflect the situation of being a middle-class French person (her day job is teaching at a college in Lyon) and the baggage of inherited European colonialism. International Tourism registers her trip to North Korea.  While its images deliberately explore the locations covered in other nonfiction films where Westerners travel to the country and follow the official guidance of government minders, Voignier wiped the original soundtrack and re-recorded it upon returning to France. Tinselwood is a slightly more conventional doc set in Cameroon, but it reflects on the negative influence France (and Germany, China...

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Dario Argento: A Dip Into The Inferno

Part of growing up means accepting that artists are imperfect people and that worthwhile art may contain troubling attitudes and politics with which one doesn’t completely agree. Contemporary culture seems to be moving in the exact opposite direction, demanding a kind of perfection from films and filmmakers that, knowing human nature, the people making these demands can’t possibly all live up to. In this climate, it interests me that Italian director Dario Argento retains a large American cult audience. When the New York theater, the Metrograph, premiered the uncut version of his film Suspiria (1977) last July, it kept adding screenings, and...

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