Playing Fri March 30 at 2:00, 7:00 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]
More gold in BAM’s Dr. John tribute “New Orleans on Film,” and there may be no better encapsulation of the city’s ethos than Jarmusch’s opening street montage, set to the tune of Tom Waits’ “Jockey Full of Bourbon.”
The black-and-white images, shot by the great Dutch cinematographer Robby Muller, are immediately seductive. The camera moves slowly through a panorama of an eerie, dreamlike New Orleans, picking out the delicate wrought-iron curves of 19th Century balustrades, slipping by rows of tumbledown houses pitched on stilts, creeping past abandoned factories and storefronts. It`s a lunar landscape, timeless, unpopulated and full of mysterious promise.
Cinephile favorite Raul Ruiz (who died last year, after directing of his greatest works, The Mysteries of Lisbon) made his first American feature with downtown scenesters including Jim Jarmusch, Kathy Acker,and Annie Sprinkle, and according to accounts pretty much every independent filmmaker and aspirant wanted in on the action. This is one of the movies where even the negative reviews make it sound mighty tantalizing.
This is Ruiz’s first American movie, and, befitting the cheery hodgepodge of Ameircan culture, Ruiz combines noir, telenovelas – and parodies of them both – to produce a movie far breezier and more than fun than much of his earilier work. Ruiz takes his odd couple through the remains of the once-flourishing downtown culture while offering cameos to the likes of Kathy Acker, Jim Jarmusch and Barbet Schroeder – all of whose work, at moments, The Golden Bowl seems to echo. Even if you think you can’t bear to see another movie about New York bohemians (and I thought I couldn’t), Ruiz’s knockabout look at a failed scene is never less than witty and often much more; it’s a grungy, low-budget After Hours.
Stranger Than Paradise is a treasure from one end to the other. I saw it for the first time at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, where it was having its first public showing. Half the people in the theater probably didn’t speak English, but that didn’t stop them from giving the movie a standing ovation, and it eventually won the Camera d’Or prize for the best first film. It is like no other film you’ve seen, and yet you feel right at home in it. It seems to be going nowhere, and knows every step it wants to make. It is a constant, almost kaleidoscopic experience of discovery, and we try to figure out what the film is up to and it just keeps moving steadfastly ahead, fade in, fade out, fade in, fade out, making a mountain out of a molehill.
Playing Thurs Oct 6 at 9:00 at Film Society of Lincoln Center [Program & Tix]
Sara Driver’s long-lost No Wave adaptation of a Paul Bowles short story finally resurfaces. Co-written hot by Jim Jarmusch (with Tom De Cillio as assistant) and featuring cameos by Nan Goldin and Luc Sante, You Are Not I has only screened at the Iceland Film Fest and the Portuguese Cinémathèque in Lisbon – we plan to update as New York critical response rolls in.
Randy Kennedy interviews Driver and details the rediscovery of the film, for the New York Times:
The tale had all the hallmarks of a baroque Paul Bowles short story, set among the remaindered possessions of Bowles himself: a film director gets a call from a stranger, who says he has stumbled across an original print of the filmmaker’s long-lost first film in a windowless Tangier apartment, coated in dust and insect powder. The director, Sara Driver, at first thought the call might be a joke, but for reasons almost as strange as fiction, she kept listening.
In the late 1970s she had fallen in love with a haunting 1948 Bowles story called “You Are Not I,” about a young woman who escapes from an asylum, and decided she wanted to make a film of it. With no money for the rights and the thinnest of shoestrings to make the movie itself — a $12,000 budget, some of it supplied by her small salary at a copy shop — she forged ahead anyway. And before its well-received premiere at the Public Theater in 1983, she shipped a print of the 48-minute black-and-white film, the first screen adaptation of one of Bowles’s stories, to his apartment in Tangier, Morocco, praying simply not to be sued.
“To my great relief, he liked it,” Ms. Driver recalled recently. “And not only that, but he wrote me back with a long, detailed critique of the film, saying, among other things, that he thought one woman overacted — which he was right about.”