Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Horse's Mouth (movie review)

The art of movie watching has changed since the advent of the DVD and its random access through a front end menu. This one goes to the original opener, Daybreak Express, a random "documentary" set to a Duke Ellington piece that is truly a great work of art.

Horse's Mouth is the filmic world making fun of the static frame oil painter's, in some degree. The movie's director is likewise teaching his art ("the sculpture is so big, it's out of frame") in the longish interview. You'll want to see that, and the documentary on the documentary (Daybreak Express), so get the DVD.

As fluke would have it, I'd gone to Movie Madness for this DVD, only to find it checked out. Since I was in the Alec Guinness section (they file by actor quite a bit, as well as by director and genre), I settled for Hitler's Last 10 Days. In some ways, I couldn't have picked a better pre-quel (in historical terms), as here was a frustrated artist, Adolph, who would have been so benign as this later bass voice fulminator, same guy in a lot of ways. I'm remembering how Aguirre became that "rubber baron" in Fitzcarraldo, a later lifetime. If only these guys could have waited?

Another thing to see on the DVD is the original trailer. How did they tease their audiences in 1958? The film world, inheriting from vaudeville and penny alley, was titillating the neo-Victorians. There's a nude, from the back. Maybe if I pay my tuppence, they'll turn that camera around. Those gutsy artists, with all their angst. Alec Guinness sure knows how to play 'em.

The poignant story is about the youngest most earnest actor in the film, paying tribute to Alec Guinness as the "artist wannabe", only to die of a sudden illness before the movie was done shooting, and needing to recruit a voice to finish the dubbing. Like I said, you'll want the DVD version.

Yes, the fulminating Hilter character couldn't help but connect me to the carousing introvert in that stage play movie about Nixon, again on DVD. That's only to praise the acting. It's hard to really "be" these "responsible" men (and women).

The world of actors and directors, promising new talents, only partially overlaps the world of painters. They grab a "big tubes" guy off the street, on advice from Kenneth Clark, and he goes nuts with the canvases, knowing his art will live on, as that of a fictional character's, by some talented novelist. Holy smoke, what an opportunity. But to have to commit to that wall, that the filmmakers had intended from the beginning would be knocked down (five cameras, from every angle)... he understandably had a hard time with that. The world of transient media, committing to film: it's like jumping out of an airplane (one gets attached to one's creatures).

The director does a long riff on his "God's light" theory of illumination. Too many light sources, and you've doomed your look and feel. How intriguing, to hear from these pros. Our world's intersect, partially overlap, almost touch.