Archive for Fritz Lang

Atom Spies

Posted in FILM, Radio with tags , , , , on February 5, 2020 by dcairns

2019-02-15 22.21.46

Another Blu-ray extra! Timo Langer and I assembled Spycraft, a video essay to accompany Fritz Lang’s CLOAK AND DAGGER.

The disc also includes an excellent commentary by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, booklet essay by Sam Deighan, and both the radio adaptation starring nuclear mastermind Ronald Reagan and Lilli Palmer and the radio series spun off from the source book, which adds another ELEVEN HOURS of entertainment to the package.

I am The Fritz Lang Guy! I’ve now made essays to accompany this one, plus DER MUDE TOD, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and, for Arrow Video, THE SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR.

The Woman in the Window in the window

Posted in FILM with tags , , on June 6, 2019 by dcairns

New from Masters of Cinema: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, with video essay put together by Timo Langer and myself. Plus a booklet of essays and a commentary track by Imogen Sara Smith.

Grail Enquiries

Posted in Fashion, FILM, literature, Mythology with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2019 by dcairns

My line on EXCALIBUR has long been that John Boorman decided, boldly but perhaps unwisely, to make an Arthurian epic as if MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL had never happened.

I came up with a new line today while showing clips to a student who’s embarking on a mythic fantasy short: it’s like Boorman maybe DID know there was such a thing as The Ridiculous, but bet that he could break on through it to the other side. But possibly there’s nothing on the other side of The Ridiculous except more Ridiculous, going on forever, getting ever more ridiculous.

Hopping through the film for frame-grabs though, my God it’s beautiful. Though the muddy bits are the most Pythonesque, and the glossy bits are kind of sixties-hippy-meets-disco, so it’s all silly all the time, maybe it plays better in episodes, or even moments, than as a whole.

Remember Hawks’ “I don’t know how a pharaoh talks”? Remember also that Fritz Lang was offered the chance to remake DIE NIBELUNGEN at the end of his career, and turned it down on the basis that the dialogue would be impossible. EXCALIBUR would make a great silent movie.

I had just watched Daniel Aronofsky’s NOAH, which has some nice fake time-lapses but otherwise was not entertainingly bad as I’d hoped, but kind of depressingly bad, and I’d also shown clips from Polanski’s MACBETH, and the thing all three films have in common is really mannered performances. EXCALIBUR looked particularly ropey, except for Nicol Williamson who has the benefit of a sly wit. You can’t not think of LORD OF THE RINGS (which Boorman had wanted to make), and my feeling is what makes that movie/series watchable in spite of all the excesses (which are its ARCHITECTURE), is it has lots of interesting actors who can step outside the clichés of the Epic Style. Peter Jackson has always liked big, ALL-CAPS, cartoony performances, but there are understatement specialists and eccentrics dotted all through LOTR and yet there’s also an acceptable house style that keeps things just unified enough.

But one can’t help but dream of what a Boorman LOTR would be like. Like a Jodorowsky DUNE or a Ken Russell CLOCKWORK ORANGE.