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Short Cinema Journal 1:2 - Dreams (1997)

Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Chris Marker, Chris Marker, George Hickenlooper, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: PolyGram Entertainment
Genre: Comedies, Drama, Independent, Time Travel, Short Films
Running Time: 140 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

This title is currently out of print.

The second volume in a series of videos collecting great short films, this program includes La Jetee, Chris Marker's poetic science fiction story that inspired Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys; A Girl's Own Story, a poignant look at adolescence from director Jane Campion that's paired with a documentary on the making of Campion's The Portrait Of A Lady; and The Big Brass Ring, based on a story by Orson Welles, in which Malcolm McDowell plays a politician doing verbal battle with a reporter (the video also includes an interview with the film's director, George Hickenlooper). Six other shorts also appear. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

This disc is currently out of print so we only have a limited number of copies for rent. Thanks for your patience.

GreenCine Member Reviews

Worth it for Marker alone by markanarch March 18, 2007 - 1:54 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This DVD does not feature anything by Jane Campion, despite the listing here and on the paper slipcase.

A meditation on memory and the destruction of history using photo-stills and a sci-fi plot, La jetee is a classic of modern cinema and essential viewing (not least in light of the fact that no other titles by Marker seem available in the U.S. - ditto many directors that Marker has collaborated with).

Marker has written: I am writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way, the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what History is to the other. An impossibility. Legends are born out of the need to decipher the indecipherable. Memories must make due with their delirium, with their drift. A moment stopped would burn like a frame of film blocked before the furnace of the projector. Madness projects, as fever does. [. . .] I think of a world where each memory could create its own legend. Sunless, Oasis issue of Semiotext(e) magazine, ed. Brigitte Vial et al., 1984.

The rest of the DVD is, despite what the other review here says, largely ALL "junk," and the general shoddy production of this Shorts series -- the unhelpful navigation, waste of space, the ads disguised as shorts, tiresome interim sequences, etc. -- is enough to make any serious film viewer frustrated.

I'd be amazed if Marker had anything to do with this release -- a suspicion supported by the promo material included about 12 Monkeys featuring its screenwriters and director, none of whom have anything intelligent to say about La jetee.

See Fred Savage say 'Fuck', get laid, and shoot a guy. by AKrizman June 16, 2003 - 11:16 AM PDT
9 out of 10 members found this review helpful
This Volume of the series remedies many of the flaws on the first one. The user interface, which was particularly aggravating on the first disc, is now much more intuitive. This disc has much less filler than the first as well - the interviews are almost all relegated to alternate tracks, and there are no music videos or commercials. What filler there is has been relegated to a section appropriately called "the Junk Drawer". And unlike Volume 1, the theme of this edition (dreams) actually seems to be almost relevant as most of the films deal with dreams or the imagination.

This disc contains the following Shorts:

La Jetee (1962) 28 min.
Set in a future post-apocalyptic dystopia, scientists experiment with time travel in an attempt to save humanity from extinction. The film's most distinguishing feature is that it's told slide-show style with a series of stills instead of live action film; this was distracting at first, but the director, Chris Marker, paced it masterfully and it created a disjointed mood which paid off in the end. This disc also includes commentary from Terry Gilliam whose '12 Monkeys' was inspired by this film.

Cafe Bar (1974) 6 min.
This animated short explores how attitudes evolve between two strangers who meet in a cafe. Their insecurities and delusions are portrayed literally.

Depth Solitude (1995) 7 min.
A person in isolation can get desperately lonely and resort to desperate acts. This decidedly creepy film effectively portrays this disturbing mood through an allegory of a man living at the bottom of a pool while the rest of the world floats above him.

A Guy Walks Into a Bar (1997) 28 min.
How well a story is told is more important than the story itself. Told conventionally, this story would be tiresome and predictable, but this brilliantly edited movie causes you to question which elements of the story are real, and which are imaginary. The result is the opposite of those movies where the protagonist wakes up at the end to discover it had all been a dream.

Bride of Resistor (1997) 6 min.
On the previous disc in this series, we were introduced to Mr. Resistor - a creature made up of spare electronics brought to life through stop-motion animation. In this episode, we see Mr. Resistor attempt to entrap one of those bride figures that are found on Wedding cakes. The animation is stunningly good, but I thought the last one was better.

Eye Like a Strange Balloon (1995) 5 min.
A surreal film by Guy Maddin inspired by a charcoal painting by Odilon Redon. Some of the images are quite striking, but they pass too quickly. The original artwork is more effective because it allows you to dwell on the images.

Vincent: The Junkie Chronicles (1998) 9 min.
The main flaw with this documentary is it's stingy length; 9 minutes isn't enough time to get adequately absorbed in the world of a heroin addict. It doesn't help that the director spends half the time on his subject's self-pitying rambling, and the other half framing brooding images of his subject accompanied by a grunge rock song. The film would have benefited from a more ambitious scope: Follow him around and let us in on the more mundane aspects of his daily life, and interview other people to see what effect his addiction has on those he interacts with.

The Big Brass Ring (1997) 6 min.
Director George Hickenlooper filmed this one scene from a screenplay he wanted to produce, an ethical suspense thriller that Orson Welles had co-written, but never produced. The excerpt stands surprisingly well on its own. For comparison, the equivalent scenes from the 1999 Feature Version is also included on the disc. I've never seen the feature version, but judging from this outtake, I'd say the original pared down version was preferable. The possible exception is the casting; Nigel Hawthorne (in the feature version) out-classes Malcolm McDowell (in the short version). The disc also includes A 6 min. Interview with director George Hickenlooper.

Prev: Volume 1
Next: Volume 3

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