Friday, July 28, 2006

The Last Ha Ha!

I love the German expressionist film by F.W. Murnau The Last Laugh. It is one of those movies that feels like an extended dream sequence because of its Cinéma Vérité style- which I love. The emotions evoked are partly due to the lack of titles. Every shot has emotionally driven acting and camera movements. During the drunk sequence the camera spins to create the effect of the room spinning around his drunken head. A terribly disorienting effect for the viewer but puts the eye of the lense as the character's own. Shots like that always get me excited!

Emil Jannings is a great actor, watch him, his facial expressions are so endearing! The way he poises himself in any situation is remarkable. He is also in Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel another great movie starring Marlene Dietrich! Marlene is great, but as we all know, and G. W. Pabst obviously knew too, Louise Brooks is better! Pabst, another great German expressionist- ahhh so many movies to discuss and love!

I love movies that have a volatile rhythm, some that come to mind like The Last Laugh are Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, Vertov's Man With The Movie Camera, Carl Th. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc and some of the city symphonies. But now that I have said that I could be opening a can of worms by comparing Eisenstein to Vertov! But hear me out, the relationship I see is all in the cutting, and what is left for the viewer to interpret. The intensity of going from a wide shot and then to a close-up, the way these films are edited and leave your heart racing. There are not many things today that come close- crappy mtv style editing almost in some ways tries to evoke the same vehemence but in a shitty subliminal sort of fashion.

The films I mentioned deserve their own individual posts- maybe I will get to my thoughts about them this week!