Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reminder: Straub-Huillet (and Ophüls) this weekend.

by Ryland Walker Knight

While it feels funny to shill for no good reason other than sheer nerd excitement, I am really thrilled at what's on the horizon. Thus: Friday at the Walter Reade theatre there's a 2-for-1 double bill that any self-aware cinephile (such as yours truly) would be remiss to skip: Straub-Huillet's The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach and Max Ophüls' La Ronde. Both films intrigue me for a variety of reasons but I must cop to the fact that I'm more excited about the chance to see another Straub-Huillet film on a big screen after falling so heedlessly in love with the first and only other feature of theirs that I have had the pleasure to see (Sicilia!, which I wrote about last spring). It would be plain dumb to be blasé about seeing another Ophüls on a big screen, so with the promotional aid-motivation, it makes a lot of sense to just dive in and enjoy that big and loud as well. But this isn't just some programming lark, mind you, it's a tribute, too. Richard Roud died 20 years ago and his stamp, though faint in name-drop terms, remains an ink blot on our movie-going as can't-fail compass J. Hoberman attests: "Program director (and then just director) of the New York Film Festival from 1963 through 1987, Richard Roud was one of the most influential cine-tastemakers to ever give New York the benefit of his sensibility—an early, loyal champion of such once-outré artists as Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Agnès Varda, Sergei Paradjanov, Dusan Makavejev, and R.W. Fassbinder, to name but a few." If my meager patronage is a vote of appreciation, I'm all for saying "Thanks." Those are some names to give to the world. (Or, at least, this little world I like to inhabit.)

On Sunday, as a bonus, the Walter Reade will screen Straub-Huillet's Moses and Aaron at 2pm, but that ticket costs $35, and apparently New Yorker Films will be releasing the film on DVD next week for a shade less cash. So I may skip that one. Still, that's probably something to see big, too, while the opportunity presents itself. Luckily, a friend of mine says, the Straub-Huillet pictures are all pretty sexy bookings guaranteed to attract a crowd (of fellow formalist goofs like me) in New York so there should be plenty more opportunities to see their emulsion shine in my time ahead here. For now, though, I'm pretty happy with what Friday should bring. Here's a sneak peak at the opening shot of La Ronde:


  1. Sheer nerd excitement not good enough for you anymore? ;)

    Anyway, I'm jealous of the critical mass of formalist goofs in NYC. We got some here, but we're still too few.

  2. No, no, it is plenty good. Just in one of those moods this week, you know? And, yea, yea, I wish you could watch these over here with us.

  3. Since I'm only writing about the Straub film at length, lemme take this late lunch snack break to say that the Ophuls film was, indeed, as ever, really fucking great. So much fun, so funny, so smart. Made me wish I had a job solely for the task of running up the street to Best Buy so I could buy the best (ha!) -- so I could buy each of those three Criterion discs put out at the end of the summer -- and fall into their round-sound-images.

    "Your blouse... it's... blue."