Friday, November 28, 2008

Jean Painleve

Edit: We arrived at Monkeytown and headed for the back room. It's set up with each wall as a screen, and a projector shows the film on each of the walls. Low tables line the room, with cush pillows and mattresses. It sounds a little janky but it's actually really nice. Dinner and drinks are served during the film and we ordered some of their house cocktails: Elderflower Bell (St. Germaine, cava, concord grape juice), Westminster Fennel Club (fennel infused gin, grapefruit bitters, pearl onions, twist), Umami Martini (shochu, brine, parmesan, clam juice, caper berry, spicy pickle).

The films were amazing and the re-score by Yo La Tengo was beautiful. My favorites were "Sea Urchins," "The Seahorse" and "The Love Life of the Octopus." The subtitles/commentary was a little tongue in cheek as well, and not so dry which was good. I definitely want to see it again and will try to get to the gallery at least once to do so.

The DVD + score are available as a 2-disc set on Yo La Tengo's website for $45, but only as a region 2 DVD. I guess I can buy myself a few bday presents :)

We're going to see a few of Jean Painleve's films scored by Yo La Tengo tomorrow night (reservations pending) at Monkeytown in Williamsburg. They're showing them through Sunday and reservations are free with a table minimum.

His photographs will be on view at CristineRose/Josée Bienvenu Gallery, 529 West 20th Street, Chelsea through Jan. 11 and his films will also be shown there every day at 4pm or on request.

From the NY Times article:
In 1944, Painlevé made a horrific nature film that is clearly an allegory of Nazi Germany. The film, ''The Vampire,'' originally set to music by Duke Ellington, begins with a survey of animals known for sucking or squeezing their prey dry. You see the octopus, the mosquito and the tick. You see the tongues of insects lapping blood from their victims, a map of Europe and a map of South America. The star of the film, the South American vampire bat, appears with his European screen double, Nosferatu. The subtitle ominously explains the choice of experimental victim: ''Decency has replaced man by a guinea pig.''

Slowly the vampire bat sidles and lurches up to the guinea pig, which is all innocence. The bat gives the guinea pig a gentle kiss on the lips, which, as the subtitles explain, numbs the victim in the place where the bloodletting will occur. Then the bat begins sucking on the guinea pig's cheek. You see the poor furry thing paralyzed, apparently sitting calmly, while the blood is drained from its body. The camera turns cruelly to an image of a cat lapping milk. At the end the bat, seemingly drunk on blood, begins to doze, but not before raising a wing in a hideous ''heil.''

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