Friday, May 15, 2009

Tod Browning & Werner Herzog

I'm a bit late on the draw, but for those of you in the New York City area, Film Forum has retrospectives of two of my all time favorite directors running simultaneously. Tod Browning, whose Freaks and The Unholy Three kicked off his series last Monday is represented by one of his greatest films-- West Of Zanzibar which is on a double bill with Mark Of The Vampire on Monday, June 1st. I've written about it already a bit (and the William Cowan talkie re-make Kongo), but let me reiterate, it's one of the most jaw dropping films ever made. There will be Browning double features every Monday until June 8th. I'm also reposting the rare photo of Mr. Browning that my wife gave me, just because I like the photo. That's Tod second from right. The entire schedule can be found here. My fall posting on Browning and TCM is here. Werner Herzog is the closest thing in the modern world there is to a heroic artist. Well, he's my hero anyway. The series Herzog: (Non) Fiction starts on May 18th and runs through June 7th, by the title I guess you've figured out his documentary work is featured. I'm no film critic but I'd like to recommend two-- Bells From The Deep (showing May 27), an incredible and often hilarious look at superstition and religious mysticism in Russia, and Wodaabe--Herdsmen Of The Sun, which documents a male beauty pageant that this nomadic African tribe hold every year. The strange opera music on the soundtrack is supposedly the only recording of the last castrato, who made a few rare opera 78's almost a century ago. BTW the latest issue of the Paris Review (#188, Spring 2009) contains some of Herzog's journal kept during the filming of Fitzcarraldo. The above clip from Les Blank's Burden Of Dreams will give you some idea of his mindset at the time. All it needs is a laugh track. The schedule for Herzog: (Non)Fiction can be found here. Every movie listed is worth seeing.


Paul said...

The White Diamond, in the Herzog season, is unmissable. And I'll second the jawdropping West of Zanzibar - best "crying? no, I'm laughing!" scene ever. Though Tod Browning seemed to like those, as there's one in The Unknown too.

The Hound said...

" And I'll second the jawdropping West of Zanzibar - best "crying? no, I'm laughing!"

In the talkie re-make Kongo it becomes a snearing scene, with the classic line--'He Sneared'!

Lore said...

Looks like the Herzog series at Film Forum was back in 2007?

The Hound said...

"Looks like the Herzog series at Film Forum was back in 2007?"

Weird, they just sent me the schedule last week...

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