bijou reviews – L

La Jetee/Film/Towers Open Fire!

La Jetee/Sans Soleil
Étienne Becker, Je…
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La Jetee directed by Chris Marker. Film directed by Samuel Beckett. Towers Open Fire directed by William S. Burroughs.

Chris Marker’s influential short LA JETEE (1963) first brought to the screen what are now considered “cutting edge” SF cyberpunk ideas such as neural networks, wired cities, and virtual visions (see further: MATRIX, THE).

Marker was way ahead of the curve, in other words, and he only used one moving image. The rest are all still images, rapidly edited together ala a film, with a terrific and haunting plot that draws you in. A storyline whose influence on THE TERMINATOR is clear enough, as is the story being the literal source for Terry Gilliam’s epic version THE 12TH MONKEY.

Any of these film classics are perfect for those who enjoy an evening of entertainment and some indulging in tasty edible marijuana treat or two. With the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, one can pop down to the local dispensary in the morning, buy a couple of sweet or savory treats, some bottles of Venice Cookie’s cannabis lemonade (they do have other flavors, but I love their lemonade) or some flavors of Dixie Elixirs (my favorites are Sparkling Grapefruit and Sparkling Pomegranate), and mosey on home a spend the afternoon and / or evening relaxing with friends watching some great movie flicks. Those of us living in Colorado have the best options for marijuana edibles without resorting to baking your own. I just love Compassion Edibles tortilla crisps with some guacamole dip! Ah, but I digress.

For his efforts, Marker won the Prix Jean Vigo that year for Best Short Film and — most enduringly — a place in SF cult history. It was reported that fans sent themed gift baskets with either post-apocalyptic items from the Third World War, prison items since the main character, “The Man” is a prisoner, and romantic gift baskets for the his pre-war childhood “woman of mystery.” On the other hand, if your “cup of tea” is sipping on a bubbly from a delightful basket of champagne gifts, you’ll appreciate LA JETEE all the more. Nothing is better than sipping some champagne, nibbling on savory or sweet delicacies while watching a flix.

Interestingly, Marker himself admits that much like the accidental editing pattern of Godard’s BREATHLESS, LA JETEE’s use of still images derives (happily in retrospect) from the lab’s ruining more of the live action footage than Marker (right) could salvage on his meager budget. So, after some despair, cigarettes and coffee, he came up with the solution: isolate still images, enhance them photographically, and make the limitation an advantage. Would today’s digital cameras and Power Mac’s ever provide so daunting a task and therefore as inspiring results? As LA JETEE reminds us, only time knows all to tell.

Plus, on the same triple bill, Samuel Beckett’s eerie FILM, a weirdly hypnotic silent short starring Buster Keaton. The subject matter is almost indescribable, but since that’s never stopped us before: an old man (Keaton) fetches the daily newspaper in his derelict neighborhood, imagining the harmless locals to be nefarious. But back home in his humble hovel, the old man’s delusions and illusions are just beginning. Soon he finds himself falling into a continuous trap of self-looping in which he experiences deja vu and reality at the same time.

Whew, told you it wasn’t easy! The plot is pointless, anyway, as the flick concentrates and ultimately relies on the impact of Keaton’s brutally-cragged face in Leonesque close-ups as much as any narrative. Combined with the fluid, out-of-body shots of Keaton floating around his room that echoes Fellini’s JULIET OF THE SPIRITS for creating a cinematic sense of spatial disorientation and FILM delivers on

Beckett’s and Keaton’s reputations for successfully pushing boundaries.

The final part of this surreal trilogy is TOWERS OPEN FIRE!, the Anthony Balch produced and co-directed cinematic rendering of some of William S. Burroughs’ infamous “routines.” The stoic-faced Burroughs opens the flick in granite close-up, unflinching, as his gravel-filled voice rants about race-mixing on the narration. Other choice images include Burroughs as a mystic CEO who uses black magic to banish the works of flickmakers deemed “too savvy” for the duped masses to behold and handheld footage of Burroughs in a wintery park looking (what else?) bitter and lonely.

What Critics Say:

“LA JETEE’s fans insist that it’s the finest science fiction film ever made, and why not? … It’s no exaggeration, finally, to say that LA JETEE may represent film’s closest approach to poetry.” — ROTTEN TOMATOES.COM, ’10 HYPNOTIC EXPERIENCES’

“[LA JETEE]… One of the best of all SF films.” — CHICAGO READER

“[FILM]… As Keaton arranges and rearranges the things in his sparse living quarters, and goes through pictures of himself, often hiding from the camera, you begin to see what’s going on: is he, the character, only who he sees in the mirror, and in pictures, or is he other than that? Keaton lends it a few touches of his by now archetypal humor — wholly improvised — which Beckett found delightful. This is a unique work that any serious student of film should have in her/his library.” — IMDB.com

Last Dinosaur, The
Starring Richard Boone & Joan van Ark. Dino EFX by Kaziro Sagawa. Produced by Arthur Rankin & Jules Bass.

Think about Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass and most people think of stop motion TV specials like RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, which still turns up on TV stations at Christmas time. They also gave us the 1967 MAD MONSTER PARTY (which was bankrolled by Mad Magazine, which is why the word “Mad” is repeated so often during the title song) and several Saturday morning cartoon shows.

THE LAST DINOSAUR, a 1977 made-for-TV thriller, was filmed in Japan with the help of Toho Studios. Great, you are thinking, this must be a classic! Well… let’s have a look and then you can decide for yourself.
Marsden Thrust (Richard Boone) is a self made millionaire and big game hunter who has

tracked down and killed every type of animal there is except for one: a dinosaur. When he hears about some scientists who believe that there is a prehistoric world hidden under the Antarctic ice he sees a chance to add a stuffed dinosaur to his trophy room and offers the use oif his latest invention, the Thrust Polar Borer (it’s even labeled on one side) to go explore the lost world.
Quicker than you can say THE LAND UNKNOWN, Thrust and company are popping up in the middle of the prehistoric world. With his trusty gun bearer (Luther Rackley) close by Marsden goes looking for his latest quarry (I kept hoping someone would say “Have gun, will travel” but no one does) and right away the problems begin.

The scientists just want to study any life they find but Thrust is so rich and powerful he is used to getting things his own way no matter what

and insists they capture a giant dino alive so he can make even more money by exhibiting it. While they are debating, a flesh eating Tyrannosaurus finds them!
Frankly I expected more from Toho’s special effects department than delivered in THE LAST DINOSAUR. They could have loaned out the “Gorasaurus” costume from KING KONG ESCAPES but noooooooooooo! The monster we get is a plain, ordinary Tyrannosaurus. The costume is certainly authentic looking but the suitmation technique is no better than, say, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT or WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS.
The monster stomps on one of the doctors (Tatsu Nakamura) and Thrust decides it’s time to get revenge (“This creature with a brain the size of a dried pea has killed one of the greatest minds of our time!”). The others are

ready to scram. After all, they have to get back before the severe Antarctic winter makes escape impossible.
This is where the movie becomes a “Who is the real monster?” morality play as Thrust refuses to let anyone leave until he has taken revenge on the beast that was only acting out of pure instinct. You have to really wonder just whom the title is refering to, the monster or Thrust himself whose

macho man attitude makes him seems like a “dinosaur” fighting a losing battle against the modern world.

The cast of THE LAST DINOSAUR is competant and they handle their parts well. Richard Boone started his career in things like I BURY THE LIVING, which is a pretty scary mystery until they totally let us down with a cop-out “rationalisation” ending. Joan van Ark was also in

FROGS and Steven Keats was in the made for TV movie THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN (gee, I wonder what it was about?) and HANGAR 18.
Toho special effects tech Kaziro Sagawa was in charge of the dino costume and also a life sized foot which was used for closeups. In America people could see this on TV for free. In Europe they had to pay to see it theatrically. — Notes by Dr. Maniac.

What Critics Say:

”THE LAST DINOSAUR once ruled its world… there was a time, during the late ‘80s, when our subject here was constantly on the air… if you had cable, it seemed that two or three times a month you would stumble across this film playing in all its idiosyncratic glory.” — Ken Begg, JABOOTU’S BAD MOVIE DIMENSION
“You really have to love dinosaurs to appreciate this cheap and ludricrous film… but if you want to see a dinosaur movie, the campiness won’t bother you.” — aesgaard41, IMDB.com
“The interesting thing about this film’s title is that it does not refer to the tyrannosaurus, but to Mr. Thrust. He is the last male artifact from a forgotten age, when men were rich jerks. I didn’t particularly like Masten, but his dogged determination to kill the dinosaur eventually caused me to respect the man.” — BAD MOVIES.org

Like this flick? See Also: GAPPA; GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER; MYSTERIOUS MONSTERS; PLANET OF STORMS; JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME

Legend of Bigfoot, The

Starring, Written and Directed by Ivan Marx.

This incredibly rare, hard-to-see “anti-Bigfoot” flick is infamous for its legendary treatment of the creature: completely disrespectful of both believer and non-believer alike! Not that you would know it, as it has been out-of-print for over a decade.
You have to really see THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT (1976) at least once in your life if you have even a passing fancy in all things Sasquatch. No kidding, the flick is hysterically inept and (yet like the roadkill it chronicles) luridly voyeuristic in a rubberneck kind of way.
And again, if you value Bigfoot, you can’t help but want to see it to be a compleatist. But if you believe, be prepared to feel like you were fleeced. And if you don’t buy into Bigfoot? You’ll be gleefully amused by Marx’s wicked sense of carny-esque salesmanship: he really pours on it on thick with the hucksterisms.
My favorite scene? Jeez, there is so much that’s great herein for the bad movie lover that it would be dishonest to detail too much. But some quick highlights include: Marx’s ridiculous and graphically illustrated theory about Bigfoot migrations in North America; his periodic “chance” encounters with the creatures (and always just as he arrives with his 16mm handy!); and his wife being forced to hold the camera while he in a very unconvincing ape suit runs through the fields like some lovesick ‘Squatch horny for a mate.
If you can watch the footage of Marx as Bigfoot in THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT — Marx’s trademark, bowlegged gait and lanky frame clearly apparent beneath the ragged suit — and keep from choking with laughter on your beer you’re a better and stronger-willed person than me, let me tell you. Give his wife credit, too, for holding the camera steady and not shaking with laughter while filming. 😉

What’s truly reprehensible (but therein part of the deviant fun) is how pathologically idiotic Marx assumes his audience to be, expecting them to swallow his mocking tone of patronizing sincerity and ultra-belief in the critters as if listening to a preacher spewin’ the Gospel Truth at a tent revival.
“Bigfoot!?” Marx barks in mock disgust in the first reel before his sudden conversion to True Believer. “I’d had about a belly full of Bigfoot!” The core believer will share Marx’s estimation, but not of the myth or monster, but of the man himself: while a little goes a long way, Marx shouldn’t be given an easy grade for the condescension so evidently on display, as it is not only directed at Bigfoot afficianados.
No, he plays to the lowest rung of the audience and still manages to offend. With his ludicrously inept footage, it’s as if Marx is flagrantly showing his barely concealed disdain for the viewer who would actually sit through this con job and not, say, get up and demand her money back!
Not that he had disdain just for believers. In fact, Ivan Marx was once a “legitimate” hire in the employ of none other than famed Bigfoot researcher/”hunter” Peter Byrne! Yes, before being defrauded and left holding a bag of bills on behalf of Marx, Byrne had Marx on the payroll of a pro ‘Squatch research group. Byrne’s hilarious account of how they uncovered Marx’s deception in staging photos he claimed real and Marx’s subsequent vanishing into the night before they could confront him is priceless reading.

It’s that carny aspect, however, that makes THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT so unique in the otherwise all-too-serious and self-serious Cine du Sasquatch. The flick is willing to be blatantly unbelievable about a subject matter many find unbelievable, which manages to reduce either belief or non-belief to complete irrevelency.
Like the traveling circus moving through your town, you have to be “taken” by a pro as slick and unrepentant as Marx to really feel used and abused. Shame on you if you resist the urge to take a peek just because you feel superior, either; Marx felt the same way and still managed to make a whole career and several feature flix out of his disdain! 😉 — Notes by Travis Crabtree.

What Critics Say:

”A priceless piece of faux-anthropological malarkey by lifelong Bigfoot cheapjack Ivan Marx…. seems ripped from the craggy lips of the Marlboro Man himself.” — CITY PAGES MOVIE REVIEWS
“When we weren’t talking about the movie, we were walking through dark woods, hoping that we might find tracks or clues that Sasquatch was afoot… we found a stash of waterlogged PLAYBOYS out there.” — Scott Adams, TELEPORT CITY
“What a big guy!”
THE GIFT GIVERS
“Bigfoot lovers will like this one.” — Novan, IMDB.com

”Si j’étais un bigfoot, j’attaquerais le réalisateur en justice pour me faire passer pour un mollasson qui ramène ses morts sur 500 kilomètres, tel un saumon ! Une longue séquence sur un écureuil frappé par une voiture en achèvera plus d’un ! Une curiosité pour amateur de bigfoot uniquement.” — CLUB DES MONSTRES.com
“The man whose prank launched the ‘Bigfoot’ legend in 1958 has died and family members say they can now reveal

the truth: Ray L. Wallace was the Bigfoot in the movie [shot by Marx]. Wallace died of heart failure Nov. 26 in Centralia, Wash.” — CBS NEWS.com
“The romantic notion of stalking this giant monster was publicized through newspaper coverage and men’s magazines (like TRUE, SAGA, and ARGOSY) and attracted a small group of Bigfoot hunters, banded together by…inevitable thoughts of financial prosperity. By 1959, Texas millionaire oilman Tom Slick financed the Pacific Northwest Expedition, a group of men including Bob Titmus, Ivan Marx, Rene Dahinden, and John Green — a group of men still prominent in the field today — who were commissioned to capture the beast… but the group as a whole did little else but argue and eventually disbanded.” — Mark Opsasnick, UFONET.it

Like this flick? See Also: BOG; SASQUATCH, THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT; CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE; MAN BEAST; MYSTERIOUS MONSTERS

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