March 25, 2018

April 7th, 2018


at the 

Echo Park Film Center
1200 N. Alvarado St.
Los Angeles, CA. 90026


(Aleksandr Dovzhenko, 1926)

(Marie Seton, Sergei Eisenstein, 1940)
16mm print

(Santiago Álvarez, 1966)


LOVE'S BERRY a.k.a. FRUITS OF LOVE (Ягодка любви. U.S.S.R. 1926. Dir. & Script Aleksandr Dovzhenko. Photography: Daniil Demutsky, I. Rona. With N. Krushelnitsky, M. Chardynina-Barskaya, Dmitry Kapka. 26 minutes)

The comic misadventures of a dandified barber trying to dispose of his illegitimate child, who is always returned to him. 

TIME IN THE SUN (Mexico / U.S.S.R. / U.S.A. 1940. Dir. Marie Seton, Sergei Eisenstein, Grigory Aleksandrov. 55 min. 16MM PRINT!

Eisenstein’s unfinished Que Viva Mexico!, one of cinema’s most celebrated lost masterpieces, exists in several unofficial abridgments and reconstructions. This 1940 version was assembled by Eisenstein biographer Mary Seton, who said it was based on a rough outline provided by Eisenstein himself. The director had come to America in 1930 hoping to make a film in Hollywood. When those plans were dashed, he undertook, with financing from novelist Upton Sinclair, a mammoth cinematic portrait of Mexico’s rich history, peoples, and traditions. Based on the eternal cycles of birth and death, and inspired by the epic murals of Diego Riviera and other Mexican artists, Que Viva Mexico! was to be structured in six parts, moving in history from pre-Columbian times to contemporary Day of the Dead celebrations. Eisenstein reportedly shot some 50 hours of footage; with expenses and misunderstandings mounting, Sinclair shut down the production. Eisenstein returned to the USSR and never again had access to the footage; Sinclair, the legal owner, parceled it out to various film projects, including Seton’s, over the years. Many believe Que Viva Mexico! might have been Eisenstein’s surpassing achievement, if only it had been finished. (Pacific Cinémathèque Pacifique) 16mm print courtesy of MoMA.

CERRO PELADO (Cuba. 1966. Dir. Santiago Álvarez. Photography: ICAIC. Music: Juan Blano. Sound: Raúl Préz Ureta, Idalberto Galvez. Editing: Norma Torrado. 36 min.) 

"Cerro Pelado" is the name of the ship we see carrying a Cuban sports delegation to the Tenth Central American and Caribbean Games in 1966. While on their way to San Juan, Puerto Rico—a "'freely associated' Yanqui Colony" as a title card says—an aggressive, illegal act of U.S. interventionism attempts to halt Cuban entry and participation. The ship and activities we see become the theory and practice of Revolutionary Cuban resistance, tenacity, life, and liberty. Their eventual landing at the games is generally triumphant. While Alvarez's camera and editing register shock and sympathy at the poverty, illiteracy and signs of colonialism the Cubans see in Puerto Rico, the film explodes with Revolutionary pride in having overcome such conditions. With commentary almost nilthe film speaks entirely through montage and music. "My style is the style of hatred for imperialism," director Santiago Álvarez has said.  

Program total running time: 2 hours
Doors: 7:30pm, Film starts at 8pm 
$5 suggested donation. 



"Kino Slang" is a regular series of cinema screenings begun last May programmed by Andy Rector at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. It continues the silent alarms and naked dawns of this eleven-year-old blog.


March 23, 2018

Jean Narboni on THE NAKED KISS

The Naked Kiss is, I believe, my favorite Samuel Fuller film because it was very high risk, beyond the conventional limits of vulnerability. Bresson used to say "entre la croûte et le chef-d'oeuvre il n'y a qu'un pas". ("Between a daub and a masterpiece, there's just one step") This would be a good description of how one feels watching this film. Fuller made it at the end of his most productive period (1964). It really is sublime, but it could very easily be perceived as ridiculous. The sensational first sequence, which is famous and quite striking, is very different from the rest of the film. It leaves room for another tempo -- Fuller was a very musical director and built the rhythm of his films using a highly musical instinct --where the tone is more downbeat. So you really have two different atmospheres. This first moment, a moment of trauma, and the rest of the movie. When you think of it, this story is very much like a fairy tale. But one that turns into a nightmare, a negative fairy tale. The young woman lives in misery, meets a delightful man who will save her... but it takes a horrifying turn. And like in all fairy tales, it has a point of enigma: the naked kiss. This moment is frightening and very troubling. It enunciates a catastrophe. The sublime then spills over into the grotesque.

And in the middle of the film there is a very special moment, a very vulnerable central sequence showing the handicapped children singing. Here too, it's so dramatic it could almost be ridiculous. But it shows a world that is out of tune, discordant. We're between utopia and nightmare. What's really special about this film is that Fuller shows the former prostitute's point of view within this particular story, and on this small town, and he takes her side. The way I see it, this film could be well summed up by Rossellini's phrase about Chaplin's A King in New York: "It is the film of a free man."

From Jean Narboni's presentation of THE NAKED KISS
January 13th, 2018 at the Cinémathèque française. 
Transcription and translation by Ariane Gaudeaux. 

March 14, 2018


A series of posts paying homage to Jerry Lewis, his world and the world through him.

Jerry Lewis, Which Way to the Front? (1970)
By Serge Daney

1. There's something in Which Way to the Front? that was already at work in Lewis’s previous films and that finally realizes itself here, hence this particularly strident and not very enjoyable movie where none of the previous tenderness remains. Clearly, Joseph Levitch is turning a corner, and today he's closer than ever to the impossible dream (to be one, to gather oneself up and/or to choose oneself, never to split again). He hasn’t chosen once and for all to be the definite all too human victim, which films like The Nutty Professor or The Ladies' Man ultimately valorized, instead he prefers—and this choice should surprise no one—to be the strong man, the self-made man, Jerry Lewis the producer. The era of this splitting, the mechanisms of which were so easy and exhilarating to play with and to dismantle, is definitely fading away. The desert is growing. And while it’s true that Lewis still treats us (and himself) to a few funny faces , it’s not so much to reassure his audience since—and this has not been noticed enough—these cries, faces, and gurglings (borborygmes) occur only twice in the film: at the beginning, and as a response to the word Rejected.

2. Rejected by what? By a system (the army) which has no need for prestigious  names, but for bodies, cannon fodder (chair à pâté) to make war. This is the decisive novelty of Which Way to the Front? in the lewisian problem; the Lewis of this latest movie is reduced to a word, a brand , a Name. As if ‘to accept oneself’, a known lewisian theme, meant: to renounce one’s body and be only one’s name, what one’s name promises, if it promises anything. And ‘Byers’ stands for ’Buyers’ (a plural which indicates that the splitting, although no longer visible, still survives somewhere; the waxen and tragic mask of Lewis in the first shots are there to prove it). Besides, Byers is a third of the Name and—insignificant himself as a body—he merely inherits from this Name a fortune so colossal that he cannot manage it (and squanders it). In his previous films, Lewis in the end has us (women, powerful people, the public) see him as a Body, a subject, an interiority, an intimacy, etc.. Here, there’s nothing like that: he only learns to behave according to the rules of a game which are no longer his. Since, strictly speaking, he no longer has a body (this body being ‘played’ by the trio Byers III = the three ‘Byers’ = Hackle, Bland, Love), he isn’t going to repeat his mistake (of reporting to the army medical examination, to offer his body and thus lose all possibility of language), and since he is only his Name, he is going to act out the meaning of that Name: a buyer, he is going to buy.

3. From then on, the fiction progresses through a rather strong logic. (Let’s mention, without spending too much time on it, that the analogy Lewis/film-making and Byers/war-making functions throughout the movie. The only elements of war selected and shown are the ones that evoke the making of a film: making garments, choice and purchase of props, learning one’s role, rehearsals, etc., without even mentioning Byers’s use of documentary films which he projects on board his yacht.) A fiction rather unbelievable, implausible, but an incredibility which is a new style for Lewis: no longer the meticulous and ‘realist’ arrangement of a situation which slowly turns to madness with the irruption of Lewis-the actor, but rather an implausibility (or discontinuity, we should say) equally distributed among all the elements of the fiction (for example, the very presence of a Black man in a German uniform is not an issue). Not only does Lewis seem unconcerned with the articulations of his story (no longer prevented, but bypassed, avoided, ignored), but it’s the very principle of diegesis that he seems to leave to chance, the question: how (and by what right) does one move from one thing to another? He asked himself this question with force in all his previous films because the question was then but a particular case of another passage, the passage from one instance to an other within a split personality (hence the bravura moments like the seen transformation of Love back to Kelp at the end of The Nutty Professor). But this splitting is no longer the explicit subject of Which Way to the Front?, nor the motor of its fiction.

4. Why such an apparent loosening? Because Lewis-Byers has taken his role seriously. What is wanted of him? Only what he can give: his Name, and/thus the Money that his Name promises, the possibility to exchange, infinite for him (hence shots of foreign currencies and women loaded aboard his yacht). The story no longer progresses linearly in a homogeneous space, but only through one of these generic equivalents: language, money.  No Lewis film has played so much with language, words and word play; no Lewis film has so openly talked about money and the power it confers (we should spend more time looking at all the dimensions of ‘Jewishness’ at last affirmed in the movie in two opposite senses: Byers’s physical appearance/Name of the decorated German solider: Levitch). No film has gone to such lengths to point out their complicity: Speech is gold.

5. It is thus thanks to the transformative power of words that Lewis-Byers clears himself a path to and through the Front. It is (as a master of language, archives at hand) by both naming and paying that he can secure collaborators (the Japanese who also appeared in Blue Gardenia, then Love, Hackle and Bland to whom he gives a check after calling their name). It is indeed by speaking the same language that General Buck (his sentences are merely repeated back to him) is duped (Buck = Dollar). In the kingdom of words, no resistance is possible or even thinkable, no instruction or password will hold up. But get the Name wrong and the crude reality of war irrupts (Anzio rather than Naples). And there’s no escaping this reality, that of the Body, this body that Lewis seems to have definitely lost and against which the film is targeted (and to which it is dedicated). Kesserling is defeated precisely because he’s only a body (hence the difficulty for Byers-Kesserling to face his role: whisky and beer before the military council, the blitz of a woman in heat). Hitler is defeated, at the end of a magnificent scene, because again he’s only a mere Body, hence the dance, the reference to Eva, to cooking, the conspicuous masochism, etc.. If  Byers–Kesserling–Lewis–Levitch can mime these mad bodies (in an unbearably bleak manner), it is so as to destroy them (but for how long?). Now he has won, which is to say what he has lost is unspeakable [1]: his Word is gold: (Deutsch) Mark My Words.


[1] The drama of the subject in the Verb is that it faces the proof of its lack of being.

Cahiers du cinéma
March-April 1971, no. 228.
Reprinted in
La maison cinéma et le monde:
1. Le temps des Cahiers 1962-1981,
pp. 118-120, POL, Paris, 2001.
Translation by Laurent Kretzschmar, Andy Rector, Sonja Bertucci.


Which Way to the Front? (1970) will screen this Friday, March 16th, 2018 at 8pm at The Bijou Theater (California Institute of the Arts) preceded by Charlie Chaplin's short The Bond (1918) and an excerpt of Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-98, Jean-Luc Godard), as part of the Kino Slang Cine-Club. For more information, see here.




March 6, 2018

March 16th, 2018 




California Institute of the Arts
24700 McBean Parkway
Valencia, CA.



(Charlie Chaplin, 1918)

an excerpt of

(Jean-Luc Godard, 1988-98)


(Jerry Lewis, 1970)


Program total running time: 2 hours 
There will be no introductions 
Doors open at 7:30pm, Film starts at 8pm
Free parking on the Calarts Campus 

Note: the change of venue to CalArts is only temporary. Kino Slang will return to its regular programming at the Echo Park Film Center in April. 


(Charlie Chaplin, 1918. 11 minutes)

The tramp wanders onto a blackboard where the bonds of life—friendship, love, marriage, liberty—are treated, ending in war bonds.

(Jean-Luc Godard, 1998. 20-minute excerpt of chapter 1A, "Toutes les histoires"/"All the Stories"). 

This 20-minute excerpt of Godard's (Hi)stories of Cinema -- more "a history through cinema" wrote Serge Daney -- begins with the intonation "...WHILE THE GERMANS WERE TAKING THE FRENCH FROM BEHIND...", referring to the Nazi invasion of France in May, 1940, and what follows like a deluge is Godard's reflection and projection of World War II and its creation and destruction by cinema ("the only history that projects"), using shards of films, popular songs, paintings, imprinted titles, newsreels, graphics, etc.. There are hundreds of relationships per minute here, of the simple, brutal sort (newsreel black-and-white SS soldiers consuming a turquoise glade by Monet) while macroscopic ideas are expounded in microscopic montage, for example: the conclusion that montage was murdered by the talking picture, and that this victory served "the two industrial brothers, America and Germany, RCA and Tobis", particularly Hitler, imperialism, and the soft fascism of the dominance of "commentary".

(Jerry Lewis, 1970. 96 minutes) 

"Which Way to the Front? with fully anachronistic sets and clothing occurs during the time of World War II. Its hero is the wealthiest man in the world, an American business tycoon. When he receives his draft notice we expect him to evade it, as he so easily can. But Jerry Lewis’ satire has the biting truth of logic: he is proud to serve, henceforth the film has the wonder of logic unfolding happily along its own course, totally uninhibited by considerations of historical fact or normal criteria of sense." (Tag Gallagher)



The Kino Slang Cine-Club is a regular series of cinema screenings programmed by Andy Rector continuing the cinematographic and historical excavations, proceedings by montage and association, silent alarms and naked dawns of this eleven-year-old blog.