Murmur of the Heart

We kick off a boxset of films by Louis Malle that are variously autobiographical, and we may have the quickest turnaround from “I hate this film” to “this later film has recontextualized an earlier one and now I maybe like that one more” in our entire run of Lost in Criterion.

That is to say, neither Pat nor I really enjoyed Murmur of the Heart (1971) when we first discussed it for this episode, but by the time we finish the boxset in 2 weeks we have a different understanding of this first film. While Pat has long maintained that he refuses to learn anything from this project, the self-evident truth is that the more movies we watch the better base of understanding we have in watching other movies. Often that means that we can look back on older episodes and know that we were certainly wrong in the discussion we had about them.

But even after all that learning, I think the incest in this movie ruins it for me. Not because it’s taboo, but because it doesn’t make sense.

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By Brahkage: An Anthology, Volume 1

This week's episode is a long one solely for the plethora and variety of material we're tasked with talking about. Stan Brahkage was an experimental filmmaker and a long-time film professor at the University of Colorado, who principally focused on non-narrative film. By Brakhage covers work from six decades of his career. With over four hours of material in 26 pieces ranging from 9 seconds to 74 minutes long, there's a lot to digest: a lot to love and some, well, not to.

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Straw Dogs

Dustin Hoffman's character in Straw Dogs (1971) is not a pacifist. If director Sam Peckinpah was trying to set up a conflict between David's values and the violent world in which he found himself, he does a terrible job of establishing David's values as any thing more than "conflict-avoidant" which is not the same thing as pacifistic. Since Pat and I really are pacifists, this distinction plays a central role in our response to the famously violent film. It doesn't help that the violent world -- where the long arm of the law is broken and religion and sleight-of-hand magic are one in the same, where a Batman villain is a peripheral character -- is a bit unrealistic. But then again, maybe that's just wishful thinking one the part of us two idealists.

All that, though, and we still really did like it.

(A warning for this episode: not only is this an extremely violent film, but it also contains a very controversial rape scene, which we discuss.)

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In 1971 Nicolas Roeg made a rather weird movie called Walkabout. Mostly it seemed like an excuse to ogle his under-aged female lead, but only slightly less than that it was a rather good film. Lost in Criterion discusses it this week and talk about how there are so many butts in it. How many butts, you ask? You want me to say a butt load, but I won't.