Notes On Marie Menken (2006/Icarus Films DVD)
Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Film: C+
Short films are very common today and usually by would-be
filmmakers (now shooting usually forgettable pieces digitally) whose work is
rarely a gateway to features. In the
case of Marie Menken, she was a shorts filmmaker from day one and thrived in
the short form and we are not talking about Music Video or commercials. When film was a more respected art form and
the best possible works were being made by ambitious and talented people who
cared, the form thrived. Martina
Kudlacek’s Notes On Marie Menken
(2006) takes a long look at her groundbreaking work.
For nearly 100 minutes, we learn about the woman, her life
and the progress of her work, all in 16mm and with a style and approach that
was unique and distinct. The documentary
is also a biography and though it never argues she was an auteur, if you can
have one in short films to begin with, she certainly loved the camera and her
love for it produced many memorable works.
She loved the Bolex Camera in particular and pushed it to the
limit. As a result, she is still
remembered for her work (though her and her husband were the historic
inspiration for Who’s Afraid Of Virginia
Woolf?) but that cannot begin to show her important work.
My only problem with this documentary is that it does not
explore her film work nearly enough and covering it is just not sufficient
enough when going into it. The result is
an uneven work that is worth a look, but I was hoping would go much further,
including in her time with Andy Warhol.
Still, it is a good start to understanding the woman and her legacy.
The 1.33 X 1 image is a little soft throughout, but some
footage looks very good and this is a documentary, so we get the usual
variances as expected. The Dolby Digital
2.0 sound is simple stereo at best in the new footage, monophonic on older
footage if it even has sound and is what you also get for varied documentary
sound. Extras include three bonus short
films in their entirety by Menken: Visual
Variations On Noguchi, Arabesque For
Kenneth Anger and Glimpse Of The
Garden, which was added to the Library Of Congress’ National Film Registry
- Nicholas Sheffo