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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biograpohy > FIlmmaking > Art > Notes On Marie Menken (2006/Icarus Films DVD)

Notes On Marie Menken (2006/Icarus Films DVD)


Picture: C+     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 in 2007.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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