So the article about Yugoslav filmmaker Dusan Makavejev that I have been promising since July has finally been published in the print and web versions of this week's edition of The Nation.
Though I had to scrunch and smoosh to get it all in, I'm pretty happy with the piece. In particular, I was happy to get a chance to talk about a few things:
(1) The brilliance of Makavejev's first three feature films -- Man Is Not a Bird, Love Affair -- Or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, and Innocence Unprotected -- which have been recently been rereleased for the first time on DVD as a set by Criterion.
Because they had not been released previously on DVD when I had to write the piece, I had to buy all three movies online as used VHS tapes. That alone should tell you how valuable this new collection is in tracing the arc of Makavejev's art.
(2) A chance to make the argument that WR: Mysteries of the Organism is a more audacious and satisfying film than Sweet Movie, which is a much more notorious though less intellectually adventurous film. I was also delighted to remind readers of Makavejev's trenchant critique of the absurd priapism of the American combination of violence and capitalism -- something that critics who have been transfixed by Makavejev's stinging critique of communism in that film usually omit or elide.
(3) An opportunity to reevaluate Makavejev's last full-length feature, Gorilla Bathes at Noon -- and argue for its excellence as a film and as a portrait of the exhaustion at the end of the Cold War that so animates WR and Sweet Movie. Particularly viewed on the cusp of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gorilla Bathes at Noon is -- as I mention in the article -- a "portrait of Berlin as a filthy, cold and abandoned siege line of the Cold War." It is criminal that this film has not been released on DVD. I can only hope that my piece might urge that possibility on someone who can do it.