The talk and the music in Edward O. Bland’s eccentric 1959 Chicago-made short are equally important. The paradox is that Bland’s film centers on jazz and needs various kinds of performance to illustrate its points, yet what’s being played by Sun Ra and others is only adequate; if the music were good enough to distract one from the talk, the film wouldn’t work as well. Lucid and provocative, this is recommended viewing for any jazz novice, one of the best social readings of jazz form I know. 31 min. (JR)
Five women writers supply the five episodes for this Brazilian feature, described as a mixture of documentary and fiction. Malu De Martino directed. In Portuguese with subtitles. 113 min.
Jean-Luc Godard films himself in his native Switzerland, pondering his childhood and, as usual, ruminating about art and life. If you can put up with the brooding self-regard, which occasionally suggests German romanticism at its most narcissistic (imagine Goethe contemplating a bust of himself), this 1995 film shows Godard at his most accomplished, at least when it comes to composing in sound and image. In French with subtitles. 59 min. (JR)
Documenting the last gasp of the Franco regime, Pere Portabella’s 1977 film devotes most of its 158-minute running time to Spaniards’ answers to the question How do you envisage the change from a dictatorship to a democratic government? This starts off with an eerie tour of Franco’s tomb that suggests a color remake of Portabella’s 1970 masterpiece Cuadecuc-Vampir, then proceeds with footage of 1976 demonstrations in Barcelona and Madrid, archival propaganda, and discussions with socialists, communists, union representatives, lawyers, engineers, and artists, among others. Portabella intersperses tours of other locations and concludes with a classical music concert. The full title translates as General Report on Some Interesting Facts for a Public Showing. In Spanish, Catalan, and Basque with subtitles. (JR)