The ghost of Bogart hovers over two films from the 1970s that are screening in the Snubbed series, selections that exemplify the Academy’s indifference to unlikable antiheroes adrift in diffuse underworlds.
Translating Poe to a visual medium is an inherently tricky endeavor: though the plots of his stories lend themselves to film, the everlasting poignancy of his work is his deft use of language to conjure moods of ominous ineffability.
Formally, Pearl is his most elegant film, with careful, considered, yet modest compositions and smooth camera movements. West and regular DP Eliot Rockett use the whole wide frame, placing Pearl in the periphery of many shots with the farm consuming the rest, the countryside like a romantic painting spread over the background.
You can feel the sense of chaos in the cacophonous trains festooned with graffiti, bulbous fonts and enigmatic emblems and cartoonish signatures. Kirchheimer distills the essence of the city into 45 minutes of trains trundling along, piebald in paint; the film is a beguiling sequence of 16mm images.
Cover Girl, by Brooklyn-based artist Sara Cwynar, is a shimmering assemblage of images and items, images of items, objects, colors, and shapes, accompanied by a loquacious yet lethargic voiceover that intones indolently on and on until it becomes something like white noise.
His films can be quite melancholy, as this one is, but they often, especially his more recent ones, vibrate with giddiness, the ever-alert camera finding the right, often idiosyncratic angle; Shyamalan still believes, with the resoluteness of a child, that movies are magic, even if they are for adults.