Patrick and Michèle Bokanowski: Angel's Flight 

Wednesday, Feb 22 2006

In French director Patrick Bokanowski’s rapturously mysterious avant-garde opus, L’Ange (1982), we climb a strange winding stairway (to heaven?), stopping here and there to observe the activities on the various landings. A man practices fencing against a hanging dummy; a housemaid serves her master; a library bristles with frenzied (and identical) researchers carrying absurdly large stacks of books; and, in the haunting sequence that appears to give the film its title, not-quite-human figures make their fluttering ascent amid reflected and refracted beams of ethereal sunlight. Silent save for the nerve-jangling, Bernard Herrmannesque string score composed by Bokanowski’s wife and regular collaborator, Michèle, the images of L’Ange flicker and flit their way to life onscreen with the primitive intensity of the earliest film recordings, while the “characters” repeat their actions in maddening loops, as if trapped in time, or perhaps just some Kafkaesque waking nightmare. I’m not sure what it all means, but as a discordant symphony of forms and movement, shadows and light, the film is stunning. This one-time screening will be preceded by the Bokanowskis’ short film Pour un Pianiste (1974) and will feature an appearance by the filmmakers. (REDCAT; Mon., Feb. 27, 8 p.m. www.redcat.org)

—Scott Foundas

Reach the writer at sfoundas@villagevoice.com

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