Kino’s Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and ’30s
gathers together on two discs some of the most important and influential short
films in cinema history. All the hits are here: Hans Richter’s pulsing
animation, Rhythmus 21 (1921); Ferdinand Léger’s cubist montage,
Ballet Mécanique (1924); Germaine Dulac’s erotic fever dream,
La Coquille et le Clergyman (1926); and Man Ray’s gangster film
cum modernist open house, Les Mystères du Château du Dé
(1929). And despite the conventional wisdom that the American avant-garde didn’t
come into its own until the postwar era, with the work of Maya Deren and Stan
Brakhage, the prewar contingent here more than hold its own against its continental
counterparts. Some of the Americans wear their European influences on their
sleeve, including Orson Welles in his macabre, Caligari-esque The Hearts
of Age
(1934), while others turn straight to parody, as in the surrealist
spoof Even — As You and I (1934). Yet films such as Herman Weinberg’s
swooning ode to love and loss, Autumn Fire (1931), and Paul Strand and
Charles Sheeler’s city symphony, Manhatta (1921), still dazzle with
a native poetry long overdue for wider critical attention. That goes double
for Slavko Vorkapich and Robert Florey’s The Life and Death of 9413,
A Hollywood Extra
(1928). Shot by Gregg Toland, 9413 spins miniature
sets, paper cutouts and live action into a hilarious and harrowing kaleidoscopic
miniepic of renegade artists struggling under the Hollywood studios’ shadow.

Other recommended new releases: The Claude Chabrol Collection: Cop au Vin,
Inspecteur Lavardin, Betty, l’Enfer, The Color of Lies
VHS/DVD: Alexander: Director’s Cut.
DVD: Benny Hill: The Lost Years; Blue’s Clues: Blue’s Room: Alphabet
Power; The Complete Thin Man Collection; Creepy Creatures; Cuidad del Sol (Sun
City); The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Fourth Season; Evel Knievel; The First
World War: The Complete Series; The Funny Blokes of British Comedy; Hearts Afire;
The High and the Mighty: Special Collector’s Edition; The Industry; Island
in the Sky: Special Collector’s Edition; Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days;
NFL Hall of Fame Complete History; Pippi Longstocking; The Rider Named Death;
This Old Cub.

LA Weekly