DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
THE COMPLETE FILM WORKS OF ROBERT FRANK-VOLUME 2 (director: Robert Frank; Steidl; 1963-1969-Germany-in English)

 
"All three shorts are at best only mildly interesting. They offer a look at the 1960s through the eyes of a counter-culture filmmaker."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
 
OK END HERE (director: Robert Frank; screenwriter: Marion Magrid; cinematographer: Gert Berliner; music: Ornette Coleman;  Runtime: 32; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward Gregson; Contemporary Films/Steidl; 1963-Germany-in English)

Steidl presents Robert Frank: The Complete Film Works-Vol. 2 the PAL format. The three-disc set includes Conversations in Vermont and Liferaft Earth. Beat generation Swiss-born director Robert Frank ("Candy Mountain"/ "Run"/ "Summer Cannibals"), perhaps the most influential of mid 20th-century American photographers, has turned filmmaker and directs this personal movie, a documentary shot in grainy black and white. 

A contrived status-quo melodrama that has Frank and his bored live-in girlfriend in his luxury Manhattan apartment facing the East River, getting up late on Sunday, watching worthless TV programs and visited by Frank's ex-flame and her new husband. The conversation drags and the artist makes excuses to get rid of his boring guests, while making arrangement with the business exec to meet in his corporation office to discuss a business deal. Frank then takes his attractive girlfriend to a local bistro, where they run into another boring couple. The girlfriend from Wisconsin tells Frank she "loves what's familiar and he seems strange, but she wants to be with him." It ends when they return to his pad, indicating sex is the main part of the relationship.
 
LIFERAFT EARTH (director: Robert Frank; Runtime: 32; MPAA Rating: NR; Steidl; 1969-Germany-in English)

Frank has made over 20 personal films since 1959 like the ones in this box-set, but is best known for the Beat family portrait Pull My Daisy that he co-directed with painter Alfred Leslie and was narrated by Jack Kerouac. Liferaft is about 118 hippies in Hayward, California, going on a fast in a 'War against Death." Death is said to be ignorance and starvation. Those fasting lived in an air-filled plastic loop. during the course of several days they moved to another location in the woods outside of San Francisco. As far as I could tell the fast had no impact on the world, but the participants seemed to feel good that they made it through six days. The fast was organized by organized by Wavy Gravy and Stewart Brand.
 
CONVERSATIONS IN VERMONT (director: Robert Frank; cinematographer: Ralph Gibson; Runtime: 27; MPAA Rating: NR; New Yorker Films/Steidl; 1969-Germany-in English)

It's about the wealthy born artist engaged in conversation with his troubled oldest teenage son Pablo and his 15-year-old daughter Andrea. The artist's wife, fellow artist Mary Lockspeiser, remains in the background, as he chats with the teens in their rural Vermont retreat. The kids attend a commune school and are glad to be removed from the fast paced hipster NYC scene, as they talk about their counter-culture lifestyle. Lots of dad talk to the kiddies about the past and present, that was too personal and trivial to hold my interest.

All three shorts are at best only mildly interesting. They offer a look at the 1960s through the eyes of a counter-culture filmmaker. 

REVIEWED ON 4/2/2009       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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