AKA The Angel
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DIRECTED BY: Patrick Bokanowski
FEATURING: Jacques Faure, Martine Couture, Jean-Marie Bon, Rita Renoir
PLOT: A swordsman parries and thrusts with a suspended doll; a servant brings a tray of food to a handless man; a group of librarians catalog books, and then rescue a woman from a box; figures attempt to ascend a vast, steep staircase to the heavens; and a number of other actions are captured in shadow and sepia and are repeated multiple times to demonstrate variance and nuance.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: Baseball fans calculate a statistic called similarity scores to compare players, often used to determine if a given player would sit comfortably alongside other legends. The greatest players, like Willie Mays or Babe Ruth, aren’t truly similar to anyone, but the ones who come within sniffing distance are all Hall of Famers. So it goes with L’Ange. There isn’t really anything like it, but it sits comfortably on the shelf alongside such subversive classics as Meshes of the Afternoon and Dog Star Man. Every image has been created specifically for the film, but it has heavy echoes of the found-footage assembly of Decasia or the random documentary of Koyaanisqatsi. Michel Chion, writing for Cahiers du cinema at the time of L’Ange’s debut at Cannes, described the film as “A 2001 produced under the same conditions as Eraserhead.” Whatever L’Ange may be, it keeps good company with some of the most legendarily strange movies ever made.
COMMENTS: In the video to one of my all-time favorite songs, They Might Be Giants’ transcendent “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” director Adam Bernstein plays with the theme of light to reflect the tunes narrator, a nightlight. In one particularly memorable image, John Linnell (the accordion-playing half of the duo) is captured in a light that repeatedly fades out only to spring back to life. After a moment, it becomes clear that Linnell himself is responsible for the light show; a dimmer switch on the arm of his chair allows him to control the illumination, and he is mischievously turning the lights out on his own performance.
I assume that this moment popped into my head while watching Patrick Bokanowski’s challenging feature because of the frequent interplay of light and dark. But I also contend that a similar spirit of mischief is woven throughout this movie. As harsh sepia-toned beams burst through the center of the screen only to be replaced with sequences that mimic the stage but repeat at random angles and speeds, you quickly begin to suspect that Bokanowski is playing with his audience, like a cat with a mouse.
Having made an impression with his first two short films, La Femme qui se poudre and Déjeuner du matin, he clearly decided that a feature Continue reading APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: L’ANGE (1982)