Filler by Proxy XLVI: London and Daisies

Saturday 10 February 2007

I like the idea of movies but usually don’t go to see any, which leaves me with a small, erratically selected pool of films to draw upon when I find myself in a conversation about cinema. Found more or less by chance, two bloggers have been writing more or less recently about two of my favourite films: Patrick Keiller’s London and Vera Chytilova‚Äôs Daisies.
Books and movies in which the city becomes a character have always touched a special something inside me, and London comes out on the top of this internal list. I’ve mentioned it in passing once or twice before: it’s the movie that convinced me that moving to London wouldn’t be a total loss, no matter what else happened.
The Measures Taken seizes upon some of Keiller’s ideas and cinematic techniques, as part of a description of his latest project:

It still feels like a peculiar gesture though, to follow these films with a project made up of around 60 films from the 1900s, which are then spun into a coherent narrative on the one hand, or on the other affixed to map of the world, with highlighted cities or streets taking you via a click to footage of that area in the first decade of the 20th century. We are in fairly Borges-like territory here, wheeling from Shanghai to New York to Liverpool, zeroing in on discrete streets with lunatic exactitude. It isn’t entirely clear what this project is…

I first saw Daisies while lying on my side, quite drunk, half on top of someone else, as it was projected onto a wall in a small bar down a backstreet somewhere in Melbourne, and have been infatuated with it ever since. “That film could only have been made in the 60s,” a friend once remarked after watching W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism. “People have never been so dirty in quite the same way.” Daisies has that same, ineffable quality, and the same cheerful anarchy to it, but is even less encumbered by theories – even countercultural ones.
It’s one of the few cultural artifacts I’ve seen built upon a presumption of abundance instead of scarcity, affirmatively blowing social and political dialectics away. The Pinocchio Theory gives us a more substantial appreciation of Daisies.

… manages to be both visceral and abstract, playful and savage, intellectual and infantile, all at once. Watching it last night, I was literally trembling with joy and exhilaration. I felt the same way when I first saw the film, nearly thirty years ago.

Found via sit down man, you’re a bloody tragedy, written by the same bloke who does The Measures Taken. It’s all like cellophane!