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Music Box Films

When we colloquially use the term “photogenic,” we sometimes mistake it to refer to things that are conventionally attractive: a pretty vase, a breathtaking landscape, a supermodel. But photogenic is a quality that simply attracts the eye when captured – objects, events, and people that seem befitted to the strengths of photography, or things that, when framed a particular way, draw the eye in. Sure, Brad Pitt is photogenic, but so is Boris Karloff. Photogenic is not a term of evaluation, but a term of function: an ancient cavern can be photogenic, as can a bloody war zone. Thus, the fact that cinema can and has long depicted tragedy, horror and detritus in ways that are evocative and even beautiful has never been a paradox. Cinema uses the tools of what Jean Epstein referred to as “photogenie” to take viewers into a perspectival space, where they are asked to look at and examine people and events in ways they might not be drawn to in other contexts. The photogenic draw has rarely blocked the potential meaning or depth of the thing photographed. Yet while watching Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, I found myself experiencing something I don’t think I have before. I was drawn in by the incredible beauty of Ida‘s photography to the point of alienation from the complex story through which such images unfolded in front of me.

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disc 050713

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Telephone Book Alice is a young lady in the Big Apple whose libido is constantly on the lookout for the next arousing adventure, and she finds it when an obscene caller targets her for an erotic tongue-lashing. She becomes obsessed with finding the man behind the voice and sets out on a journey that brings her in contact with some truly eccentric characters and ultimately in touch with herself. This 1971 film was apparently thought lost for some time to the point that most people have probably never heard of it before. Vinegar Syndrome is still a very young label (this is only their seventh release), but they’ve more than proven their worth here by resurrecting it onto blu-ray. While described as an erotic cult classic I found the movie to actually be surprisingly funny too. Sarah Kennedy does her best “young Goldie Hawn” combining an adorable goofiness with a real sexiness, and the film as a whole is just the right kind of absurd. It’s a strange time-capsule back into the early seventies and manages to display a wit and intelligence unheard of in the softcore genre. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, trailers, still gallery]

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