Retro: The Unquiet American


Manuel De Landa
USA 1979
17 min

Rarely have sound, image, and the spatio-temporal coordinates of narrative illusion been buffeted about as vigorously as in <![CDATA[<i>]]>Incontinence<![CDATA[</i>]]>, although the net effect of this violence may ultimately be no less ­circumscribed than the maelstrom inside a washing machine. Ordinary rules of spatio-temporal logic are repeatedly flaunted through the seesawing wipes and the uncanny transitions between scenes, so that, for instance, after an opening quarrel between a ­middle-aged couple (much of it borrowed from Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”), Rory ­Gerstle and Susan Schneider make their entrances by dropping successively from nowhere into a room.
In the restaurant, the woman is called George, the man Martha, after Albee’s couple; the image splits in two, and a modern jazz number with vibes ­accompanies a slow dolly up to the table, turning romantic Hollywood “expressiveness” into a kind of delirium that’s as irrationally repetitive as the wipes between shots. Then the scene undergoes another dreamlike spatial transition when the camera follows a character into a park – without a clear division between interior and exterior – where another Alee dialogue ensues between “George” and “Martha” (this time embodied by two men) on a park bench.

<![CDATA[<i>]]>(From “Manuel De Landa”, in: “Film: The Front Line 1983”, Denver: Arden Press, 1983)<![CDATA[</i>]]>

This film is screened together with <filmlink id=\"3129\">Stoopnocrazy</filmlink>, <filmlink id=\"3131\">Duck Amuck</filmlink>, <filmlink id=\"3130\">Screwball Squirrel</filmlink> and <filmlink id=\"3133\">On the Marriage Broker Joke as Cited by Sigmund Freud in Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious, or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Wholed?</filmlink>.

  • Dina Peisner
  • Ken Burns
  • Patrick Gerstle
  • Susan Schneider
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