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Tom Verlaine and Jimmy Rip: Music for Experimental Film

Kino // Unrated // September 25, 2007
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeffrey Kauffman | posted September 4, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
Kino has carved a nice niche for itself as a kind of a "poor man's Criterion," with interesting, often public domain, releases that run the gamut from early horror to German expressionism to more recent "art house" films. This interesting compendium of early, mostly abstract silents (many by the noted photographer Man Ray) with modern guitar-oriented scores by Tom Verlaine and Jimmy Rip is worthwhile on two fronts: many of these silents haven't been seen in decades, and are rightfully celebrated as early filmic attempts in Surrealism and Expressionism; and the music itself, which reminded me of Bill Frissell jamming with Robbie Robertson, is often very enjoyable, if not typical "soundtrack" fare.

The films themselves rarely make "sense," as their whole raison d'etre is to bypass the conscious mind and appeal directly to the sub- and unconscious. Therefore we are treated to often Dali-esque images of spinning gears and starfish and other supposed archetypal symbols. It all may strike some as pretentious, but for film historians these shorts are a treasure trove of early non-linear storytelling.

The DVD

Video:
The source materials for all of these 1920s-era silents are in various states of disrepair, but all in all are eminently watchable. There's no egregious washing out and damage is relatively minimal. These are all obviously in 1.33:1.

Sound:
The stereo soundtrack is excellently recorded and full of interesting colors, especially considering that guitars produced most, if not all, of the sounds.

Extras:
No extras on this DVD.

Final Thoughts:
If you're a fan of either of these soundtrack musicians, or of early abstract expressionist film, this will be well worth your while. If you're merely curious, it certainly merits a rental to see if you'd like to make it part of your permanent collection.

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