The Cinema According to Mark Rappaport

Directed by Mark Rappaport

The Cinema According to Mark Rappaport

Crew
Directed by Mark Rappaport


Born in Brooklyn, NY and residing in Paris since the early 2000s, Mark Rappaport is known as a trailblazer of the video essay form, thanks to his decades-long career creating painstakingly assembled works that interrogate the cinematic medium through his striking juxtapositions. Rappaport’s career began with the 1966 short MUR 19. After making more than a half-dozen shorts in the 60s and early 70s, he made six narrative features in the 70s and 80s—CASUAL RELATIONS, MOZART IN LOVE, LOCAL COLOR, THE SCENIC ROUTE, IMPOSTORS, and CHAIN LETTERS, a series of eccentric, surprising narrative films, stuffed with cinematic references and formal experimentation. His collaborators included many of the most creative downtown artists of the time, including Charles Ludlam, members of the Mabou Mines Theater Company, Ron Vawter of the Wooster Group, and cinematographer Fred Murphy, who shot THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY, and John Huston’s THE DEAD, as well as three of Rappaport’s features.
 
Rappaport’s most well-known works were created in the 1990s and feature his signature style of cinematic commentary comprised of archival film clips. These included ROCK HUDSON’S HOME MOVIES, FROM THE JOURNALS OF JEAN SEBERG, and THE SILVER SCREEN: COLOR ME LAVENDER,  In later years, Rappaport refined his indelible approach to the cinematic essay, and created a series of pieces—often focusing on iconic film figures like Anita Ekberg, Marcel Dalio, Sergei Eisenstein, and Anna Karina—that explore the image of the “star” and the medium of cinema itself. 
 
“I’m interested in films and people that fell through the cracks of film history, never to be seen again, written about, or even remembered,” says Rappaport. “I prefer these archeological digs that permit me to go off on what seem to be irrelevant tangents and discover new ways of talking about things that seemingly had no meaning. I’m delighted to have my films with Kino Lorber and to have them released and/or re-released, and especially for the opportunity of finding new audiences. Kino has one of the best libraries in the world and I’m very pleased to be part of it.”
 
Now, Kino Lorber is proud to represent this oeuvre in theaters, festivals, museums and cinematheques going forward. As with all of our collections, these films are available to book in whole or in part, in whatever iteration fits your programmatic needs.
 

The Early Films

MUR 19 (1966)
Mark Rappaport’s first film commences with Gerald Mur “studying the cinema” in the form of a blow-up glamour shot of “La Garbo.”

FRIENDS (1967)
Scenes from New York in the 1960s. Four young people, friendship, jealousy, separation. 

BLUE STREAK (1971)
An adroit expansion on the notion of a "blue" movie, Mark Rappaport's early short contrasts the rarified realm of classical composition with an unspoken assortment of words predisposed to human sexuality.

CASUAL RELATIONS (1973)
In Rappaport’s dazzling and bizarre feature-length debut, he focuses on states of imaginative possession and dispossession, demonstrating how impossible it is to separate fantasies, dreams, and realities.

MOZART IN LOVE (1975)
An irreverent take on Mozart’s relations with the three Weber sisters: Louisa, whom he loved, but who didn’t love him; Constanza, whom he loved and married; and Sophie, who loved him but whom he didn’t love.

LOCAL COLOR (1977)
In this melodrama an incriminating revolver is passed between eight disparate characters. Each has a different reason for coming in contact with the gun. To reveal those reasons, the film wavers between the dream and waking states.

THE SCENIC ROUTE (1978)
Spins the tale of a woman, her sister, and the man who completes the triangle. Told through such fertile sources as grand opera, classical painting, and Victorian melodrama.

IMPOSTORS (1979)
Brecht said drama should always be performed with the house lights up so that that the spectator never forgot he was watching a play. Rappaport wants to remind us how artificial realism is, and how unreal our lives are.

MARK RAPPAPORT—THE TV SPIN-OFF (1980)
In Mark Rappaport: The TV Spin-off, the filmmaker conducts a guided tour of his work that explains everything… and nothing. Rappaport shows himself to be the cinematic equivalent of Penn and Teller.

CHAIN LETTERS (1985)
A wicked picture of the New York yuppie scene in which nine upwardly mobile Manhattanites all receive a chain letter. Depending on their decision to either pass the letter on or to break the chain, the various characters encounter romance, fulfillment—and sudden death.

POSTCARDS (1990)
A separated couple try to keep in touch through postcards of typically “American” sights: motels, monuments, parks; but their postcards cross in the mail. Misunderstandings arise; passion subsides; romance fades… Yet the postcards keep on coming.

EXTERIOR NIGHT (1993)
Shot in high-definition video using rear-screen process plates from classic Warner Bros. films noirs. A young man (in color) searches for his past through black-and-white scenes from The Big Sleep, Mildred Pierce, and Strangers on a Train.

The Video Features

ROCK HUDSON’S HOME MOVIES (1992)
This documentary shows clips from Rock Hudson’s movies that could be interpreted as gay innuendos. Eric Farr speaks to the camera as if speaking Rock Hudson’s words from a posthumous diary. Film clips from more than 30 films illustrate ways in which his sexual orientation played out on screen.

FROM THE JOURNALS OF JEAN SEBERG (1995)
Mark Rappaport’s creative bio-pic about actress Jean Seberg is presented in a first-person, autobiographical format (with Seberg played by Mary Beth Hurt). He seamlessly interweaves cinema, politics, American society and culture, and film theory to inform, entertain, and move the viewer.

THE SILVER SCREEN/COLOR ME LAVENDER (1997)
An experimental documentary by Mark Rappaport focusing on gay undertones in Hollywood classics. 

The New Videos

JOHN GARFIELD (2002)
Short biography about the American actor John Garfield.

THE VANITY TABLES OF DOUGLAS SIRK (2014)
A video essay exploring the frequency and meaning of that particular prop in a wide variety of Sirk movies.

BECOMING ANITA EKBERG (2014)
An exploration of how the construct of ‘Anita Ekberg’ became an internationally famous sex goddess as a result of the careful cultivation of her image in various movies, both in Hollywood, by Frank Tashlin, and in Europe, by Federico Fellini.

I, DALIO—OR THE RULES OF THE GAME  (2015)
Marcel Dalio made a career in French cinema of playing shady characters and small-time crooks. In other words, the stereotypical Jew. Landing in American cinema after fleeing the Nazis, he was no longer “the Jew,” but “the Frenchman.” Mark Rappaport presents us with two Dalios, or are they the same?

OUR STARS (2015)
Traces a sequence of classic romantic onscreen pairings that were initiated in the 40’s and 50’s and then reprised in the following decades.

THE CIRCLE CLOSES (2015)
An elegant meditation on the non-human objects at the center of four classic films. “Silent, uncomplaining witnesses to other people’s lives”, these atypical movie stars are surrogates not for the viewer, but the camera itself.

MAX & JAMES & DANIELLE… (2015)
Classic screen stars James Mason and Danielle Darrieux each starred in several Max Ophüls projects but never appeared together in an Ophüls movie. The film poses the question of what could have been.

DEBRA PAGET, FOR EXAMPLE (2016)
Debra Paget was a contract player for 20th-Century Fox, whom they groomed and coached for stardom. But she never quite caught on. A reconsideration of her career and the fetishistic aftershock of some of her films. Even the memory and essence of minor stars can affect people’s lives.

TATI VS BRESSON: THE GAG (2016)
Jacques Tati and Robert Bresson were very different directors, yet the way they structure a scene is very similar.

THE BOY WHO CRIED (2016)
In the movies since he was an infant, Chris Olsen appeared in films by some of the best directors of the fifties. He “retired” at the age of ten. Looking back on his life as a child actor, he tries to find the thread that ties his movies together.

SERGEI  / SIR GAY (2016)
As a teenager, Eisenstein signed his drawings with ‘Sir Gay’. Essayist Rappaport sees clear signs of his sexual preferences throughout the Russian’s film oeuvre.

THE EMPTY SCREEN (2017)
The screen is a neutral element in the film-going experience. Or is it? It projects dreams but it is also the receptacle of our dreams. And does it also watch the audience at the same time? Cinema as a two way street.

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF PAUL HENREID (2017)
Paul Henreid became a star at Warner Bros. during World War II. After the war, his contract was cancelled. He continued acting and also began producing and directing. In his choices, his work evinces an increasing bitterness and cynicism. A personal statement? Or a result of the political shifts?

PRIVATE SCREENINGS (2017)
The screening room used to be a microcosm of a larger world, filled with churning emotions and explosive temperaments. Welcome to the comfortable world of the private screening rooms where what is on the screen pales in comparison to what happens among the viewers.

AMERICA’S GRANDPA (2018)
Blacklisted gay communist 1940’s character actor Will Geer became Grandpa Walton in the hit series The Waltons. How so?

CONRAD VEIDT—MY LIFE (2019)
What is left of a film star with over 100 films? For Conrad Veidt is it the cornerstone of his career? In Conrad Veidt’s screen life, Mark Rappaport opens up a network of connections to the film industry in Germany and to exiles in Hollywood.

ANNA/NANA/NANA/ANNA  (2019)
Anna Sten, actress in Russian silent films and early German sound films. She should become a star like Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich. Sam Goldwyn had that in mind with a lot of money and publicity. 1934 Anna Sten as Nana, the starting signal for a Hollywood career that never happened.

L’ANNÉE DERNIÈRE À DACHAU (2020)
Tribute to Alain Resnais, combined with a documentary about the shooting in the gardens and palaces of Schleissheim and Nymphenburg in the winter of 1960. A making-of in which an excursion by the film team to nearby Dachau can be seen. Baroque palace and concentration camp, incomparable, side by side.

THE STENDHAL SYNDROME OR MY DINNER WITH TURHAN BEY (2020)
Mark Rappaport describes his fascination for the Austrian actor Turhan Bey, who made a career in exotic roles in Hollywood in the 1940s. A very personal essay about the effect of close-ups, the canvas idols of the dream factory and the role of their admirers and fans.

TWO FOR THE OPERA BOX (2021)
In Hollywood’s studio system, sets and equipment are used over and over again. Mark Rappaport shows not only theta boxes and stage rooms, which seem to be part of the permanent décor in MGM backstage musicals, but also curious connections such as a Spanish wall with orientalist ornamentation.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA (2021)
The new film by Mark Rappaport, which spans René Magritte and Michelangelo to Bonnie & Clyde. Let’s mask up to rob a bank! But make sure that you are home before the curfew.

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