The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, December 3, 2022


An avant-garde film that went for laughs instead of scandal
Nothing controversial: Adolfas Mekas’s “Hallelujah the Hills,” from 1963, is romantic slapstick, with two guys competing for the same young woman.

by J. Hoberman



NEW YORK, NY.- The early 1960s was the golden age of underground movies. Some, like Jack Smith’s “Flaming Creatures,” provoked scandals. Others were too explicit to be written about (see Barbara Rubin’s “Christmas on Earth”). At least one was a commercial success: Adolfas Mekas’ “Hallelujah the Hills.”

“A wild spoof on art movies by a new American director scored a surprise success Saturday at the New York Film Festival,” Eugene Archer reported in the New York Times in 1963, the festival’s first year.

Returning to Lincoln Center in New York for three shows, part of a series devoted to the early ’60s avant-garde, “Hallelujah the Hills,” may be the series’s most conventional selection — a feature-length movie with actors, some even professional, and a semblance of plot, shot in crisp black and white by Ed Emshwiller, an underground filmmaker of great technical expertise.

The movie is romantic slapstick set in sylvan Vermont. Two guys, Jack (the intrepid photographer Peter Beard) and Leo (painter and assemblagist Marty Greenbaum) are infatuated with same young woman, Vera (“a lovely and enigmatic winter sprite” per Archer’s review). She is played by two different actresses (Sheila Finn and Peggy Steffans), both with a marked resemblance to Jean-Luc Godard’s muse Anna Karina. The rivals court Vera in different seasons over the course of seven years — a crisis arises when both show up for Thanksgiving.

As its title suggests “Hallelujah” is nothing if not exuberant. Adolfas Mekas, the younger brother of Jonas Mekas and, like him, an immigrant from rural Lithuania, was in his late 20s when he made the movie. Pratfalls and drunken antics abound. Beard gives a particularly athletic performance — at one point bounding bare-bottomed through deep snow. (With his horn-rimmed glasses, Greenbaum seems more the Woody Allen type.)

Jump cuts are common, too. Very much an American homage to French new wave movies, “Hallelujah” suggests a frothy “Jules and Jim” made in the insouciant style of “Shoot the Piano Player.” Perhaps there was a two-way street. As “Hallelujah” was a hit at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, reviewed by Godard, it’s not inconceivable that it was an inspiration for his 1964 “Band of Outsiders.”

“Hallelujah” is not unduly sappy, although it does demand a tolerance for madrigal jazz (heavy on a tinkly harpsichord) and rampant cinephilia. “I haven’t seen a movie in 10 days,” Leo complains. The rivals play at being Kurosawa samurai. There are nods to not only Godard but the early cinema of Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett and W.C. Fields. Late in the movie, Mekas interpolates a celebrated bit of ice floe excitement from D.W. Griffith’s 1920 “Way Down East.” The sequence still works and so, in a more limited way, does “Hallelujah the Hills.”

Actually, as fashionable as Mekas’ film once was it has an atavistic quality. Beneath the surface lurks a Lithuanian folk tale about rival princes and a princess (or goddess) linked to the changing seasons. Hallelujah indeed.



‘Hallelujah the Hills’: On Friday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Film at Lincoln Center in Manhattan; filmlinc.org.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

July 30, 2022

Photography's delightful obsessives

Exhibition examines an early national advertising campaign that fought against antisemitism

TAI Modern presents contemporary Japanese bamboo art by Honma Hideaki

Photos that helped to document the Holocaust were taken by a Nazi

Exhibition of late paintings by Esteban Vicente opens at Miles McEnery Gallery

'Fashion Show: Clothing, Art and Activism' on view at The Glucksman

San Antonio Museum of Art opens Japanese basket exhibition

Galeria Jaqueline Martins expands its Brussels space

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery names Megan Bedford and David Delgado as Partner

The hunt is on for 'war trophies' in Ukraine

Jane Lombard Gallery presents a collection of new and recent works by gallery artist James Clar

Weinberg/Newton Gallery presents All That Glows in the Dark of Democracy with ACLU

Stills presents exhibition of work by Ishiuchi Miyako including images of Frida Kahlo's possessions

Multimedia artist James Williams II wins $30,000 Sondheim Prize

Halcyon Gallery: New flagship gallery at 148 New Bond Street

Southern Utah Museum of Art features Southwest abstract exhibition

Artcurial to offer Charlie le Mindu's Collection

ICA/Boston promotes Ruth Erickson to Mannion Family Senior Curator

Charlotte Pomerantz, inventive children's book author, dies at 92

An avant-garde film that went for laughs instead of scandal

In 'Bottom of the Ocean,' a deep dive into the soul

'To Kill a Mockingbird' closes on Broadway as creators spar with Rudin

Five international movies to stream now

'Happy Life' review: Ghosts in the studio

Meaningful Gift Ideas That Will Show How Well You Know Your Best Friend

5 Elevator Shoes Hacks You Need to Know Now

Better Living with THC

How Payment Processors Can Help Merchants Accept Bitcoin




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful