The Magic of M‚liŠs

Seen from the vantage point of our present age of CGI-driven films, the visionary genius of Georges M‚liŠs has never seemed so prescient. M‚liŠs was one of those brilliantly impatient thinkers who grasp the essential elements of a new technological discovery and, while others are still mulling over its basic properties, indulge their fantasies and turn the whole process on its head. As much a dyed-in-the-wool entertainer and committed magician as he was a protean visual artist, M‚liŠs ranks among the most influential figures in international popular culture. And as The Magic of M‚liŠs collection makes clear, his short films are still as deliciously absurd and delightful as they must have seemed a century ago. Although the absence of the most famous of all his landmark works, A Trip to the Moon, disappoints, it doesn?t diminish the sheer enjoyment or importance of this set. Quickly grasping that film editing could creatively alter the viewer's sense of space and time, M‚liŠs calls on old-fashioned magic acts, music hall shenanigans, children?s book narratives, and proto-surrealist imagery to fashion mini-masterpieces that, to their betterment, shrug off conventional logic and verisimilitude. The very titles of these 15 films practically advise us to ditch reality at the doorstep and surrender to these over-the-top flights of fantasy; among them, The Living Playing Cards, The Untamable Whiskers, The Enchanted Sedan Chair, and The Impossible Voyage. The addition of the compact documentary Georges M‚liŠs: Cinema Magician provides us with the facts of an artist who, thankfully, hardly gave facts the time of day.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.