Streamers: David Zellner Shares Some Obscure Streaming Faves

In collaboration with his brother Nathan Zellner, David Zellner has made some of the most fascinating and unusual films of the past decade plus. From their absurdist comedy short films to the narrative features (GOLIATH, KID-THING, KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER, DAMSEL) that have made them major figures on the independent film stage, their output has never been short of adventurous. Both the Zellners are world class filmgoers, as well, and we miss the opportunity in the current quarantine landscape to talk movies with them in the AFS Cinema lobby. Maybe their lists of recommended films will have to do for the time being. Here are some recommendations from David Zellner, watch this space for a list from Nathan soon. Enjoy.

CULLODEN

(1964, Dir. Peter Watkins) streaming on YouTube
A docudrama about The Battle of Culloden, described in the opening as “one of the most mishandled and brutal battles ever fought in Britain”. While it takes place in 1746 and much attention is given to its historical accuracy, the entire story is seen though the eyes of a TV news crew present at the battle, covering it as contemporary (for 1964) war reporters would. This anachronism is surprisingly effective in its approach, and makes for one of the most original war films I’ve ever seen. Editor’s note: the stream posted here may not be an authorized use of the film, but its rarity compels us to post it anyway, we will happily replace with a legitimate stream if found.

The Koker Trilogy: WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOME; LIFE & NOTHING MORE…; THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES

(1987, 1992, 1994, Dir. Abbas Kiarostami) – Criterion Channel
Humane and profound but devoid of any sentimentality, this trilogy is solid gold. Each film is less a sequel and more like another layer of onion skin peeled back, exposing a greater “truth” than the films which preceded it.

ANGST

(1983, Dir. Gerald Kargl) – Amazon Prime
I saw this for the first time a couple of years ago at the AFS Cinema. Maybe the opposite of the Koker Trilogy in terms of feel-good moviegoing, so probably not for everyone but it’s so unique and singular- particularly with its sound design and cinematography. I don’t really like slasher films but I loved this, it’s about 24 hours in the life of a serial killer who’s the exact opposite of the Hannibal Lecter mastermind type- he’s absolutely terrible at what he does. Surprisingly the final act veers into a bit of absurdism and slapstick (by Austrian standards), and features a great performance by a Dachshund.

CORRAL

(1954, Dir. Colin Low) – National Film Board of Canada: https://www.nfb.ca/film/corral/
A cowboy in Alberta breaks in a wild horse. That’s it. I saw this National Film Board of Canada documentary short when I was a teenager and it really stuck with me. Unconventional for its time in terms of its handheld camerawork and absence of narration, it has such a breezy, dreamy feel to it. The score is amazing and builds to a gratifying finale.

I WILL BUY YOU

(1956, Dir. Masaki Kobayashi) – Criterion Channel
Kobayashi isn’t quite as well known internationally as Ozu or Kurosawa, but he’s one of my personal favorites. I WILL BUY YOU (what a title!) is about a cutthroat Japanese professional baseball scout trying to court a promising young athlete for the Toyo Flowers. There’s maybe about a minute’s worth of actual baseball in this film, the rest is about the relentless hustle of these talent scouts and the bribery-fueled business they operate in.

STRANGERS IN GOOD COMPANY

(1990, Dir. Cynthia Scott) – Amazon Prime
I saw this for the first time just recently. While on a field trip, a group of old women get stranded in the countryside when their bus breaks down. Lots of foraging and hanging out ensues. Largely improvised with nonprofessional actors, it’s so sweet and pure.

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