Experimental filmmaker Gustav Deutsch’s latest found footage concoction, “Film Ist. a Girl & a Gun,” begins a weeklong run today at New York’s Anthology Film Archives.
“Taking his title from D.W. Griffith’s famous maxim that all one needs to make a movie is a girl and a gun, Deutsch recombines shards of archival footage—vintage nature docs, silent melodramas, old newsreels, and ancient porn—to explosive effect,” writes the Village Voice’s J. Hoberman. “‘Film Ist.’ opens with a fiery, lava-drenched genesis, passes briefly through a natural paradise of naked nymphs gamboling in the woods, and culminates in the regime of mad science and flaming battlefields. To add to the frenzy, everything is luridly tinted and frequently accompanied by the amplified twang of an acid drone guitar.”
The L Magazine’s Andrew Schenker: “Through his archival investigations and his artful arrangement of the movie image, Deutsch draws out the inevitable links between the drives for sexual domination and its political, world-historical counterpart. The result is that ‘Film Ist”s wonderland of copulation is continually and inevitably fraught with danger.”
Slant Magazine’s Joseph Jon Lanthier observes: “The film’s many rewarding clips, if taken piecemeal, are an impressive inspiration to seek out little-known turn-of-the-century directors, but in many ways Deutsch’s alignment of tumid, phallic botany with hulking weightlifters and innocent housewives says it all: Despite the plethora of multi-colored archival pearls on display, ‘a girl and a gun’ is a bloated hybrid of graduate-level cinema studies and rudimentary psychology.”
“Like Deutsch’s two previous ‘Film ist’ features (both of which Anthology Film Archives will also screen this weekend), this installment occasionally overplays the whirligig montages, with the antique-porno fixation detrimentally dominating the second half,” writes David Fear in Time Out New York. “But if nothing else, this moving-picture mixtape proves how jokey that old maxim is. You don’t need a girl or a gun to make a film. You just need celluloid, an editor and the ability to connect the dots.”
The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis‘ assessment: “If the narrative that Mr. Deutsch has created is rather less thrilling than his mostly silent and often glorious images, this is nonetheless a story well worth considering, and watching.”
Watch a clip from “Film Ist. a Girl & a Gun” on YouTube.