The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, February 10-16

FitzWernerBurden of Dreams (1982)
Dirrected by Les Blank
“I’m just glad I’m a documentary filmmaker,” Blank writes in his production notes. “I wouldn’t survive Werner’s pressures and problems.” But for Herzog, the Werner in question, dreams are worth the struggle; remember, this is a man who willfully walked from Munich to Paris and extinguished an ablaze cast member with his body, among several lifetimes worth of epic—and occasionally heroic—tomfoolery. His films (especially the later documentaries) were no small tasks; the metaphorical boat-dragging of Fitzcarraldo, the production that Burden chronicles, compounds an already sticky fix: disgruntled Peruvian natives, mucky conditions, and an overbearing chill of death. Blank, a filmmaker with great joy of life, simply conflates the hardships with beauty; as Herzog harps on the misery and obscenity of nature, Blank simply accepts what is. Tired as I about hearing how, gee, The Revenant was really hard to make? Then a leisurely document of nightmarish filmmaking is for you. Max Kyburz (February 14, 4:30pm at the Museum of the Moving Image’s “See It Big! Documentary”)

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