In the name of the Father; detail the contents of the Batcave; testify in Romania

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In a South American jungle, a determined director struggles to complete his masterpiece despite the outbursts of an often unbalanced star actor. Such is the script of Les Blank’s “Burden of Dreams” (1982) about Werner Herzog’s collaboration with Klaus Kinski in the making of “Fitzcarraldo” (1982). It is also that of the fiery, of the challenge of Mo Scarpelli.El Father plays himself(2021) but with a few meta-twists: the director and actor are father and son, the filmed story is an episode in the father’s life, and the director of the documentary is the filmmaker’s wife. It could therefore be said that he also participates in elements of “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” (1991), co-directed by Eleanor Coppola about the misadventures of her husband, Francis, making “Apocalypse Now” (1979). Call it “The Meme Burden”.

Jorge Thielen Armand is the director of “La Fortaleza” (2020), the film made in the film about his father, Jorge Roque Thielen, working in the illegal gold and drug trade in the Venezuelan jungle in the 1990s. His father’s rages and drunken outbursts disrupt the production, but they are also the substance of the film. Because once in front of the camera Roque Thielen transforms his bad behavior into great cinema. Obviously, he enjoys the attention and the narcissistic thrill of raging, laughing, and punching his fist until he breaks a finger, causing his son to wince and look away.

He might also want to reconcile with his son through this collaborative act of self-mythmaking. When asked by a crew member what kind of father he was, he sadly says he was one to do everything you’re not supposed to. But videos of Jorge’s father playing with him as a child suggest otherwise, and the most moving part of Scarpelli’s and Armand’s films is when Roque Thielen, alone and sorry, screams into a cellphone his love for his son.

El Father plays himselfscreens at the Brattle Theater as part of the DocYard series on March 7 at 7 p.m. followed by a live Q&A with the filmmaker. Go to thedocyard.com/screenings/el-father-plays-himself.

Excerpt from “Batman and Me”.Freestyle Digital Media

Fads and Acquisitions

What is it about Australians that makes them so passionate about sci-fi and superhero movies? Last month, the Boston SciFi Film Festival showed Eddie Beiruty’s “Beyond the Wasteland” (2021), a documentary about an annual Mad Max convention in the Outback and the crazy cosplayers who attend. This week will see Michael Wayne’s online debut.”batman and me(2020), a dive into the mind of former Bat memorabilia collector Darren “Dags” Maxwell, from Melbourne.

Back when “Star Wars” (1977) was released, Maxwell was just your usual geek, buying a few collectibles and chatting with other obsessives. But Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster “Batman” touched something deep and dark within him; and he began to seriously buy the shoddy bat products produced by the multi-billion dollar merchandising industry. One day he bought a Batman board game, opened it up, and played it (it was a terrible game, he recalls). Immediately, he was carried away by the horrible feeling of having committed blasphemy. He should never have opened the box! It was the packaging he revered, he realized, not the product.

Then began his manic quest to buy every new Batman ephemera and store them intact and unsealed in his secret Batman chamber. This addiction will not end until 1997, with the execrable “Batman & Robin” by Joel Schumacher (remember the Batsuit with nipples? Arnold Schwarzenegger in Mr. Freeze? my condolences). Then he realized, like millions of others, that he hated that movie, hated what Batman had become, and couldn’t buy any more merchandising related to something he totally despised.

So he locked his meticulously ordered collection in a room with a Batman badge above the door. He Says He’s Ditched That Habit, But Will New Franchise Reboot, Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’, Push Him Off The Wagon And Send Him Hunting eBay Again ?

“Batman and Me” can be streamed in digital HD and on-demand starting March 8. Go to www.blu-ray.com/Freestyle-Digital-Media/1283424.

‘Is there a faster way to die?’

Romanian director Radu Jude has won international acclaim with his raunchy and bawdy satire, “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn”, winner of the 2021 Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and a favorite with critics. Very different in tone, subject and style is “Leaving the trains“, his 2020 documentary about the murder of 13,000 Jews in the Romanian city of Iași, in June 1941. The perpetrators were Nazi troops and Romanian soldiers and police – as well as civilians, the kind neighbors with whom the victims lived once at peace.

Resembling Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah” (1985), with its litany of gruesome crimes, the three-hour film begins with a 2.5-hour montage of photos of victims – family photos or passport snapshots – backed up by readings voice-over of survivor testimony taken during a war crimes trial in 1946.

They tell variations of the same story. The victims were dragged from their homes and beaten and killed as they were herded into the police station. There, most women and children were allowed to return to homes that had been looted and ransacked. But the men and boys were packed into the sealed carriages of the “Death Train” and taken to labor camps. Almost all choked along the way. One survivor recalls one victim kept asking, “Is there a faster way to die?”

The testimony of the first part of the film is followed by a half-hour coda. It’s a silent series of photographs of the massacre – bodies lying in the streets, disgorged from trains, piled up in heaps: images from a past nightmare that now doesn’t seem so far away.

“La sortie des trains” can be broadcast from March 10 on the Criterion channel. Go to www.criterionchannel.com/the-exit-of-the-trains.

Peter Keough can be reached at [email protected].

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