Thursday, August 5, 2010


Since I go to the theater less in the summer, I try to use the extra time to catch up on movies. If I can't be in Central Park watching a terrific ensemble of actors speak Shakespearean verse as if it were their everyday vernacular or catching a new Off-Broadway show, filling those humid nights with a good movie in the comfort of an air conditioned movie theater, or my living room, is a great place to be.

Aside from a brief foray into the black-and-white coffers of Dark Shadows at the start of the summer, I've been on quite the Hal Hartley kick, rewatching the brilliant Henry Fool and wishing I hadn't wasted my time on the disappointing The Girl From Monday. But as I delve further into his canon it's getting increasingly difficult to find copies of his early films to rent or borrow.

In 2010, it seems that all I should have to do is go to Netflix to get any film in my mailbox in a day or two. But Netflix doesn't have The Unbelievable Truth or Flirt. I found the former at the NYU library, but is it possible that Flirt and a masterpiece like Trust, Hartley's first film with Martin Donovan, were never released on DVD?

Trust and Surviving Desire are available on Netflix via the "watch instantly" function, and while I love the many video clips available on YouTube, I haven't been able to make the transition to watching movies on my computer. Thankfully there's still the good old public library, which has both Flirt and Trust on VHS. Glad I didn't give up that VCR yet.

Still, I hope that not only will those films find their way onto DVD but that the ones that have already been released will be reissued with better prints and maybe even audio commentary from Hartley and his cast. One film he could star with is the enchanting millennium oddity The Book of Life, his only film to star Donovan and Thomas Jay Ryan, my favorite Hartley interpreters. The evocative image above is one of the film's final shots.

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