Things We Like: “Tuvalu,” “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive,” and “Futurama”
Scarecrow Video’s Pick of the Week: “Tuvalu” (1999), directed by Veit Helmer
Veit Helmer’s imaginative, unusual and stylistic charmer features lovely tinted black-and-white photography, and minimal dialogue. “Tuvalu” is set in a rundown public bath where a young man (Denis Lavant) tries to keep the decaying building intact and convince his blind father that the baths are as popular as ever. When a beautiful young woman (Chulpan Khamatova) who likes to swim naked with her pet goldfish arrives with her sea captain father, tensions build between Lavant, his greedy brother, and the woman (who wants to steal the pool’s water pump). Clearly patterned in the silent-film tradition, “Tuvalu” is a technically stunning treat reminiscent of “dream’ films like “Eraserhead” and “Delicatessen,” with a dash of Eastern European surrealism a la Jan Svankmajer. – Spenser Hoyt
A long time ago automobiles were made to be operated by people. That is, if you consider regular maintenance and repair to be a part of operation. The vehicle was a machine designed to transfer self and property from one spot to another, and in the years of its beginning it was designed to be comprehensible and fixable by a generally competent owner willing to spend a little bit of time with it. As far as I can see, this design went out of style sometime in the late 1970s. Cars are offices and distractions and investments, intricately complex and disposable.
Which leads me to recommend an auto repair manual. As far as I can tell, the very last example in automotive history of a company making cars meant to be kept operational in a standard garage was air-cooled Volkswagen. Volkswagen, the “People’s Car,” is solid, inexpensive, and as simple as it possibly can be. The Bug is the very high point on the bell curve between easily fixable and fast. This, over and above their cuteness is why you see so many of them still trucking around 30 years after the company stopped producing them.
It makes sense that such a car could produce a cult favorite of an operators manual. The book’s author John Muir (no relation to the 19th century naturalist) writes in a philosophic and conversational manner, explaining along the way why you might be performing a procedure along with how. All of the diagrams and illustrations are meticulously hand drawn by Peter Auschwanden in the bigfoot cartoon style. Now in its 19th revised edition it is comprehensive and easy to use. It is also beautiful and entertaining and useful, just like the machines it was meant to serve. – Christopher Sabatini
The return of“Futurama”
New episodes of “Futurama,” “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening’s 31st Century workplace comedy, debut on Comedy Central June 24. It’s been a difficult time for the crew of Fry, Bender, Leela and the rest of the crew of Planet Express — they’ve been vaporized, digested, oversexed, transformed, deified, abducted, elected, and even canceled — but now, both the show and its characters have been resurrected, and I can’t wait to see what they ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD. – Geoff Carter