John Cook (1935-2001) was, in his own words, "Viennese by choice". Between 1972 and 1982 the Canadian photographer directed four films (three features and a documentary) which hold a unique position in Austrian Cinema: independently produced, featuring a cast and crew of friends and shot on modest budgets. This 2-disc set presents restored versions of Cooks three landmark films produced in the 1970s, as well as extra materials.
Langsamer Sommer / Slow Summer - Austria 1976 - Directed and edited by: John Cook, Susanne Schett - Drehbuch: John Cook, Michael Pilz - Photographed by: John Cook, Helmut Boselmann, Michael Pilz - Cast: John Cook, Helmut Boselmann, Eva Grimm, Hilde Pilz, Michael Pilz, Günter Duda - Produced by: Michael Pilz, Vienna / Interspot Film, Vienna - Premiere: April 23, 1976 (Österreichisches Filmmuseum)
Schwitzkasten / Clinch - Austria 1978 - Directed by: John Cook - Written by: John Cook, Helmut Zenker, based on the novel "Das Froschfest" by Helmut Zenker - Cinematography by: Helmut Pirnat - Edited by: Susanne Schett - Cast: Hermann Juranek, Christa Schubert, Franz Schuh, Waltraud Misak, Johanna Froidl, Karl Martinek - Produced by: ebf-Film, Vienna - Premiere: October 11, 1978 (Österreichisches Filmmuseum)
Ich schaff's einfach nimmer / I Just Can't Go On - Austria 1973 - Directed, written, photographed and produced by: John Cook - Edited by: Stefanie Schulz - Premiere: February 15, 1973 (Österreichisches Filmmuseum)
Skizze | Episode | Szene. Kommentar zu John Cooks Langsamer Sommer / John Cooks Slow Summer revisted - Austria 2008 - Directed and written by: Michael Baute, Volker Pantenburg, Stefan Pethke - Produced by: Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Vienna - Premiere: First release
About the films
"To live in Vienna, you either have to be cynical or stupid," says the director's alter ego at the end of the semi-documentary feature Slow Summer. A summary as temperamental as the film which deals with personal states of mind, the filmmaker's very own existential entanglements one of which is crucially the stranger's view of the semi-familiar city of Vienna but yet aims at an insight that goes beyond the private. This is only one of many self-reflective double entendres in a work rather unusual in Austrian cinema.
John Cook, a Canadian fashion photographer who had ended up in Vienna, was certainly neither cynical nor stupid. With only four films, made between 1972 and 1982, he gave Austrian cinema a taste of the innovative film movements which had flourished in other European countries decades before.
Slow Summer was shot on a minimal budget on Super-8 film (a 35mm blow-up was produced for the theatrical release). It positions itself close to the "real" life of its protagonists, a loosely assembled Viennese Bohème characterized by idleness and aimless drifting. One summer scene after the other unfolds in a documentary manner, framed by a film-in-film scenario which makes the construction apparent. The scenes are ruled by intensities those of the characters, but also of the mood of the day. The film is about nothing but then about everything: an image of time, the reflection of mental states that continuously change, and almost in passing it's also a portrait of the city and the life hidden in its alleys.
In Clinch his first "big" feature film Cook draws the consequences from his previous work. After self-reflection he turns to the working class again, not in a documentary mode but by adapting a novel by Helmut Zenker. Clinch is no longer a formal hybrid but finds its own modus operandi: neorealism, Vienna style. The film is lyrical, but down-to-earth, its tone is precise without crossing the border to the social grotesque as so many Austrian films unfortunately do. And above all: it shows solidarity with the main protagonist without turning him into a poster hero.
DVD features (2 discs)
- Langsamer Sommer 1976, 83'
- Skizze | Episode | Szene. Kommentar zu John Cooks "Langsamer Sommer" 2008, 12'
- 16 page booklet with essays by Dominik Kamalzadeh and Michael Loebenstein
- Schwitzkasten 1978, 97'
- Ich schaff's einfach nimmer 1973, 50'
DVD edited by: Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Vienna
DVD authoring: Ralph Schermbach
DVD supervision: Michael Loebenstein
First edition September 2008, Second edition November 2014