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Raul Ruiz, Mammame

Film Forum

It’s always been pretty obvious that Raul Ruiz has a terrific eye, and perhaps less acknowledged that he has a great mouth. All his films (and that’s a lot) are marked by virtuoso verbal eruptions, a scripting that skids from aphorism to sophism to humorism. This is most apparent in Roof of the Whale, 1982, where he is freed from his crush on avant-garde linguistic turns and self-congratulatory dazzle and constructs a work that is at once gorgeous, grim, and gigantically giggly. So it is with much curiosity that we approach Mammame, 1986. Here is Ruiz without words, Ruiz and the document, Ruiz and the body. Mammame is a film of a dance by the French choreographer Jean-Claude Gallotta, whose tribes of dancers tend to work space like disgruntled molecules, tumbling, shifting, and passing time on the way to exhaustion.

The “dance on film” genre is a skittishly predictable one, which generally

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