Saturday, February 28, 2009

Exploring Your Inner Demons

A programme compiled by Jack Stevenson. Viewed at Cinema Orion, 28 Feb 2009. 16mm
The programme note with comments.

Presented by Jack Stevenson
"American author and print collector Jack Stevenson has complied an entertaining and thought-provoking program that spans American Underground cinema from the Mid-60’s to the modern day and captures the essence of what personal (aka ‘underground’) filmmaking is all about."
In order of play:
BEHIND EVERY GOOD MAN - 1966, 9 min., by Nikolai Ursin. Home movie style docu-drama about a day in the life of a negro transvestite living in mid-60's Los Angeles. / AA: recovered by Jack from an unmarked cardboard box
HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED - 1966, 15 min., color, by George Kuchar. One of the best loved films of the 60s underground, a playful satire of motion picture making: the fantasy of Hollywood glamour collides with the reality of loneliness in the Bronx. /AA: colour ok in GK's most famous film, exploring his own feelings in a mode now familiar from webcams, the diarist format, 0 budget
THE CRAVEN SLUCK, 1967, 23 min. b/w, directed by Mike Kuchar. This film concerns itself with the sordid domestic routines of a typical Bronx married couple, Adel and her goofy salaryman husband, Brunswick, played by Bob. Adel - played with verve by Floraine Connors - seeks escape in the arms of a secret lover, Morton, played by George Kuchar. To complicate matters, Morton is married, to a rotund, pill-popping frump called Florence, played by Bob in a cheap wig. Yet all these complications of the flesh are suddenly rendered inconsequential by a squadron of attacking UFOs that vaporize the leading lady and bring the plot to an unexpected and gloriously implausible halt. The skillful use of music in the Hollywood tradition makes the story come alive. / AA: the fascination with glamour, living in the most unglamourous Bronx, the mixture of horror, melodrama, scifi, 0 budget
ROCKFLOW: 1968, 9 min. color, directed by Bob Cowan. This 9 minute film is constructed largely of footage Bob shot at The Electric Circus (in NYC) in connection with the opening of a boutique there at which the Chambers Brothers rock band played. Mod fashions are on display as folks pack the dance floor, including Donna Kerness (in trademark antenna headgear) and Hopeton Morris (their outfits designed by Hope). But what appears to be a straightforward if experimental fashion/dance/rock document changes mid-point into a psychedelic nightmare as eerie music creates an ominous mood, the images grow more hallucinatory and the editing more rapid-fire. Donna now reappears in a solitary setting in close-up, swinging giant earrings and staring at the camera as if she's casting a spell. The effect is sinister and trance-like as special effects bombard the screen. / AA: a fascinating psychedelic discovery, a fine example of rock music and dance film, a great sense of rhythm
LOVE IT / LEAVE IT: 1970, 15 min., color. This second film by Tom Palazzolo more fluidly weaves sound and image together to create an hallucinatory montage of urban America at the height of anti-war demonstrations. Equal parts totalitarian nightmare and candy-coated consumer fun fair, it is like most of his work: devoid of overt editorial comment and full of ambiguity – a searching to capture the spirit and times and people without imposing the filmmaker’s own political agenda. /AA: a nudist movie juxtaposing militarism and nudism, with a fine musique concrète score
SIAMESE TWIN PINHEADS - 1972, 4 min., b&w, Kurt McDowell and Mark Ellinger do their perverse ‘siamese twin pinhead’ act.The two would stand at the center of San Francisco’s rebellious underground film scene of the 70’s. / AA: the makers of Thundercrack! in an offensive short film of two masturbating imbecile twin pinheads, compared by Jack with Lars von Trier's Idiots
ASTHMA – 1995, 2 min., by Martha Colburn / an early collage film on the subject of smoking. One of her most straight-forward films, it hints at the more frenetic style she would later adopt. / AA: belongs to the music video phenomenon, wonderful, broken, rapid cutting, rhythm, dots, patterns, signs, interesting music by Smoking Jaunties
SPIDERS IN LOVE – 2000, 2.5 minutes, by Martha Colburn / A gloriously chaotic take on sex, spiders and various other hallucinations – handmade annimation and some found footage clips. / AA: belongs to the music video phenomenon, "an arachnorgasmic musical", rapid cutting, penis obsession, death imagery

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