Avant-Garde Cinema

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Re: Avant-Garde Cinema

Postby wpqx » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:41 am

Tom Tom the Piper's Son (1969) - Ken Jacobs

Well finally got around to the legendary Ken Jacobs work. The "plot" if one can call it that is to show a 1905 film of the same name, then systematically deconstruct the film, playing it backwards, enlarged, slow motion, stills, etc. Then once the means of manipulation have worn out show the original film in tact again. The whole film disassembles the cinematographic image and keenly demonstrates just how many details we overlook in the average movie we watch. I'll admit that Jacobs could have easily trimmed the length of his film, and it probably could have benefited from a score of some kind. As an exercise in abstraction though it is pretty solid.

Re: Avant-Garde Cinema

Postby wpqx » Fri Jan 04, 2008 7:00 am

Blonde Cobra (1963) - Ken Jacobs

Ah to be a fly on the wall when these guys got together. Ken Jacobs was handed two films one titled Blonde Venus and the other Cobra Woman. You'll notice early in the film there's a hand held title card that states it's a film by Bob Fleischner. Jack Smith appears as the lead if such a term is applicable here, and any doubt about Smith's sexuality would probably be answered here. He spends the film dressed as a baby, nun, and imitating his mother among other things. It's hard to suggest a plot to any of this, but formally it features a lot of narration on black screens and very old songs, some of which are commented upon. This does bare a resemblence to Smith's own work, and being unfamiliar with Fleischner I can't attest to what type of influence he may have had. Jacobs was known for his deconstructing of existing films, although he largely lets this material stand alone without making it too abstract.

Re: Avant-Garde Cinema

Postby wpqx » Sat Jan 12, 2008 11:55 pm

Wavelength (1967) - Michael Snow

I'm not sure what I expected from this film. For awhile now I've heard it often cited as one of the best experimental films of all time and a key defining film in the structuralist movement. Snow's film and largely all of his films are non-narrative. Here the film is set up as a slow continual zoom in a New York loft. The zoom is so gradual that it takes several minutes to realize that there even is a zoom. Along the way two women move a dresser, leave, come back listen to The Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever" leave again, a man comes in and passes out on the floor, the women return and call an ambulance. This however is completely inconsequential although the film is so dry on its own that any hint of a narrative is met with anticipation. The dead man was played by well known experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton. The manipulation of stock, exposures, and tinting recalls some of the work of David Rimmer.

Back and Forth (1969) - Michael Snow

What an apt title. This film is simply a pan back and forth across an empty classroom somewhere in Texas. Jump cuts show up and various characters enter and leave. A janitor comes to clean, a couple toss a ball back and forth, and eventually a group of people show up and make conversation. The pace of the pan changes throughout, starting slow, building speed, and slowing back down again. At the end though Snow begins to superimpose various aspects of the pan as well as a late tilt and with several of these going at once in varying speeds and directions the film will leave you feeling dizzy. Another exploration of the film medium and very aware of itself.

Re: Avant-Garde Cinema

Postby wpqx » Sun Feb 24, 2008 6:43 am

La Region Centrale (1971) - Michael Snow

Here's an idea for a movie: Let's get a camera that can be programmed with a computer to move in weird random ways, then lets put it out in the middle of nowhere in some Canadian wilderness, now lets have the thing run for 190 minutes. I really wonder sometimes just what experimental filmmakers are thinking. Snow's work primarily works because of its length. An experiment like Back and Forth is dizzying in an exhilarating way, the monotony of this film wears you down early. I'd like to be one of those people who agrees that this is the culmination of Snow's early work, but its so damn long I was bored to tears, and then starting weeping because I realized I had another 140 minutes left.


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