Canyon Cinema in Portland

Luckily, a Canyon Cinema program was playing at the university when we rolled into Portland, and I somehow got Katy to come along to the severely under-attended screening.

Our Lady of the Sphere (1969, Larry Jordan)

Occasionally amusing clip-art animation with a colorful circus theme, featuring a woman with a balloon head. But if amusing is what Jordan was going for, he’s about 20,000 leagues below Terry Gilliam. I assume there’s something else that eludes me. The sound was irritating. I give it slightly more credit for difficulty once I realized it was made in the 60’s with physically-clipped-art and not on a Macintosh in the early 90’s. Apparently this is one of his best-known works – it’s in the National Film Registry, whatever that is. Internet says it draws from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Dream Work (2002, Peter Tscherkassky)

Quiet (relatively) centerpiece of the Cinemascope Trilogy – a world of difference seeing this on a cinema screen vs. my laptop and television. So, so awesome. Katy watched with her eyes closed. I’ve seen it before on DVD, noted here.

Self Portrait Post Mortem (2002, Louise Bourque)

A decaying pattern scrolls up on left and right of frame, low frame rate but with a weird sliding motion. During the second half, a woman appears in the center of screen.

Happy-End (1996, Peter Tscherkassky)

The one composed from stock footage of a couple in the 60’s at different holidays (or is it just one holiday?), opening and drinking a ton of celebratory booze, dancing and posing for the camera. I’ve seen it before on DVD, noted here.

Very (2001, Stan Brakhage)

We saw a trailer for some upcoming Helen Mirren thing before the shorts started, and I was annoyed to see that the projectionist was running another trailer beneath this totally gorgeous, brightly-colored hand-painted Brakhage piece, but no, it looks like Stan ran out of blank film and painted over a trailer reel for the movie Quills, taking his title from the on-screen superlatives complimenting that movie and cast. Hilarious and wonderous.

Night Mulch (2001, Stan Brakhage)

Companion piece to Very, coloring over the shortened TV version of the Quills trailer. Katy loved these.

Mirror (2003, Matthias Muller)

The rare piece with original footage using actors and locations and lots of careful lighting, not hand-tooling some stock footage. Lots of darkness, and chairs.

The Observer: “The tableaux in which the figures stand like statues are animated by light alone. A light that glimmers, or suffuses a room like smoke, or crackles and fizzes from overhead lamps in long corridors. It polishes a grand piano, soothes the cheek of the pensive woman, surrounds the man with glassy halations and then makes him vanish, as if his part was over, before the room in which he stands disappears.”

Phantom Limb (2005, Jay Rosenblatt)

Title cards tell the story of Jay’s little brother who died as a boy, then a series of short pieces (home movies, some stock footage, some staged) are presented in order of the stages of grief. Katy didn’t approve of the birthing scene, and I was mesmerized by the sheep-shearing one.

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