Someone or other, at the beginning of 2022, said they might watch a pile of 1972 movies on their fiftieth anniversary, and I stole the idea. This is probably why I watched The Inner Scar and The Boxer from Shantung and The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant and Boxcar Bertha and Fat City and Asylum and The Blood Spattered Bride… and sometimes my release years get mixed up so it might’ve been why I watched A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin or Fantastic Planet. It’s definitely why I gathered these 1972 shorts and kept them around for many months before finally deciding on Dec 30 that it’s now or never. Turns out they were all very good.


Ordinary Matter (Hollis Frampton)

The opening seconds, the camera rockin’ and rollin’ over some shingles, effectively demonstrates the weakness of my overcompressed VHS rip. A man speaks single syllables (a Chinese alphabet? you can download the script from Carnegie) with feedback echo, as the low-framerate camera tears ass through the countryside, producing frantically framing foliage. Then a square park surrounded by a columned hallway, the camera running through the halls looking inwards towards the park, the columns providing a film-flicker effect. Then over the Brooklyn Bridge, the camera getting distracted by any stone columns it encounters. Into the earth and grass, the image like an abstract fireworks display with the occasional tire track running through it. The voiceover runs out of syllables during a romp through Stonehenge with ten minutes still to go in the film – that’s poor planning for a structuralist! A shock when the camera stops and lingers in the cornfields. Anticlimactic ending, silently stomping sunward through the bushes. One of the more vibrant Frampton films I’ve seen, overall – part of his Hapax Legomena project.


Leonardo’s Diary (Jan Svankmajer)

Intercutting painstaking journal pages come to life with stock footage of human antics, creating some wild juxtapositions. A really fun one, released the year after the also-great Jabberwocky.


The Midnight Parasites (Yoji Kuri)

More animation, this one a colorful panorama of hellish mutilations. Among all the things gobbling up and shitting out other things, there’s a rare 1970’s human centipede. Real demented Boschian cartoon, the music a nifty electrogroove.

Mouseover for centipede, ya sicko:
image


The Bathroom (Yoji Kuri)

Stop-motion lunacy in a striped room (and sometimes the bathroom). Objects make and unmake themselves and clip through the floor, 3D cartoons and human actors turned into animation. Kuri’s interest in food and butts continues. Then suddenly, sped-up doc footage of crowds visiting a gallery of Kuri’s butt-centric art. Obviously this is all wonderful. The wikis say that Kuri was an early star of the Annecy Film Fest, made 40+ shorts, and is alive at 94.


Winnie-the-Pooh and a Busy Day (Fyodor Khitruk & Gennadiy Sokolskiy)

Alas, the last of the Russian Pooh shorts.
The one where Eeyore cries a lot on his birthday, then finds his lost tail.


Chakra (Jordan Belson)

Richly colored video light, washing like waves, flying like ashes, drifting like clouds, with a better soundtrack than these things tend to have. I bet seeing this projected properly would be gobsmacking.

Chakra (c) Jordan Belson


Take Five (Zbigniew Rybczynski)

Dancers’ images, tinted and overlapping, like these screenshots but in rapid motion over a jazz soundtrack. In the final minute the editing goes berserk, the jazz gets chopped and screwed. Real out there. I’ve only previously seen Rybczynski’s oscar-winning Tango. Take Five was among his earliest work, a thesis film, and the wikis say he’s had a big life since then, becoming a pioneer in video technology.


Top Ten Still-Unseen 1972 Movies:

The Merchant of Four Seasons
Morgiana
Don’t Torture the Duckling
Remote Control / Special Effects
Last Tango in Paris
What’s Up, Doc?
Red Psalm
Savage Messiah
The Death of Maria Malibran
Pink Flamingos

Digging back into the revised edition of Film as a Subversive Art for some shorts on the destruction of time and space. “No other art can so instantaneously and so completely expand, reverse, skip, condense, telescope, or stop time, or so suddenly change locale, abolish or accent perspective or distance, transform appearances or proportions of objects, or simultaneously exhibit spatially or temporally distinct events.”


The House (1961, Louis van Gasteren)

Good stuff – a couple of family generations live in a house with a stuffed owl until the nazis take over. Love affairs, birth and death, the editing jumping between timeframes, including the house’s present-day demolition. Orchestral score, very little spoken dialogue. As a confirmed Resnais nut, this kind of thing is up my alley. Vogel: “There is no looking back, since time never exists as a fixed point; everything is now.”

A Dutch movie – one of the cinematographers also shot Vogel-approved The Reality of Karel Appel, and later, Daughters of Darkness.


London to Brighton in Four Minutes (1952, Donald Smith)

Trick/stunt film, just a time-lapse train voyage, taking us “faster than sound” with normal little bookend segments.


Power of Plants (1949, Paul Moss & Thelma Schnee)

Awful educational-film acting, but watching time-lapsed tendril vines move around is cool. This was a segment of a series hosted by talk-show scientist John Kieran. The married directors also wrote an Alec Guinness detective-priest movie. “A magical film” – Vogel really loved time-lapse, but there’s not much point in taking stills from these, since the magic is in the motion.


Renaissance (1964, Walerian Borowczyk)

Excellent stop-motion. Walerian makes a still-life scene of fruit, musical instrument, furniture, doll, and stuffed owl (tying this film nicely to the stuffed owl in The House), violently destroys it all, then re-creates the scene using stop-motion in reverse. This was completed halfway between Boro’s moving to France after the Jan Lenica collaborations, and his first feature film (Goto in 1968).

The Beholder (1983, Chris Sullivan)

A restaurant scene and a street preacher, in constant states of absurd transformation, first-person camera flying through it all. Sound is field recordings, or a good approximation. Blobby watercolor, with inspired animation, comparable to Bill Plympton. Sullivan made a few shorts then got to work on his 2+ hour feature Consuming Spirits, which was recently on Criterion.


The Fall of the House of Usher (1984, John Schnall)

One problem with reading Poe aloud is that “acute illness” sounds like “a cute illness.” Usher House looks like an American suburban house from outside, but still has a butler. Ol’ Rodrick is worried about his sick sister, whom he maybe buried alive. The musician here can’t match the spoken phrase “the wild improvisations of his guitar.” Calm, soft candle-lit drawings with some good closeups. Schnall turned in the occasional short for the next couple decades, worked on Sesame Street, lives in New Jersey. These were both from the “Animation of the Apocalypse” video.


Hideous (2022, Yann Gonzalez)

Yann stages a talk-show transformation to four songs by The XX, or technically from their singer’s solo album. So it’s a music video EP. We need more stuff like this.


The Telephone Box (1972, Antonio Mercero)

I knew the general premise (man gets trapped in telephone box), but always imagined it as a cheap-looking b/w short, not this eye-popping Prisoner-era color. What seems like a stupid accident escalates when a procession of townsfolk can’t free him from the box, then apparently a phone-box truck arrives to fix the mistake, but nope, they pick up the box with man inside and cart it impersonally to a warehouse full of phone boxes with men trapped in them. Feels like a metaphor for oversized companies that set stupid procedures in place which keep merrily humming along even as they wreck people’s lives, but maybe this Comcast telephone hold music is influencing my thoughts.


Also watched an episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, and need to see the rest.


I feel like horror is underrepresented on the year-end lists, and deserves its own award show, so here are the 2022 SHOCKies nominations:

Best Writing:

Best Directing:

Best Acting:

Best Shocks:

Invocation (2013, Robert Morgan)

Robert Morgan is back, baby! Or rather I’m back at his vimeo, watching some recent-ish stuff. Incredible couple minutes here of meta-stop-motion. The animator bleeds into his camera, inadvertently causing the filmed frame images of his stuffed bear to become flesh, birthed from the camera, which then destroys the animator and stop-motion-animates the human body before the camera (and before the animator’s flesh-birthed in-camera avatar). Takes less time to watch than to explain. The actor-animator Robin King has made some intriguing-sounding shorts himself.


The Ossuary (1970, Jan Svankmajer)

Time to rewatch some ancient Jan Svanks which I’ve completely forgotten. He sets up the scene outdoors, then goes bananas when he gets inside this church made of bones. The photographer was alone, but the audio is a tour guide explaining it all to a group of unseen kids… one of whom is coughing incessantly in a confined space full of the bones of plague victims, argh. The tour is broken up the the sounds of a squeaky bicycle. Rating: 10 out of 10 bones.


The Fall of the House of Usher (1980, Jan Svankmajer)

A decade after the Ossuary but the same idea – Svank alone in an empty old place, no humans are seen as we hear dramatic stories on the audio. This time it’s a rushed narrator reading the wordy Poe story while Svank’s camera reels seasick around a house, and the objects inside are less ancient and precious, so the animators can destroy them in stop-motion (a hammer’s wood handle, and in the final seconds a stuffed raven) or cover the floor in mud and make fun patterns. Poor Usher apparently buries his sister alive then dies of shock in front of his narrator friend.


Belial’s Dream (2017, Robert Morgan)

“Belial, the deformed conjoined twin from the Basket Case series, has a strange dream.” More stop-mo monstrosities, this trounces the original movie.


Down to the Cellar (1983, Jan Svankmajer)

Girl goes to the cellar to get a basket of potatoes, but she’s haunted by a cat in the walls, self-propelled potatoes and shoes, and coal-obsessed basement-dwelling neighbors. She almost makes it back upstairs, too.


The Pendulum, the Pit, and Hope (1983, Jan Svankmajer)

Dual adaptation, stitching stories by different authors. First-person narrator is tied beneath the pendulum blade, frees himself by smearing delicious glop on the ropes for the rats to chew through, defeats the flaming clockwork demon walls from closing in and forcing him into the pit, flees down the halls and escapes through a hole to the outside, where he’s accosted by an evil monk.

Pendulum:


Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt (2019, Robert Morgan)

An authorized, stop-motion sequel to Jörg Buttgereit’s 1993 film Schramm. That is by the guy who made Nekromantik, so I never planned to watch it. The feature must end with Schramm dead, because this short follows his hellish afterlife, smashing himself in the face and dick with a hammer before getting eaten by a vagina dentata. Verdict: cool.


The Flat (1968, Jan Svankmajer)

A more pranksterish version of Pit/Pendulum/Hope, a man in an apartment full of traps, nothing as solid as it seems, trying to have a meal and a rest. One of Svank’s best live-action/stop-motion blends. Threatens derailment when a man enters with a chicken and a hatchet, but the chicken survives.


A Quiet Week in the House (1969, Jan Svankmajer)

Man is hiding, surveilling house, then breaks in with his equipment to spend the week, each day drilling a hole in a different spot and observing stop-motion antics.

1. screws escape from their candy wrappings to sit atop typewriter keys
2. sentient tongue grinds itself into bullet casings
3. wind-up bird eating beans causes the cabinetry to shit in revolt
4. pigeons fly into offscreen shredder, feathering a chair
5. suit jacket siphons water from potted plant then pisses itself
6. spool of wire picks lock to cabinet of body parts and winds itself horribly around them

Then the man wires the six holes with dynamite, sets a timer and runs for the hills. Technically, his segments have amateur-looking editing and projector noise, like he’s being followed by a guerrilla crew. The six animation pieces have weirdly blended frames, like someone screwed up their pulldown settings in handbrake, and that someone may well have been me.

Stereo sound hard-panning left and right, songs cutting in and out, incomplete subtitles, footage warped and effected, recolored, switching to the wrong aspect ratios on purpose, speed-adjusted and frame-by-framed, interlacing, watermarks. He’s taking the “I invented the jump-cut” thing a little far, with an entire movie of technical errors.

Vertigo, Salo, L’Atalante, Alphaville, The Flowers of St. Francis, Freaks. Testament of Orpheus matched with Die Nibelungen. The Rules of the Game rabbit hunt. Paintings and late-era Scott Walker.

Doc footage of horrors to people and animals. Obviously there’s a point to distorting and mutating the film footage and in flipping between fictional and actual atrocities. “This is the law of destruction of the living. Every being must be sacrificed,” says gravel-voiced JLG, or at least that’s what the subtitles tell us he’s saying.

The nature of art and war are covered, briefly. Focus on Russia, trains, physical film apparatus, the Muslim world. Named/numbered chapters, but I’m not sure they help anything. Politically, he seems to be in a terrible mood.

You do eventually drift into its rhythm, or its lack of rhythm. Towards the end it feels like he might start telling us a coherent story about a would-be conqueror named Sheik Ben Kadem (“but the world wasn’t as simple as his dream” sounds like Adam Curtis) illustrated by the jumble of sources he’s been establishing… alas, JLG is just reading scraps from a 1980’s novel, and the subtitles lose interest in following him.

It’s such a homemade UFO, I’d believe you if you told me he made it alone in a weekend, or that it took many years with a team of researchers.

Blake Williams:

These are films that ignite every interpretative impulse in our brains without satisfying our desires to be passive, unproductive viewers; they do not give clarity or any obvious avenues through the deluge of information, even if they make us feel as though, were we smarter, more knowledgable, bilingual cinephiles, we would be able to do just that. It’s in this way that Godard’s films also invite us to improve ourselves, something I think very few other artists achieve.

Will Sloan:

Many years ago, Godard attempted to create a style of cinema that could inspire revolutionary change. At this point, he seems to not only regard such a thing as impossible, but also regards cinema as a tool of violence and colonialism. In the film’s longest and most lucid section, he argues for the Arab World as a lost paradise hurt by western intervention, and cinema as a tool of oppression (in his narration, he says something along the lines of “all representation is violence”). He doesn’t seem to draw a distinction between classical Hollywood cinema, news footage, Blu-Rays, and amateur cell phone video — he suggests they have all basically been flattened into the same thing.

Michael Sicinski:

In his comparison of war footage and fictional violence, Godard posits the old problem: which representation is the original, and what inspired what? The connections are pre-cognitive and deeply intuitive, posed as questions, and (like so much in late Godard) recall Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas. How have images — both “cursed” and “blessed,” in the current parlance — dipped and ducked into the unconscious across the ages, forming something like a universal art history?

Lawrence Garcia:

If, as Godard intones early on, pledging allegiance to the ideas of Swiss cultural theorist Denis de Rougemont, man’s condition is indeed “to think with hands,” then what happens when cinema subverts or displaces that tactile state? When a hand becomes, as in Godard’s famed aphorism, “not a just image, but just an image”? When real violence becomes conflated with the violence of representation? In a choice that will strike some as crass at best, and exploitative at worst, Godard continually rhymes the two, in one instance placing gruesome footage of ISIS throwing bloodied bodies into the water against the scene in Vertigo (1958) in which Scottie rescues Madeleine from the San Francisco Bay. The ultimate point that Godard arrives at here, though, is fairly direct: which is that cinema—even revolutionary, politically minded cinema—has not clarified, but obscured the reality of the Holocaust and other attendant horrors, and instead contributed to a larger confusion, an effective “flattening” of reality. (That the clenched fist of revolution is here traded in for a raised index finger is instructive.)

Sam C. Mac:

The Image Book ends with another display of madness that would be a more than appropriate sendoff for the French New Wave figurehead’s restless career. Taken from Max Ophüls’s Le Plaisir, it’s a sequence of a man dancing and spinning around furiously until, finally, he falls down. This moment also serves as a canny reminder that, whatever effort it takes to understand the exact nature of the work that Godard is doing here, he’s also exerting that effort with us—and he seems to mind not at all if he collapses in the process.


As a memorial screening, I watched one JLG short film per decade…


Une Femme Coquette (1955)

Agnès writes a letter to a friend to confess cheating on her husband, having witnessed a discreet prostitute picking up men from the street and wondering if she’d have the courage to do the same. The woman is portrayed as complicated, and the men (including JLG himself) as impulsive dickbrains. The filmmakers bring Guy de Maupassant’s apartment-balcony story outdoors, showing off Geneva parks, bridges and birds. Ten years later, Masculin Féminin was sold as an adaptation of the same story before being completely rewritten.


Montparnasse-Levallois (1965)

From the Paris vu par anthology, which people say is quite good overall but I’ll watch the rest some other time. In very mobile long takes, Monica comes to her bf’s metalworking studio to tell him about a delicate mixup: she’s sent two telegrams to her two men and mixed up the addresses. He doesn’t buy it and kicks her out, so she runs to her other metalworker bf’s place. Both guys are caught up in their work and don’t stop to listen to her. Seems she didn’t mix up the addresses after all, and Roger also kicks her out. Some tech issues here, a bad post-dub, but cute.


Schick (1971)

Brief, noisy apartment scene, filmed mostly from behind the actors, to sell aftershave. You can’t tell a whole lot from my unsubbed copy but apparently that’s Juliet Berto and they’re arguing about Palestine, haha. Don’t know whether this aired, but it made some quick cash for the Dziga-Vertov Group.


Puissance de la parole (1988)

The Power of Speech is the opposite of Goodbye to Language. Filmmaking apparatus, overlapping hypnotized dialogue, a bitter post-breakup conversation transmitted through 1980’s phones and satellites. Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan songs, used less abruptly than in the later features.

Strobing edits (cutting between sky/water/volcano looks cool) and space-age philosophy. I’ve always liked movies where two people speak abstractly at the shore. A couple of Rivettian ghosts on the beach: Warok and a Gang of Four lead. “No thought can perish, so no act is without infinite result.”


L’enfance de l’Art (1993, w/ Mieville)

A woman reads to a boy, a book about revolt and revolution, while violent battles and children’s games go on around them. Nice string music, an action scene, a bazooka.


Liberty and Homeland (2002, w/ Miéville)

I did not realize Godard had a 9/11 film, or that he ever used dub music in his work. Male and female narrators go off about France and art, finally settling on a story of a (fictional) painter. Blending sources with different aspect ratios, extremely enhancing the colors – it was all there 20 years ago.


Remerciements de JLG (2015)

Godard totters home muttering in scraps and quotes, falls down, and delivers a speech from the floor about cinema and the lack of it, gets up to his desk and talks politics and poetry – all this in five minutes.

Marie Menken seems to have started it all. She inspired Jonas Mekas to make his own films (“she represents the lyrical aspect in cinema that sings the invisible”) and organized Brakhage’s first show (he says he owes her for his career). Kenneth Anger doesn’t credit her with his whole career, just Scorpio Rising. She appears, screaming, in a section of Chelsea Girls. And unfortunately, her relationship with her husband inspired Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

The doc shows some of her films, in full and partially, with new music by John Zorn (and sometimes just with mechanical sounds, leaving the viewer yearning for Zorn). It sets her up as a character and an artist pretty well, but plays a couple of cruel tricks. Firstly, they keep telling us about her amazing voice, then after 90 minutes of interviewees, we only get to hear it in the final minute or two. And most cruelly, the second half is handed over to Warhol groupies.

I watched some Menken shorts afterwards to recover from all the Warhol.

Menken and Warhol:


Visual Variations on Noguchi (1945)

All editing and movement. Looks like she was set loose in a sculpture gallery, and ran up to each piece (not too sharply in focus), tracing their shapes and lines with her camera. The music by Lucille Dlugoszewski is a noise piece, sounds like someone ran a TV broadcast through too many filters.


Arabesque for Kenneth Anger (1961)

Many years later… her editing/movement style is unchanged, but she’s got color film stock and a pleasant Teiji Ito guitar and percussion score. This time she’s been set loose among ancient Islamic/Spanish architecture, paying attention to the flowing water and the light coming through the ceilings and walls, in addition to all the lovely tile patterns.


Eye Music in Red Major (1961)

Lights, mostly red, in a dark room, the camera whirling. My favorite was when she turned the camera sideways and whirled, so on film the lights appear to fall like rain. Of all these, this one would make the most sense to see on film in a dark theater, not on my laptop screen over the reflection of my NEBREWSKI t-shirt. Briefly the moon, then a light kaleidoscope effect over the last couple minutes. Silent, I played Zorn’s Canto II from The Ninth Circle.


Notebook (1961)

Opens with ducks, always a good move, then rain on the lake and plants. The camera is barely even whirling, many static shots. Aha, it’s a notebook of different scenes, so after the rain comes a greek festival at night, then experiments with filming the moon, a rush of McLaren-ish lines, paper cut-out animation, swirling lights at a distance, jumping on a rooftop. Ends without warning. This was my favorite, assisted by a couple of Bagatelles tracks feat. the John Medeski Trio.


Lights (1966)

Marie goes to town on some decorative Christmas lights. I picked a good music track in Bagatelle #54 with Kris Davis Quartet, because when Marie goes into overdrive, slowing down the shutter speed and jiggling the camera to turn the dots into squiggles, Mary Halvorson hits a pedal turning her guitar notes into squiggles.

Scaffold (2017 Kazik Radwanski)

Good shallow-focus construction scenes. We see full people at a distance, but our two primary scaffold-workers and the homeowner are only seen around their waists, no faces. A cellphone and a flowerpot are dropped.


Cilaos (2016 Camilo Restrepo)

Per her mother’s dying wish, a woman goes to Cilaos to find her deadbeat dad and make him pay. When she arrives, he’s apparently dead, so she becomes him. And this is a musical, songs written by the performers, shot in simple long-take setups with sharp lighting.


La Bouche (2017 Camilo Restrepo)

A sequel? The dad is again known as The Mouth but this time he’s being told his daughter is dead and that he should get up and take revenge. People sing and drum and dance at him, La Bouche never speaks but finally he drums upon the red devil. Also a side conversation between a doomed tree and a chainsaw.


Plus Ultra (2017 Samuel Delgado & Helena Girón)

Ambient decayed mummy shot on decayed film, made me flashback to Begotten but not in a bad way. Then guys carrying something through the jungle. When they sleep a handful of fruit-munching robed women appear. Then I guess something mysterious happens… whatever the movie’s intention, it’s not to give us an adventure story.


Indefinite Pitch (2016 James N. Kienitz Wilkins)

The director/narrator pitches a film about Berlin (New Hampshire) on the soundtrack, the image is stills of black and white patterns, looks like icy water from a distance, or a soapy window (turns out it’s the polluted river of his hometown). The pace of the stills speeds up, as does the voice of the narrator, getting higher pitched (ah I get it, “pitch”) as he admits his initial pitch was based on a Jean Arthur movie set in Berlin, and he admits he’s never seen this movie or been to the town. “Pitch” the substance also comes up, and pitch as an angle. The narration ties different histories together, roaming New England, discussing fires and drugs and the nature of cinema. This is all surprisingly good except for one scene in the middle when the soundtrack becomes a blaring siren for a while – no thanks for that.

Wilkins was on my radar due to (what else?) Cinema Scope, where Dan Sullivan said:

Seemingly resistant to the idea of carving out a single position for himself and maintaining it for very long, the prolific Wilkins has launched one of the more strikingly frenetic investigations into the life of the mind and the lives of artists, race, money, and technology in recent cinema, playfully and thoughtfully posing tough questions about the features of the contemporary world we tend to take for granted.


The Hunchback (2016 Gabriel Abrantes & Ben Rivers)

“Welcome to Historical Works, where you are history.” Narrator advertises supplements that help you experience “obsolete human feelings,” and Timmy’s holophone tells him his character is a medieval hunchback. Arthouse Brainscan murder-mystery, as the present-day participants are interviewed to discover how Hunchback Timmy died (“a head just doesn’t come off that easy, and that’s when I realized something was wrong”), tracing how the body got passed around by everyone in town. What is the deal with the standing goat there at the end? I’m worried about the goat. Lead actor Carloto Cotta is a Miguel Gomes regular, therefore he appeared in a different irreverent Arabian Nights the year before.


Among the Black Waves (2016 Anna Budanova)

A fisherman sees hot nude selkies cavorting on the shore and steals one’s skin to keep her imprisoned in human form. At first she tries to drown herself but he retrieves her with his net, and she stays with him. Eventually their daughter finds the skin and mom escapes. Wordless animation.


The Hedonists (2016 Jia Zhang-Ke)

Another movie about miners – the shorts programs tend to bring everything together – the boss even says “Good Luck” when they all get fired. Big camera moves, abrupt scene changes, loud period music. Three laid-off guys go in search of work, as a bodyguards and actors. I think it’s a comedy? Alternate title: Jia Got a Drone


A Brief History of Princess X (2016, Gabriel Abrantes)

Not sure how I felt about The Hunchback, I rewatched one of my favorite shorts, which tells the story of one of my favorite artworks, and it’s still perfect.

How to Live with Regret (2018, John Wilson)

Before the TV series he made a few standalone shorts, which I must find. His metaphors go on for too long and get lost sometimes, and there are a few classic film clips, otherwise basically a shorter, more tightly topic-focused version of the series. He interviews a guy who writes down all his regrets, and gets distracted by the guy’s screensaver, then talks with a friend whose apartment burned down (the multiverse is mentioned).


Autoficcion (2020, Laida Lertxundi)

Short 4:3 doc scenes, and some staged shots of a woman being dragged around. Subtitled interviews with Los Angeles-area women whose lives feel unstable. Repeated play of the song “Time Is On My Side.” Not more exciting than her other films, but I can spare 15 minutes per year for these.


Prometheus (2021, Dominic Angerame)

Spark showers, sometimes frame-in-frame, pure whites on black. Perhaps the camera was wearing a welders mask. Dom playing improv music on bells.


Austrian Pavilion (2019, Philipp Fleischmann)

The most filmy-lookin’ film I saw all weekend (on my TV), a hitching blue-tinted flicker down a hallway to some trees, the edges of the frame closing in.


The Newest Olds (2022, Pablo Mazzolo)

City buildings across the river, gently flicker-vibrating from a few angles with street dialogue, then moves inland to fields, still flickering, cool colors, people discussing unusual sounds on the audio, back to the city, this time with the sounds of recent protests. Would’ve been a perfectly fine a/g movie full of cool vibrations, why’d he feel the need to insert photos of dead birds?


Ruka/The Hand (1965, Jiri Trnka)

Watched this again in the latest video restoration, super. The hand uses sex and money and TV and newspapers and bribes and intimidation and imprisonment, then after all the man’s refusals the hand still claims him as a champion after he dies.

States (1967)

I’ve watched this one before… was hoping I got a higher-quality copy, but nope. Sometimes the water is a torrent, sometimes slight drips that look like sparks. Fully white-on-black with no grey in between, all elements given the same visual character. Unfortunately that character is destroyed with standard-def interlacing, the horizontal artifacts interrupting the all-vertical movements. Silent, so I watched with a couple of Craig Taborn piano tracks from the Avenging Angel album, which accounted for at least 75% of my enjoyment of the experience.


Apparatus Sum (1972)

Color fields, sometimes gently crossfading, sometimes strobing. Lingers on red for a long time. then, holy shit, is that a dead body, or what is happening? Freaky little movie, the second one in a row affected by low video quality (this time compression artifacts in the color fields), but I’ve run out of films from the beautiful Criterion blu-ray, so you get what you can get.


Not the First Time (1976)

A pier, shore birds, a person in red on the beach, always double-shot and superimposed out of sync, like a misaligned 3D camera, with frequent cuts to pure white. Short, silent.


Cadenza XIV (1977-80)

Prolonged marching band beat over black…
then… a smokestack with a laugh track
As the camera lingers on the flame atop the smoke stack, the obvious loop point of the repeated laugh track makes me wish for the return of the marching band.


Mindfall I & VII (1977-80)

Cartoon sfx as the camera goes, I dunno, just all over the place. Jittery footage of nature and architecture and what not. Wipe/iris transition mattes standing on their own between shots – like it cuts from the footage to the transition, instead of the footage itself wiping or irising. Between the video effects and the sound effects library and the single-frame flash edits before cuts to black, it feels like a prank, and one that last almost a half hour too long. I spaced out somewhat, reconsidering that dream of attending a complete screening of Frampton’s Magellan project. At least it has a closing shot that isn’t just a random rock or cactus, but approaching the shadow of the filmmaker on the side of a building. Sicinski liked this one, anyway.