MOVIES THAT PISS YOU OFF (PT. 2)
When I was a pre-teen, I was given a Super 8mm camera and editing machine for Christmas one year. I was already deeply into filmmaking and wasted no time in beginning my oeuvre--which turned out to be loose remakes of Three Stooges shorts starring friends of mine from school. The Columbia two-reeler format was my bedrock of film education (for some reason). But sometimes, in between films, I'd restlessly piece together some scraps of footage just for fun--no actors, no scripts! Just me and the editing machine. I'd shoot footage of 'I Love Lucy' off the TV. I'd shoot strange, arty shots of my cat Rusty. Once I shot a piano roll playing--the slits on the paper that represent the notes being played were quite mesmerizing. I'd also grab some outtakes from my latest Three Stooges remake and jumble it all together. It was weird and stupid fun. Like I said I was thirteen.
What I didn't realize at the time was that I was actually participating in the movement known as Avant-Garde Cinema and that I could very likely have been discovered as the worlds youngest protege of the AGC's Crown Prince filmmaker Stan Brakhage. If you read my previous post (scroll down, you brainiac) you'll see how I finally was introduced to the infuriating world of AGC and my extremely averse reaction to it. While the previously posted Michael Snow film 'Back And Forth' is an outrage, the above posted Brakhage film "Murder Psalm" is a mystery not worth solving.
Some of the questions you'll be asking yourself as you watch the fifteen minute film are: Why is their no sound? What's with all grey stuff? Why does a boy wandering in a forest occasionally appear? Whats with the gory shot of what appears to be a human heart being fondled? Is it funny to show shots of old TV commercials or is it a solemn comment on something that eludes me? Who paid for this crap? Who watched it and who posted it on Youtube? Why is it called "Murder Psalm"? Why a psalm to begin with? Why is it fifteen minutes instead of four seconds or nine hours, either which would have made equal sense? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
Ladies and Gentleman, it's no use. I hate this Avant Garde stuff. Always have, always will. So why am I posting it? I dunno. A trip down memory lane I guess. An experiment in nerve-testing and will. Think of me as Gordon Liddy sticking his hand in the fire--I feel stronger as a result of revisiting these things. This is art spelled with a capital F and I dare you to challenge me on this. Nonetheless, it is cinema and its existence must be respected on some level. On that note, I advise you to roll a fatty and stare at your computer for a few minutes, taking in one of Brakhage's numerous exercises in filmmaking-as-torture-delivery-system. I wish I still had my versions of 'Murder Psalm..."At least they had Lucy Ricardo in them...
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 4:28 PM