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Ghosts Before Breakfast

EPFC | November 28th, 2017

MARVELOUS MOVIE MONDAYS!!
Guest curator: Andy Spletzer
Theme: Experimental Films are Funny

One of the first art movements to embrace film was also one of the funniest, probably because, like with all other art forms, they refused to take it seriously: Dadaism. In 1927 or 1928, Hans Richter created “Ghosts Before Breakfast,” the story (as much as there is one) of time passing, hats flying, tea trays crashing, a bowtie with a mind of its own, and any number of other seemingly disconnected images.

I think it’s the joy of experimentation that I respond to, the sense of fun that is exuded as the Dadaists created and crashed surrealistic images into each other. Last spring for the Seattle International Film Festival I programmed a fun and funny tribute to 100 years of Dadaism called “A DAD” by Austrian filmmaker Robert Cambrinus, and I would have linked to that here if the dang film was online.

However, if there’s one thing that I realized after choosing this month’s theme, it’s that, even though there are funny experimental films out there, the fact of the matter is that there should be so many more! Humor is an attitude, a playful spirit, a smart deconstruction of an existing form, a lightness made from love, not a dismissiveness.

I’m sure there’s plenty of funny experimental films out there that I have yet to see, and lots of my favorite filmmakers (Guy Maddin, Peter Tscherkassky, Kelly Sears, Lewis Klahr, George Kuchar, Arthur Lipsett, Craig Baldwin, so many others) use humor in films that aren’t really comedies. So if you, PERSON WHO IS READING THIS, if you are a filmmaker, I just want to remind you don’t have to take your art so damn seriously all the time!

Cheers!

THE SUBCONSCIOUS ART OF GRAFITTI REMOVAL

EPFC | November 14th, 2017

MARVELOUS MOVIE MONDAYS!!
Guest curator: Andy Spletzer
Theme: Experimental Films are Funny

Some things (jokes, movies, etc.) are funny because they’re true. Such is the case with Matt McCormick’s THE SUBCONSCIOUS ART OF GRAFITTI REMOVAL (2001), a tongue-in-cheek tribute to art documentaries. The movie compares the squares of paint that city workers use to cover up graffiti to the work of modern artists like Rothko. Through Miranda July’s narration, McCormick posits that graffiti removal is a subconscious art, “a product of artistic merit that was created without conscious artistic intentions.” Not only that, but this is an important art movement. It’s a persuasive argument.

The reason the short documentary works so well is that its ultimate message is that art is everywhere, that human beings create subconscious art on a daily basis, and all you have to do is open your eyes to see it.

Matt McCormick is a Portland, Oregon-based filmmaker whose work has consistently balanced sincerity with a sense of humor. His latest feature-length documentary BUZZ ONE FOUR recently played this venue.

I encourage you to watch this doc and then check out his back catalog.

Experimental Films are Funny!

EPFC | November 7th, 2017

MARVELOUS MOVIE MONDAYS!!
Guest curator: Andy Spletzer

Like with any art form, there is a wide variety of experimental films out there. Some are poetic, some are abstract, some are absurdly narrative, some are subjective, some explore long-take realism, some are pretentious in a good way, and some are pretentious in a bad way. One reputation they rarely get is for humor. Unfairly.

My theme this month: Experimental Films are Funny!

I remember when I first learned about San Francisco filmmaker Robert Nelson. I was in college, the lights went down, and his short film “Bleu Shut” started unreeling. By the end I was giggling, trying to hold laughter to keep from infecting or being judged by my classmates. At the same time, my eyes were opened. This was funny and abstract and smart and stupid, all at the same time.

Made in 1970 or ’71, “Bleu Shut” claims to be 30 minutes, which is its first lie. At its heart, it’s a structuralist film. There’s a clock superimposed in the corner that marks the time, and every minute there’s a beep and a title card that tells you how many minutes have passed. There is also a narrator who tells you what to expect: The film has a boat game and entertainments (TRUE); at 11:15, a wiener (TRUE); at 21:05, pornography (TRUE). This format has the effect of making the film’s running time fly by because you know what to expect and how long you’re going to be watching.

Then there’s the boat game! That’s what has stuck with me through all these years. That’s what made me realize how funny experimental films can be. I hope you agree.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

EPFC | November 1st, 2017

MARVELOUS “Who’s the Monster” MONDAYS!!
guest curator: Amy Khoshbin

It’s Halloween-eve and the final week of my curatorial exploration of Hollywood’s portrayal of Middle Easterners as the terrorist/monster. This week I’m flipping the script to include an Iranian-American-made horror film I love: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night by Ana Lily Amirpour. A Vampire Western, this film portrays a chador-wearing, skateboarding vampire that is also a feminist hero- surviving on the blood of misogynists and manipulators that everyone watching wants dead. With a mostly Iranian-American cast speaking in Farsi and shot in CA, this film speaks to the outsiderness of being an immigrant. The visuals are Jarmuschian, the pacing is on-point, and the main character, while technically a monster, is actually relatable. A lot of you may have seen this one already, but if not, it’s worth a hallowatch.

big thanks to Echo Park Film Center for having me for the month of Oct- keep up with my work at tinyscissors.com !!

Marvelous Movie Mondays: True Lies

EPFC | October 12th, 2017

MARVELOUS “WHO’S THE MONSTER” MOVIE MONDAYS!!!
guest curator: Amy Khoshbin

As we see the US suspending visas to Turkey now, I want to continue on with the theme of scenes in popular US films that portray the Middle Easterner or Muslim as the enemy…

This week, let’s watch the final fight scene in James Cameron’s True Lies (complete with “You’re fired” a la Trump). The premise is that Arnold Schwarzenegger is married to Jamie Lee Curtis and she thinks he’s a boring computer salesman, but he’s actually a US spy fighting terrorists worldwide. Specifically, he’s fighting fake Palestinian terrorist group Crimson Jihad, led by Salim Abu Aziz. This plot carries through the film as a backdrop to Arnold and Jamie’s marital mishaps and eventual reconciliation (it’s hot to kill “bad” people).

True Lies was made in 1994- in 1993 the Oslo Accord was signed, the “two-state” solution: the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized the state of Israel; Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people; and both sides agreed to resolve their outstanding differences by peaceful means. Then Feb 25, 1994, American-Israeli Baruch Goldstein, member of the far-right Israeli Kach movement, opened fire on a large number of Palestinian Muslims who had gathered to pray inside the Ibrahimi Mosque compound in Hebron, West Bank during Ramadan. 29 died and 125 wounded…

True Lies came out, with a Palestinian terrorist as lead enemy character that summer of ’94….interesting timing.