Richard Rush – Psych-Out (1968)

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Jennie (Susan Strasberg) travels to San Francisco to locate her hippie brother Steve (Bruce Dern). She meets Stoney (Jack Nicholson) in a coffeehouse and he helps her look for Steve, who Stoney has seen in his various attempts to start a rock & roll band. Stoney and his pals transform the square girl into a swinging hippie chick, complete with a mod miniskirt. Along with their buddy Dave (Dean Stockwell), they search for Steve amidst the psychedelic splendor of the Haight-Ashbury hippie haunts. Dave is killed by a car when he wanders around in an STP-induced stupor. LSD, marijuana, and the good and the bad sides of hippie life are illustrated with non-judgmental accuracy. The soundtrack of the movie is a musical gem, complete with the international smash “Incense and Peppermints” by The Strawberry Alarm Clock. (The group reached the top of the charts with the song in October 1967.) Also on hand are the Seeds, although they don’t get to perform their best-known song, “Pushin’ to Hard.” (Seeds lead singer Sky Saxon would gain as much notoriety as an acid casualty as he would from his musical ability.) Also adding music are the Storybook and Cryque Boenzee. The latter group contained Rusty Young and George Grantham, who would join with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina from the legendary, long-lived country-rock band Poco. This time-capsulized gem was produced by Dick Clark, the world’s oldest teenager. (Allmovie) Continue reading

Don Levy – Herostratus (1967) (HD)

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In British director Don Levy’s Herostratus, a young poet, Max (Michael Gothard, The Devils), decides to commit suicide in public as a form of protest. He hires a prestigious marketing company to capture the event and promote it to the masses. As preparations begin, however, Max realizes that his plan might be flawed – he doubts that the company would cover the event as he wishes. With only a few days left, the young rebel is faced with an impossible dilemma – finish what he has started, or abandon his plan and run away.

Herostratus reminded me about two very powerful films: Marco Bellocchio’s Fists in the Pocket (1965) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Partner (1968). In the former, a young epileptic (Lou Castel), frustrated with the world around him, goes on a family killing spree. In the latter – a film loosely based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s work The Double – a passionate revolutionary’s (Pier Clementi) plan to commit suicide issuddenly thrown into turmoil when a mysterious double appears. Continue reading

Vera Chytilová – Sedmikrásky AKA Daisies (1966) (HD)

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Two teenage girls, both named Marie, decide that since the world is spoiled they will be spoiled as well; accordingly they embark on a series of destructive pranks in which they consume and destroy the world about them. This freewheeling, madcap feminist farce was immediately banned by the government. Continue reading

Jordan Belson – Samadhi (1967)

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Notable film theorist Gene Youngblood has this to say about the “Cosmic Cinema” of Jordan Belson in his classic book “Expanded Cinema”:

“Certain phenomena manage to touch a realm of our consciousness so seldom reached that when it is awakened we are shocked and profoundly moved. It’s an experience of self-realization as much as an encounter with the external world. The cosmic films of Jordan Belson possess this rare and enigmatic power. Continue reading

Hiroshi Teshigahara – Tanin no kao AKA The Face of Another (1966)

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Acquarello @ Strictly Film School wrote:
An off-camera psychiatrist (Mikijiro Hira) overseeing a processed batch of prosthetic appendages describes his fragile role of diplomatically treating – not a patient’s physical imperfection – but rather, the psychological insecurity that underlies his seemingly superficial malady. The curious, fragmented shot of randomly floating, artificial body parts is subsequently reflected in an X-ray profile of a smug and embittered burn victim named Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai) as he recounts to the quietly receptive psychiatrist his own culpability in the fateful industrial accident that had permanently disfigured him and now estranges him from his co-workers and family. The clinically disembodied images are then commuted into the equally cold and sterile Okuyama household through a dissociating, close-up shot of a human eye that zooms out to reveal his beautiful and mannered wife (Machiko Kyô) busily occupied in her hobby of polishing gemstones as the acerbic and insecure Okuyama attempts to test her affection and fidelity with vague and allusive casual remarks and open-ended questions. Spurned by his wife after a spontaneous and awkward attempt at intimacy, Okuyama returns to his psychiatrist and agrees to participate in the testing of the doctor’s latest experiment: a prosthetic mask molded from the facial characteristics of a surrogate donor. Now liberated by a sense of faceless anonymity and relieved of personal and professional entanglements, Okuyama takes up residence at a modest boarding house and begins to test the limits of his traceless identity. Continue reading

Stan Brakhage – Dog Star Man (1962-1964)

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Finally reunited, Stan Brakhage’s masterpiece Dog Star Man is an experimental movie without sound. A creation myth realized in light, patterns, images superimposed, rapid cutting, and silence. A black screen, then streaks of light, then an explosion of color and squiggles and happenstance. Next, images of small circles emerge then of the Sun. Images of our Earth appear, woods, a part of a body, a nude woman perhaps giving birth. Imagery evokes movement across time and space. If the movie tends sometime toward abstraction, there is still a kind of off-the-tracks narration here. Dog Star Man could be about a man, lost in mountain, struggling to survive, and as he fell the breath of death on his shoulder, remembering trough flashes his wife and son. Continue reading

Lindsay Anderson – If…. (1968)

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“A modern classic in which Anderson minutely captures both the particular ethos of a public school and the general flavour of any structured community, thus achieving a clear allegorical force without sacrificing a whit of his exploration of an essentially British institution. The impeccable logic of the conclusion is in no way diminished by having been lifted from Vigo’s Zéro de Conduite, made thirty-five years earlier.” – Time Out London Continue reading