John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Apotheosis (1970)

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What a perfect film…..short and simple, Ono takes a camera and a boom mike onto a hot air balloon, kicks the rope, and starts the camera and lets us watch as it goes above the clouds for a 17 minute shot. Key things to notice: A roll of 16mm film films only 14 minutes yet the film runs for 17, meaning somewhere in the clouds Ono had another camera loaded and started when the first one ran out, yet somehow the splice is not noticeable and there weren’t any computers at the time to fix this sort of thing…..all i can say is optical printing tricks at its best. The last shot, as the balloon rises above the clouds, the wind silences, and the sun becomes visible, is alone worth checking out this timeless classic of experimental film. Continue reading

Richard Myers – The Path (1960)

B&W, SILENT.

“Light as the symbol of the ineffable. The ‘plot’ of this subjective recreation of a dream seems to concern a mysterious journey; the spectator, however, is visually directed toward forms and substances rather than to the protagonists by a filmmaker who is a master of visionary cinema.” – Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art

“Richard Myers has, thru his films, given us the ONLY consistently creative variable to dream-thinking in our time. All else, in film, slides toward surrealism and/or props itself with misplaced Freudian symbols, at best, or else gets lost in the Jung-le, at the verses. Myers’ work is rooted in what he doesn’t know about, just exactly what he knows – his own home grounds mid-America, and like D.W. Griffith he takes the great risk of being native to his art, attending it on its home-grown grounds/his-UNowned-dreams.” – Stan Brakhage Continue reading

Len Lye – Free Radicals (1958)

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Free Radicals

Directed by Len Lye
US 1958, revised 1979, 16mm, b/w, 4 min.

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In arguably his greatest film, Lye reduces the medium to its most basic elements by scratching designs on black film. He used a variety of scribers ranging from dental tools to an ancient Native American arrowhead, and synchronized the images to traditional African music (a field tape of the Bagirmi tribe). The film won second prize in the International Experimental Film Competition, which was judged by Man Ray, Norman McLaren, Alexander Alexeiff and others at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. In 1979 Lye further condensed the film by dropping a minute of footage. Stan Brakhage described the final version as “an almost unbelievably immense masterpiece (a brief epic).” Continue reading

Andy Warhol – The Nude Restaurant (1967)

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At a New York City restaurant, the patrons are men, nude but for a G-string, waited on by one woman, also clad in a G-string (played by Viva) and a G-bestringed (bestrung?) waiter. Some of the “nude” patrons leave the establishment, their places taken by new customers, also nearly in the buff. There are numerous in-camera jump cuts (known as ‘strobe cuts’) and the camera weaves around a bit. The waiter and waitress move from table to table, talking to the customers. Taylor Mead sits smirking at the fountain, where eventually he partakes in a long conversation with Viva about her Catholic childhood. Viva, the waitress if not the actual person, seemingly is obsessed with the subject of lascivious priests. There is more strobe cutting and at one point, Viva turns to the camera and asks that it be turned off. The camera is turned off and, after an interlude, is turned back on again, after which Viva continues with her monologue. More patrons arrive while others go, perhaps thinking — if not speaking — of Michelangelo. Written by Tummy AuGratin Continue reading

Jordan Belson – Allures (1961)

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Originally a widely-exhibited painter, Jordan Belson turned to filmmaking in 1947 with crude animations drawn on cards, which he subsequently destroyed. He returned to painting for four years and in 1952 resumed film work with a series that blended cinema and painting through the use of animated scrolls. The four films produced in the period 1952-53 were Mambo, Caravan, Mandala, and Bop Scotch. From 1957-59 he worked with Henry Jacobs as visual director of the Vortex Concerts at Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco. Simultaneously he produced three more animated films, Flight (1958), Raga (1959), and Seance (1959). Continue reading

Derek Jarman – A Journey to Avebury (1971)

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Journey to Avebury beautifully reflects Derek Jarman’s fascination with ancient history, paganism, and Celtic traditions.

An IMDB review:
Derek Jarman is often said to be a painter rather than a movie director. Indeed, with his films he makes pictures that seem to be more important than the plot (which is usually unclear or missing at all). But those pieces of art he creates using camera are beautiful and astounding.

A JOURNEY TO AVEBURY, his 1971 silent short movie, is a literal journey that we can experience. We are being taken to Avebury and given the chance to admire it for 10 minutes. The shots are incredibly beautiful, as we see a huge stone or trees bathed in orange light of sunset.

The film lacks a plot and sound and should be treated as a collection of images rather than a movie. If you like Jarman’s art – you’ll be pleased with this one. If you like beauty – you’ll love it. But if you’re looking for action or amusement, better walk around it because these 10 minutes might just be too long for you. Continue reading