Jan Peters – Aber der Sinn des Lebens (1990 – 1996)

Aber den Sinn des Lebens hab’ ich immer noch nicht rausgefunden / … but I Still Haven’t Figured Out the Meaning of Life (OmeU)

Every year on his birthday, Jan Peters filmed one reel of Super-8 material; later on he turned to video. In these few minutes of film he reveals something from and about himself. Maybe it is exhibitionism – the way he chatters on, until the blotches on the film indicate the end of the reel. Enthusiastic, sometimes tired, often doubtful, he, like everyone else, quarrels with what has come about from his own actions. On top of this, Peters, the filmmaker, blurs the individual of the same name with his dense texts and images to create something quite different: Jan Peters, the fictional character. Continue reading

Jack Smith – Normal Love [Full Cut] (1963)


By 1965, Jack Smith was exhibiting versions of Normal Love, mixing his soundtracks live and often re-editing the film as it was being shown. After Smith’s death, Jerry Tartaglia prepared this restored 105-minute version, which premiered in 1997. Although shot on backdated color-film stock and paced more languidly than Flaming Creatures, Normal Love again features women and cross-dressed men in an idyll of sexual anarchy. Smith filmed almost entirely outdoors, emphasizing pinks and greens in the scenery, costumes, and props, and combining textural passages with allusions to film icons such as the Mummy and the Werewolf, Maria Montez, and Busby Berkeley. The inspired finale is set atop a massive pink cake (where the dancing Cake Cuties include Andy Warhol). Continue reading

Bruce Conner – Cosmic Ray (1962)


Amos Vogel said about Cosmic Ray in Film as a Transgressive Art :
Eight images per second flash by at the brink of retinal
perception in this extraordinary pop art collage of a nude
dancing girl surrounded by Academy leaders, war footage,
Mickey Mouse, and the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima.
An attempt at a total audio-visual experience, this hypnotic
four-minute film contains two thousand different images. Continue reading

Deborah Stratman – Hacked Circuit (2014)


Synopsis: A single-shot, choreographed portrait of the Foley process, revealing multiple layers of fabrication and imposition. The circular camera path moves us inside and back out of a Foley stage in Burbank, CA. While portraying sound artists at work, typically invisible support mechanisms of filmmaking are exposed, as are, by extension and quotation, governmental violations of individual privacy.

The scene being foleyed is the final sequence from The Conversation where Gene Hackman’s character Harry Caul tears apart his room searching for a ‘bug’ that he suspects has been covertly planted. The look of Caul’s apartment as he tears it apart mirrors the visual chaos of the Foley stage. This mirroring is also evident in the dual portraits of sonic espionage expert Caul and Foley artist Gregg Barbanell, for whom professionalism is marked by an invisibility of craft. And in the doubling produced by Hackman’s second appearance as a surveillance hack, twenty-four years later in Enemy of the State. Continue reading

Various – Avant-Garde 3: Experimental Cinema 1922-1954 (2009)



From the little theaters of the 1920s to the ad hoc film societies of the ’50s, avant-garde cinema knew no established form and held no predictable position. The boundaries of its history are still hotly debated, but its rough sensibilities informed and permeated the city symphonies of Alberto Cavalcanti, the visual music of Mary Ellen Bute and John Whitney, the classroom films of Sidney Peterson, the confessional film poems of Willard Maas and John E. Schmitz, the Lettrist cinema of Marc’O, and even marginal exploitation films and home movies. Drawn from the rich collections of Raymond Rohauer and the George Eastman House, Kino’s third volume of experimental films continues to illuminate the degree to which cinema’s evolution has been influenced by those filmmakers who occupy its periphery. Continue reading

Various – Avant-Garde 2: Experimental Cinema 1928-1954 [Disc 2] (2007)

Disc two travels back in time for two late-Twenties American shorts before heading off to France for three late-Forties/early-Fifties films, including the epic Lettrism manifesto, Jean Isidore Isou’s Venom and Eternity (also known by the far better title Treatise on Slime and Eternity, 1951). From the former group only James Watson and Melville Webber’s expressionist adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher (1928) is of any note, while two of the three later films, Jean Mitry’s Pacific 231 (1949) and Dimitri Kirsanoff’s Arriere Saison (1950), serviceably employ techniques that had reached their fulfillment thirty years prior. Venom and Eternity is supposed to be the cherry on the cake—a rarely seen controversial feature with 34 minutes of restored footage. Continue reading

Various – Avant-Garde 2: Experimental Cinema 1928-1954 [Disc 1] (2007)

In the latter half of the 20th Century, Raymond Rohauer was one of the nation s foremost proponents of experimental cinema. This two-disc collection continues Kino s tribute to the Rohauer Collection, including the early works of Stan Brakhage and influential films by Willard Maas, Gregory Markopoulos, Marie Menken, Dimitri Kirsanoff, Jean Mitry, Sidney Peterson and others.

the major pioneers of the period that came before the American avant-garde crested in the late Fifties to mid Sixties are all in attendance on the collection’s first disc: Willard Maas, Marie Menken, Sidney Peterson, James Broughton, Gregory Markopoulos, and Stan Brakhage. That period’s two seminal achievements—along with nearly the entirety of Deren’s oeuvre—are accounted for in Maas’s Geography of the Body (1943) and Peterson’s The Cage (1947). The former brings to cinema an unconventional depiction of the nude figure, with Maas’s extreme close-up photography transforming familiar parts into exciting, undiscovered terrains of flesh, an erotic revolution in vantage point that would inform everything from Carolee Schneemann’s Fuses to Brakhage’s entire film philosophy. Continue reading