Andy Warhol – Blow Job (1963)

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Review by Tom Vick (

Probably the most notorious of Andy Warhol’s films, Blow Job has been called, jokingly, the longest reaction shot in the history of cinema. In it, an anonymous young man’s face is seen in close-up while he receives fellatio from an unseen partner. The serene voyeurism that runs through Warhols ’60s films reaches a kind of apotheosis in Blow Job. Sexuality, which is a distinct subtext in a number of his films, becomes the subject of this one but, in a typically Warholian joke on pornography, all the “action” occurs off-screen. Continue reading

Gus Van Sant – My Own Private Idaho (1991)


Non-normative texts concern themselves with subject matter that is marginalized, or not widely accepted as “normal.” Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho – an ode to the abandoned, and the isolated – is an example. It’s an exercise in brilliant directorial innovation, and cinematic ingenuity – required viewing for the capsized, fissure-ridden heart.

The film offers up a discourse on the fragility, and the emotional and intellectual convolution, of children who are left with the burden of trying to understand why their parents have abandoned them. This search becomes obdurate and lost, in the cases of Mike Waters (a physical and emotional narcoleptic, played to perfection by River Phoenix), and Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves); Mike is subverted by an idyllic yearning for the past, while Scott is consumed by familial regret and rebellion. Continue reading

Jack Smith – Scotch Tape (1963)

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not sure why it’s titled this, but it’s a fanciful and exciting little trip
by Jack Gattanella

Jack Smith was one of the masters of the underground film-making ‘group’ in New York city in the early 60s, and this was one of the few films that Smith finished and screened. While nowhere near the notorious nature of Flaming Creatures or the color-grandeur of Normal Love, Scotch Tape is significant because in a 3-minute stretch of time Smith is able to convey a lot of energy and excitement over some footage that is hard to make out. It looks as those there are figures dancing among garbage or something, moving about, maybe even at 16 frames-per-second, and all done to a super catchy swing tune from the 30s. Continue reading

Frank Mosvold – Summer Blues (2002)


A film about four teenagers, two boys and two girls, and their relationship. It is a story of love and friendship, of loss and discovery, of the transition from childhood to maturity.

Mads and Kristian spend a summer weekend with their girlfriends at a summerhouse by the sea. When Mads and his girlfriend have a fight we find that Kristian may love someone else. Continue reading

Werner Schroeter – Malina (1991) (HD)


Werner Schroeter’s adaptation of a novel by Ingeborg Bachmann, Isabelle Huppert portrays a writer who suffers from an interminable case of existential angst.

An unusual story of a triangular relationship set in Vienna. A woman shares an apartment with a man named Malina. The woman meets Ivan and falls in love. It will be her last great passion. The singlemindedness of her love is so great that it is more than the man can comprehend or respond to. The film’s subject is nothing less than love- and the loneliness of the lover. Continue reading

Paul Schrader – Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)


Paul Schrader’s visually stunning, collagelike portrait of acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yukio Mishima (played by Ken Ogata) investigates the inner turmoil and contradictions of a man who attempted an impossible harmony between self, art, and society. Taking place on Mishima’s last day, when he famously committed public seppuku, the film is punctuated by extended flashbacks to the writer’s life as well as by gloriously stylized evocations of his fictional works. With its rich cinematography by John Bailey, exquisite sets and costumes by Eiko Ishioka, and unforgettable, highly influential score by Philip Glass, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a tribute to its subject and a bold, investigative work of art in its own right. Continue reading