Christopher Maclaine – Beat (1958)

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“Maclaine’s next film, Beat (1958), might be thought of as a continuation of The Man Who Invented Gold, since it often cuts back and forth between shots of golden lamps, lights in windows, and gold-colored objects, often situated in the direct center of the frame (in fact, golden lights show up prominently near the close of the fifth section of The End as well). Otherwise, Beat is something of a portrait of the bohemian characters of late-1950s San Francisco, made just as the scene was disintegrating into mass-marketed national media consciousness and North Beach became the tourist’s emblem of the Beat Generation. Once again, Maclaine’s editing technique positively sparkles. Continue reading

John Gianvito – Vapor Trail (Clark) (2010)

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Keith Ulich wrote:
John Gianvito’s new documentary, the first of two films focusing on decommissioned, and hazardous, U.S. military bases-one named Clark, the other Subic-in Pampanga province, Philippines, takes its title (minus parenthetical) from the contrails left behind by airplanes at high altitude. A pre-credits sequence shows several such images, in addition to a rolling stream at sunrise; the driver’s-eye interior view of a car, signal clicking, as it prepares to turn (which way unspecified); and faded photographs that depict, we will come to learn, incidents and asides from the Philippine-American War (1899-1913). What connects these disparate objects/mo(ve)ments is a shared sense of impermanence-the feeling that everything we’re viewing is fleeting and, likely, soon forgotten.
The three Gianvito films I’ve seen-this, 2007’s Profit motive and the whispering wind, and, my personal choice for best of the ’00s, 2001’s The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein-share a fascination with, and in some way seek to redress the human propensity toward cultural-historical amnesia. Continue reading

Joe Dante – The Movie Orgy (1968)

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A compilation film designed to evoke nostalgia for the shared entertainment experiences of early baby boomers, “The Movie Orgy” includes clips from television programs and B-movies of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as commercials, music clips, newsreels, blooper outtakes, satiric short films and promotional and government films. The effect is something like a simulation of a lazy Saturday of channel surfing or a long double (or triple) matinee at the movies. The film is primarily structured around extended clips from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) and Speed Crazy (1959); as it progresses, segments primarily culled from about a dozen other films and programs are increasingly intercut to create the effect of a single disjointed story in which numerous monsters and assorted social menaces seem to inflict themselves simultaneously on various American cities and towns. This principal focus is occasionally interrupted by commercial breaks and other assorted side features. (IMDB, Written by scgary66) Continue reading

Cheryl Dunye – The Watermelon Woman (1996)

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Cheryl is young, Black, and lesbian, working in Philadelphia with her best friend Tamara and consumed by a film project: to make a video about her search for a Black actress from Philly who appeared in films in the 30s and was known as the Watermelon Woman. Following various leads, Cheryl discovers the Watermelon Woman’s stage name and real name and surmises that the actress had a long affair with Martha Page, a White woman and one of Hollywood’s few female directors. As she’s discovering these things, Cheryl becomes involved with Diana, who’s also White. The affair strains Cheryl’s friendship with Tamara. More discoveries bring Cheryl (and us, her audience) to new realizations. Continue reading