Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reading NY Times with screaming child

Mostly I don't miss living in New York. There is nothing in South Bend but industrial decay and a great Cambodian restaurant, but we're usually too busy to notice. However, I am a bit jealous that I won't be able to go to the film series celebrating 1968 and Jean-Luc Godard.

Like I always say, my dad raised me to be a film director and his dream never quite left me (thus poetry that is continually in dialogue with film - Godard, Cronenberg etc).

One thing about Godard is the tremendous amount of influence he had in the 1960s. You can even see his influence on Bergman (most notably "The Passion of Anna," Bergman's best film aside from Persona) and the likes. But mostly a lot of period pieces, such as "I am Curious (Yellow)" and any number of minor cult classics (I'm thinking about this British film about a guy who goes to Spain, can't remember the name). I have to admit I like all those pseudo-Godard pieces.

I also like Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (I'm probably the only one).

Two pieces that won't be in any film series are Öyvind Fahlström's "Du Gamla, Du Fria" and his performance piece "Kissen Sweeter Than Wine." Come to think about it he also made a film in 1968 about New York activism, but I can't remember the name of that film. Anyway, "Du Gamla..." is a clearly Godard-influenced film that follows a group of activists as they struggle to raise class consciousness etc, just to falter into personal hedonism (a lot of naked people jumping around in water and taking drugs) before selling out (becoming poets and the likes). Except for the guy who decides to work in a factory and is thus able to truly communicate the worker over glasses of beer. It's a pretty bad film all in all. But interesting as a period piece.

"Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" is totally brilliant. It was part of "9 Evenings", an event sponsored by Bell Laboratories, which sank a fortune into putting on these 9 performances (by people like Raushenberg and John Cage in addition to Fahlstrom). So basically capitalism made possible these impossible happenings. The reason I consider "Kisses" as film is that it is theater largely based on a film-like awareness of the image. One of my favorite parts has these trapeze artists flying around. At first you hear these fighter planes going and you think of the trapezists as symbolic representations of the planes, but then the voice over starts talking about Mao wanting to kill all the sparrows (or starlings?) and the trapezists become birds. It's a kind of hyper-(ventilating)-montage. Check the recording out for sure. Or ask Raushenberg for a copy.


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