Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Flicker Alley - Masterworks of Avante-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970 on Blu-ray ""

Friday, October 2, 2015

Flicker Alley - Masterworks of Avante-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970 on Blu-ray

Masterworks of Avante-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970
As a general rule I'm pretty anti-experimental film. I took a 16mm film production class in college and one of the girls in my class made an experimental black-and-white film in black and white with German poetry read over top that sort of did me in for that kind of movie. Now all I can think of is the movie that Illeana Douglas' character shows her class in GHOST WORLD:
Now I realize that not all experimental filmmakers are like this character, but I sometimes have to shake off that impression before diving back in. Every once in a while I feel like expanding my horizons a little bit and I open myself up again to this sort of thing again and I honestly don't ever regret it. Watching experimental cinema is a nice pallet cleanser for those of us constantly knee-deep in narrative movies. It is obvious to say, but it feels like going to a museum and looking at the paintings and sculpture there and allowing it to fill up your mind with whatever it conjures. I really do feel that everyone should go to a museum at least once a month if not more to give their brains something different to process for a little while. I don't practice this with regularity at the moment, but I am always trying to make it into a proper habit. Avante-Garde and Experimental films can be truly mesmerizing if you let go the pre-conceived notions you may have about the pretension that may or may not be connected to the filmmaker's intentions. This 418-minute program of films is quite a package to behold. I had to digest the nearly seven hours of content over a week and several nights. One neat thing about this sort of collection is that it is easy to watch in chunks. I actually found it quite soothing after a long day at work to come home and put on this set and allow it to take over my brain for a little while. There are 37 films included in this new set and I've taken the liberty of listing them all below (from Flicker Alley's site). It's an excellent mix stuff , some of it weird and some just beautiful.
If you are unfamiliar with Flicker Alley, you should really get to know them. They are a great little company who are constantly putting out interesting and important cinema. They've done Chaplin collections (and have a new one due out in November) and most recently an great set of rare 3D Short films that I highly recommend.Find out More about them here:
Flicker Alley releases make great gifts for the Criteion Collection fan, and compliment their Stan Brakhage Collections especially well.

Below is a much lower quality version of the short film MANHATTA by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand. It is a lovely tribute to New York city with a somewhat tense piano score and intertitles featuring a poem from Walt Whitman.

This Set can be purchased here:

Films included in this Collection:

The 1920s

Manhatta (1920-21) by Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand
2K digital restoration from 35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 16fps, 11:41 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

Ballet Mechanique (1923-24) by Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy
2K digital restoration from 35mm 1.33:1 black & white with color tints silent 20fps, 15:53 minutes; music by George Antheil from original 1924-25 score adapted and arranged by Paul D. Lehrman and remixed by Gustavo Matamoros

Anémic cinéma (filmed 1924-25, released 1926) by Rrose Sélavy a.k.a. Marcel Duchamp
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 6:40 minutes; new music by Gustavo Matamoros

The Life and Death of 9413–A Hollywood Extra (1927) by Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 13:20 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

Skyscraper Symphony (1929) by Robert Florey
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 24fps, 8:53 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

The 1930s

Mechanical Principles (1930) by Ralph Steiner
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 10:18 minutes; new music by Eric Beheim

A Bronx Morning (1931) by Jay Leyda
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 14:05 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

Lot in Sodom (1930-32, released 1933) by J.S. Watson, Jr., Melville Webber, Alec Wilder, Remsen Wood, Bernard O’Brien.
35mm 1:20:1 black & white sound, 25:53 minutes; music by Louis Siegel

Poem 8 (1932-33) by Emlen Etting
16mm 1.37:1 black & white silent 18fps, 19:40 minutes; new music by Rodney Sauer

An Optical Poem
(1937, MGM release 1938) by Oskar Fischinger
35mm 1.33:1 color sound, 7:02 minutes; music Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 2 by Franz Liszt

Thimble Theater (c. 1938, unfinished until 1968) by Joseph Cornell
16mm 1.37:1 black & white with color tint silent 18fps, 6:07 minutes; completed by Lawrence Jordan; new music:
vintage circus organ

The 1940s

Tarantella (1940) by Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth, animation Norman McLaren
35mm 1.37:1 color sound, 4:24 minutes; music by Edwin Gerschefski

The Pursuit of Happiness (1940) by Rudy Burckhardt
16mm 1.37:1 black & white intentionally silent 16fps, 8:09 minutes

1941 (1941) by Francis Lee
35mm from 16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 4 minutes; music by Igor Stravinsky

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) by Maya Deren, A. Hackenschmied
16mm 1.37:1 black & white intentionally silent, 13:46 minutes

Meditation on Violence (1948) by Maya Deren
35mm enlarged from 16mm with 2K digital insert from 16mm 1.37:1 black & white sound, 12:27 minutes; music a mix of Chinese classical flute and drums recorded in Haiti by Maya Deren

In the Street (filmed 1945-46, released 1948, 1952) by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, James Agee.
16mm 1.37:1 black & white silent 18fps, 16:50 minutes; music by Arthur Kleiner

The 1950s

Four in the Afternoon (1950-51) by James Broughton
16mm 1.37:1 black & white sound, 14 minutes; music by William O. Smith

Abstronic (1952) by Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth
35mm 1.37:1 color sound, 5:45 minutes; music Hoe Down by Aaron Copland, Ranch House Party by Don Gillis

Eaux d’artifice (1953) by Kenneth Anger
16mm 1.37:1 black & white tinted color sound, 12:57 minutes; music “Winter” movement of The Four Seasons by
Antonio Vivaldi

Bells of Atlantis (1952-53) by Ian Hugo, Anaïs Nin, Len Lye
16mm 1.37.1 color sound, 9:27 minutes; electronic music Louis & Bebe Barron.

Evolution (1954) by Jim Davis
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 8:01 minutes.

Gyromorphosis (1954) by Hy Hirsh
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 6:40 minutes; music: Django by John Lewis, played by the Modern Jazz Quartet

Hurry, Hurry! (1957)
by Marie Menken
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 4:27 minutes.

N.Y., N.Y. (filmed 1949-57, released 1958) by Francis Thompson
35mm from 16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 15:10 minutes; music by Gene Forrell

The 1960s

9 Variations on a Dance Theme (1966/67) by Hilary Harri
16mm 1.37 black & white sound, 12:39 minutes; music by McNeil Robinson.

Castro Street (The Coming of Consciousness) (1966) by Bruce Baillie
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 9:59 minutes

Film That Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter (1968) by Owen Land, formerly George Landow
16mm 1.37:1 black & white sound, 8:26 minutes

Excerpt from Walden: Diaries, Notes and Sketches (1969) by Jonas Mekas
16mm 1.37:1; color sound excerpt end of Reel 5 and beginning of Reel 6, 13:05 minutes; music by Frédéric Chopin, Group Image

Our Lady of the Sphere (1969) by Lawrence Jordan
35mm from 16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 9:14 minutes


Love It / Leave It (1970) by Tom Palazzolo
16mm 1.37:1; color sound, 14:07 minutes; music by Ray Whilding White

DL2 (Disintegration Line #2) (1970) by Lawrence Janiak
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 11:46 minutes; music Bumblebees Sip Honey by Peliatan Gamelan

Transport (1970) by Amy Greenfield
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 5:43 minutes; music by Indiran

Legacy Bonus Films

Curator’s Carte Blanche
Sappho and Jerry, Parts 1-3 (1977-78) by Bruce Posner
35mm 2.55:1 reformatted to 1080 color sound, 5:35 minutes

Ch’an (1983) by Francis Lee
16mm 1.37 black & white sound, 6:08 minutes; music by Christopher Atwood

Seasons… (2002) by Phil Solomon, Stan Brakhage
16mm 1.37:1 color silent, 16:00 minutes

Manhatta (1920-21) by Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand
See first entry – new music composed and performed by Henry Wolfe and Phil Carluzzo.

1 comment:

SteveQ said...

Unlike you, this is my bread-and-butter. And I'll have to buy it, because there's two titles there I hadn't been able to find. I could argue some of the choices and lament many omissions, but this looks like a very thoughtful collection.

[I will admit I've met some very "iffy" types in experimental films. I also laughed hysterically when reading Deren's description of what she was trying to do with "Meshes" - I absolutely love the film, but her plan was so pretentious!]