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Fowler's Flix 12.06.17: ART ATTACK

Kino International
Thomas White's 1966 film, "Who's Crazy?"
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While many movie megaplexes have one or two theaters specially designated for independent films—when they are even available—part of me misses the true repertory cinema outpost that often staged real arthouse films—and yes, there is a difference—that no self-respecting chain would ever show.

From Warhol bootlegs to lost Kuchar loops, these aged and agoraphobic single-screeners were sparsely populated with failed cinephiles one step above that of a porn revival, kept afloat simply for a love of being above it all and not much else. These arthouses, for the most part, are long gone, replaced by girlfriendless squalid living rooms, piles of books and stack of DVDs entombing not a love of film, but a need to break the barriers of what can be done with it, morally, stylistically and ritualistically.

I remember how 15 or 20 years ago the works of Joe Sarno, with films like The Seduction of Inga and Swedish Wildcats were often labeled as softcore cheapies that many a moonlighting perv looking for hard thrills was left with nothing more than limp disappointments, finding more art than tart in his avant-garde skin-flicks. Times have changed, however, and now Sarno and his sexploitation celluloid have been reevaluated by the erotic hoi polloi, many of whom now deem him on par with Ingmar Bergman.

This is most evident in both All the Sins of Sodom and Vibrations (Film Movement), two of Sarno’s late 60s attempts at sincere scandalization, featuring seemingly sordid storylines played out via atmospheric camerawork, evocative lighting and pretentious black turtlenecks. While Bergman’s moody darkness might’ve reigned supreme in Sweden, this collection does double-duty in proving that even the bright lights and big city sets of New York sex-shoots could be just as dank and depressing, if not as unforgettable.

Even more anarchic is Who’s Crazy? (Kino Classics) a long-lost Dali-esque traverse through the waking fever dreamt lives of a group of mental patients hanging out at a Belgian farmhouse. Directed by free-form experimentalist Thomas White—this only surviving print recently discovered buried somewhere in his garage—and the actors of the Living Theatre, this voyeuristically dizzying slice of film silence features actors eating  an obscene amount of eggs, dancing blindly and lighting things on fire, and staging ornate and seemingly occult performances all to a brilliant original soundtrack by jazz legend Ornette Coleman.

Not so much lost as he was misplaced, notorious cult director Richard Stanley has returned and he is diving deep into a psychedelic underworld that is as ominous as it is curious, in the supreme oddity The Otherworld (Severin Films). Focusing on a region of southwestern France, deep in the Pyrenees, that’s supposedly a lightning rod for paranormal activity, including time portals and ghostly orbs, Stanley portentously explores these phenomena from a darkened room and reiterated through low-budget reenactments.

With a scuzzy Noo Yawk vibe that recalls the grimiest—but not greatest—works of Warhol or, even more so, Paul Morrissey, Candy Apple (IndiePix) is the effacing tale of Texas Trash, an unemployed drug-user relapsing into the world of psychedelics while his filmmaker son uses his part-time job as a sex worker to fund his flicks about his dilapidated dad and the rest of his derelict neighborhood, all the while both of them dripping deeper and deeper into banal sin and forced decadence.

Celebrated artist Julian Schnabel is given a perfunctory jerk-job from only the most elite of the art world in the moderately cloying A Private Portrait (Cohen Media Group). Director Pappi Corsicato delivers a workmanlike fawn-fest, telling the viewer how absolutely great he is without really going into too much depth has to how he got that way or really even for what. There are no warts, no criticisms and no controversy, quite the devise loss especially for a talent whose life has been so full of them.

The same can’t be said for the mischievous account of enfant terrible Maurizio Cattelan and his wholly reactionary art-pieces in the entertaining Be Right Back (Film Movement). Best known for his solid gold toilet in the Guggenheim, Cattelan is often compared to Banksy for his playfully inciting art-world piss-takes and this press release of a doc does a great job of championing that while still playing with the format, admitting that he’s not really an artist as much as a guy who’s job is artist. There is a difference.

“Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back” (Film Movement)

From making art to watching it unfold before you, we end on a spry note with a mention of the rousingly enjoyable My Journey Through French Cinema (Cohen Media Group). While the title might sound like a rather dry adaptation of a textbook, this doc is actually wonderfully absorbing, capturing director Bertrand Tavernier’s passions and inspirations of life via the films of his homeland. It’s must viewing for any cineaste with a passion for celluloid that they can’t always put into words when their moving pictures can state it so much better.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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