Is it the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington that's creating this glut of amazing black-interest movies? What is a girl to do?!
I don't usually do lists but here goes. This weekend includes:
LES SAIGNANTES (2005) @ Spectacle tonight. If you like experimentation, African films, sci-fi, self-relfexive film, political films, gorgeous films, comedy etc. then you have to check out Bekolo.
(ha ha ha I'm not really a racist! It's just acting!)
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Harry Belafonte. Robert. Ryan. Shelly Winters And Gloria Grahame? AND it's shot in noirish Hudson, NY? Best seen big screen @ BAM Friday. Robert Ryan's right up there in Richard Widmark territory being all racist and RR/RW (ie. hot and crazy) scary! A beautiful B&W film directed by Robert Wise and produced by Belefonte's production company, HarBel. Jazz score by John Lewis.
They're K I L L I N G it at BAM with A Time for Burning: Cinema of the Civil Rights Movement. I've really got to catch up with the blog and I'm full of regret at everything I've missed! The combining of docs and features is fantastic and I love that they're going outside the box genre-wise by showing Hershell Gordon Lewis' 2000 MANIACS! (1964).
I've never seen it but have definitely heard of it so I'm gonna put my gore-guard on and check it out tomorrow. Look for more as I restart Ina's Horror Blog. Lovely "Nothing But A Man" (1963) plays this weekend as well.
(Sing it with Bobby Womack:)ACROSS 110TH STREET (1972) d.Barry Shear, @ AMMI in FUN CITY programmed by J.Hoberman.
I loves this movie--it's one of my favorite blaxploitation flicks--it uplifts the genre! And it's got my boyfriend, mean, sweaty and insecure mafioso Tony Franciosa. Oh yeah, GoodcopBadcops Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Cotto and grrrr-owly villain Richard Ward are all in it too!
Spoiler alert: this is the best scene it the film and I wrote a lot of papers about it! Watch as Doc Ward "Punks" Franciosa's Nick di Salvo. Laughter and scenery chewing ensues:
I'm happy to be included in a "Pop-Up Screening" of 3 of my short videos as part of The West Harlem Art Fund's
LOOSELY COUPLED, a group exhibition on Governors Island. We'll be at No. 17 Nolan Park. Pop on over!
This weekend, The West Harlem Art Fund will host a “pop-up” film screening on Governors Island. What better way to enjoy a house but to watch movies. And these movies deal with the issues of home, memories and important places. These films are a part of a series called Upstairs in the Basement. Read more about each individual work and the artist.
Films: “Upstairs in the Basement”:
My maternal grandfather was a contractor and a kind of inventor. He built our two homes in Macon, GA. The first one burned to the ground as firemen and the Salvation Army watched from several yards away. I only knew the 2nd house, built in the early 1960s. It was a fascinating collage made of discarded materials from my grandfather’s job sites where he did decorative plaster-work in both antebellum mansions and modern city buildings. As a child, I was fascinated by the precarious ladder-pull attic where he kept his inventions and other antiquated curios. I had never seen a house with an attic.
Granddaddy loved to tell humorous stories and jokes but he also told bible and ghost tales. An anecdote that he would laughingly recount (to my embarrassment) was the time he and I were in the attic and my mother was calling for me from just below. I yelled; “I’m with Grandaddy! I’m Upstairs in the Basement!!” Telling this story would bring tears to his eyes.
The Macon house is in ruins now; our family home in New Rochelle where we lived for 40 years was sold after my father died, and my 1st apartment of my very own was overtaken by developers and recently razed. These 3 little films all have to do with movies, memories, spaces and lost or hidden images. And not incidentally, they were all created "at home"...
“Leader Film (Civitella Ranieri)” (2009) 5 min. video/digital animation w/Viet Le, Vladimir Pistalo & Shyam Selvadurai. Divertissement set in the Civitella Ranieri, a castle in Italy. This “scrappy” short video emulates a reel of discarded outtakes used as film leader and filler when learning to edit.
"The Lincoln Film Conspiracy Prologue" (2007) 15 min. “trailer”. A multi-generic short film and multimedia installation that combines archival film footage, new video segments and digital image manipulation, collage and montage.
Based on the history of African-American independent silent and sound cinema, LFC is the story of an archivist who is investigating the disappearance of a collection of technologically progressive black films. Did the films disintegrate or explode like many other nitrate films? Evidence of great heat was found in the vicinity of the studio’s site. Conspiracy theories are outlined: Was there a government plot in conjunction with Hollywood to destroy these “positive” movies leaving only denigrating images of black people? Or have the movies been Abducted by Aliens?
"Il Giallo della Paine!" (2011) 8 min. A “scary” montage of vanished spaces playfully using the visual tropes and aural cues of 1970s, American and British horror and of the Italian thriller films known as "Giallo" (Yello).
Ina Archer — Artist
Ina was born in Paris, France. She earned a BFA in Film/Video from RISD and a MA, in Cinema Studies at NYU focusing on race, preservation, early sound cinema and technology. Ina’s multimedia works/films have been shown nationally including Cinema Project’s EXPANDED FRAMES: a celebration and examination of critical cinema in Portland,OR. and “Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970” at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, GA. and The Contemporary Art Museum, Houston. Her awards include residences at Vermont Studio Center, Blue Mountain Center and Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy. Ina was a Studio Artist in the Whitney Independent Study program, a NYFA multidisciplinary Fellow and a 2005 Creative Capital grantee in film and video, and 2010 nominee for the Anonymous Was A Woman award. She is a member of New York Women in Film and Television’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund and a board member of IMAP, Independent Media Arts Preservation.
Ina’s film writing includes reviews for Film Comment, The NY African Film Festival, Framework, The Journal of Cinema and Media, and Black Camera. She is an adjunct professor at Parsons The New School for Design in the Foundation Program of the School of Design Strategies.
If anyone's out there... You may have noticed that I haven't been posting recently. I've been "concentrating" on my horror blogs for the summer so I've put this place keeper here for a bit. You can find links to the horror at the side of the page. BTW, I say they are horror blogs but when I look at real horror bloggers--I'm in awe! So really, I'm just a Horror dabbler. But I guess I love it...
(btw, TV snow used to scare the heck outta me...)
See you @ http://continuumfilmblog.typepad.com/inas_horror_blog/
The two films I most feared seeing in class were Last House On the Left and especially The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I’m (slightly) ashamed to admit that I liked Last House quite a bit and now love TCM. I'm relieved that I’ve finally seen it—so it no longer marinates in my imagination-- and I have wanted to chain-see it ever since!
SALLY THROUGH THE (LOOKING) GLASS
Sally Hardesty, more than earns the cinematic title of "last girl" in Tobe Hooper's first chainsaw film by out-screaming and out-running a nightmare named Leatherface, and his cannibal family.
Their chase scene occupies the last 3rd of the film and is bracketed by 2 dramatic jumps where Sally crashes through the plate glass panes of closed windows. First she jumps from the attic of the slaughterhouse family’s home, which, with bizarre, and circular dream logic, drops her even more deeply into the looking-glass inverted household where Sally will endure a “grisly parody of the Mad Tea Party” (The Idea of Apocalypse in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Christopher Sharrett, p.258). The dinner party is excruciating so she crashes through the window once more where she escapes-- picked up, appropriately, by a passing pickup truck.
Into the rabbit hole...
As her boyfriend and other companions are being butchered, Sally and her whining, wheelchair-bound brother, Franklin share a quiet scene. Sally admits to feeling tired—she doesn’t say of Franklin directly but her prior interactions with her brother on the trip, especially when she leaves him alone downstairs at their grandparents house, suggests that she is burdened by his dependence. The film moves into the nightfall of it’s last third, the scenes demarked by rack-focused, circular images of the moon, headlights, and distance houselights. You feel for both of the siblings. As it darkens, they get worried and like children yell from the edge of a circle of light into the darkness encroaching on the scene for: "JER-RY, JER-RY"! Hooper and DP Daniel Pearl are inventive; producing beautiful images in the dark using logical but evocative sources to light the scenes and action. They stand near the car with headlights on (yet they don’t have the keys?!) and they fight over the flashlight. Of course this same flashlight illuminates the stalking Leatherface just horribly enough when he falls upon Franklin with his chainsaw as Sally struggles to push her brother's wheelchair through the brambles. Franklin’s dependence and fear of being left alone in the prior scene is affecting—he can’t help himself. If Franklin, with his attraction to knives, to gore and to death, had not left town or if he hadn't had Sally for a sister, perhaps he would have grown up into a Leatherface (and would kill the whole family if freed from his chair.)
There was something bracing and comic that comes from the chasing, the screaming and the chain-sawing of the movie reminiscent of Keystone cops and other slapstick. It is nightmarish but unlike in dreams, Sally is able to run (a lot!) rather than experiencing heaviness or paralysis.
Burdened with a heavy chainsaw spouting a diaphanous trail of smoke, LF pursues Sally stodgily but doggedly in a roundelay of choreographed movement racing through the reeds and branches of the path between the 2 houses. It’s beautiful, fairy-tale and dream imagery. Sally runs into perspective where the scale is really odd and Leatherface appears even larger in the foreground. She seems to disappear through a small hole in the branches as if jumping into the rabbit hole. The scenes are lit solely by head-,moon-, flash- and other fairy lights.
In TCM’s spaces there seems to be no outside world. While not entirely anarchistic (there seems to be some methods to the madness) there is no intrusion nor invocation of the Law (except once when Sally fruitlessly tries to threaten, plead and finally makes a sexual appeal for which she is comically mocked). The slaughterhouse family appears to be the only residents of the place and they do their own thing--killing everyone who comes through the area and stops by the screen door, Welcome!! (Hitchhiker sometimes sneaks out of their environment to make those graveyard cadaver sculptures.)
See Sally run! Run Sally, Run!
Towards the end of the film Sally is fighting for her life—she’s surviving wildly, instinctually and desperately, throwing herself though the windows which like the screen door that each victim approaches, acts as layers between narrative, real, and dream spaces. Each time Sally busts through a window she lands in another space. They are the same spaces we’ve seen previously but as in a dream—they are familiar but appear and/or feel changed.
So, when the characters attempt to pursue Sally beyond the narrative space of the crazy house into the outside world, they are foiled. In her second leap she crosses the space between night and daylight, inside and outside. There is suddenly the imposition of the outside world with the driver and truck. Hitchhiker gets run down by the vehicle and when the driver sees Leatherface coming and he doesn’t ask any questions he just runs too!
In this disordered world when Sally goes through the glass the second time she is really running out of the tale—as in a lucid dream. Sally escapes from the movie in the pickup truck as Leatherface, free (?) on the border of the outside world (is there a world outside for Leatherface?), in his Fred Astaire shirt and tie and with his curly hair wig, dances around with his chainsaw. Leatherface dances because he can’t follow Sally any further just as (curly-haired) Franklin, trapped in his wheelchair, couldn’t follow her into their childhood home. I found Sally’s triumphant escape combined with Leatherface’s dance wonderful and invigorating, a fairy tale ending.
Or maybe, it’s really a sort of musical…
While I appreciate the reading of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a metaphor for apocalypse (and there are so many apocalyptic strains—especially the sinister and violent radio reports that run throughout) the film doesn’t strike me as soley dark and hopeless.
The lesson of the film, for me, is this:
If you see someone running after you with a chainsaw, run and run and run until you get away. Persevere and hopefully, you’ll survive!