Sunday, August 09, 2009

Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film 1947-1986

Treasures IV: American Avant Garde Film 1947-1986) (Various Filmmakers)

All be told, this was a pretty underwhelming collection. Being a retrospective, there's going to be a wide range of filmmakers and styles present here, from the more abstract expressionist New York experimental film to less serious West Coast film to things that can't be categorized. There's a lot of big names here: Brakhage, Jacobs, Warhol, Baillie, Cornell, Land, Frampton, and Shartis. The problem with the collection as a whole may be that by trying to be an all-encompassins showcase, there's never any thematic continuity to the work. It's a little difficult to move from the abstract animations of Robert Breer to something along the lines of Warhol or Land. I believe to really understand experimental film, you've got to see more than one film of a filmmaker or have an in-depth discussion of that work. Watching these by yourself in your home leaves no where to turn to really figure out what's behind these works. Besides that, on a personal level, I find a lot of what's on these discs not all to great. The standout films on this collection were (nostalgia) by Hollis Frampton (which I've seen many times before), I, An Actress by George Kuchar, and Go! Go! Go! by Marie Menken. The Brakhage and Jacobs are films I'd hadn't seen but found them not quite my favorite of their works. Other filmmakers such as Owen Land, Bruce Baillie, Standish Lawder also have some interesting selections here but I would like to see more of their work to get a little better understanding. Even with all its flaws, the collection has to be commended for at least getting experimental work out on DVD and hopefully to more people.

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