Blame the Filmmaker

To me, poetry is a form of literature I find very easy to avoid. Part of the reason, I'm sure, is that the works that are easiest to find are often the worst form of indulgent zine self-therapy pieces. There are probably different schools of poetry out there, some of which I would like and some I wouldn't, but because I only see bad poetry, I don't investigate further. I get the impression that a lot of people think of experimental film the same way. Without any sort of guidance, you will probably assume it'll be self-indulgent crap.

Being a fan of experimental film myself, I want to see audiences for these shows grow. More specifically, I want people who think they might like it to try it out. Let's start with Experimental Works by Robert Schaller (...and a Few Others), taking place Thursday, December 18, at the Little Theatre, with the filmmaker in attendance. Though I haven't seen any of Schaller's stuff, I'm very curious. His sounds like the kind of work where the process informs the content, as Schaller makes his own film emulsions, occasionally makes his own cameras, uses the optical printer for various effects, and will even make the projection of his films into a performance.

Though I may not be a pothead, I still enjoy purely visual cinema (which is often accompanied by very interesting soundtracks, actually). I'm not sure just how abstract Schaller's work is, or how playful it gets, but I get the impression that there's a good sense of movement to his images. But what if you go to the show and don't like it? Odds are you'll know right away if you're into it or not. Either bail right away, or stick it out to the end. Just like movies with actors and narrative, if you get bored you can ask yourself why, then feel free to blame the filmmaker. That's what I do.

If, for some reason, you miss the Schaller show, there is another recommended show on the horizon. Phil Solomon has been making experimental shorts for decades, and he'll be at 911 Media Arts Center the first weekend of the new year. He too works with the optical printer, and often severely distresses once-recognizable images, but I'll tell you more about that when the show approaches.

For those who don't want to explore the experimental, then how about some Christmas movies? It's a Wonderful Life runs at the Grand Illusion until Christmas Day (not on Monday the 22nd), and the late-night show on Friday and Saturday is also about Death and the Holiday Spirit, though Silent Night, Deadly Night is more of a slasher film. On Christmas Eve, the Rendezvous is showing the 1935 version of Scrooge, which also has ghosts and death in it. And you thought Halloween was a scary holiday.

andy@thestranger.com

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