I’d just like to start by saying that it’s terrible when I go to recitation with Bruno, because I can’t help but be reminded of this ridiculous and not-so-good movie mentioned above. Don’t worry Bruno, we love you (maybe?).
We started off our lovely recitation with a recap of “Fuses” (which we came back to at the end of recitation). The general consensus was that this film speaks a lot about how the personal experience can be politicized. Tis’ true, an artsy “porno” (said this way for a reason) made by a female starring herself would bring up a lot of controversy amongst an America dominated by masculinity. It definitely must be noted that personalities like her’s have the ability to change everything, or at least help the process. But, enough of her for now.
Bruno brought up an interesting point regarding the 60’s and specifically the Counter Culture: at this time 16mm camera equipment became available on a large scale. So what does this do? It gives the avant garde a chance to revive itself – a chance to flourish. So, how does Hollywood then respond? It makes theater screens wider. And what goal does Hollywood have in mind? Money, baby. Money. Cause’ that’s what its all about. They want to bring the audience back into the theaters. But it definitely isn’t just screens they made bigger, they followed the path of non-Hollywood films and changed their content completely. In essence, a new Hollywood was born.
With the end of this discussion came a presentation from none other than Melissa (I do apologize for not getting her [your] last name). She researched the article “Pop, Queer, or Fascist.” This article was an overview of the film “Scorpio Rising.” It recounted how this particular film was about the motorcycle culture and then went into a discussion of how that culture was represented. This representation became a pop phenomenon, utilizing pop music and ultimately pop icons. The film itself delves into deeper aspects of society, namely S&M in the gay community and where that collides with Nazism. It shows the archetype of biker’s being obsessed with mechanics – basically revering masculinity while also looking down on it. Ultimately, this film had a lasting impact upon mass culture, and led to an influx in biker films that revolve around the anti-hero and anti-establishment (Easy Rider baby).
*I included the acid trip scene from “Easy Rider” above since we didn’t get to see it in class. I personally love how it gives the feel of an acid trip without special effects. It is smart cinema – since nowadays a trip scene would normally be depicted with special effects (though still with the potential to be awesome) such as the DMT trip in “Enter the Void”:
However, if you read the comments on the youtube postings, it is clear that cinema can never really capture what occurs in the human mind, especially under the influence of psychedelics or other drugs. But it will always be a goal of cinema to try!
Now, back on track.
After Melissa’s presentation we watched a clip from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” After we watched it I was intensely disappointed in myself for having never seen the film. My girlfriend constantly quotes it, and it really is one of the more powerful scenes I have ever witnessed:
“I’m loud and I’m vulgar, and I wear the pants in the house because somebody’s got to, but I am not a monster. I’m not.”
I can only imagine what the rest of the film is like. It is now number one on my list of films to see. And what I wouldn’t have given to see the play when it first existed! Woe is me. But anywho, this film received a Mature Audiences Only rating for several reasons that at the time were controversial, though now probably would have received a PG rating (possibly G). This film goes against the institution of marriage, which in the midst of the era of “housewives” would be anything but acceptable. The language that they use is meant to make the audience uncomfortable, and especially because the scene takes place on film there is an intimacy that the audience is allowed to invade. We should not be able to hear this conversation, but instead we are right in the middle of it, often in a close up. I myself questioned why this story was received more positively when performed on a stage, and Bruno met my question with a good answer: as a play this story is more subjective. In a film, as mentioned previously, we are in the middle of the heat of battle. It feels real rather than performed.
After this discussion came and ended, we went back to discuss “Fuses.” The first question Bruno asked was why this film was twenty minutes long. It was such in order to desensitize the viewer. People at this time were not used to seeing anything so explicit, so it was Schneeman’s goal to make visualized sex normal – and in doing so empower women rather than dehumanize them. Also, it was a work of art to her that took place over several years. If she loved making it, then why would she make it so short?
We ended our discussion with “Point Blank.” We discussed how the structure and dialogue of this film is meant to hint that something strange is going on. The way it is cut is meant to depict dreams – flashbacks, replacing characters with other characters, etc. We acknowledged how, as we watched the film (or any film), we began to develop certain expectations, but that the director would go against them so that the audience is never ready for the next event. Thus, the film itself becomes a bit convoluted (admirably so). We aren’t sure if we are watching a dream, a retelling of an event, or “truth.” Thus the result is a bit of confusion, and hopefully a loss of ourselves within this world the director has created.
This ended our recitation. Now, I would like to leave you with the Russian Super Singer. If you haven’t watched it, it’s a little ridiculous. Be sure to pay attention to the actual performance as well. Valete. – James Berry