THE AMERICAN AVANT-GARDE: AN EVENING OF MAYA DEREN AND STAN BRAKHAGE


FRIDAY, April 18th at 7:30pm 

DIGITAL SCREENING – FREE ADMISSION

Maya Deren’s independently produced short films are among the most influential in the American Avant-Garde: Brakhage referred to her as “the godmother of us all.” Fifth Avenue will play a selection of Deren’s experiments in time, motion, and gender, including her masterpiece Meshes of the Afternoon.

Stan Brakhage is one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, making hundreds of films over five decades with diverse subject matter. Fifth Avenue will play a selection of his shortest films, abstract painted images that move at a jarring speed and last for mere seconds, as well as a sampling of his longer pieces, including a segment of his epic Dog Star Man.

Introduced by Professor Andrew Ritchey, Portland State Film Studies Department. 

Total program will run 1 hr. 15 min.

HEAVY METAL

Dir. Gerald Potterton (1981);  86 min

FRIDAY, April 18th at 7 & 9:30pm

SATURDAY, April 19th at 7 & 9:30pm

SUNDAY, April 20th at 3pm

Elmer Bernstein's symphonic score, rather than the threatened Black Sabbath, Journey, and Blue Oyster Cult, actually dominates this 1981 animated film—which is a serious commercial mistake but thank God for it. The seven sections, each based on a comic strip from Heavy Metal magazine, have been farmed out to various animation studios, including England's Halas and Bachelor and LA's Jimmy Murakami, and the contrasts in styles of drawing and direction give the picture real texture and liveliness. Some of the animation is first-rate, particularly in the more modest comedy segments, and even the heavy set pieces have greater flash and dazzle than anything Ralph Bakshi mustered around the same period. The film never transcends the racist, sexist, neofascist implications of its base material, but it works entertainingly within them, and even manages a bit of auto-analysis in John Candy's ironic, adolescent narration of the "Den" episode. Better than it had to be, for which some honor is due.~ Chicago Reader

COME AND SEE

Dir. Elem Klimov (1985);  140 min

FRIDAY, April 25th at 7 & 9:30pm

SATURDAY, April 26th at 7 & 9:30pm

SUNDAY, April 27th at 3pm

Soviet Belorussia, near the Polish border, 1943. Florya, a young partisan, left behind as his unit moves to prepare for a renewed German advance, returns to his village to find only a mass of bodies, including those of his family, and later witnesses the entire population of a near-by town being machine-gunned and burnt to death. This epic, allegorical and traumatising enactment of the hellish experience of war (especially its effect upon a generation of the Soviet people) is rendered by Klimov - albeit unintentionally - as a disorienting and undifferentiated amalgam of almost lyrical poeticism and expressionist nightmare. ~ Time Out

BLACK NARCISSUS


Dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (1947); 100 min

FRIDAY, May 2nd at 7:30pm

DIGITAL SCREENING – FREE ADMISSION

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have gone on to be recognized as two of Britain's cinematic titans, and their 1947 color masterpiece Black Narcissus might be one of their most visionary works. The film's bleak pessimism echoes feelings of religious doubt and subtle, nascent eroticism, but it is perhaps Powell and Pressburger's stunning depiction of the last days of British Imperialism, depicted in a remote English school buried deep in the Himalayas that struck audiences the deepest.

THE WARRIORS

Dir. Walter Hill (1979);  92 min

FRIDAY, May 2nd at 7 & 9:30pm

SATURDAY, May 3rd at 7 & 9:30pm

SUNDAY, May 4th at 3pm

From its powerhouse opening, in which all the gangs of New York gather in tribal splendour in Riverside Drive Park, to the last ditch stand in dilapidated Coney Island, Hill has elevated his story of a novice gang on the run into a heroic epic of Arthurian dimensions, with sex as sorcery and the flick-knife as sword. Anyone expecting gritty realism will be disappointed, because Hill is offering something better: shooting entirely on NY locations at night, he has transformed the city into a phantasmagoric labyrinth of weird tribes in fantastic dress and make-up who move over (and under) the streets as untouched as troglodytes by the civilisation sleeping around them. The novice gang from Coney accidentally encounters some middle class swingers on the subway, and the two groups stare at each other like aliens from different galaxies (while the gang's new female recruit has to be gently restrained from instinctively putting a hand up to straighten her hair). Mixing ironic humour, good music, and beautifully photographed suspense, it's one of the best of 1979. ~ Time Out

HEAVEN’S GATE

Dir. Michael Cimino (1980); 219 min

FRIDAY, May 9th at 7:30pm

DIGITAL SCREENING – FREE ADMISSION

Michael Cimino’s beautiful follow-up to his award-winning film, The Deer Hunter, is one of the most ambitious American epics of all time. Unfortunately, Cimino’s grandiose western is also one of the biggest box-office bombs of all time, leading studios to move away from director-driven film productions.

MALCOLM X

Dir. Spike Lee (1992);  202 min

FRIDAY, May 9th at 7pm

SATURDAY, May 10th at 7pm

SUNDAY, May 11th at 3pm

You can't turn around without hearing some critic gush about how so-and-so is out there delivering "the best performance of the year." Well, allow me the opportunity to gush a step further by flatly stating that, in the leading man category, Denzel Washington in Malcolm X managed to deliver the best performance of the decade. Washington's work is so monumental, it seems like an especially cruel twist of fate that the Academy chose that year to finally reward perennial nominee Al Pacino... for the execrable Scent of a Woman. (In other words, the best performance of the 1990s loses to the worst Best Actor selection of all time. Go figure.) At any rate, Malcolm X is more than a one-man show: Writer-director Spike Lee is in complete control of this 200-minute epic, and he and Washington receive invaluable aid from a top-flight supporting cast and a crack team of behind-the-camera personnel (though the film deserved at least a half-dozen Oscar nods, its only citations were for Washington's performance and Ruth Carter's costume designs). Working from Malcolm's autobiography, Lee is careful to preserve the complete arc of the man's life, showing how he survived a troubled childhood and a prison stint to emerge as the powerful and feared spokesman for the Nation of Islam before his assassination. Washington's work here is amazing: He effortlessly adapts to the various canvases painted by Lee, swinging from deliriously reckless in the early scenes to passionate and incendiary in the middle ones and finally to pensive and worldly in the latter sequences. ~ Creative Loafing

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL


Dir. Ti West (2009);  95 min

FRIDAY, May 16th at 7 & 9:30pm

SATURDAY, May 17th at 7 & 9:30pm

SUNDAY, May 18th at 3pm

From its freeze-frame credits onward, this indie horror flick by Ti West aspires to the silent, low-boiling dread of 70s drive-in shockers like Black Christmas (1974) and Last House on the Left (1972). Desperate for cash, college student Jocelin Donahue accepts an oddly lucrative babysitting job at a remote house, where she's fussed over by creepy owners Tom Noonan (Manhunter) and Mary Woronov (Rock 'n' Roll High School). Given the opening title about the prevalence of rural satanic cults, you'd have to be an idiot not to know where this is headed. But in keeping with his models, West is concerned with not suspense exactly but the ritual withholding and ultimate lavishing of bloody chaos. With Greta Gerwig.

~ Chicago Reader

AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD

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Dir. Werner Herzog (1972); 93 min

FRIDAY, May 30th at 7:30pm

DIGITAL SCREENING – FREE ADMISSION

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski made a slew of terrifyingly visceral films in the 1970's, but it was the 1972 masterpiece Aguirre, the Wrath of God that made the two cinematic icons throughout the world, depicting Kinski as a Spanish soldier leading a group of conquistadors on the search for El Dorado, the lost city of gold. The film, which inspired Coppola's Apocalypse Now, was shot on-location in the Peruvian rainforest on the Amazon river, and scenes depicting a violently dangerous rafting expedition were...well, it's Werner Herzog. They really did all this stuff.