It’s a great week for experimental weirdness. I’ve been on a kick since I saw Hard To Be A God a couple weeks back at Anthology, which definitely isn’t a movie for everyone. Like seriously, if you brought your grandmother to it, she’d probably keel over and die. So be warned. Attendees from the earlier screening exited the theater as I walked in and I heard one mutter, “Definitely not a first date movie.”
I can sympathize, after all there’s more scatalogical imagery in the film’s three hour span than anyone should ever be forced to bear. There’s not even a soundtrack to relieve the stark brutality of the film save for guttural hacking sounds, the woosh of insufflation, and cries of despair.
I promise we’re going to make it up to you. There are plenty of experimental films out there that aren’t nearly as painful, though still just as great as Hard To Be A God. And to make up for the absence of a true soundtrack, we’re giving you not one, but TWO silent film screenings to choose from, both of which are accompanied by musicians performing live film scores.
The Taj Mahal Travelers On Tour
I’m well aware we fed you a hefty dose of Go-Celebrate-Rockuary last week, but I’m here to remind you not to miss out on this month-long series at Spectacle Theater. And Taj Mahal Travelers, a psychedelic rarity, is another film on the bill you shouldn’t sleep on. The documentary (well, more like experimental film with a cinéma vérité approach) follows composer Takehisa Kosugi and his band as they set out on a tour from Rotterdam to the Taj Mahal. Sounds familiar? Think again bud, this is unlike any tour you’ve ever seen.
Kosugi’s band is a drone ensemble rooted in traditional instruments, ancient sounds, and cultural patchworking– wherever they go they immerse themselves in local music and take on bits and pieces that inspire them. Spectacle describes the film as “a pastoral road movie following a band far more likely to play temples than clubs.” Friday, February 20th, at 7:30 pm and Thursday, February 26th, at 10 pm, Spectacle Theater. Tickets $5 at the door
Silent Films/ Live Music
In keeping with thoroughly modern Man Ray’s oft-cited quotation, “to create is divine, to reproduce is human,” Jim Jarmusch and his band SQÜRL have composed scores to accompany four silent films by the artist. Tonight is your last chance to catch one of the screenings accompanied by live performance.
Jarmusch’s band is naturally disposed to this sort of thing– the band first got together to write the soundtrack for Jarmusch’s 2009 film, The Limits of Control. And you might remember SQÜRL also provided the soundtrack for the filmmaker’s latest flick, Only Lovers Left Alive– Jarmusch’s foray into vampire cinema. Oh yeah, did we mention it’s free to attend? Thursday, February 19th, 8 p.m. at Brookfield Place. No tickets– just show up.
LOL Robert Pattinson. There’s something about this man’s doll face that inspires debilitating laughing fits in me. Maybe it’s some bizarre reaction to the trauma of actually having seen every. Single. Twilight. Movie. You know how some people go running for what is apparently this high that’s at once painful and satisfying? Well I binge watch awful movies for the same twisted pleasure. Anyway, Cronenberg is apparently the master of controlling fits of laughter– he actually made a movie inspired by the financial crisis and the occupy movement with Robby way back in 2012. There’s no way this film will be anything less than amazing, and there’s, like, a one in four chance you’ll get to see Robby’s head explode. Friday, February 20th, and Saturday, February 21st, midnight at IFC Center. Tickets $14.
The Short Films Of Maya Deren
We can think of at least one reason why you probably haven’t heard of Maya Deren, one of the pioneers of early independent cinema in the United States. But here’s your chance to check out some of Deren’s best known avant-garde films (including Meshes of the Afternoon), and better yet a classical ensemble, the Tenth Intervention, will perform a live score to each film. This event is part of a new series at Videology, Silent House, a monthly residency in which musicians perform alongside silent films. Thursday, February 19th, 9 pm at Videology. Tickets $8.
Cameraless Remote Documentaries
Artist Dominic Gagnon isn’t your typical filmmaker– instead of piecing together bits of his own footage, Gagnon trolls the net for footage of people filming themselves and creates found video collages. In the age of ubiquitous selfies and mini-experts in everything imaginable flooding YouTube with how-to and advice videos, Gagnon sort of had his work cut out for him. Though Gagnon’s work isn’t simply about form, his films are functionally documentaries. Gagnon will be on-hand for discussion and Q+A after the screenings of which there are two. Saturday, February 21st, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Union Docs. Tickets $9 for individual event and $15 for double feature.