Re: Frampton, Brakhage, RE:VOIR

From: Steve Polta (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Feb 15 2010 - 22:40:14 PST

Sitney's EYES UPSIDEDOWN includes an interesting interpretation of the entirety of HAPAX LEGOMENA which casts it in semi-autobiographical terms and sort of explains why parts 4–7 aren't as successful or gratifying as the first three. Too tired to risk an inaccurate paraphrase at the moment but it's really fascinating reading.

Otherwise, I've been thinking about this a bit and I feel I'm in agreement with Mark T when I say that there's much richness out there in the vast quantities of lesser-known and less-assimilated Frampton. I mean, the films we know and love———ZORNS LEMMA, NOSTALGIA, GLORIA!, POETIC JUSTICE etc———and this is not to say that these are not great films because the are (IMO)———but it's almost as if, at this point in history, these films are somehow too "easy," as in they are readable, teachable, gettable, enjoyable. They are tidy and explainable. Again, these are great films but I'm not so sure that Frampton (as a filmmaker) was much interested in being as cute as the (now) joyous reception of these films would suggest, or that he was much interested in just pumping masterpiece after masterpiece.

In 2005 San Francisco Cinematheque put on a more-or-less spontaneous summer program of lesser-known Frampton's curated by Owen O'Toole, largely out of informed curiosity. The program included works such as MINDFALL, DRAFTS AND FRAGMENTS, PALINDROME, etc.; the reaction was much like what Mark Toscano describes about the Los Angeles screenings: folks——filmmakers, or folks who otherwise were hip to HF——walked out scratching their heads, or angry, or thoughtful, or **provoked**.

Why? I feel it is because many of these films (perhaps much of Frampton's lesser-known work) is intentionally provocative, intentionally open-ended and intentionally questioning; not neat, not tidy, not easily digestible, and perhaps not "great" in the same way the known films are great. And much of this work seems to be work of a different quality than we see today, as it seems incomplete, or exploratory, similar to some kind of research, like it questions filmmaking or that it questions how films are made——and who does that these days? And like Mark suggested, in these sometimes ragged or incomplete-feeling films, we are seeing Frampton chew on ideas, make propositions about filmmaking and throw ideas to other filmmakers (contemporary or future**), or to suggest paths to explore. And I agree that these films, in their ragged explorations, provide much to consider when watching the masterpieces.

**(and his specific dialogs with his contemporaries——not the least Brakhage——is a book waiting to be written)

In short, all this renewed interest in Frampton in 2010 is very interesting (and very welcome).

Steve Polta

--- On Mon, 2/15/10, David Tetzlaff <email suppressed> wrote:

> From: David Tetzlaff <email suppressed>
> Subject: Frampton, Brakhage, RE:VOIR
> To: email suppressed
> Date: Monday, February 15, 2010, 11:53 AM
> I have seen Hapax all in one day
> (though not w/o a break). I don't know if 4-7 are ever
> screened w/o 1-3. Maybe I just didn't get it, but I found
> 4-7 pretty unengaging and at times excruciating.
> With 3 dics, I'm actually not really worried the stuff I
> really care about will be left out (Hapax 1-3, Zorns Lemma,
> Gloria). It's just that based on what little other HF if
> seen, I'm guessing I'd find more to appreciate in some of
> the stuff I'm not familiar with yet than the ones I have
> seen but couldn't connect to.
> My interpretation of Frampton may be different from the
> norm - I think Fred and I argued about it here once - but I
> think there's a richness in the major works that opens them
> to a lot of different readings, and I haven't seen that in
> the second half of Hapax.
> I wasn't complaining seriously, and I guess I'll withdraw
> my threat to off myself. I do however have several very cute
> puppies I will torture if Criterion changes their mind.
> Thanks Marilyn, for your explanation about Anticipation.
> None of us can fault anyone for showing consideration to
> Pip, who graciously provides this forum for us and works so
> hart to support the work we care about.
> The fact remains, though, that the RE:VOIR version of
> Anticipation is only available in PAL, only on VHS, and does
> not seem to be distributed in the US. All of these seriously
> limit the work's accessibility to the broad audience it
> deserves (spare me 'rent the print' posts, we're already
> comparing video sales to video sales.) If you're trying to
> explain Brakhage to anyone, as part of a class, or just
> informally, how do you NOT talk about the ideas from
> Metaphors and Vision, and then illustrate the move away from
> representation to hypnogogic vision in Anticipation? If you
> have what comes before (I really love Way to Shadow Garden
> from Treasures 4 as a precursor) and what comes after (DSM
> and on) but leave out the hole in the middle, it just seems
> to me like you cripple the attempt to get the big picture of
> Brakhage's aesthetic project. And since I think that big
> picture is really fascinating, I think that's a damn shame.
> So, Pip:
> If we've established that Criterion isn't going to step on
> your toes, would it kill you to issue Anticipation on DVD
> (it being much much easier to playback PAL dvds in the US
> than PAL VHS) and put it for sale on this side of the pond
> (with somebody other than Jon Gartenberg -- no offense to
> Jon but I'd like my own copy and I don't have a trust
> fund)?
> I'm sure that, as with RE:VOIR's Deren DVD, Pip would be
> his usual meticulous self in making sure the encoding and
> authoring minimized all those MPEG2 bugaboos (that I can't
> see anyway on well-authored titles like By Brakhage). Would
> this not do the world a service, and maybe even make some
> money for RE:VOIR?
> FRAMEWORKER's please chime in if you agree....
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.


For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.