I thoroughly enjoyed the movies last night... some more than others, but it was great to see such a broad overview of the history of experimental film.
In the first group of films, I most enjoyed Kenneth Anger's "Invocation of My Demon Brother". I saw this film several years ago at a retrospective of Anger's work, and actually met the director himself. His sardonic sense of humor, and that of the work he produces suits me well. Pushing the viewer's buttons by creating horrific satanic imagery, odd detached facial expressions, and a Technicolor-style palette much have been pretty shocking to viewers in the 1960's.
From the second set of films, I was struck by several of them. William Klein's "Broadway By Light" was gorgeous, and almost narrative in the way that the imagery and music synced together. It also made me miss NYC... bad! The piece by John Whitney, "Lapsis" was also pretty breathtaking. It looked digitally produced, and I felt like I had been smoking something.
The third set was probably my favorite. While I loved the aggressive animation of Breer's "69", and the multi-sensory assault of Sharits' "T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G", Frank and Caroline Mouris's "Frank Film" was pretty much genius. The humor, touching storytelling, and swirling visual images were clearly high art, but also tangible enough for non-artists to appreciate. While some of the movies seemed a bit long (Anger's "Eaux D'Artifice") or short (Brakhage's "Hell Spit Flexion"), the Mourises film was perfect.
Marcel Broodthaers's films made me react strongly. I had seen some of his films in the past, and enjoyed them more-or-less in a gallery setting where I could leave the films at will. After sitting through what felt like hours worth of hyper-cerebral conceptual films, I was struck by the fact that this is what makes people hate modern art. I can almost hear him saying "well, obviously they just don't understand" or "to REALLY understand this, you need to have read Proust". Words like insufferable and interminable came to mind, as well as a desire to shove thumbtacks into my eyeballs. Maybe I'm being too severe. I did enjoy "La Pluie" and even "Berlin Oder ein Traum mit Sahne", mostly for their visuals. The surrealist humor in the latter one was there... but did it have an effect on me? Come to think of it, here I am talking about it so vehemently the next day, so I guess it did!