Sunday, October 6, 1996

Beat America On Film: Rebels & Outsiders

Angry statements, cultural critiques, ruptured etiquette, invasive technique--

San Francisco Art Institute

Beat culture shook 50’s and early 60’s America to its very placid core. Beat meant “Poor, down and out, deadbeat, sad, used,” according to Beat writer John Clellon Holmes. Jack Kerouac added, “The Beat Generation is basically a religious generation…Beat means beatitude, not beat up…You feel it in a beat, in jazz–real cool jazz or a good gutty rock number.” As part of a city-wide celebration of this largely San Francisco movement, the Cinematheque presents four programs of Beat-era films which had an originality and audacity comparable to writing, music, performance and painting. Thanks to Ray Carney for his assistance.

7:30PM: Desistfilm (Stan Brakhage, 1954), “…a drunken adolescent party…”(Cinema 16); The End (Christopher MacLaine, 1953), nihilistic black-humor stories of life and death; Scotch Tape (Jack Smith, 1962), “a New Jersey junkyard filled with life and movement and spiritual weightlessness” (Jonas Mekas); Doomshow (Ray Wisniewski, ca. 1962), “…a ritual firedance in a cellar on 10th Street.” (RW); Go Go Go (Marie Menken, 1962-64), a portrait of NYC, “…the busy man’s engrossment in his busyness.”(MM); Skullduggery (Stan Vanderbeek, 1960), animated collage jibes at world leaders; Towers Open Fire (Anthony Balch & William Burroughs, 1962), a commando attack on civility through editing.

9:00PM: Shadows (John Cassavetes, 1957-59), Cassavetes’ great first feature about identity and racial intolerance; soundtrack by Mingus and Hadi.