Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beyond Melodrama: Short Films by George and Mike Kuchar

Co-presented with Pacific Film Archive

Pacific Film Archive

Free-floating depression and lurching libidos surface in much of the Kuchar brothers’ homespun oeuvre. When they add in a soaring musical score, dramatic lighting, and marvelously convoluted story lines, their
films transcend Hollywood melodrama, albeit with a campy, tawdry sensibility. While both brothers take it over the top, Mike’s cinematic style can also bring a more understated attention to emotional states. Red Grooms stars in the The Secret of Wendel Samson, described by Jack Stevenson as “a surreal, troubled rumination on sexual need and the entanglements of relationships. It remains one of the most uniquely
personal and overlooked works of the sixties underground.” In the classic Hold Me While I’m Naked, George Kuchar stars as a frustrated filmmaker whose dreams tarnish and desires go unfulfilled. Chronicles, Mike’s lyrical portrait of the brothers and friends, provides a glimpse of their everyday life, from making art to making love, all as the Vietnam War rages. The lurid Pagan Rhapsody staggers between seductions and betrayals triggered by an aristocrat’s attempt to restage a love affair. After the Q&A, we’ll have a special screening of the San Francisco Art Institute student production Queen Conga, “a black and white drama of romance, adventure, and outer space intervention” (George Kuchar) and George’s latest holiday video, Tummy Ache Time.

The Secret of Wendel Samson (Mike Kuchar, 1966, 33 mins, Color, From Film-makers’ Cooperative). Hold Me While I’m Naked (George Kuchar, 1966, 15 mins, Color, PFA Collection). Chronicles (Mike Kuchar, 1969, 10 mins, B&W, PFA Collection). Pagan Rhapsody (George Kuchar, 1970, 24 mins, Color, From Canyon Cinema). Tummy Ache Time (George Kuchar, 2010, 24 mins, Color, Digital video, From the artist). Queen Conga (George Kuchar with SFAI students, 2006, B&W, 40 mins, Beta SP, From Video Data Bank)

(Total running time: 146 mins, 16mm, unless indicated otherwise)