The blog of author Dennis Cooper

James Fotopoulos Day


‘The films of James Fotopoulos examine heady esthetic and existential concerns through a unique hybrid of contemplative, delicate avant-garde formal effects and brutal low-budget body-horror, set within meticulously plotted structures that eschew typical experimental serendipity in favor of calculated auteurist rigor. At age 24, he’s completed 12 shorts and two features that play like the unlikely progeny of Stan Brakhage and Richard Kern, set in dingy urban environments that would make Ed Ulmer proud. Obsessed with the philosophical problems regarding sex, violence, extreme psychic states and unnerving atmospheres, as well as the classic formal issues of 16 mm lensing, Fotopoulos’ films wed a youthful fixation with the overpowering nature of primal drives to an uncommonly mature certitude of vision and technique.

‘Fotopoulos grew up in Norridge, IL. His background was solidly working-class. His father was a policeman and his mother a hairdresser, and Fotopoulos himself currently works in a warehouse. He also happened to grow up just a few houses away from the razed former residence of John Wayne Gacy. “I don’t like to say that too often,” Fotopoulos remarked recently. “I know that people will say ‘Oh, that’s why.’ But when you’ve always known this empty lot, and what went on there, it can’t help but make you think.”

‘He displayed an early aptitude for drawing as a kid, but became fully devoted to filmmaking by 15. After doing a series of 16 mm shorts, he started shooting his first feature, Zero, at 18, in his first year of film classes at Columbia College in Chicago.

‘Hardly the typical film school fare, Zero is a 142-minute study of the inner and outer life of a young, sociopathic loner, less a narrative than a temporal portrait. The unnamed protagonist, a gangly lad in shabby, hickish garb, meanders through gentle wilderness, covers the walls of his bunker-like home with pornography and anatomical diagrams, dissects a cow’s head, masturbates violently to magazines and curses loudly to himself about Jews, blacks and women. Especially about women: the man endlessly laments his loneliness and lack of love. In a distinctly Dahmeresque move, he finds sexual satisfaction with a female mannequin, whom he begins treating passionately as his inanimate inamorata. All this time, a cancerous cyst grows on the man’s arm, increasing in size as his mental state further deteriorates.

‘The character’s life is both a grungily realistic depiction of the now-familiar psychological extremities of serial killer types, as well as a harsh metaphor for all heterosexual male desire, pathetic and pathologized. “I think Colin Wilson wrote something like, ‘Everything that Ted Bundy did, men do,'” Fotopoulos says, quoting Wilson’s History of Murder. “A lot of these people, they’re sexually obsessed, but not too different than most teenage boys. They just go further.”

‘The film is structured as a series of compulsively repetitive narrative slabs, interspersed with increasingly baroque experimental sequences that exteriorize the man’s hyper-masculine desires and mutated mentations. These range from relatively straightforward shots of meatlike, naked bodies to hand-painted, optically printed firestorms to ominous organic sculptures. Color plays a key emotional role, as it does in some of his more recent short films. The tinted monochrome stock shifts from sepia to orange to purple over the two-plus-hour run, broken up by bursts of thick painted-on color in some dream sequences. The sound design is equally concrete and expressive, including many of the staticky bad-signal fuzzes and neo-industrial electronic drones that provide the signature sonic atmospheres that permeate his works.

‘After completing Zero (shot in only five days over the span of more than a year), Fotopoulos showed it to a local film critic known for his support of avant-garde film. The critic, however, was less than supportive. “He couldn’t say it was bad, but wouldn’t say it was good,” Fotopoulos recalls. “So he just tells me, ‘You can’t do this.’ He told me that I couldn’t mix narrative and avant-garde techniques.”

‘Nevertheless, the feature garnered limited video distribution through the small label Provisional, run by noted rock writer Joe Carducci. Despite his genre-bending, transgressive film style, Fotopoulos himself isn’t a video-geek indie wannabe or trendy scenester. Conservatively dressed and socially reserved, Fotopoulos is less Film Threat than Film Culture. Once his interest is sparked, however, he passionately discusses his deep admiration for canonical auteurs like Welles, Ford, Hawks, Godard and Fassbinder, and expounds strikingy complex explanations of his own art. There are few other filmmakers his age who would assert in conversations that “color in cinema is a big problem today” or “the best actors understand themselves as objects,” but at the same time, his expectations of his own work are relatively understated. His own films, he explains, are “very insular, very interior things. I do them thinking that no one’s going to watch them. So what if it’s two-and-a-half hours long and people can’t sit through it? I can’t worry about that. If they even show in five good-sized cities, that would be great.”

‘Fotopoulos has received more recognition with Migrating Forms, which won awards at the Chicago and New York Underground Film Festivals and continues to play around the world. Migrating Forms reworks many of the same structural and thematic concerns of Zero, but in ways that are more subtle, controlled, abstracted and detached. The story takes place in the unremarkable urban apartment of a young man who is having an affair with a slatternly blonde. Most of the film consists of their awkward interactions before sex, interspersed with silent anamorphic dream images of women’s bodies, suggesting a vaguely unsettling, oceanic escape from crushingly mundane reality. As their affair continues, an impossibly large cyst grows on the woman’s back. Whereas Zero dealt with the problem of exteriorizing the main character’s sexual and thanatological drives, Migrating Forms takes these concerns and disperses them into the diffuse atmosphere of the film. At only 80 minutes, it feels like a pure, perfectly crafted object.

‘His short films vary widely in scope and purpose, sometimes feeling like working sketches for the features, but always done with a stand-alone integrity. A couple of very brief silent shorts, Two Cats (1999) and Breathe (2000), are each less than a minute long. These continue Fotopoulos’ interests in the exterior depiction of interior states, each fluttering moment seeming to capture the essence of a fleeting, perhaps oneiric memory. Other shorts play like cubist horror films, juggling images of meaty skulls, murdered corpses, and grotesque alien anatomies. One of the most powerful and direct shorts, Drowning (2000), plays with shooting images entirely off a video monitor. With colors shifted into electric blues, the film depicts a thin, smiling young woman taking her clothes off for the camera, and shifting around on a bed in various stereotypical porn poses. Her movements are sped up to herky-jerky silent film speeds, and the camera zooms in to focus on still video frames of her hair and eyes. The effect is profoundly antipornographic, perhaps even spiritual. It’s an attempt to force a glimpse of redemptive humanity out of the dehumanizing esthetics of pornography.

‘Working at a breakneck exploitation-style speed, Fotopoulos is currently editing a third feature, Back Against the Wall, set in the world of Midwestern “lingerie modeling”; shooting a fourth feature, Esophagus, which takes place over 500 million years; and beginning production on a fifth feature, Christabel, based loosely on the poem by Coleridge. His devotion to filmmaking is no less obsessive and overpowering than the psychic tumult depicted in his films, yet he’s fully aware that he’s living a kind of mystically monkish anachronism through his art.

‘”If I had to work in film in some other time,” he says, “I’d want it to be the silent era. It was all new. The notion that you were shooting in this way, that was new. You’re inventing everything as you go. You’re making like 400 movies in the middle of the desert.”‘ — Ed Halter





James Fotopoulos Site
JF @ The Film-makers Cooperative
JF @ Letterboxd
JF @ Underground Film Journal
Podcast: Cinemad: #4: James Fotopoulos
James Fotopoulos: An Interview
‘Ten Ways of Doing Time’ w/ Laura Parnes
Amy Taubin on James Fotopoulos at Microscope Gallery
Podcast: James Fotopoulos – Live from the Heartland
No Real Rules: An Interview with James Fotopoulos
Masks, Melanoma, Mutilation: The Haunting Films of James Fotopoulos



Mapping the Obscure | Conversation in Film: James Fotopoulos

James Fotopoulos (AFA50) — watch it here


from OTHER


Brian Frye: So, to start with, how about some background information? How did you get into film?

James Fotopoulos: I grew up in Norridge IL, which is right outside of O’Hare Airport. It’s a strange area, mainly because of the airport and the amount of activity passing through it. Combine this with the forest preserves, the factories, the hotels, and the attempt to have some type of normal suburb right on the edge of it, and it creates nothing but corrupt activity and a strange negative energy that fills the air. The area is mostly populated by suffocatingly close working class family, which would destroy your ambition and dreams if you didn’t have the will power to fight the “closeness” with force. In that type of situation the standard of what you can do with your life is set very, very low. And no one wants to deal with any outside challenges or criticisms. There is a great deal of fear and threat. Fear of being exposed. But as for filmmaking, I just grew into it for reasons I can’t explain. I didn’t one day say, “Here, this is what I’m gonna do.” My father was very interested in movies, photography, and history so maybe it comes from there. He is also very organized. My mother was always interested creating things and artistic stuff. When I was a child – in grammar school – I was interested in the filmmaking process. You know, makeup and puppets, acting these out in front of a camera and those types of things. And I was interested in still photography, drawing, science, all that stuff. And it just seemed like film – all those things were a part of it. I was into stop-motion, the Harryhausen type. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I knew I guess insinctively that those interests were fragments of this larger meduim . So, when I got into high school the obsession intensified, and I started doing video work with the high school for their public annoucements.

B: So that’s when you started making moving images, in high school?

J: Yeah, when I was a freshman.

B: And that was pretty mechanical stuff, or you could do whatever you wanted?

J: No, actually I got fired. I went to a Catholic grammar school and a Catholic high school – they were private schools – basically under the assumption that you received a better education in a private school. Which is wrong because anything I learned that was useful, I learned myself. And when I was younger, my family and teachers at school, considered me a troublemaker and a person of low intelligence and with little ability. This I think was basically because I had no interest in school and wished to not participate in any of it. But now I am very glad I attended those schools, because of the religous element that I was able understand early on. But in that environment you couldn’t really say, “This is what I want to do. I want to make films,” because that was the furthest thing from anybody’s mind. Which it still is to some extent. Even with people writing about my films and them screening and being distributed, I’m still, in the eyes of many, not a “real” filmmaker. The response to my interest to film was very negative from many people around me. It was perceived as a phase and still is by some of the same people. But this was good because I think it forced me to be very strong-willed, very early on. I remember that at that time I was interested in the Super-8 my grandfather had – he had all the equipment – so I was leaning toward an interest in that. And then when I got involved in the actual school video things, the school would say, you know, “We’re gonna do a blood drive. Who wants to make a video for the blood drive?” And not that many people were really into it, I was the only guy. And then, I would collect my friends, and do these things. And then I started doing stuff, ah…

B: Well, what kind of tapes did you make for something like that?

J: There’d be – the blood drive would come up, and there would be people vomiting, it would be stuff like that. Someone would get shot, and there would be blood all over the place, and these type of things. I guess very childish, but never trying to shock the school. I never thought of it like that.

B: Yeah, I could see the school not being particularly thrilled with that.

J: Yeah, well, they were sort of confused for awhile, but there were two teachers and one in particular that actually supported me and thought that I “had something.” He is the one that told me to go to Columbia. I just fell into that school. No one in my family was really willing to give any direction or make much of an effort, so I was on my own. I was told “you have to figure out what you want to do.” I knew what I wanted to do, but had to keep quiet about it for a while and just “play around” with this film stuff. Filmmaking means maybe you’ll do commericals, the counselors in high school thought. So I asked this teacher, and he said “Go to Columbia. It’s a good school, there’s no admissions test.” So from sophmore on I didn’t think about college because that was where I was going to go. And maybe it is different now, but this is 1991, 1992 and the independant film phenomenon – or lie – really hadn’t hit too hard yet. In Chicago at least it hit after I was gone from Columbia. I believe their admissions exploded around 1996 or 1997 and then they started going digital. But anyway, back to the videos. I did one where I think a crippled guy was in a garbage can or something like that and a Physics teacher complained. And that’s when they said, “You can’t do this anymore.” So I was fired. So I started making videos with my friends. We started incorporating them into class projects. We did one hour and a half video of Dante’s Inferno. And they actually showed those at the school. But you learn pretty quickly. But this whole time I was thinking about film from a very techincal, psychological stand point. Like, “why in this film does that shot make me feel that way? and how do you do that?” or “there are only five people in this movie’s crew and the whole thing was shot outside”. And very quickly you realize that film is not video, not even close – but a totally different thing. It is too bad they can’t co-exist and one doesn’t have to replace the other, but as we know that is not how America works. They are not interchangeable, once you begin to break down film into that emotional and technical way. This was when I was a freshman or sophomore. When I was a sophomore I shot my first film. But I was basically trying to learn the tools and what they do.

B: So you were watching a lot of film then?

J: Well, yeah. And that was all part of the learning and growing and understanding the medium. Which is still the case today. Most of it was all pretty much out of necessity. Out of understanding what you’re doing in a very practical way, to get things done. So that’s how I started watching a lot of films. I was interested in certain things. My dad had the International Encyclopedia of Film. I’ve got it right over here. You know the book I’m talking about? You know, the blue one? A lot of the avant-garde stuff’s in there. And I remember that I just read through it. It went into the tinting and toning type processes, all the silents, everything was in this book. And I read through this book sort of out of curiosity. What is going on? And that just snowballed. I started watching a lot of stuff at that time. Just to understand what the history is.

B: So your first feature was ZERO, right, but you made short films before that?

J: Yeah, I made four short films, on film.

B: In high school?

J: I made two in high school, and then I made two while I was at Columbia before I dropped out.

B: So did these first films grow out of the stuff you were seeing at the time?

J: No, I think with ZERO that was more the situation. But with those shorts I think the good thing is that I did all that when I was really young. So I had already developed an ability to organize things pretty well. Because when I would shoot these videos in high school, I would have to organize everybody, get everybody together and make them do it. And I became very good at that. Because I remember when I got into college I realized that I had – compared to the other students, I was able to pull things together quicker. And part of it was also very instinctive. I was able to just walk in and say, “This is where it goes, this is how its going to be,” with a camera. And I noticed a lot of the other guys couldn’t do that. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that when I was 13 I was trying to do it. And the thing was, I was never playing around. Those videos when I was 13, I was dead serious about them. Even though looking back on them now they were probably ridiculous. But I was dead serious. This was not just me screwing off with a camera, this was real. So, even the earliest things were that way. I always acted very impulsively and instictively. And it was all very much that way. Each short was different. I remember the first short was just learning how to do things, understanding. The second was a refinement on that and with that I was very conscious of the lens and perspective, probally because of Lang’s M. You know, “This lens does this, this does that.” And that was done in the woods, because I grew up by a woodlands area. There were forest preserve areas by the airport. And then when I got into college I did the other one. The first one, it did well at the school. It was in that best of the year-end nonsense they do. That had the mannequin stuff in it, from ZERO. And then, the one I did after that was the sync-sound one. And by this time I did not agree with or abide by anything that they were telling me to do. I had already seen more films that any of the teachers and more importantly, shot more footage than any of them.

B: It’s interesting that you were making these films while you were at Columbia, because especially ZERO and MIGRATING FORMS have a really distinctive stylistic quality, in terms of both the structure and this tension between a Warhol-esque documentary feeling and then these extremely distorted sequences. And I’m wondering where that came from.

J: I don’t really know. I mean, by MIGRATING FORMS, I was gone from school. And ZERO, by the end I was gone. The very beginning of it I started there, but no one knew about it, because there was so much talk and very little productivity, which I find embarassing. I was just doing it outside. And I wasn’t even taking film classes. I was too fed up even for that. I was taking a science course, I think. Columbia was also a complete joke. These teachers didn’t know anything. I meet teachers from film schools all the time and I can’t believe it, I can’t believe that some of these students are taking out loans or their parents are working two jobs, so they can go to college and this is what they get, and the students don’t know any better. Because the “film world” is a very tricky and sometimes evil place. Even at that level. But I hadn’t seen that much experimental stuff at the time. The majority of what I watched was studio films. And then it was taking things down to the very basic… ZERO came veryquickly. I wrote it out in a night. I know now it was all serial-killer stuff and all that, but I didn’t think of it like that. I just thought of it very impulsively as, “What is the extension of these types of emotions,” and I guess it’s fairly accurate in that way. I just saw a mannequin in a store window and the relationship in the film came to me. And if I may say so, there are very, very few films I have ever seen that deal with that subject matter properly. And sex crime, pornography and things related are a problem, mainly in America. I hear people say: “We do not need any more films about killers and hit men.” The answer to that is – you need films that do it right. People have said ZERO is juvenile – badly acted and so on. The type of people in ZERO are juvenile and their sexual obsession with the forbidden is like a time bomb. There is no healtly human interaction with that behaviour. It is self destructive. Some of them may be intelligent, but not emotionally mature. So these people are not reasonable, which an audience wants. And this nightmarish existence has to be translated into film. So the film must mirror those emotions. And in doing that it should be somewhat unbearable, static, childish, externally acted, repetitive, sterotypical, contradictory and illogical. And in terms of “good” and “bad” cinema, “bad” cinema is closer to the sociopath’s inner world. People like to believe that yo can rationalize this these actions and behavior. But if you take your one sexual and violent impluses and think about from in where in the soul do they emerge? What deep cave are they coming from? What magic? And think about the impluse of it, the power. It is unexplainable in a clear cut way. It can’t be boiled down. So these people are like out-of-control animals. Their impluses are like time bombs, in this quest to fillful these powerful needs. I feel a lot of people don’t want to know that. But in terms of the actual filming, I remember ZERO was a learning experience, there was an abundance of filters used, special-effects, forced perspective, puppets, miniatures, editing tricks. The printing was a little insane. It was like an explosion. This stuff was pouring out. There was a lot of footage shot that wasn’t used. A lot of scenes that weren’t shot. But part of that was like – you’re in a situation where everyone is telling you “you can’t do all this type of stuff.” At Columbia I remember a teacher heard I was doing this, and he said, “It’s a nice little exercise.” Because from what he saw of my shorts, being sexual and the special make-up and all that, to him I wasn’t interested in serious filmmaking. That type of mentality of, “You can’t do this.” So you have to develop the willpower to do it. And that’s part of the filmmaking process, not just with the first film, but every film. I remember with ZERO a lot of it was making it as real as it can be. Which I still try to do with everything. Try to keep it as close as I can to how things really are. Not the lie of objectivity, which doesn’t exist or a consensus reality, which changes, but the reality of how we “percieve” the world.

B: So was it based on something? I’m just wondering where the film came from, in terms of not just the story but also the aesthetic.

J: Yeah, I think it just sort of came from trying to tell the truth about those types of feelings. I think I had ideas, like images of what I thought things would be. I saw that basement he lives in. I had seen it a long time before. And the thing about it is, pieces of ZERO are in those two shorts I did. There are things that are literally in them, like the caged guy, the same actor, all those things. And those feelings and images are still there. So when the time came to shoot it, I was translating that into the film. Translating all of these perceptions into the image/sound language. Like saying, “I have these tools that could do this and that, and if I was in this world or parallel worlds, how would that be in a film, what would be the truth.” And also this is all in pursuit of a constant pushing forward, an evolution of your spirit. The religion of your life. And with these tools comes a quest to understand your relationship with God and understand the world or worlds we inhabit. I become very obsessive over things and my imagination has tendency to go into overdrive, so I’m always trying to take all of this chaos and control it with tools of cinema. Like putting all this confusion in a tunnel and contain it into something positive. Because what you don’t want to happen is allow your imagination to fall into depravity or laziness, becasue that is easy to do. So your job becomes willing your spirit and imagination into this communication with other people through film. People allowing their imagination to dwell in pornography, sexual activity and drugs are all trying to do the same thing I am with film: evolve to make sense of life and understand our relationship to God. But their way is a dead end. Because it is easy and feels good immediately and like anything, the obsession is intense, but it cuts them off from other people, from communication with the collective, because the moral structure of the world hasn’t changed and isn’t going to anytime soon, as long as we remain human beings, so they remain on the outside. ZERO was the beginning of my learning this. But it is impossible to explain your drive, obsession or abilities. You can try to think about it, but you can never understand it. It can never be rationalized. Why images and sounds pop into your head and why you’re compelled to make them into films, the core of that is a mystery. I don’t think you can fully understand your soul.


10 of James Fotopoulos’ 61 films

Zero (1997)
‘James Fotopoulos’ deeply disturbing experimental film paints a grim portrait of the psychological collapse of a young man drifting further and further into total isolation. In his solitude, primal fantasies of sex and violence transform into frightening visions and insanity, while a cyst growing on his arm suggests a physical manifestation of his mental breakdown. A shocking debut feature, told entirely through one character. “Heartfelt and creepy as hell” (Shock Cinema).’ — Facets



‘MIGRATING FORMS justly earns comparison to David Cronenberg for its psychosomatic representation of disease and body horror, as well as the uncanniness of the banality in the work of David Lynch. But, particularly in light of Fotopoulos’ subsequent profusion of work, one might also draw comparisons to ceaselessly prolific trash-row auteurs like Joseph Sarno and Andy Milligan, in comparison to whom the arthouse, experimental cinema, and gallery is Fotopoulos’s 42nd Street. For some, the greatest virtue of sexploitation is its hypnotic, drone-like banality, which is here consciously perverted into avant-garde extremes. Much is made of how the exploitation film dried up its techniques of sensationalism and salesmanship were assimilated by Hollywood; it’s less often noted that, without a market to concede to—this is the tail-end of the decade that saw the sanitizing of Times Square—the weirdness of marginal cinema truly broods in unremittingly weird movies like MIGRATING FORMS.’ — Spectacle



Back Against the Wall (2000)
Back Against the Wall presents an atmosphere of ever-increasing doom, as a woman named June seems to engage in a grotesque personal experiment that involves hitching herself to defective men. Each of the film’s three chapters is devoted to one of them; Levey is a speed-reading rage freak prone to seizures and melancholy, pornographer or pimp Vince is friendlier but his professional contacts keep knocking out his teeth, and finally we encounter Ed, a truly singular creation who is stricken with a terminal disease and spends long moments whispering nonsense. The backdrop is a menacing and featureless Middle America with its shitty drugs, prefab motel rooms and mediocre towns. A generic mud-stained farmhouse is the depressing setting for a porno shoot where June and other women dress up as a sexy cowgirl, a sexy cow and a sexy child holding a teddy bear, respectively.’ — Spectacle




‘A merciless narrative about the inner world of a nameless cult, The Ant Hill continues James Fotopoulos’ recent foray away from film and into the possibilities of video. The results prove more materially degraded than even his best-known feature, Migrating Forms. As with all of his work, each low-grade esthetic decision feels utterly, pointedly intentional. The actions of a tiny band of devotees, led by a single, lurchingly unpredictable patriarch, take on the sparse structure of a Biblical parable. Extended sequences of colorfield-like image-layering recall the electronic longueurs of early video art. Fotopoulos shoots his actors in a single bare set, with a grimy immediacy that feels almost self-reflexive: the viewer inevitably comes to question how the filmmaker was able to compel such total trust and obedience from his actors, given the extremity of the acts they have been asked to perform.’ — Ed Halter



‘The origins of the universe told through the lens of an experimental film and video sci-fi horror-show fusion: Alien women trapped in a colorfully hand-scratched film-textured hotel room, genetically mutated men slowly driven mad in a white digital prison, the high contrast landscapes of Mars, and a futuristic tribe of a giant, an elf and a witch in their decaying suicide-home.’ —JF



‘In the old west a man’s family is slain by his doppelganger: Mr. Lamb. The man’s quest for revenge takes him on a journey to reconcile the horrors of his past – illness, murder, lost love and war. The story’s action is told through stilted theatrical black box performances, crude CGI special effects, Halloween costumes and primitive drawings of animals, plants, sex, baseball, and sea life.’ — JF



Progeny (2007)
‘Central to James Fotopoulos’ adaptation of the Epigoni is the fragmented artifact of Sophocles’ long lost play. Rather than adapt the myth, it is the surviving text—which for centuries has consisted of only a few fragments of dialogue between ‘speaker a’ and ‘speaker b’—that Fotopoulos has rendered digital. This translation from artifact to synthetic medium is a project of inclusion and exhaustion; Fotopoulos orchestrates Sophocles’ text into a framework of new structures and rules in order to represent in digital the remaining fragmentary and figureless voices.’ — nat.brut.archive

the entirety


Alice In Wonderland (2010)
‘James Fotopoulos‘ Alice in Wonderland! is is far from a traditional adaptation of the classic book by Lewis Carroll. The filmmaker will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion. Fotopoulos has adapted not the book, but the 1886 musical based on the book, “Alice in Wonderland: A Dream Play for Children,” which was written by Henry Saville Clark and Walter Slaughter. In addition, the filmmaker was also inspired by a 2003 Lewis Carroll daguerreotype exhibit.

‘Using sculpture, drawing, text and original music, Fotopoulos also examines the relationship between Carroll and the writer/art critic John Ruskin; plus, he incorporates the stylings of other artists and photographers of the same era, including Thomas Eakins, Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey. It’s a trippy blend of modern digital filmmaking and classic art of the late 19th century.’ — Microscope Gallery



DIGNITY (2013)
‘DIGNITY uses the minimal structure of a sci-fi B-film, the high artifice of painted backdrops, prosthetic horror effects, psychedelic noise soundtrack and early digital techniques to flesh out the philosophical ideas ranging from the stoic writings Marcus Aurelius to the fantasy prison drawings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi. “There is a strong case to be made that James Fotopoulos is the greatest experimental filmmaker of his generation. DIGNITY is a perfect example of his recent style. No body of work is more single-mindedly relentless in its programme of defamiliarising the familiar than James Fotopoulos’. This is what makes him such an essential artist.” — Maximilian Le Cain



Two Girls (2018)
‘The story of young sisters in the American Midwest left alone with their increasingly unstable mother while their father is fighting in the Civil War. The film traces the girls’ naturally fraught sibling dynamic and the ways that their father’s absence ignites their imagination.’ — MUBI






p.s. Hey. ** Dominik, Hi hi!!! I can’t imagine a US high school doing that at this point in time either. Mm, I definitely craved Kraft Mac&Cheese, and possibly Hydrox Cookies if they have them, and maybe Pixie Stix. The very second that Love finishes his book, I’m ready to do my blogger/publicist duties. Ah, inarticulate love, you know my taste in love so well. Love wanting to use his knife on everyone excerpt you and me while he’s high out of his mind on adderall, G. ** David Ehrenstein, And you are correct and/or psychic, sir! Carax presented Demy’s ‘Une Chambre en ville’. How about that! Oh, wait, she played Harriet? Obviously I remember her. My brain was on vacation yesterday, I guess. ** Tosh Berman, Hi. Me too. That whole album, ‘Goat’s Head Soup’, was where it all ended for me, where they stopped pushing forward and just starting making Rolling Stones-like songs and albums. That song ‘Dancing with Mr. D’ was the nail in the coffin. Whoa about your mom sharing high school with Dave Nelson. I think Ozzie Nelson is an unsung brilliant auteur using the TV show as his medium. As is Jack Webb. Bon day! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Oh, no, did they get him a bed? How insane that that should even be a question. I hope he’s resting and improving very rapidly. ** David, My guess is you probably cut your arm. Eek, stealing from an AIDS charity box? Did you have no shame, sir? ** Maria, Isabella, Camila, Malaria, Gabriela, Ha ha, hi! ** T, It’s probably more likely that he found a boyfriend than that he found the other stuff, no? I so hope the Le Clef people can get through this. For sure they’re super tough and resilient, but if the cops come, I don’t know what they can do. It’s ridiculous: they’ve lobbied the govt. hard to stay there, and they have the support of some major artists and cultural figures and the city still won’t intervene and protect them. It’s really shocking. No, I didn’t end up going to the screening last night, unfortunately. I’ll get over there in the next day or two, assuming they’re still in place. Thank you. I hope your Tuesday is warm and windswept. xo. ** Steve Erickson, Thanks on the dudes’ behalf. Ah, you on Miike, sweet. Everybody, Your Mr. Erickson side trips for today are (1) ‘My essay on Takashi Miike’s LESSON OF THE EVIL & AS THE GODS WILL is now available to read on Certified Rotten’, and (2) Steve’s aunt has published a book! Called ‘Black Boots’! And here it is. Have you read your aunt’s book? Do you and she have a special writer-to-writer inter-family connection? That’s very cool. ** geyyymmm, Hi! Yeah, hoping for cute, dreamboat-type guys among the slaves is always a gamble. They’re very content-oriented. Ah, well. Escorts in two weeks! As for me, it’s all filters, trust me, ha ha. But thank you. xo. ** Bill, ‘IV’ is really good. At least in my memory. That is a tough choice right there, ha ha. Truly, though. I hope your health blahs are heading for the hills. Far distant hills. ** Brian, Hey, Brian. Good to see you, buddy. Oh, right, you’re back in school! Time flies, jets by even. Um, it sure sounds like bailing on that class in favor of an independent Bresson research project is a no brainer. It’s not like you need instruction on how to be more queer. Yes, I just saw that James Bidgood died. RIP! Early very happy b’day! How are you planning to celebrate or at least mark your transference from teenagerdom to unpredictable adulthood? You should do it up somehow. Very bizarre and kind of nothing at all perfectly describes how my b’days feel at my technically unpleasant age. I didn’t get to the Carax/Demy screening unfortunately. I am supposedly going to meet him and have a coffee with him and Gisele (they’re friends) soon, which I’m excited/nervous about. Well, man, I sure hope Tuesday managed to erase a huge portion of your blues. Any chance it did? Hugs from me and Francophilic vibes from the big P. ** Okay. If you don’t already know the films of the super interesting filmmaker James Fotopoulos, the blog can begin to square you away in that regard should you let it. See you tomorrow.


  1. David

    Given that it never made it into the tin Den it technically wasn’t stealing… and it was that transexual who pulled it out… I just did the ‘sawing a queen Elizabeth in half trick’… bit…. and it was 25 years ago… it wasn’t even me… ‘whatever’ (quickly changes the subject)…Den…… Have you ever had a perm??? I used to bleach my hair when I was 15… and a few times in my 20s…. and I once did it blue….

    Nice Post…. x

    • dora

      I am a Women’s Fiction author and it is very difficult to get reviews and visibility. Getting book reviews from bloggers is more and more difficult these days. helped me get initial reviews and visibility.

      • David

        Thanks Dora! x

    • Maria, Isabella, Camila, Malaria, Gabriela

      Maria Isabella Camila Malaria Gabriela is poetess,
      thanking Dora,
      I will contact.

      David you are stealing all!! I bet Peck seeds laptop in garden was you pissing on and then smashing up!!
      I once had watch it go missing, I bet it was you…
      All!! all!! all!!!!

      I kill!!!!!

      thanking Coops for posting I like a very much!

      • David

        Piss off diarrhoea Maria!

        incidentally and for the kindly sweet Dennis, the huge poem was brought and left ‘La petite mort’ a look, know but you don’t have to read it… its a dead body left on the steps of Le Cooper Motel…. paradoxical??? narcissistic??? it’s a meant limpet on Satan’s leg…. and that’s enough for me…. it really is…..

  2. David Ehrenstein

    I had a feeling that’s th one he’d show. Here’s the trailer. It’s Jacques’ darkest film and the only one not scored by MichelLegrand. Michel Colombier did it (quite beautifully) Jacqus and Michel Legrand had had a falling out because Jacques had come out and Michel was upset by it. He came around of course and they worked together again.
    Here’s Jacques discussing the film — which obviously greatly influenced “Les Miz”

  3. Tosh Berman

    I started having my doubts about the Stones around Exile From Main Street, which puts me in the small minority of people who think this album is less than a stunning masterpiece. On the other hand, my dislike for that album makes me curious why I don’t like it. I think it’s because of the legend around the recording of that album, and I find it a tad contrived. But without a doubt, “Goat Head’s Soup” is the presence that destroyed the Stones for me. It was shocking to me at the time there was a band that is sort of giving up on everything, and just going on the remote control. “Dancing With Mr. D” indeed! I share your interest in Ozzie and Harriet. It’s odd to me that there is not yet an in-depth biography or documentary on the series. It must be weird to be playing yourself in a long-term TV series. How do you separate one from the figure in the show? Or do you? I’m also intrigued that father Ozzie never seemed to have a job. He is almost like a granddad to his kids than a living parent. A very odd show.

  4. Dominik


    Sorry for the tiny message, but I’m afraid my mind’s only capable of churning out some love tonight. I’ve just finished proofreading two long videos on computer science, and I just want to watch your love running around high out of his mind on Adderall, using his knife. I’m grateful for his sparing us. Thank you! Love making the trip to the American junk food store and filling his basket with Kraft Mac & Cheese, Hydrox Cookies (NOT Oreos!), and Pixie Sticks (I’m trying to remember what they’re called here – I used to have them in elementary school all the time) and surprising you with an unhealthy but delicious dinner, Od.

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    James Fotopoulos is a new name for me, and I’m especially keen to see Zero if it could be tracked down anywhere. I have a feeling that it’s not available on my DVD rental, though.

    Good news about my dad, he now has a bed in hospital. He’s being looked after by the palliative care team and they’ll have him on steroids, eventually taking in food so that he can stand up on his own two feet. Think we can finally see the end of this tunnel we’re all in.

  6. Steve Erickson

    I fell out of touch with my aunt when I was a teenager, and then we re-connected during the pandemic. Her husband studied music theory with George Crumb, and he sings in a choir that performs classical pieces. I have not read her book yet, but we’ve talked a lot about it. She and her husband were planning to visit New York last fall, but they never made it down. I hope to see them in person at some point this year.

    Fotopolous seemed to get some institutional support in the US at a certain point, and then it all fell away and his visibility shrunk. I didn’t know he’s still making films.

    GOATS HEAD SOUP received a lot of revisionist “this is actually an excellent album” takes when it was reissued a few years ago. I listened to it again, and slow songs like “Winter” and “Coming Down Again” were quite good but the rockers feel so phony and lifeless. It seems to mark the point where being strung out went from being an aesthetic for the Stones to a daily reality.

  7. Brian

    Hey, Dennis,

    This unknown-to-me-till-today filmmaker looks to be a literally perfect confluence of my interests, so thank you for spotlighting him for us. Can’t wait to dive in. Jets by is right. So is no-brainer. I made the swap this morning, and can’t wait to get started on that Bresson stuff. It’s just intimidating because it’s an extended solo piece of writing of a type that I haven’t done before, and I’m not at all sure I’ll be able to come up with anything new or interesting to say about Bresson! But I’ll give it my best swing. Thank you for the early birthday wishes. By the time you read this 20 will have solidly and irrevocably landed on my doorstep. Shamefully, I have no plans at all for tomorrow. I don’t have any classes or anything, but all my friends are away or busy, there’s not a lot of interesting events or things to do I noticed going on, and I’m too unimaginative to come up with something fun to do by myself. So it’ll probably just be another day, vaguely depressingly, but it’s whatever. Coffee with Leos Carax sounds insanely exciting and cool to me. I understand the nerves though. It’ll go wonderfully, I’m sure. Tuesday didn’t do much to remedy my glumness, except I got to commute with one of my closest friends which was great, and—this was quite interesting—I got access to Derek Jarman’s unproduced screenplay for a film adaptation of Purdy’s “Narrow Rooms”. That was really cool to read, even if screenplays as reading tend to be pretty barebones and skeletal/blueprinty. But it was fascinating all the same. Thanks for the hugs. The big apple sends its own vibes—whatever vibes you most want, as it happens—back across the Atlantic to the big P.

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