DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Ken Jacobs Day

 

‘A pioneer of the American film avant-garde of the 1960s and ’70s, Ken Jacobs is a central figure in post-war experimental cinema. From his first films of the late 1950s to his recent experiments with digital video, his investigations and innovations have influenced countless artists.

‘A New Yorker by birth, Jacobs graduated from City University to find himself in the midst of the downtown art scene of the 1960s, which included artists Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac; and the experimental theater troupes of Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer. Although Jacobs had studied painting with Hans Hoffman, he quickly gravitated to film, finding kindred spirits in radical filmmakers such as Jonas Mekas and Hollis Frampton. An early friendship with Jack Smith yielded several collaborations, including the seminal underground films Blonde Cobra (which Jonas Mekas dubbed “the masterpiece of Baudelairean cinema”) and Little Stabs at Happiness, as well as a Provincetown beach-based live show, The Human Wreckage Review.

‘Jacobs has long been a cinema activist. He was an integral part of Manhattan’s burgeoning alternative film scene, which included venues such as the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and The Bleecker Street Cinema (which notoriously premiered Blonde Cobra with Smith’s Flaming Creatures) as well as his own loft, where the Kuchar brothers first screened their 8mm work. In 1966, he and his wife Flo founded Millennium Film Workshop, and he was a cofounder of one of the country’s earliest departments of cinema, at Binghamton University.

‘Jacobs has always been interested primarily in the act of viewing, rather than in textual decoding or analysis. As he points out, “my work is experiential, not conceptual. I want to work with experiences all the time.” In this respect, his breakthrough was Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son (1969-71). A landmark work of appropriation, the film takes as its source material a ten-minute short from 1905. During the course of Jacobs’ two-hour film, this fragment from the dawn of cinema is subjected to extensive and varied re-photography, including manipulations of speed, light, and motion, as well as the minute examination of abstractly enlarged areas of the frame. A masterpiece of cinematic deconstruction, Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son is, in its total concentration on the formal and material properties of the medium, perhaps the quintessential work of 1970s structuralist filmmaking. It was also an indication of the direction in which Jacobs would proceed, wherein actors and narrative would fall away, replaced by a concentration on the rigorous pleasures of the cinematic unconscious. As he has suggested, “there’s already so much film. Let’s draw some of it out for a deeper look, toy with it, take it into a new light with inventive and expressive projection. Freud would suggest doing so as a way to look into our minds.”

‘In later films such as Perfect Film (1986) and Opening the Nineteenth Century: 1896 (1990), Jacobs continued to explore his pioneering appropriation strategies. His interest in performance has never waned, however, as evidenced by Nervous System, a live show incorporating two film projectors, a propeller, and individual filters through which audience members view the double image. Writes Jacobs: “The throbbing flickering is necessary to create ‘eternalisms’: unfrozen slices of time, sustained movements going nowhere and unlike anything in life.” Jacobs’ recent video work, such as Flo Rounds A Corner (1999), have successfully transferred the “eternalisms” effect to the digital realm.

‘Jacobs’ insistence on cinema as a “development of mind” can be seen, despite his protestations to the contrary, as a conceptual approach to art-making practice, one that has yielded groundbreaking work across media. In his activism, film, performance, and video, he has consistently expanded the practice of the avant-garde moving image. Whether undertaking archaeological journeys to the birth of cinema, or scrutinizing the interstices of new digital technologies, Jacobs’ work investigates, provokes, and draws power from the mysteries of the nature of human vision.

‘Ken Jacobs was born in 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. He has received numerous awards, including the Maya Deren Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1969, with the help of Larry Gottheim and Gottheim’s students (one of whom was J. Hoberman,  senior film critic for the Village Voice), Jacobs began the Cinema Department at SUNY Binghamton and taught there until 2002. His films, videos and performances have received international venues such as the Berlin Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Hong Kong Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the American Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He was a featured filmmaker at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2004.’ — Electronic Arts Intermix

 

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Stills
























































 

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Further

Ken Jacobs @ IMDb
Ken Jacobs on Vimeo
Ken Jacobs @ Filmmakers Cooperative
Ken Jacobs @ Ubuweb
Ken Jacobs @ Lightcone
Ken Jacobs on The Polar Express, 3D, and Religion
Interview with Ken and Flo Jacobs. Part 1: Interruptions
KEN JACOBS: THE DEMIURGO OF THE MOVING IMAGE
Tony Pipolo on Ken Jacobs’s The Guests
Star Spangled To Death Site
Paracinéma, Flicker et 3D : entretien avec Ken Jacobs
Ken Jacobs @ PENNSOUND
Ken Jacobs and the Perverted Archival Image
An Interview with Ken Jacobs
NOT EVEN ACTING WITH KEN JACOBS
A PRIMER ON EXPERIMENTAL FILM LEGEND KEN JACOBS
KEN JACOBS IN 3 DIMENSIONS!
Ken Jacobs @ Senses of Cinema
Ken Jacobs @ mubi
Artifact Bonfire: Ken Jacobs and Reichstag 9/11
Paracinema, Flicker and 3D. Interview with Ken Jacobs
The Nervous Art of Ken Jacobs
Ken Jacobs: Digital Revelationist
Optic Antics: The Cinema of Ken Jacobs
Ken Jacobs: A Matter of Life and Depth
“Movies are All People Know” An Interview With Ken Jacobs
AN INTERVIEW WITH KEN JACOBS
KEN JACOBS / An Email About Jack Smith (and the Cheap Shoes)
Three essays by Ken Jacobs

 

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Extras


Ken Jacobs: A Pioneer of Avant-Garde Film


Jonas Mekas on Ken Jacobs


Conversations with History: Ken Jacobs

 

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Interview

 

Julie Hampton: How do you see your films as being different from what we have come to expect from cinema?

Ken Jacobs: Well, most films are about problems. They don’t pose problems. They’re not immediate experience. They’re vicarious experience. Well, that’s not entirely true . There are lots of films that are designed to offer you very strong immediate experiences and at the same time they occupy you with what’s going to happen to somebody else we are identifying with.

JH: Yes. We’re living through them.

KJ: But there’s a lot of work that exists other than mine where you’re having the immediate experience. You’re confronting something. You’re going into the temple of doom.

JH: In cinema?

KJ: No, I mean in art. When we talk about film we mostly consider the movies. We mostly consider photoplay film theater with actors. There are a lot of other things where you meet up with the problem of the work and you surmount it and hopefully you are rewarded with a new way of receiving pleasure.

I should go back to the beginning and tell you that initially I was torn between the formal development of art and film and needing to do something effective socially. And I only released myself from this second obligation a few years ago.

JH: Is this the beginning of your Nervous Systems work then?

KJ: Yes I think it is. I think that Bi-temporal Vision: The Sea is the clearly in the realm of the abstract. That’s not to say it is without meaning for me. It absolutely is a film about crises. It’s absolutely about “to be or not to be” for me. These words abstract are really not satisfying for me because they sound utterly cerebral which these works are not.

JH: As intangible.

KJ: When we talk about abstract we talk about a kind of removal from the immediate but these works are all very, very experiential. They’re very involved in the immediate for me. They really rise out of crises. As in …Did you see The Marriage of Heaven and Hell ?

JH: Yes. It was very beautiful.

KJ: I was very unhappy with the number of lights that were left on in the auditorium. Energy is very central to my work, energy excited by pounding extremes: black/white, light/no light. Using the flicker elicits energy. In painting when you try to paint absolute polarities of light and dark in the world, the only way to get close to that with paint is by placing black next to white to make the white seem whiter and visa versa. Compared to actual black and actual white in the world they’re jokes. They’re somewhere in the middle of the gray scale. So one exacerbates and creates an optical mental impression of much more light and vibrancy by smashing the polarities together. So because of this and for other reasons I need a black room and a bright reflective screen which I didn’t get at that auditorium.

JH: It was a bit hard to see in some ways. Is this what you mean?

KJ: No. The work goes through sections of very low light levels and it builds at certain points a rich effulgence of light. The moving along and lowering and lifting of light levels is very, very important in this piece. The screen was very light absorbent so I lost a lot of light in that screen. I had to use low light levels so where before it demands the audience to make an effort to see and reach across to really see what’s going on, I’m afraid that it might have just submerged because of all the other light competition.

JH: The fact that I was seeing figures that were dissolving into each other depends on the nature of the light?

KJ: In this particular incidence the low light levels change the temperature of the projection bulbs. And when they change the temperature they change the color. So these very elusive strange shiftings of color take place in normally what would be called black and white film. I’m making use of different color temperatures coming from the bulbs. So it’s very, very subtle. Using the low light levels changes the character of the relief. A whole array of changes take place by adjusting the light level. There is no way of getting away from it if I want to do this piece.

JH: What does it mean that the brain is registering , while viewing your work, phantom chroma? Is this chroma that we think we are seeing that is really temperature?

KJ: I think it’s partly that. Instead of having local color you have color fields and they are not identical color fields coming from the two projectors which in turn set up reciprocating complementary colors in the brain which you wouldn’t be able to see if it was local color with everything brightly lit and everything separated by it’s own color. Oranges looking orange etc. So the overall color sets up complementary colors that the brain supplies. Then they begin working with the colors that are there.

JH: That’s great. It’s quite an amazing depth that you are involving the viewer in.  How long have you been working with these kinds of techniques?

KJ: Well, I always have. What’s new for me is rejecting the obligation to answer to social problems. I always was involved with making a formal work.

JH: By formal you don’t mean conceptual, do you?

KJ: No my work is experiential, not conceptual. I want to work with experiences all the time. I don’t even understand most conceptual work. I don’t get it. In that way I do relate to the movies that want to offer you some kind of visual experience. Except you’re the protagonist. You’re entering the temple of doom; a new kind of growth. You have to find out what is in this thing for yourself and I’m offering it. What happened for me three years ago was a heart bypass operation. I haven’t done works of social comment or inquiry since. Even though these works were about what was going on they were always enfolded in a formal development and offered experience, they were never posterized. I never sacrificed the idea to make a musical work of some sort of cinematic development.

JH: So you were always working on that and now you’re thinking about your life and trying to get the most out of it while you are here.

KJ: That’s right…life/death. I’m not in argument with it. I’m not Captain Ahab fighting the white whale. I’m just confronting it.

 

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18 of Ken Jacobs’s 42 films

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Little Stabs at Happiness (1959)
‘Material was cut in as it came out of the camera, embarrassing moments intact. 100′ rolls timed well with music on old 78’s. I was interested in immediacy, a sense of ease, and an art where suffering was acknowledged but not trivialized with dramatics. Whimsy was our achievement, as well as breaking out of step.’ — Ken Jacobs


the entire film

 

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Blonde Cobra (1963)
‘This legendary film features artist Jack Smith in what Jacobs calls “a look in on an exploding life, on a man of imagination suffering pre-fashionable lower East Side deprivation and consumed with American 1950’s, 40’s, 30s disgust. Jacobs did little of the shooting himself, instead drawing on two unfinished films shot by Bob Fleischner. With its dissociative editing strategies, wild costumes, and scraps of music and voiceover, this baroque portrait deserves Jonas Mekas’ recommendation as “the masterpiece of Baudelairean cinema.’ — Manufacturing Intellect


the entire film

 

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Windows (1964)
‘The moving camera shapes the screen image with great purposefulness, using the frame of a window as fulcrum upon which to wheel about the exterior scene. The zoom lens rips, pulling depth planes apart and slapping them together, contracting and expanding in concurrence with camera movements to impart a terrific apparent-motion to the complex of the object-forms pictured on the horizontal-vertical screen, its axis steadied by the audience’s sense of gravity. The camera’s movements in being transferred to objects tend also to be greatly magnified (instead of the camera the adjacent building turns). About four years of studying the window-complex preceded the afternoon of actual shooting (a true instance of cinematic action-painting). The film exists as it came out of the camera barring one mechanically necessary mid-reel splice.’ — K. J.


the entire film

 

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Tom, Tom, the Pipers Son (1969)
‘Cinematography ass’t., Jordan Meyers. Negative-matching assistance by Judy Dauterman. Original 1905 film shot and probably directed by G. W. ‘Billy’ Bitzer, rescued by Kemp Niver via a paper print filed for copyright purposes with the Library of Congress. Reverently examined here, a new movie almost incidentally comes into being. Ghosts! Cine-recordings of the vivacious doings of persons long dead. The preservation of their memory ceases at the edges of the frame (a 1905 hand happened to stick into the frame. . . it’s preserved, recorded in a spray of emulsion grains). One face passes ‘behind’ another on the two-dimensional screen. The staging and cutting is pre-Griffith. Seven infinitely complex cine-tapestries comprise the original film and the style is not primitive, not uncinematic, but an inspired indication of a path of cinematic development whose value has only recently been rediscovered. My camera closes in only to better ascertian the infinite richness (playing with fate, taking advantage of the loop-character of all movies, recalling and varying some visual complexes again and again for particular savoring), searching out incongruities in the story-telling (a person, confused, suddenly looks out of an actor’s face), delighting in the whole bizarre human phenomena of story-telling itself and this within the fantasy of reading any bygone time out of the visual crudities of film: dream within a dream! And then I wanted to show the actual present of film, just begin to indicate its energy. A train of images passes like enough and different enough to imply to the mind that its eyes are seeing an arm lift, or a door close: I wanted to ‘bring to the surface’ that multi-rhythmic collision-contesting of dark and light two-dimensional force-areas struggling edge to edge for identity of shape. . . to get into the amoebic grain pattern itself-a chemical disdispersion pattern unique to each frame, each cold still. . . stirred to life by a successive 16-24 f. p. s pattering on our retinas, the teeming energies elicited ( the grains! the grains!) then collaborating, unknowling and ironically, for form the always-poignant-because-always-past illusion. Important: this film MUST be projected BIG and BRIGHT and IN FOCUS’. — K. J


the entire film

 

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Perfect Film (1986)
‘The story goes that Ken Jacobs‘ 1986 work Perfect Film is literally a found film: the experimental filmmaker came upon the reels at a shop, bought them, made a print, tweaked the volume, and released the piece as a raw untouched document (consisting of—in this case—footage of news interviews following the death of Malcolm X). A possibly satisfactory example of that always suspicious term “pure cinema”, Perfect Film is Jacobs’ humbled gesture towards the integrity of the cinematographic image, resurrecting a discarded arbitrary artifact to not simply present what it was…but to establish what it is and what it can be.’ — The Seventh Art


the entire film

 

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The Georgetown Loop (1996)
‘First screened as part of Jacobs’ “Nervous System” film performance, The Georgetown Loop is based on an archival film from 1903, which Jacobs pairs with its mirror double to produce a kaleidoscopic two-screen projection. The original film depicts a journey shot from the cab of a train passing through the Colorado Rockies, and, in this hypnotic new form, comes to suggest the movement of consciousness itself. Writes Jacobs: “I’ve called it the first landscape film deserving of an X-rating, and that it is, yet its secret subtitle is — I must whisper — (Celestial Railway).”‘ — EAI


the entire film

 

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Disorient Express (1996)
‘This is not formalist cinema; order interests me only to the extent that it can provide experience. Watch the flat screen give way to some kind of 3-D thrust, look for impossible depth inversions, for jeweled splendor, for CATscans of the brain. I’m banking on this film reviving a yen for expanded consciousness.’ — K. J.


the entire film

 

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Circling Zero: We See Absence (2002)
‘Jacobs offers a stream of silent, digitally simplified shots of the collapsing towers and the surrounding metropolitan area—a far cry from the counterpointing sound clips in his previous treatment of September 11, Circling Zero: We See Absence.’ — Reverse Shot


the entire film

 

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Star Spangled to Death (2004)
‘Almost 50 years in the making — filming began in 1956 — Ken Jacobs’s 440-minute avant-garde epic was named the best film of 2004 by J. Hoberman of The Village Voice. A history of 20th-century politics and culture communicated through a crazy quilt of found film, including a dancelike performance by Jack Smith (Flaming Creatures) as The Spirit of Life but Not of Living and sustained rants by the downtown character Jerry Sims as Suffering, it’s the ultimate underground movie, subversive and frequently hilarious.’ — The New York Times


Excerpt

 

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Celestial Subway Lines / Salvaging Noise (2005)
Celestial Subway Lines/Salvaging Noise, the DVD version of a live multi-media collaboration between Jacobs and musicians John Zorn and Ikue Mori, strives for the aesthetic purity and symbiotic balance that Bute describes, although it does so independent of the film medium. For the visual component of the work (patched together from four separate performances at the Anthology Film Archives in New York), Jacobs utilizes a modified version of the 19th century Magic Lantern, a device used to project still images like the modern slide projector. By spinning the shutter (as opposed to moving a strip of celluloid), Jacobs creates a phantasmagoric effect as bizarre and fantastic as the filmic manipulations he achieved in works like Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son. And unlike experimental filmmakers as divergent as Stan Brakhage and Ernie Gehr, Jacobs does not value the primacy of image over sound. “Vast spaces ache to be inhabited, for sound to enter,” says Jacobs. “Indeed, for this transcendent Lower East Side-imbued ramble, they call specifically for Zorn and Ikue.’ — Manufacturing Intellect


the entire film

 

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Two Wrenching Departures (2006)
‘Jack Smith tumbling, a scene from (the original Nervous System performance) TWO WRENCHING DEPARTURES. 90″. It utilized my early filming from 1956-57.’ — K.J.


the entire film

 

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Ontic Antics Starring Laurel and Hardy: Bye, Molly (2005)
‘Hardy walked a thin line between playing heavy and playing fatty. Laurel adopted a retarded squint, with suggestions of idiot savant. Their characters were at sea, clinging to each other as industrial capitalism was breaking up and sinking. Beautiful losers, they kept it funny, buoying our spirits. Laurel and Hardy… forever. Laurel and Hardy, 1929, enter into a further phase of enchantment in this cine-pyrotechnic Freudian send-up, its coda in a unique 3-D.’ — EAI


the entire film

 

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Capitalism: Child Labor (2006)
‘In Capitalism: Child Labor Jacobs digitally animates a Victorian stereoscopic photograph of a 19th-century factory floor, crowded with machinery and child workers. Jacobs isolates the faces of individuals and details of the image, as if searching out the human and the particular within this mechanized field of mass production. Space appears to fold in on itself as Jacobs activates the stereograph; the agitated image flickers and stutters, but the motion never, in fact, progresses.’ — letterboxd


the entire film

 

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Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World (2007)
‘RAZZLE DAZZLE The Lost World is an early Edison shot cut off at its head and tail and along its four sides from the continuity of events like any camera-shot from a bygone day; no, like any camera-shot, immediately producing an abstraction. Duration 92″, 8″‘ — K.J.


Excerpt

 

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Return to the Scene of the Crime (2008)
‘At its most immediate and thrilling level, Ken Jacob’s new video Return to the Scene of the Crime is engaged in cinematic archeology. With a great deal of embarrassment I admit that I don’t know what Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son, the filmmaker’s 1969 film using the same 1905 silent short as its source material, did with its over 60 year-old subject. But now 103 years after it was originally made, Jacobs digs the short up again from silent cinema’s treasure trove of forgotten and unseen films for us to bask in its multitudinous sense of life, drama, theater, humanity, crime, and cinema itself.’ — mubi


Excerpt

 

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Seeking the Monkey King (2011)
‘Suggestion: Please see ‘Another Occupation’ before ‘Seeking the Monkey King’ WARNING: contains flicker like many of my works; avoid if you have epilepsy or other unusual brain conditions. Music: JG Thirlwell’. — K.J.


the entire film

 

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The Green Wave (2011)
‘3D film, does not require spectacles.’ — K.J.


Excerpt

 

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The Guests (2014)
‘Ken Jacobs has been concerned with the exploration of stereoscopic phenomena since the mid 1960s. He has experimented with a number of 3D techniques, and has developed ways to infuse his 2D work with heightened illusions of depth. The Guests, which has existed previously as a slide installation and an anaglyph video, will be presented tonight in its final incarnation: as a digital 3D spectacle. Continuing the work started with Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son, Ken Jacobs revisits an early Lumière Brothers film, Entree d’une noce à l’église (1896). As we watch the congregation mounting the steps of a Parisian church, our attention is drawn to the smallest of details: from the grain of the image to the facial gestures of the long-dead guests to the city landscape behind them. Ken Jacobs does more than extend the time (and space) of the original footage: he invites us to see in a way that we have never seen before.’ — LA Film Forum


the entire film

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi. My weekend … should be okay. Going out to the burbs to look at some art (Michael Heizer) today and visit the proximate Air and Space Museum, which is killer even if, like me, you’re not overly or especially into air and space. See a movie, I think. Skype conference call about a project. Stuff. You? I think the actor who did/was Hal died a few weeks ago. No, I’m sure I’ve had fungus things in the thematic posts, but it hasn’t owned a post. I’d have to think of a weird angle. Let me try. Enjoy your aerial view on your former funk. ** Dynomoose, Hi, D! So sweet to see you! Cool. Me too. I don’t think I’ve worn a piece of jewelry in my life. Oh, maybe a couple of rings. And hippie beads when I was 15 years old if they count. You good? Lots of love. ** David Ehrenstein, Thank you adding the great multimedia to the jewelry thang. Ah, you weighed in on the Kevin Hart kerfuffle. I think I can guess what your opinion is on that, but I will go find out. Everyone, Mr. Ehrenstein has updated his FaBlog with a thing about the Kevin Hart controversy. You can look and listen here. ** Bill, Hi. I think Blake is working on his new tome. And he’s the editor — or one of the, editors — of the Fanzine site. Oh, wow, I really, really wish I could see that Berlin show, damn. Oh, and I think the PGL screening in SF got a date change and is now happening on the 10th (and I think maybe also on the 11th). I’ll know for sure in a day or two. ** Rokeatons, I’m going to the outer space museum today. Well, the space museum, but outer is part of it. It’s out in the burbs. It’s weirdly good. You’re a jewelry guy, interesting. I’m not at all. Nothing against the stuff, my body just doesn’t magnetise it for some reason. No tattoos or piercings either. My corpse is going to be clean. If the mirror says  go for it, go. That’s a golden rule? ** Dominik, Hi, Dominik! Oh, cool, happy the post locked into your pre-existing interests. Yeah, very anxious to finish the film script asap, and it is very peaceful to not have the fucking TV script constantly open my desktop. Until January 14th at least. That’s when it restarts apparently. I wanted to pop over too London on my birthday, but we have a big PGL meeting about the upcoming French theater release that day, so maybe the day before my birthday. I have to figure it out right away. Good, good, that the part time work situation is totally tolerable. I’m pretty good. The big happiness this past week was that we finally got the just aforementioned theater release of PGL in France set in stone. First week of May. We’ve been waiting and fretting abbot that for months, so now we’re all set and excited. Snow, you’re so lucky! Yes, do astral project some flakes to Paris if your mental powers can manage it. Have a really great weekend in the snow or not. ** JM, Hi, man. Thanks. Yeah, that was a hardcore thing. I think it’s real. I made the post 8 years ago or something so I forget, but I think it is. Very nice about your man friend. Cool. Yeah, I only know about fashion due to fashion-interested friends passing along tidbits. Thanks a lot for getting those books of mine. Your book collection sounds pretty ace. Where all over the place do you think you’ll be moving? I’m good, thanks. Yes, big encouragement on the ‘you writing’ front, obviously. So excited for your book coning out. It’s not too long from now, right? I will treat Paris well. I’m a pretty respectful tromper. Have a swell weekend. ** _Black_Acrylic, You’re home! Actually, I knew you were home because on FB you checked into some place in Dundee yesterday. Some place with an indecipherable name. That’s very interesting about your dad’s history with jewelry. My dad had a period where he was obsessed with geodes. He had rock tumbler equipment in our basement, and he was always putting rocks in there in hopes that they’d reveal their geode interiors. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Like I said up above, I made that post 8 years ago, so I don’t remember totally but I think the blood bridge thing was real, yes. I’m so-so about Harriet Tubman, but I’ll listen further. I’ve been very interested to hear the Angel Bat Dawid, and I didn’t know it was out. Thanks, I’ll chase it down. ** Misanthrope, I don’t have any either. Oh, wait, I found a weird ring on the street about a year ago, and I picked it up and put it in my pocket, and I decided it was good luck for some reason, so I still have it in my pocket. Hollywood tends to want a lot more than inevitability in its endings, so the movie version of your book is probably doomed, or, hey, who knows? We worked very hard and carefully to make sure the ending of PGL wasn’t sad. Mm, I think if you ever see PGL again and look at his friends’ faces, you’ll see there’s a lot more than resignation going on there. ** Sypha, Hi! Oh, it’s great, the post. Oh, now that I have you, the post will launch on Saturday the 19th if that works for you. Yuck on the cold, man. I hope the weekend cleans you out. ** Okay. I ask you to spend your local weekend considering the films of the great Ken Jacobs. See you on Monday.

9 Comments

  1. radical dude! have an awesome time. my uncle worked for nasa when i was young. i had nasa backstage passes. it was about the shot looking back. the takeoff is phenomenal. space is fun again. did you hear the chinese landed on the darkside pf the moon and theyre planting plants and silkworms. i can see you alive in space many moons from here. haha you could pull off a badass tat. i heart keaton is all the rage with the millenials. just watches really expensive watches theyve replaced guitars as my totem. i look good and its been a hot minute lol. btw junky zombies and surveillance bots are taking the planet. xoxo

  2. I’ve known Ken and Flo since the dawn of time. A chapter of my book Film: The Front Line –1984 is devoted to Ken.

    Several years back the Los Angeles Film Critics Association saluted Ken, the same year we gav Jerry Lewis our “Career Achievement Award” Having these two very intense Jews in the same room was a real treat. Ken was of course quite familiar with Jerry (whose acting style has a lot in common with Jack Smith if you think about it for a moment) but Jerry had never heard of Ken, so it was a memorable “Meet and Greet.” Ken and Flo’ son Azazel is an indie filmmaker whose work is conventional by Ken sandards but deliciously subversive by others. His debut feature “Momma’s Man” was about a period when he found himself unable to leave his parents’ apartment. He got another actor to play him (who didn’t look like Aza at all) but Ken and Flo played themselves. His most recent film “The Lovers” stars Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as a couple about to divorce to be with other partners who suddenly rediscover their sexual attraction for one another — so they cheat on the people they’ve been cheating with. It’s an exceptionally witty variation on Hollywood “Golden Age” comedies like “The Awful Truth”

    Ken’s Magnum Opus “Star Spangled To Death” is available on home video and I highly recommend purchasing it.

  3. Dennis, thanks, yeah, that date works… I was thinking of suggesting the 19th myself but I didn’t want to seem presumptuous!

    I was informed yesterday that my author copies should be on the way soon, so I gather those will arrive next week. Normally I’d be super-excited but this cold has kind of spoiled things for me, ha ha. Ah well. Have a good weekend…

  4. Dennis, I like the idea of titling a film “Perfect Film.” If you ever write a written/print novel again, you should title it “Perfect Novel.”

    Yeah, Hollywood really fucks things up, no? I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I really think that the farther they stray from the source material in an adaptation, the worse the movie is. Granted, I can only comment on a handful of movie adaptations I’ve seen where I’ve also read the source novel/story/what have you. Those that stuck most closely to that material usually ended up being much better movies, imo.

    Maybe, too, that’s why original screenplays tend to be a bit better overall. At least, I think so.

    Not every story is happily ever after, and not every not-so-happily-ever-after is sad.

    Yes, I will have to see PGL again. Indeed. It is a movie that needs to be seen more than once. Good movies are like. Even “bad” good movies. You’ll always find something you didn’t see the last time, especially after reading a review where someone picks up something you didn’t.

    Of course, throughout PGL, there are instances when you see his friends just full of despair. I don’t know that you can pick up on that right away unless you’re someone more savvy than I am. I read a review that picked up on that, and it made the movie even better for me as I looked back on it.

    This weekend is going to be primarily NFL playoffs -my team, the Cowboys, play tonight at 8:15 p.m. EST- and the film Mary Queen of Scots tomorrow. With writing in the interregnum. I finally finished that chapter I was talking about last week on Wednesday. Now on to the next. A character who will figure prominently in this chapter has the name Kyle Vanderplank, referred to as “Kyle Fucking Vanderplank” by the main character/narrator. Some seem to like that name, hahaha. 😛

  5. On an FB movie discussion group I belong to, someone brought up the possibility of adapting DHALGREN. I’m not crazy about either David Cronenberg’s NAKED LUNCH or Alex Ross Perry’s IMPOLEX, but their approaches – an “adaptation” that riffs on the book’s themes and images or basing a feature on an expansion of a small portion of a very long book – seems like the only ones that could work. But I don’t really agree about the need for films to be faithful to books from which they’re adapted, although I would be very curious to see a Kubrick CLOCKWORK ORANGE that went on to include Anthony Burgess’ final chapter. But the point of his film is different from that of Burgess’ book as a result. BLADE RUNNER feels true to Philip K. Dick in spirit, but it throws out most of the narrative and setting of DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?

    Jacobs is an excellent filmmaker, but one of his 3D films sent me home with a migraine.

    I’m excited to see Jacques Rivette’s LA RELIGIUESE for the first time today. It’s now being re-released theatrically in the US (with a DVD/Blu on the way later this year, inevitably.) It’s also one of the few Rivette films I’ve never seen.

  6. Never seen a KenJ before today but just watched the 9/11 thing & disorient express. interesting. not what i expected him to be from what i’ve heard. i think my book collection is pretty ace! it’s just a matter of, like, keeping it all in check, hahahha. By ‘I might be moving all over the place’ I really just mean ‘maybe lots of different new zealand housing!?’ so we shall see what happens. yeah, my book is pretty much a month away now (& the other stuff AS are releasing alongside it is fucking cool. i’ve read simon morris’ sea of love and know a bit secondhand about the josh peterson and that release bundle is gonna be a treat) which is super cool and yay and stuff. i think it’s about a week away from arriving in texas all printed and stuff? have a great museum-art-film weekend, even the plane stuff should be cool if you go in open armed! so, i guess i hope you’re having an open armed time!

    j

  7. KJ’s work looks great and despite there being no DVD rental for this kind of thing, the post serves as an essential primer.

    Work on The Call zine continues apace with a couple of prospective interviewees now confirmed. I’ve also figured out a suitable font and logo so now I just need to get started writing the thing. And hey, the course itself doesn’t start until the 17th so there’s no need for me to panic just yet. The subtitle has changed from “Art and Horror” to “Art and Speculative Fiction” as I figure that would give me a broader canvas to work with.

  8. Hey, thanks for the turn-on to another cool artist I didn’t know. And thanks for allaying my paranoia today! So glad I asked…and loved those emojis, made my day. Did you know that Tennessee Williams got paranoid too? Talks about it in one of his biographies. I think it comes from being overly sensitive, imagining stuff that isn’t really there. But so glad for your answer…very relieved! Like Spalding Gray, that’s why I had to give up pot – the paranoia was even worse with that. Had so many bad experiences…but loved it as an aphrodisiac in my college days. Ever feel paranoid Dennis? Ever feel insecure about what people think?

  9. Corey Heiferman

    January 7, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Great timing of this post with so many full-length films. Just got my new TV, and was very happy with how it streams Vimeo and experimental cinema. I started with Once Upon a Planet. It’s uploaded a false memory into my brain:

    https://vimeo.com/269383446

    I also recently saw and enjoyed Wim Wenders’ “Wrong Move” and John Schlesinger’s “Pacific Heights.” Have you seen them? The former I stumbled onto at the video store but it’s the kind of thing a Netflix algorithm would pick for me if it weren’t a piece of crap: New German Cinema, Robby Muller, Hannah Schygulla, Nastatassja Kinski’s debut, and an entire movie full of aimless wandering and depressive brooding. The second I actually did find on Netflix, and its picture of yuppie hell is hilarious. Nothing is sloppy or wasted.

    Other than that it’s the usual. Despite my efforts to be a bad student my Hebrew seems to be improving, though once I get more serious about it the rate should accelerate. My boyfriend is studying for exams all week so I miss him a lot but am trying to put the time to good use, and by that I mean not spending every waking moment in front of the TV. We’re going to Cyprus at the end of the month so that’s something to look forward to.

    Facebook, like Netflix, absolutely infuriates me except when it doesn’t. A friend I haven’t spoken with since we worked together as forest rangers 5 years ago came out of the blue and said he’ll be in Tel Aviv this weekend.

    Congrats on the France PGL release. How was the aerospace museum? As a geeky kid I used to read every description and spec on every vehicle, but nowadays I just wander around and take a look from different angles. The last place like that I was at was the German Museum of Technology.

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