Sunday, November 12, 2006

Vampir - TV Party

I went to the Gene Siskel Film Center yesterday to see the interesting Pere
Portabella film, Cuadecuc-Vampir. The images were really beautiful and the soundtrack was pretty strange, reminding me, at times, of Mick Jagger's soundtrack for Kenneth Anger's film, Invocation Of My Demon Brother. The IMDB entry for the film is weak, so this is from the latest Chicago Reader, written by Jonathan Rosenbaum: "My favorite Portabella film, screening this week, is Cuadecuc-Vampir (1970), a black-and-white silent about the shooting of a Dracula film with Christopher Lee (Count Dracula by celebrated hack Jesus Franco) that becomes much more than a documentary. It glides effortlessly between telling parts of the Dracula story (with Dracula as an implicit stand-in for General Francisco Franco) set in a dank period location to providing a personal and ironic commentary on Count Dracula's production by focusing on stray details: a fan blowing confetti [actually more like cobwebs] over a corpse, a ghoulishly made-up actress making a face at someone between takes, a bag of unspecified something crawling across a floor. Meanwhile, periodic sounds of jet planes, drills, operatic arias, syrupy Muzak, and sinister electronic droning ingeniously locate Dracula and our perceptions of him in the contemporary world, until the end, in the film's only use of sync sound, when Lee reads a climactic passage from Bram Stoker's novel. Recalling without imitating such classics as Nosferatu and Vampyr, the film uses high-contrast cinematography to evoke the dissolution and decay that strikes viewers who see those films today in fading prints. It all adds up to a kind of poetic alchemy in which Portabella converts one of the world's worst horror films into one of the most beautiful movies ever made about anything. (It's characteristic of his artistic integrity that he refused to allow Cuadecuc-Vampir to be used as an extra on a Count Dracula DVD.)"

Afterwards, I went to the opening of TV Party, at Fifty50 Gallery, which included a really beautiful video/installation by Shawn Reed from Raccoo-oo-oon. It was nice to be able to hang out a bit and talk with Shawn, as well as Daren, who also came in from Iowa City. The video/installation by Andy Roche (also from Iowa) was quite interesting, too. The show is up until December 2nd, and I would definitely recommend it. No Black Flag, but there was plenty of beer at the opening...