Absolutely nothing that would interest me opened this weekend in Madison, so I spent most of my weekend doing laundry and watching Farscape
Season 3 on DVD. I did see one movie, however, at the Thursday night experimental film program, which is called Starlight Cinema. I used to be a regular at those screenings, but I haven’t been able to go in recent years due to my work schedule (screenings don’t start until 9pm), and I have only been able to go once this season, when Starlight screened a collection of films and video work by San Francisco artist Jay Rosenblatt. For anyone who is interested, Rosenblatt, a former therapist, is principally known for using found-footage collage techniques to illustrate his psychological musings (from what I have gathered, Rosenblatt is associated with Craig Baldwin, who creates science-fiction influenced, political documentaries out of found footage, such as Tribulations ‘99
and Spectres of the Spectrum
), but he also works in film diaries and more “traditional” experimental modes. They screened five of Rosenblatt’s works, four 16mm films and one video; the most interesting were A Pregnant Moment
, a film diary chronicling the before and after of his dog’s pregnancy, Smell of Burning Ants
a video collage which explores the male socialization of violence during youth, and Short of Breath
, a film collage about post-partum depression and therapy.
But I digress, the film that I saw on Thursday was a rare screening of Robert Downey Sr.’s 1970 film Pound
; I’ve never seen any of Downey’s other films from the 60s and 70s, as I missed the only screenings of Putney Swope
and Chafed Elbows
a couple of years ago. I guess Pound
has been out of circulation for many years, and the print was in terrible condition (completely pinked with a fairly fuzzy soundtrack). Pound
is apparently based on Downey’s 1961 play, in which humans play the part of dogs (as well as one cat and one penguin) trapped in the pound. It’s an amusing premise, but the film itself is pretty hit or miss; imagine a bunch of late 60s, early 70s New York hipsters being wildly non-conformist, mugging mercilessly, and spouting non sequitur and puns in non-stop monologues. Everyone fears “The Needle,” but reacts differently, some plot to kill the Keeper and escape, some seem resigned to their death, while others have concerns so weird they’ve all but disappeared up their own bunghole. Basically, sex and death are on everyone’s minds, and every once in a while the cacophony of the pound is left behind for various musical interludes and fantasy sequences (escaping to glorious freedom, which includes streaking; riding trains; being guided through some pearly gates by an angel). Weaving through the plot is a sidestory about the “Honkey Killer” a middle-class, white serial killer who goes around town gunning down amorous white couples, while refusing to have sex with his wife; His motive, “it’s too free” out there. He’s being pursued by the heavy drinking, black police chief who is convinced that the Honkey Killer is a “brother.” Pound
veers wildly between being very funny (the best joke is when the Keeper is held-up, but since she has no money, the robber takes a puppy instead, but then agrees to pay the Keeper $5 for the adoption fee) to just plain tedious. The most interesting thing about the film was an early glimpse of a four or five year old Robert Downey Jr., who plays a puppy brought to the pound (yeah, that and Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch
, Antonio Fargas, plays a greyhound).
Next week, in honor of Halloween, there will be a screening of Cannibal Holocaust
, which is being advertised as “The Feel Good Film of 1979.” I can’t wait.