Friday, November 15, 2013

Report (1967)

WHO: Bruce Conner made this.

WHAT: The longest and most overtly political film collagist Bruce Conner had made up to that point in his 10-year career as a filmmaker, the 13-minute-long Report makes a fascinating comparison piece to another film he released in 1967, The White Rose. Where the latter is playful and poetic in its mourning the end of an era for one of Conner's friends, Report is precise and pointed in its depiction of what Jack Kroll in Newsweek called the "tragic absurdity" of the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Whereas a prior film like Cosmic Ray clearly mixes footage shot by Conner himself with found material, on first look The White Rose and Report separate these two strands of source material for Conner's editing. But in fact much of the footage seen in Report is in its way just as much Conner's "own material" as anything in The White Rose or Looking For Mushrooms (the third masterpiece he released in 1967), as it was filmed directly off the television screen in the Massachusetts home he was staying in during the assassination news coverage. 

Adrian Danks has written a more detailed article on the film which I recommend.

WHERE/WHEN: On a program screening at 8PM tonight only at Oddball Films. Seating is limited, so it's best to RSVP by e-mailing or calling ahead at (415) 558-8117.

WHY: Tonight's program of films from the Oddball archive is a "conspiracy-free" look at the Kennedy assassination fifty years (minus exactly one week) after it occurred. I believe the print of Report is getting its debut screening at Oddball; sometimes this 16mm collection (the largest of its kind in Northern California) seems limitless. Other films and excerpts selected from the collection are less artistically inclined, but it will be interesting to see how Conner's film supports or fights against their own perspectives. Included are Mel Stuart's Politics in the Television Age, the 14-minute Protest: Assassins featuring a camera interview with Lee Harvey Oswald, and glimpses into everything from Kennedy's Space Race legacy to the "truly maudlin" tribute by singer Anthony Newley (he of the infamous Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?) fill out the show.

Another 16mm screening commemorating 11/22/1963 this week is this Sunday's showing of Oliver Stone's JFK at the Berkeley Underground Film Society.

HOW: All-16mm program.

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