16.March.2012: The 8th annual Stan Brakhage Symposium opens at the Brakhage Center at the University of Colorado Boulder tonight. Curated by Pacific Film Archive programmer Kathy Geritz, this year’s edition unsettles the division of avant-garde and storytelling with its “Experimental Narrative” theme. Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul presents Syndromes and a Century tonight, and the following days will feature films by Amie Siegel, Chris Sullivan, and Andy Warhol. If you can’t make Colorado, you can still tune in to Fandor for Jim Shedden’s illuminating documentary portrait Brakhage.
The Los Angeles Filmforum opens a weekend of stalwart American independent (and long expatriated) filmmaker Jon Jost’s films with a screening of Chameleon at the Echo Park Film Center tonight. On Sunday they will present the U.S. premiere of his new film, Swimming in Nebraska. Karina Longworth fills in some of Jost’s back story for The Los Angeles Weekly: “Armed with a $35,000 budget [for Chameleon], Jost again shot on 16 mm, which he had blown up to 35 mm in a Valley porn lab. Chameleon won the top prize at the American Film Festival, which later would become known as Sundance. At that point, as Jost writes on his website, ‘I turned my back on L.A., having had enough exposure in the year to make me 100% sure I wanted nothing to do with the place.’”
Legendary actress Pam Grier is in San Francisco tonight for a double feature of Coffy and Jackie Brown. Cheryl Eddy talks with her about Coffy’s impact for The San Francisco Bay Guardian: “I knew that Coffy was representing the women’s liberation movement. But it was also representing my mother—as we were all trying to survive the Jim Crow era, she was the nurse in our community—and my grandfather, who was the first feminist in my life…He said, ‘Men will respect you when you can do something.’”
Jay and Mark Duplass’s new feature, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, opens this weekend, and the early notices are positive if sometimes lukewarm. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott writes that the film “is a fascinating stylistic experiment, an attempt to bring the scruffy, discursive, lo-fi aesthetic of Mumblecore into some kind of harmony with the genre imperatives of commercial moviemaking…The camera moves with jittery compulsiveness, as though it were attached to the head of a high-strung puppy, but the effect is less irritating, and more expressive, than it was in Cyrus or the Duplass brothers’ Puffy Chair. The frequent zooms—a signature Duplassian tic—are like quiet double-takes, as if the camera were raising its eyebrows in mild amazement at the absurdity of what it sees.” Richard Brody also rhapsodizes those zooms in his blurb for The New Yorker (“spontaneous zooms…turn sudden emotional shifts into a kind of visual music”), while The Stranger’s Paul Constant sees a gender divide at work: “The movie builds to a triumphant climax it doesn’t deserve, a ridiculous deus ex machina that forces all the characters to wind up exactly where they need to be for a happy ending. But there’s a better movie smuggled inside of Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and it stars the female characters.” Make sure to check out Steven Beauregard and Susan Gerhard’s survey of the fraternal filmmaking teams that have made their mark on film history for Fandor’s Keyframe blog.