Experience the experimentals

Movies: Blank screens, gauzy curios and Jesus as a rebel distinguish mesmerizing films from the '60s.

May 21, 1999|By Ann Hornaday and Chris Kaltenbach | Ann Hornaday and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Don't go alone.

Not that there's anything really dangerous about the roster of 1960s experimental films playing tonight and tomorrow at the Charles. But half the fun of seeing these befuddling, sometimes incoherent but always mesmerizing films is arguing with your friends over just what that was up there on the screen.

Why did Harry Smith choose to accompany a collection of his animated shorts with a bunch of old Beatles songs? The result is Rene Magritte meets Terry Gilliam as produced by George Martin, quite a pop-culture mix.

What's the deal with Ken Jacobs' "Blonde Cobra," a film that's nothing but a blank screen with voice-over about one-third of the time? And why do these guys keep talking about necrophilia?

And just what was Jack Smith getting at with "Flaming Creatures," a film that appears as though shot through a gauze bandage? Are these men or women? Are we watching a rape? An orgy? A bad day at the local boarding house?

The real treat here, however, is seeing Kenneth Anger's seminal "Scorpio Rising," a cinematic look at the nature of rebellion, featuring Marlon Brando, James Dean, some outlaw bikers and Jesus Christ. Any filmmaker who, in 1963, had enough imagination to have Jesus and his Apostles walking down the street to the tune of the Crystals' "He's A Rebel" is a force to be reckoned with.

What's afizz with Skizz

Cashiers du Cinemart, the semi-regular cinema 'zine put out by Detroit-based Mike White ("Who Do You Think You're Fooling?") that features the writing of Baltimore filmmaker and microcine-guy Skizz Cyzyk, is now available at Tower Records according to Cyzyk, who has an article about Jon Paisz ("Crime Wave," "Top of the Food Chain") in the current issue. Cyzyk also reports that two songs by his former band, Berserk, can be heard in Troma Films' new movie, "Terror Firmer." The tunes "Giant Robots" and "Inflation" were purchased by Troma just before the horror flick went to Cannes to make its world premiere this week. In another Cyzykian development, "Little Castles," a documentary about Formstone that Cyzyk made with Lillian Bowers, will be shown on MPT Thursday at 10 p.m. as part of the channel's "Independent Eye" series. Don't miss this chance to see a crucial chunk of Baltimore history, shown off to its best advantage!

Mamet adapts Rattigan

Director David Mamet's latest, "The Winslow Boy," will be featured at this weekend's Cinema Sundays at the Charles.

In quite a departure for a writer-director known for his gritty, often-profane renderings of modern life, the G-rated "Winslow" tells the story of an early 20th century British aristocrat whose son is expelled from college. He believes the boy when he says he did nothing wrong, and proceeds to do everything he can to clear his name.

"The Winslow Boy" marks the first time Mamet has directed a screenplay adapted from another source -- in this case Terence Rattigan's 1946 play. Sunday's screening, which begins at 10: 30 a.m., will feature Heather Joslyn of the City Paper as host.

An event of `Beauty'

On Sunday Mary Costa, the voice of Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," will sign hand-painted cels, production drawings and original production art from the 1959 animated classic at the Margaret Smith Gallery in Ellicott City between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Also at the gallery will be silk-screens of countryside scenery from the film, painted by Eyvind Earle. Door prizes will be awarded. The Margaret Smith Gallery is at 8090 Main St. in the historic district of Ellicott City. For more information or to reserve art, call the gallery at 410-461-0870, or 1-888-227-8670.

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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