Monthly Archives: July 1983

Robert Breer [from FILM: THE FRONT LINE 1983]

Another chapter from Film: The Front Line 1983. I can happily record that a good many of Breer’s films are available online, especially on YouTube. So even though he died last August and he remains flagrantly under-represented on DVD (although an excellent collection of 11 of his shorts, Recreation, was released some time ago on VHS, by Re:Voir in Paris), his art remains visible in some form, and Anthology Film Archives has prints of all or most of his works in 35mm. But I’m sorry I haven’t been able to find any online illustrations for my discussion of his film 77. — J.R.

All the major recent films of Robert Breer, an American who spent a crucial decade in Paris (1959-1969), are available in this country. But considering the fact that they’re independent animation, and that Breer is a one-man industry and not a Hollywood studio, they might as well be on the moon. They clearly inhabit a ghetto even more confining than that of the “foreign film,” because most critics lack an apparatus for dealing with them; hence, they find it easier to pretend that these works don’t exist. As uncontroversial as it might appear to be in most contexts, it is probably not irrelevant to note that when one of Breer’s most recent films, the characteristically brilliant Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons (1980) was screened at a New York Film Festival press show in 1982, it was rudely and audibly (if inexplicably) hissed. … Read more »

Leslie Thornton [from FILM: THE FRONT LINE 1983]

A chapter from my book Film: The Front Line 1983. Apart from integrating a footnote into the main body of the text and eliminating a long out-of-date filmography, I’ve kept this text pretty much as I wrote it.

Adynata exists on both film and DVD, but, discounting unofficial/pirated/underground sources, seems available, alas, only at institutional prices (from Women Make Movies and Electronic Arts Intermix — the latter of which also distributes X-Tracts and Jennifer, Where Are You?, both on video, along with Thornton’s subsequent works, 21 titles in all). One can, however, access her radically different and recent Novel City (2008), about seven minutes long, which draws on a few of Adynata‘s sounds and images and adds several others, here. — J.R.

X-Tracts (1975) and Adynata (1983) have one very interesting and crucial aspect in common: they are montage films structured around the possibility ofan auto-critique, the activity of reading one’s self. The fact that Thornton performs this work in X-Tracts is what gives the film interest; the fact that we are able to perform this work in relation to Adynata is what gives it an even greater interest and importance.… Read more »