Sunday, February 04, 2007

Kuchar Bros.

I made my way to the Millenium Film Workshop for the first time tonight, and if you claim to love film, you need to stop by. A cathedral for DIY filmmakers for over 30 years, the Workshop offers classes, equipment, and screenings to cinema-mad New Yorkers on a budget.

Tonight I saw new works from the Kuchar Bros., Mike and George, two avant-icons who have been perfecting their camp aesthetic since the Workshop opened. Let's say straight up I prefer George to Mike. George's films, recently at least, are diaristic, showing him taking care of his aged mother, attending film festivals to receive twinkling awards, and taking glorious dumps.

But back to the workshop for a second. The theater is housed in what looks like an old high-school gymnaisum, with the pleather seats raked up a slight incline on a red-painted wooden foundation. I would've been content just to sit there and absorb the various creaks and hums of the old building in place of the films. The place reeks of cinephilia - the folks who screen here and work here do it for love - as there's clearly no monetary recompense. It's a liberating feeling, really.

Anyway, the highlight of the evening was Temple of Torment, George's mash-up of voyuerism, Mother Angelica, Spanish soap operas, and a visit to take care of his mom and other old friends of his. It's alternately painful and hilarious, alternately dressing his skeletal mother to go outside, and choosing between reading the Talmud and watching the gay porn Beefcake DVD (he goes for the Talmud). Only a man with great reserves of love could so off-handedly speak of releasing the breaks of his Mom's wheelchair and let her roll onto the highway. We never believe him because of the tenderness with which he treats her - the humor is so clearly a protective mechanism it becomes even more moving - while still retaining its hilarity.

Mike was on hand to introduce his films, campy epics of nude young men, bewigged prophets, and sentimental odes to joy. His peak was with Lady Fortescue's Nephew. A 12 minute film inspired by the perfumed Victorian curiosity he found at a used bookstore, which held flowery prose on one side and an elaborate nature still life on the other, it's a simple melodrama of a lost boy and writers' blocked aunt, redeemed by the scent of flowers and the rejuvenating power of youth. Lots of superimpositions. I call it fun.

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Blogger tintarchive said...

I've never seen any Mike but I'll do whatever I can to catch some George goodness and that's for sure. You're lucky to have a place like that! I hope all is well, of course!

8:52 PM  

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