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My Writing on Film                                                                                                                       

There's also a page on this site with my writing on avant-garde film only, with a link to an avant-garde film Web ring.
IMPORTANT: As a freelance writer, I am the copyright owner of all my articles, and they may not be reproduced without my permission.
This page has links to my online writing on film on my own and other Web sites, followed by information on some of my other articles, not available online, that are available for ordering. In most cases, if an article is available in a publication that can be purchased, I won't be putting it online. In addition, I have written hundreds of capsule movie reviews for the Chicago Reader, including many of films by Stan Brakhage and Amos Gitai, and several on Jonas Mekas and Andy Warhol. Some other capsules are accessible from my Favorite Filmmakers Page; the great majority will only show up in a search for specific films or filmmakers.

I'm a co-founder of and a participant in the Internet film discussion group a_film_by, which focuses on "film art, from an auteurist perspective"; I've also created an index of the early posts to this group, and I'm gradually adding links to my own posts.

Please also note: some of the links on my Favorite Filmmakers Page link filmmaker names to capsule reviews not otherwise indexed on this page. There's a long article by me on Stan Brakhage, Brakhage's Contradictions, on his work in general and some of his recent films, especially A Child's Garden and the Serious Sea, The Mammals of Victoria, "..." Reel 2, and "..." Reel 3, in a special issue on Brakhage in Chicago Review, which can also be purchased online. My Brakhage stills page has images from the films discussed in the issue. I have no plans to place this article online.


Writing on Film

General articles on film:

The Anti-Heroic in Recent American Avant-Garde Film, a catalogue essay for the 25 FPS International Experimental Film and Video Festival in 2005 in Zagreb, Croatia. It was written in conjunction with a program I curated, and contains comments on all the filmmakers in the program. This essay can also be read in Croatian translation.
Naming, and Defining, Avant-Garde or Experimental Film (also available in a Spanish translation)
Highway Views, Cinema Views, published in the book AutoBahn und Medien, Vienna, 1995. Also available in German translation.
Review of the 2009 Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival (review title: From Statements on Seeing to Slug Sex), Reader, June 11, 2009. This includes some general comments on the field, updating my article, The End of Avant-Garde Film in Millennium Film Journal, Nos. Nos.16/17/18, 1987.
The Trouble With Video, Spiral, October 1985, reprinted in Release Print, Volume IX, No. 3, April 1986.
Varieties of Documentary, The Brooklyn Rail, March 22, 2011 (and in the print edition in April 2011).

Listed alphabetically by filmmaker, including links to articles on the Chicago Reader Web site:

Aoyama, Shinji: "Beautiful Devastation," on Eureka, Reader, May 4, 2001.
General introduction to Stan Brakhage's work, written for the Criterion DVD, this is my best attempt to introduce Brakhage. (This is also available in a Spanish translation; scroll down.)
Stan Brakhage: A Brief Introduction, also available in a Portuguese translation.
A short biography of Stan Brakhage, commissioned by Criterion for their Web site.
Stan Brakhage: A Short Introduction, Senses of Cinema 26, May-June 2003.
Three Myths About Brakhage, Logos, Spring 2003.
Mothlight and Beyond, on Brakhage's Mothlight and his films in general, La Furia Umana, September 30, 2011.
Brakhage, Stan: Program notes on Stan Brakhage's Arabics, written for a 1997 showing at L. A. Filmforum.
Brakhage, Stan: A Musical Way of Seeing, Reader, April 16, 1993: a review of a program of recent Brakhage films, including comments on Boulder Blues and Pearls and . . ., Untitled: For Marilyn, Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse, Agnus Dei Kinder Synapse, and City Streaming.
Brakhage, Stan: "Glimpses of Greatness: New Films by Stan Brakhage", Reader, September 10, 1999.
Brakhage, Stan: "End Games — Stan Brakhage: New Films," Reader, May 18, 2001.
Brakhage, Stan: A Review of Stan Brakhage's Last Films, originally published in a slightly different version in the Reader, May 16, 2003, under the title Scenes From the Afterlife.
Brakhage, Stan: Program notes for a show I curated for Ithaca College, April 20, 2003, including comments on most of the 12 films, including The Process and The Riddle of Lumen.
Brakhage, Stan: Brakhage Remembered: Trilogy and Dark Night of the Soul, a capsule review, Reader, November 21, 2003.
Brakhage, Stan: Program notes on The Art of Vision, originally written in 1966.
Senses Working Overtime: Remembering Stan Brakhage, Reader, April 18, 2003. This limns Brakhage's years in Chicago through the words of people who knew him, mostly former students who are filmmakers or artists working in other media today, including Mimi Brav, Tom Mapp, Louis Hock, Bill Brand, Rob Danielson, and Nora Jacobson.]
Breer, Robert: "On Visible Strings," Films by Robert Breer, Reader, June 6, 1997.
Canterbury, Kyle: Some Comments on the Video Work of Kyle Canterbury
Chambers, Jack: "The Hart of London,". This is my preferred version, but it also aappeared in a shorter version, Reader, June 23, 2000.
De Toth, Andre: "Harsh Master," Films by Andre de Toth, Reader, October 3, 1997.
Fihman, Guy: An essay on his film Ultrarouge — Infraviolet, from the catalogue Jeune, dure et pure ! Une histoire du cinéma d'avant-garde et expérimental en France (2000).
Frampton, Hollis: Links to a few short capsule reviews and other comments on Frampton's films.
Friedrich, Su: "Daddy's Girl," review of Sink or Swim, Reader, February 8, 1991.
Friedrich, Su: "The Odds of Recovery," capsule review, longer version of the one that appeared in the Reader on March 14, 2003.
Frye, Brian: "Reality in Reverse: Pictures of an Exhibition(ist)," Films by Brian Frye, Reader, September 11, 1998.
Frye, Brian: "Cinema of Possibilities", a review of a program of Frye's films and a program he curated, Reader, June 28, 2002.
Fuller, Samuel: "Blunt Trauma," a review of Fixed Bayonets, Reader, August 20, 2004.
Gehr, Ernie: "Edge City": review of Side/Walk/Shuttle, Reader, February, 1995.
Gehr, Ernie: "View Master": review of three films by Ernie Gehr, Still, Table, and Untitled (1977), Reader, March 3, 2000.
Gehr, Ernie: Informal comments on Gehr's two video installations, MoMA on Wheels and Modern Navigation, originally posted to FrameWorks, July 22, 2002.
Geiser, Janie: "Imitation of Life": review of films by Janie Geiser, Reader, May 26, 2000.
Gitai, Amos: "In Chaos, Truth," on Kippur, Reader, January 5, 2001.
Gitai, Amos: "Face to Face With History," on Berlin-Jerusalem, Reader, July 6, 2001.
Guzmán, Patricio: "Made Whole Again," on The Pinochet Case, Reader, January 10, 2003.
Hellman, Monte: Road to Nowhere, Reader, August 4, 2011.
Hitchcock, Alfred: A "Critic's Choice" on Vertigo, and the 1996 restoration, Reader, October 25, 1996.
Hurley, Frank: "Mother Nature’s Cold Heart," on South (1919), Reader, January 20, 2000.
Jones, Chuck: "The Tao of Bugs: Cartoons by Chuck Jones", Reader, March 2, 2001.
Klahr, Lewis: "American Movies": Engram Sepals (Melodramas 1994-2000), Reader, April 19, 2002.
Lanzmann, Claude: "Shoah's Absence," on Shoah, Motion Picture, Winter/Spring 1987.
Lebrat, Christian, and "Melba" films by Guy Fihman, Pierre Rovère, and Claudine Eizykman: "Immaterial Worlds," Reader, April 21, 2000.
Lipsett, Arthur: Three short articles on his films.
Maclaine, Christopher: "Mad Genius," The Films of Christopher Maclaine, Reader, June 4, 1999.
Markopoulos, Gregory J: "Wrinkles in Time": a review of Twice a Man and Sorrows, Reader, October 3, 2003, plus three capsule reviews.
Minnelli, Vincente:
"Depth Perception": Films by Vincente Minnelli, mostly on The Pirate, Some Came Running, and Home From the Hill, Reader, January 2, 2004.
Mizoguchi, Kenji: "Adventures in Space," on Genroku Chushingura, or The Loyal 47 Ronin, Reader, February 7, 1997.
Mekas, Jonas: Review of He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life, originally published in the Reader under the title, "Seconds of Ecstacy," January 17, 1986, reprinted with my permission in the on-line journal Senses of Cinema.
Preminger, Otto: "Bodies in Motion," on Bonjour Tristesse, Reader, September 24, 1999.
Rossellini, Roberto: "Volcano Girl," on Stromboli, Reader, September 29, 2000.
Rossellini, Roberto: "Europe 51: The Greatest of These," on Europe 51, liner notes for the Criterion Collection DVD set, 2013.
Sirk, Douglas: The Films of Douglas Sirk: The Epistemologist of Despair, Reader, April 14, 2006.
Smith, John: "Pushed to the Limit," Films and videos by John Smith, Reader, September 7, 2001.
Snow, Michael: "Look Closer — What Do You See?," on Snow's To Lavoisier Who Died in the Reign of Terror, Reader, June 4, 1992.
Sokurov, Alexander: "Every Man for Himself," on Confession, Reader, August 16, 2002.
Tati, Jacques: "In and Out of Sync: The Films of Jacques Tati", Reader, February 11, 2010.
Tarr, Bela: "Preserving Disorder," on Werckmeister Harmonies, Reader, December 21, 2001.
To, Johnnie: "The Blood and the Beauty," on Exiled, Reader, Septembrer 7, 2007.
Trainor, Jim: "Nature Calls," on the Films of Jim Trainor, Reader, June 16, 2000.
Walsh, Raoul: "Wide West," on The Big Trail, Reader, June 17, 1988.
Warhol, Andy: "The Lover’s Gaze," on Sleep, Reader, April 28, 2000.
"Obscured Object of Desire", on Poor Little Rich Girl, Reader, July 22, 1994.
Welles, Orson: "Out of the Shadows," on Touch of Evil, Reader, September 18, 1998.
Welsby, Chris: "Blowin' in the Wind," on six of his films, Reader, April 13, 2001.

Other hard-to-classify film articles:

"Sanitized for Our Protection," a review of two films about artists: Brakhage, by Jim Shedden; and Dem Deutschen Volke (English title: Wrapped Reichstag), on the project by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, directed by Jörg Daniel and Wolfram Hissen, Reader, December 3, 1999.

Selected other film articles currently in print (general articles):
The catalogue for Independent Film Show, 2nd edition, includes my and others' comments on the films and filmmakers in the
two programs I curated, and my essay titled Nature, Industry, and Cinema, which is my fullest statement on this topic as of 2002. There are also essays by Bruno Di Marino, Thomas Draschan, and Stefano Masi, and information about the films and filmmakers in all the programs in this six-program series sponsored by E-M Arts. All the texts in the catalogue are in both English and Italian, and it can be purchased for 15 Euros plus shipping from E-M Arts.

A significantly longer version of my review of Jack Chambers's The Hart of London, with more material on the place of this extraordinary film in the avant-garde tradition and on Chambers's art theories, appears in the book The Films of Jack Chambers, edited by Kathryn Elder, under the title The Hart of London: Jack Chambers' Absolute Film. The book also has many valuable articles by others and one of Chambers's own essays.

Brakhage's Contradictions, a long article on his work in general and some of his recent films, especially A Child's Garden and the Serious Sea, The Mammals of Victoria, "..." Reel 2, and "..." Reel 3, appeared in a special issue on Brakhage in Chicago Review (No. 47:4 & 48:1, sSpring 2002)); the issue itself can be purchased online, or ordered now for $8.00 plus $4.00 postage for shipping within the U.S. by sending a check to Subscriptions Manager, CHICAGO REVIEW, 5801 S. Kenwood Ave., Chicago IL 60637.

Material and Immaterial Light: Brakhage and Anger, in First Light, an exhibition catalogue edited by Robert Haller, available for $15.00 (including postage within the U. S.) from Anthology Film Archives. (New York residents must add appropriate sales taxes.)

The Qualities of Eight, on 8mm filmmaking, both an attempt to define its general nature and a discussion of specific films, in Big as Life, the catalogue for the Museum of Modern Art's 1998-1999 8mm show, co-published by them and the San Francisco Cinematheque, and available from the San Francisco Cinematheque. This article has also been translated into Chinese, in a special issue of FAJ magazine on super-8, published in 2001, which can be ordered for $7 (surface mail) and $12.75 (air mail) by money order from: Jady Long; Chinese Taipei Film Archive; 4F, #7, Ching-Tao East Rd; Taipei. Taiwan.

The End of Avant-Garde Film, the article of mine that has perhaps casued the most comment, Millennium Film Journal, Issue No. 16/17/18, (Fall/Winter 1986-87). (A little note: While I think the last decade has seen a number of very strong avant-garde filmmakers emerge, and would not write the same article today, I continue to find that the terms in which it discusses bad filmmaking are applicable to a great many new films.)

Film: The Front Line, a review of Jonathan Rosenbaum's book on avant-garde film, Millennium Film Journal, Issue No. 14/15, (Fall/Winter 1984-85).

Sound and Silence in Narrative and Nonnarrative Cinema, in Film Sound: Theory and Practice, edited by Elisabeth Weis and John Belton
(Columbia University Press, 1985).

Selected other film articles currently in print (alphabetically by filmmaker):
Borzage, Frank: Disputed Passage, in Movies and Methods: An Anthology, edited by Bill Nichols (University of California Press, 1983).

O'Neill, Pat:  Natural Industry: A Review of Pat O'Neill's "Water and Power," in Film Culture 77, Fall 1992, available for $8.00, which includes shipping, from Anthology Film Archives. (New York residents must add appropriate sales taxes.)

Sirk, Douglas: The Films of Douglas Sirk, in Imitation of Life, edited by Lucy Fischer (Rutgers University Press, 1991). Reprinted from Screen, Volume 12, Number 2,  Summer 1971. PLEASE NOTE: This general article on Sirk's films was intended as the first part of a three-part article, the parts of which were meant to be read together. What I had intended as the second part appeared in the same issue of Screen, under the title The Tarnished Angels, and what had been intended as the third part, A Time to Love and a Time to Die, appeared in the book Douglas Sirk, edited by Laura Mulvey and Jon Halliday (Edinburgh Film Festival, 1972).


The Chicago Reader Web site has their film writing. In addition to my reviews listed above, you can find occasional "Critic's Choices" on current films, and some capsule descriptions in the Reader's searchable database. Click on "On Film" from the main page. They also sell back issues from approximately the last year, for 25 cents a copy if you come into the Reader office, or for $3.25 an issue by mail; photocopies of articles from back issues can also be ordered.

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