George Kuchar films at The Bridge, Grits & Gravy at the Box

January 19th, 2012 · 2 Comments · By

Here’s an event that was only announced a few days ago, but it’s definitely one of the things around town that I’m most excited about; a screening of George Kuchar films at The Bridge!

George Kuchar is a legend among filmmakers, for his groundbreaking aesthetic sensibilities, his bizarre sense of humor, his irrepressible charm, and and his prolific output. He began making films as a teenager in Brooklyn the Bronx in the late 50’s with his twin brother Mike, shoddy 8mm would-be epics; they continued their work consistently throughout the 60’s and 70’s, reveling in trash culture and Hollywood excess, and trying to replicate that same glamor and glory with zero budgets in clearly hand-made productions starring themselves and their often vain or untalented and unprofessional friends. Their work — George’s in particular, as he was definitely the most prolific and irrepressibly gregarious of the two brothers — is widely considered to be the birth of the whole idea of “camp” or “kitsch” culture, and their films have been cited as a crucial influence on generations of iconic artists; the ones that get mentioned the most often are Andy Warhol and John Waters.

Those comparisons definitely valid ones, but it’s also important to note that their movies have none of Warhol’s aloof sarcasm and little of Waters’ vulgar pranksterism — although the Kuchar’s films do involve off-color humor and scatological interests more often than not. But for all of the excess, mayhem, and sometimes-deliberate “bad”ness, their films never feel cruel or even mischievous; they’re also charmingly honest and straightforward. There’s an inherent charm and honesty to them, and it’s incredibly inspiring and fun to watch.

I was lucky enough to meet each of the Kuchar Brothers a number of times, and they were an absolute joy to be around, too; (most recently during the 2008 Film Festival, when I helped screen some of their films at the McCormick observatory — George arrived with all of his 16m reels wound tails-out, so while Jeanne Liotta and I rewound them, George and Mike regaled their audience with their respective UFO abduction anecdotes). They were two gruff, no-nonsense working-class New Yaawk dudes whose inner hysterical queens came out through their work, and it was pretty much impossible to meet them and not adore them. Mike is still alive and involved in the film world in New York City, and has recently begun making working again after many years of dormancy; George remained a prolific teacher and video diarist right up until his death late last year.

If you’re already familiar with the Kuchars, surely you know how fun and great their work is; if not, tonight’s a great chance to catch up, especially since The Bridge will be screening a nice selection of George’s classic 16mm work from the 60’s and 70’s. Also, it’s important to note that, in classic Bridge PAI promotional fashion (due to “a scheduling snafu of the first order“), there has been a wealth of disinformation about the time and location of this show; rest assured that it is most certainly happening at The Bridge (not at the Pink Warehouse) and that it is happening at 9pm (rather than the earlier-reported time of 7:00). Jordan says: “The running time is just over an hour so it shouldn’t go too much past 10:15.” They’ll be asking for a $5 donation at the door.

Afterwards, you’ll be feeling irrepressible, joyous, and ready to dance, so head over to The Box to catch Colin and Robin at the Grits & Gravy Soul & Funk Revue; Colin’s poster for this month is below.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Jan 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    because it’s too good not to quote here in full, here’s the full text for the Kuchar films, featuring George’s inimitable descriptions:

    —–

    “When you decide to make movies, you are entering the realm of conjurers, alchemists, psychics and just plain voodoo! “
    — George Kuchar, Reflections from a Cinematic Cesspool

    The Bridge presents a film event to commemorate last year’s passing of the cinematic underground legend George Kuchar. Widely hailed as one of the wellsprings of sleeze and schlock, Kuchar has been praised by John Waters as a mentor. In the introduction to Relfections from a Cinematic Cesspool, Waters writes of George and his brother Mike: “They didn’t want to cross over. They still make funny, sexy, insanely optimistic films and videos every day of their lives and nobody tells them what to do or how to make it more ‘commercial.’ The Kuchars may be the only real underground filmmakers left working in America today.”

    6 Short Films from 3 Different Decades ::: $5 Suggested Donation
    9 PM @ The Bridge

    THE FILMS:

    _____ I, An Actress (1977) 9 mins. ___________

    Kuchar’s screen test that documents the last 9 minutes of class

    _____ Back to Nature (1976) 10 mins. ___________

    Scenes for this film were shot in Death Valley and Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park. It’s a love story of betrayal, a search for happiness, fulfillment and misery among nature’s grandeur.

    _____ Asphalt Ribbon (1977) 19 mins ___________

    Adapted from a pamphlet of “sentimental essays”. This film uses original text from the book, cuts it with sex, violence, rock n’ roll, an actor driving a fake truck, and footage of actual trucks. The story is an ode to American truck drivers.

    _____ Nocturne (1968) 10 mins. ____________

    The rising moon is the main theme in this short movie of three people and an animal going about their nocturnal rituals.

    _____ Leisure (1966) 10 mins. ________

    A dramatized social commentary with the horrifying impact of a three-hundred ton chunk of margarine.

    _____ Motel Capri (1986) 18 mins. _____

    Mother Superior commits murder to save a soul from eternal damnation. Joyce Wieland, the Canadian artist and film maker is featured here as the mother superior. She was reading her lines in the Marlon Brando technique (they were pasted onto the face of her student co-star).

  • 2 Carianne // Jan 19, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I am looking forward to this a lot. ***They grew up in da Bronx.