Download A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers PDF

TitleA Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers
PublisherUniversity of California Press
ISBN 139780520058002
CategoryArts - Film
File Size6.7 MB
Total Pages462
Document Text Contents
Page 2

A Critical Cinema 5

Page 231

tic, less realistic for me). I’m something of an archaeologist in reverse: I try
to discover truths in these artifacts by throwing the dirt back on them. I
bury things rather than excavate them. For me found footage has been a way
to unearth lost truths.

In Clepsydra a lot of the material came from an educational film, How
to Tell Time.

MacDonald: I wondered! There are so many clocks—even the merry-go-
round becomes a clock!

Solomon: Exactly! Thank you very much. And the door knobs. When I
looked at the original film, I couldn’t believe how utterly strange it was, es-
pecially in its idea of scale—the little girl and this big clock. So I’m play-
ing with a pack of Freudian cards in that film. For me the inside of the house
is fraught with horrors, and when she leaves the house at the end, it’s like
leaving the House of Usher. What the film is hinting at is an incest trauma;
it’s not direct, but it’s in there.

MacDonald: Is there a waterfall in Clepsydra? I have trouble identifying
some of the imagery.

Solomon: Yes. Boulder Falls. Most of the imagery in that film is bipacked,
sandwiched, with water imagery of some kind. Photographically, I would
put the waterfall over the imagery and then treat it.

MacDonald: Sometimes it looks like spray-painting.

220 A Critical Cinema 5

Dying man (head on pillow) in Phil Solomon’s The Exquisite Hour (1989, 1994).
Courtesy Phil Solomon.

Page 232

Solomon: Some of it is that. Diªerent sprays.
MacDonald: Did you use the same waterfall in Remains to Be Seen?
Solomon: No, that one is Yosemite Falls. In Remains to Be Seen I always

envision the waterfall existing between the surgeon and the patient—a veil
of tears.

MacDonald: There’s another particular image I can’t quite see. The first
image is the girl sleeping, then you pan up and there are these women walk-
ing; it’s the third image I can’t read.

Solomon: The first image is actually a young boy sleeping—the boy who
gets on the bus at the end of the film. The image you’re referring to is a per-
sonal one; it’s the person to whom the film is addressed. Actually, I’ve won-
dered whether that image might have been an artistic error in the work. It
also reappears in reverse as the penultimate image. The camera zooms in at
the beginning and zooms out at the end. We’re looking at someone I had a
relationship with at the time, an incest victim. She’s sleeping, and there are
venetian blind shadows on her face. It does seem diªerent from the rest of
the material in that film, and it has always felt a bit outside the main body
of the film and too specifically referential.

MacDonald: Walking Distance strikes me as a kind of nightmare piece,
maybe even a Holocaust piece, a visualization of hell.

Solomon: Absolutely, but let me go back a bit and talk about the “Twi-
light Psalms” in general.

First of all, the apocalyptic theme seems to run throughout my work—
from the end of Nocturne to the last shot in Remains to Be Seen to the dust
storm in The Exquisite Hour. In Remains there’s the cosmic flare wiping out
the two characters on the beach. The Secret Garden sometimes looks like a
deluge or cities on fire—the end of the world is how I thought of it. I don’t
know exactly where this tendency in me and in my work comes from, ex-
cept that I used to have recurring tidal wave dreams where I would be on
the beach and would see the wave coming and I’d be running from it.

MacDonald: I had my version of that dream.
Solomon: To this day I’ve never seen it rendered on film, except, I must

say, in The Perfect Storm [2000], which had flaws, though that digital wave
came very close to my dream wave. I know the dream comes from when I
was a kid at Asbury Park, and a neighbor kid pushed me into the ocean as
a joke. I thought I was going to drown.

But I’ve always been drawn to apocalyptic visions in general: the paint-
ings of Bosch, certain kinds of horror film. So when I got to optical print-
ing, it was a natural impulse to move toward the fantastic, the horrific. When
my parents became ill and died three years apart, that became a dominant
subject in my work for a long time. I think cinema is particularly adept at
invoking loss. Cinema is like a séance: you can conjure up spirits, reawaken
the dead.

Phil Solomon 221

Page 461

A Trip down Market Street before the Fire,

Triste, 78, 79, 83, 87, 92–93, 94, 96, 99, 100,

Troggs, 114
Truªaut, François, 143, 317
Trumbull, Leslie, 367
Tucson Film Festival, 231
Tudor, David, 58
Turner, Lana, 283, 290–91
23rd Psalm Branch, 227
Twice a Man, 80, 81
“Twilight Psalms” series (Solomon), 200,

221–23, 224, 226–27
The Twilight Zone (television show), 222
2001: A Space Odyssey, 219
typewriter motif, 167, 169

Unabomber’s “Manifesto,” 116
The Unanswered Question (Ives), 120
Under Capricorn, 300
United Artists Theater (Los Angeles), 52
University of California, Berkeley, 182–83
University of California, San Diego, 341
University of Iowa, 262
University of Oklahoma, 144, 156–58
University of Pittsburgh, 116
Unsere Afrikareise (Our Trip to Africa),

Untitled: Part One, 1981, 391
Used Innocence, 231, 237
Utah, 229, 235–36, 237–39
Utopia, 230, 241–42, 252

Vacancy, 282, 283–84, 298
El Valley Centro, 9, 230, 242–44, 244, 247,

249, 250, 252
Valse Triste, 94, 218, 294–95
Van Meter, Ben, 45
Varda, Agnes, 327
Variations, 78, 80, 87, 93, 95–96, 96, 97, 99,

101, 102
Vase, 352
Verite Opera, 118
Vertigo, 394
Vertov, Dziga, 87, 101, 180, 393
video: Ernie Gehr on, 402–3; Matthias

Müller on, 308; Leighton Pierce’s tran-
sition to, 258–59, 260; preservative func-
tion of, 253–54; versus 16mm, 274–76

450 Index

Vienna Film Festival, 301
Vietnam War, 45
Vietnam War Memorial (Washington,

D.C.), 229
Views from the Avant-Garde (New York

Film Festival), 230–31
Vigil, Carmen, 156
Villa d’Este gardens (Tivoli, Italy), 27–28,

Village Voice (periodical), 362, 379
Le Villi (Puccini), 32
Vinton, Bobby, 116
Viola, Bill, 180
Viper Festival (Switzerland), 356
Viridiana, 115, 137–38
Virilio, Paul, 138
Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde

(Sitney), 7, 29, 73
The Vision Machine (Virilio), 138
the vision machine, 114, 115, 122, 137–38
The Visitation, 78
Vivaldi, 19, 30
Vogel, Amos, 5, 12, 30, 34, 41, 143
Vorkapich, Slavko, 170
Voslakov, Natalka, 117, 118

Wait, 308, 359, 365–67, 368, 379
Walden (film), 181, 279
Walden (Thoreau), 78, 264
Walking Distance, 200, 221, 222–23, 224,

Walter Reade Theater (Lincoln Center),

10, 100
The War Game, 174
Warhol, Andy, 115, 116, 121, 126–27, 143,

284, 315, 328
Water and Power, 264
water politics, 250
Waters, John, 11, 21, 124
Water Seeking Its Level, 274, 275, 278, 280
Waterworx (A Clear Day and No Memo-

ries), 283
Watkins, Carleton, 247
Watkins, Peter, 12, 174
Watson, Jessica, 140
Waugh, Peter, 302
A Wave (Ashbery), 208
Wavelength, 9, 158, 170, 207, 216, 253, 261,

315, 351, 356
We Are Going Home, 345

Page 462

Weather Diaries (Kuchar), 126, 130
Webern, Anton, 66, 106
Weegee (Arthur Fellig), 41
Weegee’s New York, 41, 170
Wees, William C., 113
Wegman, William, 120
Weine, Robert, 18
Welles, Orson, 173
Wells, Peter, 51
Wenders, Wim, 202
Werckmeister harmóniák, 335
Wetherell, Richard, 229–30, 240
Weyden, Rogier van der, 92
Whale, James, 22
What!, 136
What Happened to Kerouac?, 103
What’s Out Tonight Is Lost, 208–9
Where Time Is a River, 103
The Whip and the Flesh, 136
White Heart, 97
Whiteman, Paul, 70
White Tablecloth, 349, 355, 357
Whitman, Walt, 8
Whitney, James, 7, 19
Whitney, John, 7, 19
Whitney Biennial, 169, 277
Whitney Museum (New York), 113–14
Who Has Been Rocking My Dream Boat?,

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? (Albee),

Why Don’t You Love Me? (segment of

Phoenix Tapes), 295, 300
Wide Angle (periodical), 387
Wieland, Joyce, 116, 402
Wild Night in El Reno, 130
“Wild Thing” (song), 114
Williams, Terry Tempest, 264
Williams, William Carlos, 215

Index 451

Wilson, Robert, 203, 222
Window Water Baby Moving, 81, 143, 170,

Wind Variations, 401
Winterburn, Ted, 159
Wishman, Doris, 114
Wit and Its Relationship to the Unconscious

(Freud), 138
The Wizard of Oz, 211
Wolfe, Tom, 44
Wollen, Peter, 255
Wood, 278
Woodberry, Billy, 240
Woodward, Joanne, 176–77
The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the

Quest for Holiness in Early Christian
Monasticism (Burton-Christie), 91

Word Movie/Fluxfilm, 73
Workman, Chuck, 13, 281, 282
Workprint, 157
Works and Days, 155
Wulf, Reinhard, 230
Wyborny, Klaus, 200

Yalkut, Jud, 116, 120
Yastzremski, Carl, 188
Yosemite motif, 247, 249
You Can Drive the Big Rigs, 268, 270
You Can’t Go Home Again, 202
Young, Bob, 103
Young, Brigham, 238
Young, Gig, 222
Young, La Monte, 55, 58, 64, 71, 73–74, 76, 95
Youngblood, Gene, 7

Zazeela, Marian, 55, 58, 61, 64
Zedd, Nick, 124
Zen Buddhism, 6, 266–68
Zorns Lemma, 155, 170, 171

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