16mm, color, 90 min
Keywords: Political / Social Activism
An essay film making for a kind of State of the Nation address, from the perspective of someone other than the President of the United States. This film addresses both the political and cultural situation of the US at the height of the Viet Nam war, Watergate and its aftermath, and likewise addresses the personal life, in this context, of the filmmaker.
"I can think of no other film like it. As a radical critique of American in the early 70's it is as essential a document, in a way, as the collectively made Winter Soldier... although the experiences it bears witness to are distinctly different (Jost was imprisoned in Federal custody from March 1965 through June 1967 for draft resistance.)" -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Comment
"Far and away the most inspired feature by the tenacious US independent Jon Jost, Speaking Directly is a reflexive film about Jost's attempt to make a reflexive film during the Vietnam War. Despite its importance, the movie has surfaced here only rarely during the decade since it was made." -- Jim Hoberman, Village Voice
"In the history of the American avant-garde, Speaking Directly stands as a remarkable achievement: between the currents of pure cinema and "committed" documentary/fiction, it asserts a deliberate primitivism, a return to the ideological roots of American radicalism. As such, it also bears comparison with Godard's Le Gai Savoir, another discourse on method which refuses to take for granted what we think we know." Ian Christie, Sight and Sound
16mm Rental: $250.00
16mm, color, 76 min
Keywords: Comedy, Films about Film, Media
A mixed detective fiction and essay about Los Angeles, Hollywood and the film industry, Angel City is a comedy with serious intentions.
"Jost's outsider is Frank Goya, a guy with a red shirt, a far-fucking-out-in-the-morning-man delivery, and a fist full of Polaroid snapshots. Ever-cool Goya peers into the camera, announces that he's a motel-haunting divorce-dick and from then on Angel City is kabuki Raymond Chandler. Hired by the chairman of the world's largest multi-national conglomerate to investigate the death of his wife (a former Plaything centerfold who only "came after you hit her") Goya drives around LA, interviews a bartender, is seduced by the chairman's mistress, solves the case, and gets beat up for his bother." -- Hoberman, Village Voice
"Rarely has the city been used to such effect as in Angel City, a 1976 film made by the 34 year old experimental filmmaker Jon Jost. Jost woks light-years away from the movie mainstream but he clearly knows the Hollywood standards which he mocks so mercilessly in this brightly funny and extremely inventive film made for a phenomenal $6,000." -- Martha DuBose, Sydney Morning Herald
"A really joyous endeavor, a blithe attempt to trash on some of our most revered institutions. As such it combines the best and sometimes the worst of Godardian political analysis, bourgeois detective stories, Sixties mind-funk, and an homage to Hollywood. It's weird, smart-ass, and totally irreverent. It's also one of the best $6,000 investments I can possibly think of, an is proof positive that some of our most exciting cinema is being put together by the people in the streets, not in the Bel Air mansions where the Hollywood honchos live. Thank God for Jon Jost and his ilk, because they're keeping the art of cinema alive and well." -- Philadelphia Drummer
16mm Rental: $200.00
16mm, color, 74 min
Keywords: Films about Film, Media, Literature & Theater
An essay-film on language and theater, on human communication -- intellectual in content, but purely poetic in terms of form: image, sound, language, cinema. STAGEFRIGHT, with the exception of one shot, was all filmed in a small puppet theater space, actors against black.
"The key questions (of alternative cinema) were posed by Jon Jost's superb STAGEFRIGHT -- a dramatic meditation on cinema, theater, performance and politics which was too complex and too rich for one screening to be satisfactory. The ending gave the most devastating example I have ever seen to cinema's power to jolt and audience out of its complacency. Extraordinary!" -- Meaghan Morris, Sydney Financial Times
"... One of the most powerful and shocking eruptions of violence I've ever seen in a film. Like the killed rabbit in LAST CHANTS, it both gratifies our desires for meaning and action and shows the resultant blood on one's hands in the process. As long as Jost goes on making more films just as truthful, I don't expect him to win any popularity contests." -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Comment Festivals: London, Sydney, Melbourne
16mm Rental: $200.00
16mm, color, 93 min
SLOW MOVES is a bluesy lyrical romance of two ugly-ducklings who meet on the Golden Gate Bridge and after a brief and awkward courtship, live together with the usual problems of money and work, take flight to an illusory freedom on the road, and dances inexorably to a drab doom. At once funny, grubby, beautiful, lyrical, tragic and sad.
"... it is quite serious about demonstrating how the simplest of plots can be visually manipulated into a vehicle of tension and suspense. Technique is layered upon technique, all the while pushing the story forward to its shabby and oddly affecting little conclusion. SLOW MOVES deserves all the exposure it can get." -- John J. O'Conner, New York Times
"Fascinating, oddly gripping and often visually stunning. It's not unlike a Peter Greenaway mystery translated to the dry dusty heartlands of Malick's Badlands, although here the emphasis is on spiritual paralysis rather than Greenaway's elegant intellectual conceits. Written backwards from its explosive end, the real Slow Moves doesn't actually start until you're leaving the cinema." -- John Gill, Time Out, London
"Jost has a keen camera eye and a marvelously prickly feel for relationships poised between the plain spun and the psychotic. This bumpy California love story between two emotional down-and-outs is teasingly scripted, tightly acted by Marshall Gaddis and Roxanne Rogers and is probably the best value-for-dollar film in London." -- Guardian
16mm Rental: $200.00
16mm, color, 96 min
Keywords: Political / Social Activism
Telling story of a Vietnam vet in Butte Montana whose wife leaves him after seven years when she feels there is no longer communication between them, and more painfully and pointedly, because she is unable to have a child owing to his sterility from exposure to Agent Orange. Told in a gentle style, richly emotional, made with non-professionals drawn from the community of Butte.
"... with a story developed by the filmmaker and cast and completely improvised, the film deals with characters who are neither articulate nor particularly attractive, but pays them the kind of respect and attention that they would never receive from other quarters. Visually Jost's most impressive work to date. The impact of the film's original form of realism arrives only gradually, but once it registers, it becomes indelible." -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Among the ten best of the year. Formally exquisite and politically pointed study of an alienated Vietnam vet against the background of a bankrupted mining town." -- Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune
"Jost discerns emotions that conventional film practice misses. Using nonpro actors he proves his integrity almost too well, surround this desert of inarticulate, tight faces with some of the finest pictorial representations of the working-class West imaginable -- cloud filled skies, cyclone fences, desolate factories, pipelines, old tanks. A packing up scene between Jeff and Cathy and a confrontation with a veteran's counselor are sharp on attitude and language. All this through the intrepid pursuit of a different world and an alternate point of view." -- Armond White, Film Comment
"Jost's method of narrating his tale will not be to every taste, for, though it's visually impressive, not one frame could be confused with commercial cinema. Using real time, Jost links Jeff's story to that of American labor history (in a brilliant sequence), ends with delightful ambiguity, and generally adopts an edgy, improvisatory style that reminds you of toned-down Cassavetes. This slow, quiet, intense film held me in its sway -- it has the power of reality." -- John Powers, LA WEEKLY
16mm Rental: $200.00
Plain Talk and Common Sense (uncommon senses)
16mm, color, 110 min
PLAIN TALK is a complex essay film on the State of the Nation, made for Britain's Channel Four in the year 1986-87. The work involved extensive travel around the United States, and poses an examination of just what America is, or what do we mean when we speak of it. Done in a series of radically different sections which collide with each other in a manner intended to provoke thinking, PLAIN TALK, which was made by an Americans, and intended for American viewers, was indeed broadcast in Britain, but somewhat predictably, not in the USA. Selection for the Whitney Biennale, 1987; shown at Berlin, London, Yamagata, and many other festivals. "No filmmaker could be more in the American grain that Jost, and Uncommon Senses proves to be a stunning experience, a totally original and challenging essay on America." -- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times "Plain Talk and Common Sense is Jost's most successful film yet - a movie of expansive negativity, that putting patriotism under erasure, proposes to represent American and then revels in its inability to do so." -- J Hoberman, Village Voice "Funny, sinister and engrossingly watchable, it's a surprising and accessible success for a director notorious for his low-budget minimalism. And despite his complaint that the words have been hijacked by the loony right, it could only have been made by a patriotic American." -- John Gill, Time Out, London
16mm Rental: $250.00
16mm, color, 100 min
A quiet, very San Francisco comedy of life among a small group of friends. Rembrandt Laughing was improvised over the period of about a month by Jost and his friends, mostly acting non-professionals. Berlin Festival, 1989, Toronto Festival 89. Broadcast WNET Independent Focus "A masterful elliptical account of a little over a year in the lives of a few friends in San Francisco... with a warmth, philosophical depth and overall sense of relaxation new to Jost's work. One of the ten best films of 1989." -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader "Rembrandt Laughing ... a joy, a gem, a tissue paper tracing of epiphanies." -- Amy Taubin, Village Voice
16mm Rental: $250.00
Primaries/ A Turning Point in Lunatic China/ 1,2,3, Four
16mm, color, 35 min
Keywords: political/social activism
A single reel featuring three short works.
"PRIMARIES is a simple film which merely establishes a definition of 'politics'. Its narrative moves in paragraph blocks, with each sentence accompanied by different pictures of a young woman's hands, feet, torso, face… Moving from [this definition]--an all encompassing: To Live Is To Be Political--A TURNING POINT IN LUNATIC CHINA provides a critique of the methods of communication employed by my fellow Leftists. The ritualistic posturing and sloganeering I had used myself and seen in action in Chicago and San Francisco State, the seizing of exotic foreign figures (Mao, Che) and ideological rhetoric (SDS debates on Stalinism)--all struck me as mistaken and useless. Working inversely to the Movement's failure to communicate either to itself or to the public, such devices seemed more a series of theatrical mechanisms for convincing one's self than for converting others... [TURNING POINT] initiates a conscious probing of the means and techniques of mass communication, particularly film. 1, 2, 3, FOUR... delivers a critique from within of the... ideologies... of the 'counter-culture'... [It] provides no answers, but rather it allows the internal dynamics of the 'left' generate its own questions. It ends with the classic leftist inquiry: 'What Is To Be Done?'. Threading between the needs of its audience for some form of 'entertainment' and narrative structure, and the formal requirements of carrying out such an ideological debate, [these shorts] represent for me... a distinct advance over [my] previous films, providing the beginnings, however flawed, of an opening through the curtain of bourgeois concepts and aesthetics." -Jon Jost, "Afterimage: Notes from Practice," Jump Cut 5 (1975): 4-7
16mm Rental: $140
16mm, color, 15 min
Keywords: films about film, political/social activism
"The famous French film director Jean-Luc Godard is interviewed by British film theorist Peter Wollen and the editor of Framework Don Ranveaud. He talks of the developments in his work, the change in style epitomized by his most recent film, Sauve Qui Peut, his work with Francis Ford Coppola and the relations between his previous films and the new one. He also discusses his radical method of scriptwriting and the critical responses to his latest film." -Melbourne International Film Festival
16mm Rental: $60
35mm, color, 90 min
Genre: Narrative, Experimental
"Jon Jost's Chameleon was probably the happiest instance of a mixed marriage at the Festival (Edinburgh 1979): combining a freak, trippy (in fact almost Corman-esque) saga of a dope-dealer and all-round hustler with an abstract distillation of patterns of color and light. The place of the latter in the film is both somewhere within the drug-laced nimbus of its title character, Terry (Bob Glaudini), and somewhere outside its ironic description of the rampant merchandising of all other human activities. In a way, this abstract element almost serves as a secondary narrative, or at least becomes the 'point' of the film. At the beginning, Terry is seen hustling a painter of just such abstract designs to come up with six imitations of another painter which he can unload on the art market. With some 'persuasion', Terry overcomes the painter's reluctance, and at the end of the film returns to collect his merchandise. But the rolls of paper his is given turn out to be blank, and the painter defiantly protests, 'My life is color, form, the shape of things...' before Terry knocks him down and leaves him lying in a pool of spilled colors that returns us to the abstracts which were shown in detail in the opening shots. It is probably not too deterministic a reading to see Jost as the painter and the blank sheets as the conventional movie which he has refused to provide for audience consumption.
But in between, his narrative not only holds together but unfolds through a fascinating succession of moods as Terry drives about LA, moving from appointment to appointment, from role to role. At one point, at the end of a long sequence in which he seems to be renewing a personal acquaintance on a hilltop some way outside the city, he and his companion go into a brief song and dance (I want to be phony, I want to be fake, not real). The unreality of Los Angeles clearly serves as a prime cause, and natural cradle, for the dreaming of cocaine dreams, and through it Jost even makes contact with a literary source... Terry refers to science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick and comments, 'This feller seemed like a casualty straight from his pages.'" - Richard Combs, American Film
35mm Rental: $250.00
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