Reverence: The Films of Owen Land (Formerly Known as George Landow) 

Monday, Jan 30 2006

Irreverence is more like it. The avant-garde shorts of filmmaker George Landow (who, following “a mysterious territorial dispute in the late 1970s,” changed his name to Owen Land) unleash delirium-inducing assaults on orthodoxy — particularly of the religious and cinematic variety. In the animated The Film That Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter (1968), two sketches of Tibetan deities come to life on their artist’s page, much to his own surprise. No Sir, Orison! (1975) shows a grocery shopper singing an impassioned hymn to the pleasures of supermarkets, then dropping to his knees in prayer in the middle of the canned-goods aisle. And in what may be Land’s/Landow’s most famous/infamous work, Wide Angle Saxon (1975), a moviegoer experiences a spiritual awakening while watching an experimental film at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, while a TV news reporter repeatedly flubs his lines on camera and a Christian evangelist lectures on the subject of Christ’s crucifixion. Devious word games, superimpositions and trompe l’oeil effects abound, all guided by their creator’s ambidextrous grasp of film grammar and his sandpaper-dry wit. Land/Landow was only in his late 20s and early 30s when he crafted these films — today, he is a figure more rumored than known. This series, which has toured the world since its premiere at the 2005 Rotterdam Film Festival, seeks to bring him back. (Filmforum at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd.; Sun., Jan. 29, 8 p.m. www.lafilmforum.org )

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Reach the writer at sfoundas@villagevoice.com

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