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Festival of (In)appropriation: Zack Morris Gets a Blow Job ...

Zack Morris

Against the now undeniable arrival of cinema's digital future, L.A. Filmforum's Festival of (In)appropriation goes surprisingly old-school in its found-footage sources and methods. While oddities like Evan Meaney's image-sound fracturing Ceibas: (we things at play) and Catherine Ross's clever Pfft. Pfft. Pfft. — a montage of mechanical devices complemented by vocal imitations of their attendant Foley effects — delve into cinema's usually unnoticed micro-components, a large portion of the festival's lineup confronts the iconic.

The best among them include Clark Nikolai's mocking space-age/gay-porn mash-up Galactic Docking Company; Wago Kreider's violent Tarnished AngelsDr. Strangelove aviator cutup Suspension of Belief and Kelly Sears' collage narrative of government wiretapping and subconscious eruption as culled from 1950s industrial films. If none of these exactly rewrites the reappropriation rule book, new paths are intriguingly hinted at: L.J. Frezza's Nuke Em, Duke says little about its legendary subject not explored in Millions of Dead Cops' "John Wayne Was a Nazi," but its layering of excerpts from cancer-causing fiasco The Conqueror and real-life combat footage is uniquely eerie, with images literally and figuratively wiping each other out in shape-shifting digital washes.

Appropriate for a reappropriation series, the burden of the past emerges in an unignorable subtheme: the reimagining of the avant-garde canon. Stuart Sandford's Blow Job parodies Warhol's infamous exercise in teasing exhibitionism by looping a suggestive clip of Mark-Paul Gosselaar's smarmy teen dream Zack Morris — the result is cheaply hilarious.

But by far the most ambitious attempt to take on the classics is Jen Proctor's A Movie by Jen Proctor, which relates to the first found-footage epic, Bruce Conner's 1958 A Movie, in the same way Gus Van Sant's Psycho does to Hitchcock's masterpiece. Reflecting the present by updating rather than radically altering the content of Conner's apocalyptic original (Cold War atomic explosions find their equivalent in 9/11), Proctor uses Web video uploads from the Internet to demonstrate how visual media are increasingly transforming our destructive history into a context-free archive that induces nothing less than a numbing, brutalizing eternal present.

THE 2010 FESTIVAL OF (IN)APPROPRIATION | Los Angeles Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre | Sun., Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. | festivalofinappropriation.org


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