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The 70s Dimension

Other Cinema recently released on DVD The 70s Dimension, a two-course feast of found footage from the Me decade. The first program, “What the 70s Really Looked Like,” features a shimmering gelatin salad of vintage 1970s television commercials recovered by disc curators Matt McCormick and Morgan Currie from the dumpster of a Portland television station. In the second program, “70s Remix,” a half-dozen media archaeologists and experimental filmmakers shred and re-suture the same commercials (along with other period public-domain materials) to draw out the alienation lying just beneath their color-fast images. As McCormick and Currie write in their liner notes, the commercials represent a moment when “advertising and electronic media were experiencing clumsy growing pains as they were coming to grips with their immense power.” From beer spots to Marine recruitment ads, fumbling attempts at mass manipulation abound. Take, for instance, a plug that employs masterfully subtle imagery and narration to convince housewives that drinking Tab will give them the “shape” that keeps a husband’s mind from wandering, only to blow it with the thudding catch phrase “Be a Mind-Sticker.” Suddenly the image of a lithe, young mother walking through a verdant, soft-focus forest evokes The Stepford Wives more than it does diet soda. The best of the experimental films, We Edit Life by Vicki Bennett and Not Too Much Remember by Tony Gault, do more than point out such awkward ironies. They use them as leaping-off points to reveal, in the media of the past, the dystopias of the future.Other recommended new releases: Divine Intervention (DVD). VHS-DVD: Million Dollar Baby, A Very Long Engagement. DVD: The Adventurers; Alibi; Another Time, Another Place; Arisan! (The Gathering); Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Gift Set; Body; A Breath of Scandal; The Bushido Blade; Confessions of an American Bride; Crown of the Russian Empire or The Elusive Avengers Strike Again; Dawn Anna; Dead Women in Lingerie; Devo — Live 1980; Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Unrated); Doubt; Elephant Walk; Feeding Boys, Ayaya; Guns, Germs, and Steel; Hercules/Hercules II: The Adventures of Hercules; Illegally Yours; I Miss Cast Away . . . and the Island Girls; It Started in Naples; J.S.A.: Joint Security Area; Love at First Bite; The Maigret Collection; MC5 — Kick Out the Jams; Narnia; National Lampoon’s Class Reunion; National Lampoon’s Movie Madness; Night Moves; Le Notti Bianche; The Old Man and the Sea; Paper Chasers; The Rainmaker; Scarecrow; Sealab 2021: Season 3; The Secret Garden; Six Against the Rock; A Slightly Pregnant Man; Soggy Bottom U.S.A.; State of Mind; Stone Pillow; The Story of Marie and Julien; To Catch a King; Wire in the Blood: Complete Seasons One and Two.


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