May 14, 2009

PODCAST: Ken Jacobs

DISCLAIMER: Ken Jacobs' short film The Whirled (1956-63) will appear as a non-exclusive bonus feature on Benten Films' upcoming DVD release of Azazel Jacobs' The GoodTimesKid.

ANAGLYPH TOM auteur Ken Jacobs

From the official Anthology synopsis on avant-garde pioneer Ken Jacobs' new feature Anaglyph Tom (Tom with Puffy Cheeks):

In 1969, Ken Jacobs broke new cinematic ground with Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son, a feature-length work produced by re-photographing a 16mm film print of a 1905 Edison short. In that now classic film, Jacobs zooms into the image, exposing the inner workings, minor movements, background actors and bustling energy contained in the antiquated celluloid frames. Added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2007, and included since 1970 in Anthology’s "Essential Cinema" repertory collection, Tom, Tom is an acknowledged masterpiece of structuralist and found-footage cinema, and has had a major impact on multiple generations of moving image artists and aficionados.

40 years later, and now camera-free, Jacobs revisits the original Edison footage with entirely new digital tools in hand. Anaglyph Tom is a state-of-the-art, delightfully disorienting 3D take on a very old subject. Rather than delving deeply into the image it brings the image off the screen to the viewer, presenting the ancient actors and antics in vibrant close-ups that literally dance in mid-air when watched with 3D glasses. Interweaving up-to-date footage of our current economic downfall into these timeless diversions, Jacobs crafts utterly mesmerizing manipulations throughout, pushing the limits of his software and our notions of the cinema.

On a perfect spring day in New York, I met Jacobs at the door of his Tribeca home (otherwise known as the set of son Aza's most recent feature Momma Man), then strolled to a nearby park to shoot the breeze* about the space between 2D and 3D, why he and his wife only watch TV on an 11" Amiga monitor, his thoughts on seeing Moonstruck for the first time, and how he plans to get back at his son for putting his parents in a movie.

* Speaking of breezes, I apologize for the sometimes jarring wind noise, though it might be appropriate for an auteur whose work has had its share of dissonance. From now on, I'll only record these indoors.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Anaglyph Tom begins its New York theatrical premiere tomorrow at Anthology Film Archives. For showtimes and more info, click here.

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Posted by ahillis at May 14, 2009 7:38 PM