Films in ‘Ken Jacobs focus’
The WhirledKen Jacobs IFFR 2004 19′
Featuring Jack Smith 1. Saturday Afternoon Blood Sacrifice (1956) 2. Little Cobra Dance (1956) 3. Hunch Your Back (1963) 4. Death Of P'Town The first two shorts were shot around Jack's loft on Reade Street on two 100' rolls (Sunday morning, following Saturday's sacrifice, I saw there was another 50' left) in an impromptu way very different from my initial fastidious art-film approach. I would never be an art-film true-believer again. In 1963 a snatch of Saturday Afternoon....was shown on TV when I was somehow invited to participate in a TV quiz program called Hunch Your Back. (Back Your Hunch?) After years of shooting my raging epic Star Spangled To Death starring Jack as The Spirit Not of Life But of Living, and after a few months of being on the outs with each other, we got together for one last stab at friendship and at another film in Provincetown, Summer 1961. --K.J.
Blonde CobraKen Jacobs IFFR 2004 33′
* Images gathered by Bob Fleischner, sound-film composed by Ken Jacobs. "Jack says I made the film too heavy. It was his and Bob's intention to create light monster-movie comedy. Two comedies, actually, two separate stories that were being shot simultaneously until they had a falling-out over who should pay for the raw stock destroyed in a fire started when Jack's cat knocked over a candle; Jack claimed it was an act of God. In the winter of `59 Bob showed me the footage. Having no idea of the original story plans I was able to view the material not as the fragments of a failure, of two failures, but as the makings of a new entirety. Bob gave over the footage to me and with it the freedom to develop it as I saw fit. I think it was in late 1960 that Jack and I ignored our personal animosities long enough to record his words and songs for the sound track. The phrases he repeated into the tape recorder were mostly ones I'd at some time heard him say; most were pet phrases he loved to recite, over and over, his lessons. A very few I made up in his style. The procedure for recording his monologues and songs: I played him selections from my 78 collection, music from the `20's and `30's, sometimes only the beginning of a record and if he liked it would restart the record and immediately record. I don't think there was a second take of anything. Any lack of clarity is due to the very second-rate equipment, third-rate, fourth-rate, we were using. I play the harp for the Madame Nescience monologue. Jack supplied the Arabic music, there's also some SAFARI IN HIFI; a Villa-Lobos string quartet speeded up; a haunting section of a children's 45... `Baby Wants To Sleep". A small amount of my own previous shooting was cut into the film, the short `drowning in nescience' color sequence near the beginning. BLONDE COBRA is an erratic narrative -no, not really a narrative, it's only stretched out in time for convenience of delivery. It's a look in on an exploding life, on a man of imagination suffering pre-fashionable lower East Side deprivation and consumed with American 1950's, 40's, 30s disgust. Silly, self-pitying, guilt-strictured and yet triumphing-on one level-over the situation with style, because he's unapologetically gifted, has a genius for courage, knows that a state of indignity can serve to show his character in sharpest relief. He carries on, states his presence for what it is. Does all he can to draw out our condemnation, testing our love for its limits,....enticing us into an absurd moral posture the better to dismiss us with a regal `screw-off'." -K.J.
Perfect FilmKen Jacobs IFFR 2004 21′
TV newscast discards from 1965 relating to the assassination of Malcom X, out-takes of history reprinted as found in a Canal Street bin (with the exception of boosting volume second half) selling for the cost of the used film-reel ($5).
Disorient ExpressKen Jacobs IFFR 2004 30′