Lightscapes: New Films From the Avant-Garde | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Lightscapes: New Films From the Avant-Garde 

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These superb films share a poetry of small differences, a vision in which a tiny scratch can have as much beauty as the sea. In Moilsome Toilsome, Stan Brakhage characteristically transforms foam on water into almost pure white light; when he intercuts a blank image with just a hint of blue gray, it's surprisingly powerful. Twilight Psalm II: Walking Distance comes closest to the spectacular; Phil Solomon makes faces and figures (some from commercial TV) seem like three-dimensional images of molten metal, at once monumental and utterly pliable. In Fred Worden's abstract Automatic Writing flickering shapes sometimes suggest glyphs; his austere black and white focuses one's attention on their rhythms. Jeanne Liotta's Muktikara is a series of long, quiet views of a pond; the title translates as "gentle gazing brings liberation," and the steadiness of her gaze amplifies the subtle alterations in her camera angle or the surface of the water. In Filter Beds, Guy Sherwin shifts the focus to reveal tree branches, airplanes gliding across the sky, and the moon, embracing the idea that informs the entire program: that the eye's ability to isolate and intensify small parts of any scene can bring revelations. Also showing: Brakhage's hand-painted The Dark Tower. 66 min. Presented by Chicago Filmmakers. Columbia College Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan, Friday, May 19, 8:00, 312-293-1447.

--Fred Camper

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