Naked eye

Turn on and tune in to the Dallas Video Festival

March 24, 10 p.m., Video Lounge

Pony Glass Jimmy Olsen, Superman's pal, is gay. Or something -- it's hard to figure just what Lewis Klahr's going for with this cut-out animated "tale" about the cub photographer with red hair, a bow tie, and a hard-on for Perry White. While Frank Sinatra, Paul Robeson, and others croon in the background (there's no dialogue otherwise), Jimmy gets it on with his new girlfriend; the kid strips naked, revealing Superman tattoos all over his chest and arms -- that, and an enormous comic-book erection. But all goes poorly for Jimmy, who can't figure out whether he's straight or gay -- likely, a little bit of both. So he slips on a wig and slips into his editor. I'm just going to assume this is a smart, brilliant, incisive look at gender confusion and pop-culture criticism -- that way, I can convince myself I'm smart and didn't waste 12 minutes I'll never get back. Showing with Klahr's film Calendar the Siamese, a cut-and-paste animated short about a musician who goes to a fortune-teller and thinks about selling his organs on the open market. My mother warned me about "art." (R.W.)

March 25, 9 p.m., Video Cabaret

The Dallas Video Festival is ssssssmokin' ...
The Dallas Video Festival is ssssssmokin' ...
Getting lost on Utopia Parkway
Getting lost on Utopia Parkway

Details

DVD, Don't Look Back, and short films and videos

McKinney Avenue Contemporary
3120 McKinney Ave.

www.videofest.org

1-800-494-8497 1-800-494-8497

March 22 - 26

Kalita Humphreys Theater
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.

Robert Rauschenberg: Inventive Genius Called the "bad boy of art" 50 years ago and compared to Picasso today, native Texan Robert Rauschenberg's life and work are profiled in this hour-long documentary originally produced as part of the American Masters series on PBS. Combining intimate insights into the artist's studio process with historical clips and interviews, the film chronicles Rauschenberg's innovation on the art scene from his early life in Port Arthur to his New York City retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum. (A.M.H.)

March 25, 2 p.m., Video Box

Scanning the Movies: Wizard of Oz Don't see the point to this, unless you're a trivia buff or in need of a warm place to sleep it off. The fest's program blurb promised us that John Pungente was going to "decode" the 1939 film -- which we took to mean he would unlock the secrets to the movie, unleash hidden meanings from behind the Wizard's curtain. No such luck; think A&E meets E! Maybe it's unimpressive because we own the special-edition, warts-and-all DVD, with more bonus material than you can shake a broomstick at; you can't impress us with a rinky-dink "documentary" on how Buddy Ebsen almost ended up as the Tin Man. And it doesn't help that the footage from Oz looks third-rate. We just kept watching and wondering, "Shouldn't copyright law prevent this from happening?" (R.W.)

March 26, 1 p.m., Video Lounge

The Source The notion of sitting through another Beat Generation documentary is about as enticing as trying to find the meaning in Howl; I still insist it's a series of random words strung together, like, randomly. But Chuck Workman, best known for his film-clip montage reels that appear during Academy Award ceremonies (which also air during this time slot), does an awfully wonderful job of convincing me I might be missing the point. His loving Beat film quite literally brings not only the writers to life, but their works as well. Johnny Depp steps into Jack Kerouac's hand-me-downs to read from On the Road; John Turturro slips into Allen Ginsberg's skin to read from Howl; and Dennis Hopper slides under William Burroughs' fedora to read from Naked Lunch. The performances (and they're actually much more than that) are exhilarating, especially when combined with fresh interviews (Gregory Corso is still a mean motherfucker) and archived footage (there, again, is Steve Allen playing square jazzbo to Kerouac's cool-cool daddy). It's as though we're hearing this story for the first time, hearing these words for the first time, feeling them for the first time -- and a more deep-felt compliment I can't offer. (R.W.)

March 26, 5:15 p.m., Videotheque

Too High, Too Wide and Too Long Because, it seems, Texans can't get enough of artist Bob "Daddy-O" Wade. A documentary about his 1995 trip across Texas in his modified Gulfstream (you remember -- that Iguanamobile) to promote his autobiography, this film does provide a pretty nifty survey of Wade's life and career, beginning with his childhood work from the 1950s and '60s through the Texas Mobile Home Museum he took to London in 1977 to the Oak Cliff Four to, yup, those danged ol' Tango frogs. "Texans are really fascinated by critters, all kinds of critters," Wade says by way of explaining his work -- which is as brilliant a summation as I've ever heard. And you can't miss with a film that called Kinky Friedman to the witness stand: When speaking of the giant lizard that once adorned the roof of the Lone Star Cafe in Manhattan, Friedman explains that "the iguana looked how many of us felt at the time." How little things change. (R.W.)

March 25, 3 p.m., Videotheque

Tweaking the Image Compilation In what seems like a truly original idea -- although there may be no such thing -- 2 Spellbound creates a fast-forwarded, special effects-laden version of the entire Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. Superimposed images from the original work and subtle snippets of dialog are mesmerizing, as Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, and Leo G. Carroll spin and sputter across the screen, morphing in and out of one another like human shards in a kaleidoscope. The effect points up the perfect composition of Hitchcock's original and serves to highlight his genius in a remarkably strange way. Target is a silly home movie of a bandaged man cruising through a Target parking lot to the tune of Level 42's "Something About You," combined with graphic insets that belong in a DeVry Institute of Technology infomercial. Up for the best-use-of-surreal-hand-held-slo-mo-in-a-short-film could be Homesteaders, whose opening sequence is avant-garde brilliance. The content and technique keep the viewer equally off-balance throughout the film as a tree-hugging, yard-working alien does his thing. Plenty of distortion helps -- with sub-normal and hyper-normal human voices in the soundtrack. If Rod Serling were alive and in high school with his first camcorder, this is what he'd create. Other titles in this series are Bird Watching, Window Work, and Vocalise. (A.M.H.)

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