Eyes at Front

At the 16th Dallas Video Festival, you cannot--and should not--look away

Animation Compilation
Hit but mostly miss, unless you find South Park too slick; never did understand why people spend so much time doing so much to say so little. Some funny bits--Extreme Bible Heroes, in which the prophet Elijah gets God to do his dirty work; Monkey Ninjas, which says it all; and Parking, an angry short from the brilliant Bill Plympton--but few worth savoring (though not all were available at press time). And, of course, theres the prerequisite September 11 piece, in which the World Trade Center fades out during a reading of Emily Dickinsons I Reason. Color me unimpressed. March 23, 1:45 p.m., Video Lounge. (RW)

Chelsea Girls with Andy Warhol
A pass beyond The Factorys velvet rope, Michel Auders documentary (cf. home movie) captures Andy Warhol between fresh celebrity and noxious immortality--meaning, hes just this side of creepy, awkward enough to seem charming and real but distant enough to make you aware of how little there there was to him. Its 1970 and slightly later, and Warhols chatting on the phone with Brigid Berlin (he has no idea hes being recorded till late in the call), visiting with hangers-on at the Whitney (where hes being exhibited for the first time), hanging out with Viva and her newborn daughter Alexandra (whos also Auders kid), spending time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their place. Because its all off-the-cuff--this video, from the Electronic Arts Intermix archives, plays like a home movie, if someones smoking a garbage bags worth of dope in your home--Warhols kinda chatty. He and Berlin talk about Valerie Solanas assassination attempt in 1968; you also see how deathly afraid he is of babies, perhaps because he has no idea where they come from. The whole things fun (after a few drinks, better still), but ultimately a celebration of all things empty and all people vapid--you know, like Warhol and his work. Better this than his movies, easily. March 21, 9 p.m., Horchow Auditorium. (RW)

Cul de Sac
Garrett Scott directs this documentary that, on its surface, is about Shawn Nelson, a 35-year-old Army vet from Clairemont, a suburb of San Diego. Oh, and the fact that, in May 1995, he stole a 60-ton tank from a nearby National Guard Armory and Hulk-smashed his way through surface streets and freeways for almost half an hour, before being shot and killed by police. (Which, no offense, is roughly the same premise as Tank, the 1984 James Garner-C. Thomas Howell-Jenilee Harrison vehicle.) But theres much more than that going on in Cul de Sac; Scott merely uses the pilfered tank to open a window into the world of crystal meth addiction. Juxtaposing police footage of Nelsons spree with General Dynamics industrial films, chamber of commerce propaganda and interviews with Nelsons family and friends, Scott slowly reveals his hand. By the end, its clear that Nelson is only a frame hanging around the directors real picture: how the U.S. militarys ill-conceived introduction of methamphetamines to its troops in the Korean War eventually tore apart Clairemont, turning it from a model of postwar tract-house development into little more than crystal meth commune. Bonus: a running subplot involving a 20-foot mine shaft in Nelsons back yard and the iffy prospect that he actually may have discovered gold there. March 22, 12 p.m., Horchow Auditorium. (ZC)

Cul de Sac it up: Garrett Scott's doc has the same plot as Tank, but with the real-life subplot of how meth killed a town.
Cul de Sac it up: Garrett Scott's doc has the same plot as Tank, but with the real-life subplot of how meth killed a town.
Scott Petersen's Scrabylon reminds us of the King of the Hill episode in which Peggy tries to become Boggle champ. In other words, funny stuff.
Scott Petersen's Scrabylon reminds us of the King of the Hill episode in which Peggy tries to become Boggle champ. In other words, funny stuff.


For ticket information and a complete schedule of films and show times, go to www.videofest.org.
runs March 19 through March 23. Screenings will be held at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, and the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St.

Think of Bill Morrisons film as a beautiful warning, or perhaps as a celebration of times destructive nature; rarely does something so horrific--the decomposition of history--play so wondrously hypnotic. For 70 minutes, in motion so slow its as though the clocks second hand has stopped ticking, we watch decades worth of film suffer decay into dust, which is what happens to nitrate film stock from the moment its dipped into a bath of alcohol and camphor. Most films made before the 60s were captured on nitrate film stock, and sadly thousands and thousands have disappeared despite the best efforts of preservationists; you can stall the march of time, but never cut it off at the pass. Morrison has cut together dozens and dozens of images--a man spinning, camels trudging, volcanoes exploding, geishas walking, boxers punching (against, it seems, a wall of seething decay), butterflies fluttering, lovers embracing--all of which seem to be melting; their images have been overwhelmed by the undulating black-and-white amoebas of rot, or rendered totally unrecognizable altogether. Decasia, which debuted on the Sundance Channel last December and has been written about so often in The New York Times youd think the paper has a piece of it, was scored by Bang on a Cans Michael Gordon, who treats Morrisons film as a work of horror; the music captivates and creeps you out, till at last you succumb to the sheer splendor of such sad scenes (never again will these films be whole). Morrison has preserved (embalmed?) the corpse before it crumbles entirely, and Gordon somehow makes it waltz. March 21, 7:30 p.m., Horchow Auditorium. (RW)

The Films of Martha Colburn
Theyre labeled experimental/avant-garde in the DVF program; yes, and Andre the Giant was big for his age. Dunno what to make of these Super 8 sojourns into freakiness, save that the Baltimore-based Martha Colburn likes tits (empowering, say) and talk (the soundtrack is a clutter of beneath-the-underground punk-rawk feedback and spoken-word backtalk). You might say some of her works animated (Terry Gilliam with Crayolas brandished and vision blurred); you might say its utter friggin nonsense. Me, Id say theres a pervert in the projection booth, which she ought to take as a compliment. March 22, 6 p.m., Video Lounge. (RW)

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