Friday, December 9, 2016
rambling thoughts on the super cool BRENT GREEN AND SAM GREEN: LIVE CINEMA at Brooklyn Academy of Music
You walk into the Fishman Space at BAM to find before a gigantic screen to in front of which was an an assortment of instruments. There was a bar to one side and rows of couches and comfy chairs all laid out in front of typical risers with chairs in the back. The email that BAM sent out to ticket holders was that the bar would open in the theater half an hour before show time and then be open during the performance and we should feel free to get a drink at any time (Its repeated on the web page).
When filmmakers Brent Green and Sam Green came out the first thing they said was we were to feel free to get a drink at any time. This was a social event with everyone communing and drinks were part of that. They were bothered that the night before no one got up and got a drink because they had fought to get a bar into the theater and they felt it should be used. Drinking and being in the space would help the enjoyment.
And then it started proper and the universe changed...
Actually it began with Sam Green's piece about the last person in the phone book and the examination of the need to be last instantly made you go "oh wow this is something special". It was a simple piece about how people changed their listings in the phone book over decades to get the last place in the book. Seemingly simple but wickedly and deceptively not because it sent your mind going out in all sorts of directions.
The universe changing bit came when they did a piece around a short documentary called CARLIN about Brent Green's aunt. It was kind of like God coming down and doing a spoken word piece with a rock band and animated visuals- and as you're fighting your tears you end up leaping to your feet applauding because you've just seen what could very possibly be the greatest thing you've ever seen in a movie theater...
...and you're terrified that that it can't get better than that...and you're probably right but it doesn't get worse and you're on cloud nine for the next hour and change because what you're seeing is just so fucking cool that you don't know how to react... I mean you can't stop the show and call up every one you know and say come down to BAM because everyone will think you're nuts and it's the middle of the performance... and the rest of the audience will get mad...though odds are they're thinking the same thing...we have to call people and tell them this thing is happening.
Anyway I'm rambling... but Live Cinema will do that to you....
The next piece was Sam's deeply moving piece called 116 CANDLES about being the oldest person alive...Its about a woman who is 115 and her 85 year old niece and its about the course of life and there was such beauty and poetry to it that suddenly you find how you're viewing the world changes...and considering what being the oldest really means and what it takes...lots of love I would think.
There was a new short piece about a house being banged like a drum that lead into EE about Brent's grandfather who was in his words "an asshole" Jagged and pointed and angry much like the lightning which kept striking him it was a good little rock and roll piece.
DRINKING WITH LOUIE was Sam's stellar piece on the audio recordings of Louie Armstrong. Armstrong had a tape recorder and made hundreds of recording of his life his music and the things that interested him. Many-as we hear are personal. This was one of the highlights of the evening with the piece bridging time and space to put you somewhere else in some other time. The only thing comparable is the work of the theater group Complicite whose work like Mnemonic or The Encounter wreck the notion of being in a theater and instead put the audience into a completely new world. It was awesome.
A new short piece following stories about building battleships out of ice gave way to an animated bit about swimming with battle ships. Brent's animation was simply - wow.
Sam's piece on FOG was another awesome piece, The montages of the fog rolling through San Francisco when combined with the music were just hypnotic. and the sort of thing that transported you to another time and another place...and perhaps more than any other film you didn't want it to end
In between the FOG film and the next one Brent was goaded into talking about getting stuck in a revolving door with Mick Jagger...
Everyone then tore into a piece that had something to do with sewing a spacesuit for a dog on a Singer sewing machine in Russia and it just went...off the scales. Don't ask me more than that except that the animation was just awesome. It was stop motion and mixed media and...Yea,wow.
There was a final piece an encore of such about a pet cemetery that was a nice quiet way of bringing everyone back to earth.
The show over the bar remained open and the filmmakers and the band talked to the audience. I should have talked to them but I was overwhelmed, I had nothing constructive to say other than "that was awesome". Nate waded in and spoke to Brent about some of his pieces.
I know to see the films and the pieces outside of this would be different, but here with the band (who was awesome) and the space and the audience and everything they became something more than just a digital file in a computer.
I have no words.
It was something extraordinary. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a "movie" theater ever. It was one of the best theatrical experiences of the year. I desperately want to see it again...and I want to drag everyone I know to see it.
Go while you can- go while lightning is still in the bottle- go see the magic made real and movies once again become a communal and live experience
The last two screenings happen tonight and tomorrow at BAM. For tickets and more information go here.