Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 7pm
Jennifer Reeves's Chronic + Sadie Benning's Flat Is Beautiful
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Jennifer Reeves, 1996, 16mm, 38 mins
Flat Is Beautiful
Sadie Benning, 1998, video, 50 mins
Loosely based on episodes from the filmmaker’s own life, Jennifer Reeves’s Chronic tells the story of Gretchen, a Midwestern punk teenager institutionalized for her, as Reeves puts it, “so-called mental illness." The film portrays Gretchen’s experiences through a stream of allusive superimpositions, snatches of dialog, songs played off crackling vinyl, and unnerving moments of re-enactment. Almost entirely optically-printed, Chronic revels in the multifarious textures of celluloid through a complex formal repertoire, linking it to depictions of subjective states in the films of Stan Brakhage (one of Chronic's great admirers), but pushing this tradition forward into the age of the medicalized psyche.
Like Chronic, Sadie Benning’s Flat Is Beautiful presents a lushly lo-fi coming-of-age tale, here told from the perspective of Taylor, a 12-year-old latchkey tomboy being raised by a single mom in run-down 1980s Milwaukee. Exteriors appear in grainy Super-8, while interiors are shot in fuzzy Pixelvision, and all actors wear hand-drawn masks throughout; the effect is at once alienating and dreamlike, like memories grown uncertain over time, or the way that children move seamlessly between reality and imagination. Taylor’s life, too, echoes Benning’s own—her artist father, her early stirrings of sexual identity. “You’re not a boy, you’re a girl, stupid.” her friend taunts her over the phone. “No, I’m not,” Taylor answers. “Then what are you?”
Both films are pitch-perfect studies of a particularly downbeat mood of gen-x feminism, works that found new visual languages to articulate the vicissitudes of an 80s adolescence.
Followed by a conversation with Benning and Reeves.
Tickets - $7, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30.