TALES OF THE FORGOTTEN FUTURE – A 12 Film Series
THE EARLY MASTERPIECE BY ANIMATOR LEWIS KLAHR
First Ever Chicago Screening of the Complete Series!
Unseen in Chicago in Any Form in over 18 Years!
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18 – 8:00pm
AT THE NIGHTINGALE (1084 N. MILWAUKEE AVE.)
After last December’s popular screening of Lewis Klahr’s PICTURE BOOKS FOR ADULTS and THE PHARAOH’S BELT, White Light Cinema is again presenting rarely shown early work by Klahr as a holiday treat.
For its final screening of 2009, White Light Cinema is pleased to present animator Lewis Klahr’s great early Super-8mm film series TALES OF THE FORGOTTEN FUTURE in its first ever complete screening in Chicago and the first screening of the series in any form in over 18 years.
Over the past thirty years, Los Angeles-based filmmaker has created a stunning body of work that easily places him at the forefront of avant-garde artists. Moving from the intimacy of his early Super-8 films to his current digital works (with a long sojourn in 16mm), Klahr has always taken advantage of the particular characteristics of his various media. This appreciation of the textures and looks of each format is not surprising, though—Klahr’s meticulously constructed films (his early found footage collage works and his more well known cut-out animation films) all benefit from his careful attention to small details. From the constant lookout for source material (old magazines, comic books, diverse other printed matter, photographs, and even occasional three-dimensional objects), the selection of those materials for a particular project, and the combinations and juxtapositions of those materials within a film, Klahr exhibits an unerring eye for the telling, resonant, and evocative.
Klahr’s films are works of mystery and wonder. More than any other filmmaker working today they are psychic excavations of our shared mid and late-twentieth century cultural memory.
TALES OF THE FORGOTTEN FUTURE
(1988-1991, 131 mins, total, Super-8mm on video)
Part 1: The Morning Films
Lost Camel Intentions, 1988, 10 mins.
For the Rest of Your Natural Life, 1988, 9 mins.
In the Month of Crickets, 1988, 14 mins.
Part 2: Five O'Clock Worlds
The Organ Minder's Gronkey, 1990, 14 mins.
Hi-Fi Cadets, 1989, 11 mins.
Verdant Sonar, 1989, 2 mins.
Part 3: Mood Opulence
Cartoon Far, 1990, 6 mins.
Yesterdays Glue, 1989, 14 mins.
Elevator Music, 1991, 14 mins.
Part 4: Right Hand Shade
Station Drama, 1990, 14 mins.
Untitled, 1991, 21 mins.
Untitled, 1991, 4 mins.
“An epic cycle created on the tiny, domestic medium of Super-8, the film combines the intimacy of its chosen gauge with the evocative sweep of Freudian dreamwork. It’s a moving collage clipped together out of photos and illustrations from the Atomic Age, reconfigured into a private visual language that speaks of both Klahr’s own childhood and a greater strangeness: how images from another era stand as uncanny evidence for a very different stage of development in the American psyche.” (Light Industry website)
“No one can be called a more thorough or inventive ransacker of the common culture than Klahr; better than an imagined 10-season run of [David] Lynch’s red-herring vaudeville [Twin Peaks], Tales taps into the frustration, strangeness, delirium and dreary vertigo that lurks in the drywall of Middle America’s psychosexual tract house.
The ‘forgotten future’ posited in Klahr’s super-8 jeremiad is, of course, the idyllic America of the post-WWII dream, a future that never actually happened, like those cartoons about the Kitchen of Tomorrow. Indeed,Tales is packed with images of dead fads and faded fashions: obsolete appliances, cheap furniture, garish wallpaper patters, Steve McQueen-ish race cars, industrial futurism, luxurious department stores—all interrelated as if in a museum diorama.” (Michael Atkinson, NY Press, 1993)
"In the age of industrial sound and light, Lewis Klahr makes special-effects movies that are almost insanely artisanal--one man, labor-intensive cut-and-paste animations that are at once crude and poetic, blunt and enigmatic, as funny as they are inventive.
Klahr is even more involved in the reworking of received images than Hollywood is. For the past fifteen years, the 36-year-old New York-based filmmaker has been collaging material foraged mainly from old magazines into brief, evocative, eccentric movies. […]
There's an obsessional quality to all animation, but Klahr compounds it with a collector's fetishism. Diving into a sea of musty magazines, he dredges up all manner of forgotten icons--fashion drawings, watercolor washes of idealized housing tracts--and imbues them with a secret life. (His child's-eye view seems to preclude simple nostalgia.) Klahr's 1988 break-through, In The Month of Crickets, is a masterpiece of populuxe surrealism that, set in a mysterious hotel-cum-department store, manages to coax a remarkable degree of eroticism out of a few suggestive maneuvers and the escalating soundtrack buzz that gives the movie its title.
Klahr tends to cluster his films in cycles. His first series was called Picture Books For Adults; he's recently completed the twelve-film Tales of the Forgotten Future. Its title an apparent reference to that American utopia prophesized by the ads of Klahr's childhood, the 'Tales' cycle is redolent of fallout shelters, jet-ports, and the '64 New York World's Fair. The Organ Minder's Gronkey (1990), which flashes the date '1957' on the screen, is an economical evocation of nuclear paranoia that suggests both the original D.O.A. and Godard's Alphaville. Hi-Fi Cadets (1990), a small classic during which a TV is emblazoned '1960,' boldly appropriates John F. Kennedy, providing his image with a strange form of afterlife. A cutout JFK wanders into a neighborhood tavern and drinks Mr. Boston with the black patrons until he passes out, alone at the bar. Klahr uses both photographs and editorial cartoons of Kennedy and, at one point presents him as the janitor of what seems to be an all-girl high school where the English class is studying Henry IV. The film's ending is sweetly mysterious-accompanied by celestial music, a young woman (student, teacher, Kennedy's date?) blasts off in an outsized coffee cup into a cluttered, Disneyesque vision of the cosmos.
Other 'Tales' are teenage celebrations of fast cars and hot romance. Cartoon Far (1991) is a moodily psychedelic, flashback-and-moire-ridden noir set to the Shangri-Las' 'Past, Present and Future,' a tormented reworking of Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata.'
Klahr's 'Tales' suggests a brief history of the machine age produced at its end. One of the last installments concerns a female aviator; another, untitled, is a generic family history that collages scores of snapshots from the '30s through the '60s: Babies are dandled in kitchens; children celebrate birthdays; bald men and squat heavy-breasted women visit Mount Rushmore or pose self-consciously on the beach. Universal memories proliferate in postcard sites. Yesterday's Glue (1991) arranges fashion models in some sort of space craft and subjects them to various kinds of mechanical sex. (In one daringly organic bit, a viscous drop of fluid appears on one of the photos.)
Elevator Music (1991) is Klahr's X-rated Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a suburban fantasia that makes iconic use of thermostats, high heels, and an outsize box of Jell-O, mixing a photograph with various cutouts and drawings to effect a range of simulated sex acts. Some of the images come from soft-core comix, but what's astonishing is the psychic energy with which Klahr is able to invest them--I mean, after all, they're only pictures." (J. Hoberman, Pemiere, 1992)
Admission: $7.00-10.00 sliding scale