San Francisco by Anthony Stern


The flip-side of the kitsch London of Smashing Time can be found in this frenetic short made a year later which presents a fragmented view of that other locus of the Paisley Era, San Francisco. Director Anthony Stern avoids the usual longueurs of silent documentary by chopping his footage to bits to create a tour through the city streets that’s as frenzied as the films of Jeff Keen. The bonus is a score by The Pink Floyd (from the days when they still used the definite article) playing an exclusive version of Interstellar Overdrive. That alone makes one wonder why this film hasn’t received more attention over the years.

Stern’s film reminds me of Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), another short work which is frequently as frenzied and also features scenes filmed in San Francisco. In addition, both films feature some ritual business: Stern shows a group of freaks in a psychedelic house with the inevitable naked woman cavorting for the benefit of clothed men; Anger is rather more serious with shots of a full-blown Crowlean ceremony. Anthony Stern today has established himself as a very accomplished glass artist; you can see his glass work here and watch San Francisco here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Smashing Time
Berlin Horse and Marvo Movie
Kenneth Anger on DVD again

Berlin Horse and Marvo Movie


Two experimental films by British filmmakers. Berlin Horse (1970) at Ubuweb is a hypnotic piece of minimalism by Malcolm Le Grice who subjects found footage of exercising horses to a series of loopings and filterings that push the degraded images to a point of textured abstraction. Of note with this film is the equally minimal and repetitive score, a piano loop created by Brian Eno. This was before he gained prominence as a member of Roxy Music but the slight piece of experimentation points the way to his post-Roxy career and his ambient investigations. Berlin Horse is available on DVD from Lux, with a selection of Le Grice’s other shorts.


Marvo Movie (1967) at Europa Film Treasures is a typically frenetic work by Jeff Keen, four minutes of heavily cut-up sound and vision with collage, animation and multiple exposures throughout. Despite the year of its creation, the effect is less psychedelic and more like an amphetamine rush.

Malcolm Le Grice at YouTube
Jeff Keen at YouTube