Another Other Cinema, Now on DVD

Johnny Ray Huston September 20, 2006

Craig Baldwin’s ATA-based Other Cinema has long been a lair for Bay Area eyeballers who want to witness the unusual and think outside the idiot box. Now, Other Cinema has an offshoot, complete with initials — OCD, for Other Cinema Digital — that perfectly suits the obsessive-compulsive qualities encouraged by the DVD format. Want to obsessively revisit special leopard-skin sections of “Sins of the Fleshapoids,” a ’60s Mike Kuchar masterpiece that just might be as garishly ceremonial as Kenneth Anger’s “Inaugaration of the Pleasure Dome?” Thanks to OCD’s deluxe new video version of “Sins,” you can see Kuchar’s movie restored to a vivid pixel-approximation of its original birthday(-suited) splendor.

Along with Baldwin, OCD’s Noel Lawrence has put out a number of not-your-average-Net-flix since OCD’s inception. In addition to “Sins,” this year has brought Lutz Dammbeck’s Unabomber doc “The Net” (a Baldwin fave-rave soon to play this year’s Vancouver film fest), and Jenni Olson and Karl Knapper’s trailer comp “Afro Promo.” The latter is a good example of OCD’s talent for making full use of the DVD format. According to curatorial decision, the trailers aren’t just divided into chapters, but into four sections: Blaxploitation, History, Comedy, and Music. The Blaxploitation section includes a “Blacula” preview (with a bit of the terrific Gene Page’s brooding score), and trailers for Foxy Brown, the Fred Williamson western titled Boss Nigger, and Cleopatra Jones, which follows Tamara Dobson’s “soul sister’s answer to James Bond” as she takes on the ever-evil flame-haired lesbian, Mommy, played by the inimitable and already-missed Shelley Winters. Only slightly outrageous is the Comedy section’s “Norman, Is That You?,” in which Redd Foxx discovers his “All-American” son now favors purple drapes and floral underwear.

Another 2006 OCD highlight is the just released “Anxious Animation,” which brings together highly individual animated work from four different artists. The Bay Area-based trio of Eric Henry, Syd Garon, and Rodney Ascher play off the playfulness of DJ Q-Bert’s music. Jim Trainor brings animals to life with a single line. And Janie Geiser constructs some beautiful dreamscapes. But the disc’s highlights might be a trio of gorgeous collage works by Lewis Klahr, which include the Alban Berg-inspired “Lulu” (in which a Lynchian severed ear — that marker of surrealism — is briefly glimpsed amidst a roulette wheel look at burlesque romance). Placing comic book characters in unconventional situations, Klahr’s bi-boy newspaper epic Pony Glass remains awesome in its sheer handsome scope.

With the equally new “Golden Digest,” the OCD folks bring together the collective works of Animal Charm, the West Coast duo (Rich Bott and Jim Fetterley) whose revisions of footage from corporate training reels, instructional videos, nature programs, and other sources are as hilarious as they are disturbing — and influential. They were tube-ing before YouTube, so there is little doubt that Animal Charm has helped inspire folks such as the Toronto-based prankster behind the currently popular TV Carnage series of videos. A home double feature of “Golden Digest” and a TV Carnage DVD is a sure fire way to wake up the next morning with a stomach sore from laughter — and a head reeling with wildly juxtaposed imagery from the deepest, darkest pits of the collective capitalist consciousness.

Happy viewing!