TONIGHT: Brent Green’s Live Cinema Arts Fest performance at Frenetic Theater (with Fugazi’s Brendan Canty!)

I spent last night at DiverseWorks, previewing director/artist Brent Green‘s sculpture installation and talking about Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, his new animated/live-action hybrid feature film. The live cinema event is tonight (Friday) and Saturday at Frenetic Theater, where his live band — which includes (holy crap!) Brendan Canty of Fugazi on drums — improvises an original soundtrack for his 73-minute feature. The installation at DiverseWorks runs today thru December 18th; it’s free and open to the public. Seriously, it’s free. This is the best movie I’ve seen all year, and you can watch it at DiverseWorks every day for the next five weeks for free. And they have beer.

The installation begins with a 3-minute film just inside the lobby, where we see Noah’s Ark begin Green’s theme of men working with their hands for the sake of a lost cause. After all, Noah built the world’s largest boat — a boat measured in cubits, no less — and it only saved his immediate family and, well, okay, two of every animal on Earth.

But Leonard Wood couldn’t even save himself, and he’s the subject of Gravity. Leonard Wood’s wife had cancer, and the couple hoped for a home so beautiful that it could cure her disease, so he built and built, and they loved each other until the day that she died, but he kept building anyway. The true glory in life is work, Green told me; what you do with your hands is righteous. Leonard died soon after his wife, while still building the house they’d hope would set her free from cancer.

And then Brent showed me his sculpture of the young Russian woman who, on her Singer sewing machine, sewed the first space suit worn into space — by a dog. And then his smiling cardboard JFK face, as he explained, “The man rallied the entire country to go to the moon and bring back ROCKS.” But then, as I literally read the writing on the wall, it told the story of poor people working for a living and the glory of labor.

“We reward the things that exploit us,” he said as we talked about how his protagonist sold the home he built with his own hands. “He sold the house when he fell off the roof and needed the money for medical bills.”

We continued talking about the theme as we stood under his sculptures of soaring angels, and under a banner portion that read “Wholly temporary world,” there hung a likeness of Yuri Gagarin‘s capsule Vostok, in which he became the first person to orbit the Earth and return safely.

“Did you know that Yuri died working as a test pilot six years after that flight?”

I’ve seen all of Brent Green’s short films, and they are phenomenal. In the 1980s or ’90s, he could’ve made a fortune directing music videos. They exist in uncertain times and places, in a dimension where scenes and props stand in for the breathless narrator. I told him that his voice reminds me of Daniel Johnston, there’s so much there, and he humbly took it as a compliment. For those of you that don’t know, a screenplay is normally “a page a minute.” A 73-page screenplay, therefore, equals an 73-minute movie.

“But your screenplay must be 500 pages for a 73-minute feature,” I told him. And yet, inversely, when you watch a Brent Green movie, it seems to go by twice as fast. Last night I watched eight of his short films, equaling over an hour of viewing time, and I seriously thought it had been just a few minutes.

It made me think of reading David Foster Wallace, who wrote a very funny novel that ran over a thousand pages. One reviewer remarked of Foster-Wallace’s Infinite Jest that “There is not one lazy sentence,” and in Brent Green’s films I found humor, insight, and empathy in every passage.

I only discovered these films a few days ago and already I can’t imagine my life without them. Discover them live tonight (Friday) and Saturday at Frenetic Theater, or at the DiverseWorks feature installation now through December 18th. Thanks to Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks, and the Houston Cinema Arts Festival for bringing him here, and to Shawna at DiverseWorks for first convincing me to see these incredible films.

Post by . This entry was posted on Friday, November 12th, 2010. Filed under Features, Posts.

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One Response to “TONIGHT: Brent Green’s Live Cinema Arts Fest performance at Frenetic Theater (with Fugazi’s Brendan Canty!)”

  1. Tweets that mention SPACE CITY ROCK » TONIGHT: Brent Green’s Live Cinema Arts Fest performance at Frenetic Theater (with Fugazi’s Brendan Canty!) -- on November 12th, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show. Aurora Picture Show said: Space City Rock covers Brent Green. Great article! Hope to to see everyone at Frenetic tonight! […]

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