January 24, 2014

Free to Love: Week Three

Next Previous
It may be cold in Philadelphia but there are plenty of hot times on offer during week three of Free to Love: The Cinema of the Sexual Revolution. Six films will be shown through Saturday, most of which give a look at 1960s/70s sexuality in the US of A, but we start our list with a foreign import. 

A true rarity and far-flung gem, The Set (Thursday, January 23 at 7PM) is a 1970 feature from Australia, the first film with homosexual themes from Down Under. Based the book by Roger Ward (who appeared in Oz cult classics Mad Max, Stone and Mad Dog Morgan), the film takes a look at young Paul who falls out with his art school crowd and in with 'the set,' the Sydney high society crowd. The Set has never been released on home video and the 35mm cult classic was provided courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Don't miss the groovy lounge/jazz soundtrack by maestro Sven Libaek, which has been lovingly reissued by Trunk Records

One of the highlights of Free to Love will be welcoming filmmaker Radley Metzger to International House for a screening of his 1972 film Score (Friday, January 24 at 7PM). Metzger is an internationally-renown filmmaker whose films (among them Camille 2000, Barbara Broadcast and The Opening of Misty Beethoven) are among the most notorious sexploitation films of the era. But Metzger's films are steeped in an arthouse tradition that derives from his love of Welles, Powell, Bergman and Truffaut, informing his films with a class and artistry that is rare among genre films and filmmakers. Score is a particularly resonant film to show in Free to Love, as it explores the swinging subculture of the free love era. Gary M. Kramer interviewed Metzger for Cinedelphia in advance of the screening. Elena Gorfinkel, Assistant Professor at UW Milwaukee and sexploitation film expert, will introduce Score and moderate the Q&A with Metzger. 

Another marathon Saturday of Free to Love screenings begins with Jim McBride's rarely-screened Hot Times (aka My Erotic Fantasties, Saturday, January 25 at 5PM). McBride is well-known for his first feature David Holzman's Diary, a landmark of American underground film and the docufiction genre that was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1991. He has also directed the 1983 American remake of Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless and done much work in television. But Hot Times (also also known as A Hard Day for Archie) is a couple notches seedier than the aforementioned films. A teen sex comedy, the film follows Archie Anders, a self-proclaimed “all-American guy who just wants to get laid,” on his restless wanderings and missteps through high school and the streets of Manhattan on New Year's Eve. Jonathan Rosenbaum describes the film as: "an almost Faustian effort to achieve the impossible — to ridicule the basic precepts of the sex movie out of existence, having and conveying as much fun as possible in the process."

No stranger to sex in film, we salute Andy Warhol with a screening of his 1967 drama I, A Man (Saturday, January 25 at 7PM). A reference to Mac Ahlberg's 1965 erotic drama I, A Woman, Warhol's film follows earlier features like My Hustler and Chelsea Girls which introduced narrative elements to his screen test/actuality-style filmmaking. We see Tom Baker (a drinking buddy of Jim Morrisson, originally slated in the starring role) visiting with six different women in one day throughout New York City. Baker visits Nico, Ultra Violet and even Valerie Solanas, who would later write the SCUM Manifesto and shoot Warhol the following year. The feature will be preceded by Warhol's 1964 short Mario Banana (No. 2) featuring transvestite actor Mario Montez who also appeared in underground films like Flaming Creatures and Chumlum. 

One of the themes Free to Love hopes to focus on is the interplay between ideas in both underground and Hollywood films during the sexual revolution. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Saturday, January 25 at 9PM), a star-studded film from Columbia Pictures, explored topics that were introduced by counterculture films, in the process gaining four Academy Award nominations and a huge gross at the box office. If the underground was where the conversation about the sexual revolution started, it was films like B&C&T&A, Barbarella and Last Tango in Paris that spread the news far and wide. 

Next week: sex education films made by radical clergymen from San Francisco, Jane Fonda in space and the naive pre-hardcore gay cinema of Pat Rocco. You have no more excuses not to check out Free to Love: The Cinema of the Sexual Revolution!