Tuesday February 5, 2008, 8:00 pm
At the Silent Movie Theatre
611 N. Fairfax Ave. just south of Melrose
Park across the street at Fairfax High School
Los Angeles Filmforum and CineFamily present
The Floating World of Pat O’Neill
The second of two nights of films
** PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE IN DAY, LOCATION AND TIME**
Pat O’Neill is Los Angeles’s true avant-garde master, creating beautiful, moody films with floating mattes, variable film speeds, ghostly layering, wry wit, and masterful soundtracks, all working together to form a fractured almost-narrative, a reflection on the lost spaces and times of our city.
Tonight Filmforum inaugurates its new venue partnership with CineFamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. CineFamily has revitalized the Silent Movie Theatre with wide-ranging, and smart programming. From a continued interest in silent movies to experimental films, cult works to bizarre pop hits, foreign and domestic, CineFamily displays the cinephilic sensibility that we are delighted to share.
Tonight we’ll be screening Decay of Fiction (2002, 35mm, 74 min), preceded by Squirt Gun Step Print”(1998, 35mm, 6 min)
“While depicting the relentless passage of time with a power that few other films have captured, The Decay of Fiction sustains a mood of almost gothic sadness….The Decay of Fiction is so infatuated with vintage film lore that it leaves you with a disturbing sense of the power that the Dream Factory exerts on the historical imagination.” – Stephen Holden, NY Times
The Decay of Fiction is an intersection of fact and hallucination in an abandoned luxury hotel. The hotel is in Hollywood. The walls of the Ambassador are cracked and peeling, the lawns are brown, and mushrooms grow in the damp carpets of the Cocoanut Grove. The pool is empty, and the ballroom where Bobby Kennedy died is shuttered and locked. A tall, elegant blonde stands transparently on the terrace of her bungalow, smoking and watching the sunrise. Voices and tinkles waft across the lawn. A contingent of vaguely sinister men arrive and ask for Jack. Jack is expecting trouble, but not this kind of trouble. Louise, a guest, replays a nightmare in which she drowns Pauline so that she can marry Dean. The sun sets and rises again. Two detectives seem to turn up everywhere, searching for Communist literature and telling one another pointless stories of underworld intrigue. In the kitchens and behind the scenes the daily routine continues, individuality melts, and workers fuse with their jobs. Winter passes, and then another summer, and finally it is Halloween, and there is a costume ball which claims the life of Rhonda the evasive soprano. And then the building comes down in a clatter of Spanish tiles and concrete, and fact has finally become fiction, once again. I scribbled the words The Decay of Fiction on the back of a notebook almost forty years ago, tore it off and framed it fifteen years later, and have wanted ever since to make a film to fit its ready-made description. To me it refers to the common condition of stories partly remembered, films partly seen, texts at the margins of memory, disappearing like a book left outside on the ground to decompose back into the earth. The film takes place in a building about to be destroyed, those walls contain (by dint of association) a huge burden of memory: cultural and personal, conscious and unconscious. To make the film was to trap a few of its characters and some of their dialog, casting them together within the confines of the site. The structure and its stories are decaying together, and each seems to be a metaphor for the other.
For an interesting perspective, here’s an excerpt of an interview before the completion of the film and before the demolition of the Ambassador Hotel. From an interview between David E. James and Pat O’Neill, printed in Millennium Film Journal, No. 30/31 (Fall 1997) Continue reading