Friday, June 06, 2008

George Kuchar - "Wild Night in El Reno"

We've been having some crazy-ass weather this week. There was a storm the other night that actually woke me up several times and caused every gutter on our roof to waterfall like something out of Disney's Tiki House ride. The wind blew our homemade teepee down in the backyard, and for the first time in my life, Florida is actually looking good as a destination (since I can't afford a visit to the Galapagos Islands). So here's George Kuchar's Wild Night in El Reno. A little slice of his obsession with midwestern weather patterns.

George Kuchar is a national treasure of independent filmmaking. He started making deeply personal gonzo films as a teenager with his twin brother Mike in the 60s and never stopped. As far as I know, he's still an associate professor at the SF Art Institute, where I used to work. His class consists of making a video with his students in a windowless SFAI studio with an occasional outside location. I love his low-budget creativity, found-muzak soundtracks, compulsive sexiness, and all-around weirdness and humor. John Waters owes a lot to George Kuchar, as do we all.

When I lived in the Mission District in San Fran., I used to cross paths with him, walking his dog at twilight on a regular basis. I was ignorant of his film output at the time, which is probably good because had I seen his films then, I would have been all over him like a cheap suit (in a "fan" kind of way). As it was, we always gave each other the polite eyeball before he sauntered away, a hulking yet gentle presence that made my neighborhood seem just that much more interesting.

- You can see a bunch of Kuchar's older films on UBUWEB. My favorite by far is Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966). Wacky, demented, funny and poignant (NSFW, but really, you shouldn't be watching George Kuchar films at work, generally speaking). Starring George's 60s muse, Donna Kerness, and George Kuchar.

- Here's a great little documentary by Ronaldo Barbachano Spring 2006 called EC - Docs - Camera Tricks: This is George Kuchar (you know, some people are really talented at naming things; others...aren't). George directs his video, Queen Konga at SFAI. All locations are at the famous SFAI building, which makes me slightly nostalgic for my old job and life there. Only slightly.

- Buy George and Mike Kuchar's book, Reflections from a Cinematic Cesspooland read about their adventures in the cinematic underground (or just look at the pictures; forward by John Waters).

- George Kuchar is known for his annual treks to El Reno, Oklahoma where he attempts to film tornados and other extreme weather phenomenas. Here's a really impressive amateur video of an El Reno tornado. And another one.

No comments: