06/03/15 10:05am
06/03/2015 10:05 AM |

blood of jesus

The Blood of Jesus (1941)
Directed by Spencer Williams
A key document in the evolution of the race film, this epochal sophomore feature by pioneering actor-turned-filmmaker Spencer Williams is just as equally an important piece of early independent filmmaking proficiency. Starring the director himself as a spiritually wayward Southerner who accidentally shoots his devoted wife Martha (Cathryn Caviness), the film takes as its subject nothing less than the transmutation of the spirit and the journey, even after death, of the soul from purgatory to eternal sanctity. Integrating a variety of forward-thinking visual effects—from superimpositions to sourced footage from obscure religious films—to animate the series of trials and temptations Martha undergoes as she approaches the afterlife, Williams pushes accepted aesthetic values even as he prompts provocative questions regarding not just mortality, but of the price of redemption and the rich, complex history of religion in black culture. Jordan Cronk (June 3, 6:45pm; June 6, 2:30pm at MoMA’s “A Road Three Hundred Years Long: Cinema and the Great Migration”)

05/06/15 9:00am
05/06/2015 9:00 AM |


The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Only David Bowie could be said to be typecast in the role of an aloof alien conquering the world through cultural innovations. Roeg’s typically impressionistic structure frames the extra-terrestrial’s benign invasion as War of the Worlds as written by Marshall McLuhan, in which the creature enchants humans with gimmicky technology while ultimately succumbing to the homegrown pathogen of television. The cutting stabilizes only when Bowie turns to stare at screens, his purpose receding in favor of the mind-numbing thrall of mass entertainment The fractured editing of Don’t Look Now embodied the cruel persistence of memory, but here it reflects the equally horrific consequences of forgetting. Jake Cole (May 7, 7:30 at BAM)