Monday, July 17, 2006

Note to a Friend: Peter Whitehead vs Terence Malick


I have (what, relative to my comfy little life) is a deep, deep problem (relating to tomorrow night).

I just attended the Pacific Cinematheque, where they are screening the films of Peter Whitehead, and discovered that I NEED to see – I mean, I NEED to see – his film, BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, which screens at 9:30 TOMORROW. As it’s not available on DVD, it’s my only chance to see it. I have SEEN THE THIN RED LINE three times on cinema screens and three times at DVD. I have seen BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT NOT AT ALL.

These look to be fascinating films about all that was best and most interesting (and therefore lost, buried, transient, not repeatable, erased) about the 1960s. I saw clips from them tonight and was astonished, overwhelmed. I know which film I need to see, but Oh, God, YOU NEED TO SEE THE THIN RED LINE, don’t you? I would be glad to take you to BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, of course, instead, but… It’s more important to me that you see THE THIN RED LINE. Should I thus MISS this Peter Whitehead film? Oh, no!

Should I let you miss THE THIN RED LINE and take you with ME? But that would be BAD, selfish… tho’ you’d enjoy BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, I think! Ohh. You'd also get to see Allen Ginsberg and other beat writers at the peak of their powers, in WHOLLY COMMUNION...

We could still catch the early show, DAYS OF HEAVEN, at Vancity… Ummm.

I don’t know what to do!



Post Script (to a general audience): THE PINK FLOYD is a pretty amazing experience. The songs are "Interstellar Overdrive" and an instrumental jam I don't recognize the name of. No, Syd Barrett doesn't sing, but it's really quite a perceptual odyssey, and the filmmaking is amazing, beautifully shot and edited. The management of the theatre (who I will presume to speak for -- you don't mind, do you, Christine?) would like to remind patrons that the film is not a rock concert, and whooping, cheering, shouting "Turn it up" or holding lit Bic lighters up is generally not appropriate etiquette for a movie theatre, where people are going to perceive a film, and give not a damn how devoted a fan you are. The band are not present and will not receive your gestures of appreciation. You would prove your devotion to Pink Floyd and the late Mr. Barrett far better by letting the rest of us actually hear the music and pay our respects. Dig?

For those who can't make it, it appears to be available on DVD -- the only one of Whitehead's films to be thus released.

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