Friday, December 30, 2011

The strangest film in New Orleans

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 4:45 PM

To add a one-item list to the pile of year-end round-ups, the strangest film I saw this year is still running. Prospect.2 includes the work of photographer William Eggleston at the Old U.S. Mint. One large room contains his 1973 series Nightclub Portraits. (Noted here by Gambit critic D. Eric Bookhardt.) In another room, beyond the photos of An-My Le, juxtaposing Vietnamese communities in Vietnam and New Orleans, is a film Eggleston made in 1973-1974 titled Stranded in Canton. It's a bizarre and often cryptic assemblage of interviews and observances he filmed in both New Orleans and Memphis. It's got a slow start, but descends into rambling and rants captured in claustrophobic family gatherings, run-down apartments and bizarre street scenes with geek stunts, drunks and guns. It captures some tortured Southern souls as well as William Faulkner or Tennessee Williams did, but without the elegance. At 15 minutes in, I questioned why I was still watching it, but by the end, I thought it was rather brilliant. The entire film is above, but it's not the same experience on a small screen as sitting in mute disbelief at the Mint. (It's not for young audiences.)

Prospect.2 runs through Jan. 29, 2012, so there's still plenty of time to catch shows in the overall impressive collection of works. Some of the highlights include Joyce Scott's beadwork and sculpture at the Newcomb Gallery, Gina Phillips' fabric works and Alexis Rockman's Battle Royale (about invasive species in Gulf Coast swamps) at CAC, and Francesco Vezzoli's Sohia Loren statue in Piazza D'Italia.

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