Underworld meets underground - Page 2

William E. Jones uncovers hidden stories in porn's dark edges

There Jones matches images from the 1986 gay porn movie The British Are Coming with a soundtrack of uncannily current posh snob remarks from the Jean-Luc Godard–directed Dziga Vertov Group's 1969 movie See You at Mao, a.k.a. British Sounds. Class warfare and sexual cannibalism are stripped bare, teased with a whip, tattooed, suckled, and showered in a mere eight minutes. To paraphrase Jones, More British Sounds counters the complete lack of homosexuality in Godard's films, rephrasing the French auteur's famous remark that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun — in this case all you need are some boys and a locker room.

The contents of the 59-minute v.o. aren't so clearly delineated, and the frisson they produce might not be as intense — though for some viewers, that might be due to a familiarity with the source material, whether it be Halsted's 1972 L.A. Plays Itself or tape recordings of Jean Genet and Rosa von Prauheim spouting off presciently about homosexual fatalism and conservatism. Not so much a mashup as a metamaze odyssey through the subways, nighttime ghetto alleys, and other spaces of pre-AIDS and pre-Internet gay cruising, v.o. doesn't take its title from voice-over — even if the abbreviation does suggest that facet, which is dominant in many Jones films — so much as version originale, a French term used for films presented in their original language with subtitles. Subtitles over a bare bottom doesn't make art, but in this case it makes for ripe nostalgia. Moving from a record needle into the dark hole of a Victrola like some dirty, dude-loving cousin of Inland Empire, v.o. might not end up anywhere in particular, but it finds a hell of a lot — Colonel Sanders's face, gay-power graffiti, Halsted's red Ranchero, a Peter Berlin S-M romp in the underground recesses of the SF Art Institute — along the way. *


Tues/20, 7:30 p.m., $4–$8

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft Way, Berk.

(510) 642-0808


For an extensive interview with Jones, go to our Pixel Vision blog at www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.

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