Nobody's creekbed

songs, prayers, poetry, stories, art, photographs, moving pictures, fondnesses, tall-tales and meditations

My Photo

The Anterior Insula and Hwy W

Monday, April 09, 2007

People of Los Angeles, right now you have a rare opportunity to see an amazing work of cinema, but you only have until Thursday, April 12. The movie is Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, and it is having a revival run at the NuArt Theatre (11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of the 405 Freeway). Burnett shot his movie in 1977 on location in Watts, Los Angeles, using 16 millimeter black and white film, and he achieved the sublime. To my mind, Killer of Sheep is an example of what cinema can be, what it ultimately should be. By that I mean both the act of making cinema—one’s responsibility as a storyteller—and as a viewer, being given to experience in a dreamlike way simple, transcendental knowledge, bliss, folly, heartache, beauty, fear, love; to live and breathe as another; the simple beat-beat-beat of every moment’s heart. No other artform allows for the totality of this experience. But it almost never happens in today's popular movie climate wherein we get our gags and bloodshed and manufactured moments and go home, almost instantly forgetting what we just saw.

And so we seek.

Killer of Sheep

I will be thinking about two men haggling uncomfortably over an engine block and then carrying that engine block slowly, precariously, painfully—nothing short of everything in the world at stake—down a steep, rickety flight of wooden stairs for the rest of my days. And I will also be thinking of a slow, desperate, tender dance between a man and a woman in front of a sun-filled window with, again, nothing short of everything in the world at stake. A group of kids playing under an abandoned rail car. My breath catches.

Killer of Sheep official website

If you have your wits about you and do not live in Los Angeles, please check the screenings page of the website for special engagements of this movie across the country for the next few months! It will be playing somewhere near you, dear reader—check the calendar, find the time.

This week I will be going again to see Killer of Sheep inside the mysterious dark of a theatre while I have the chance. Flicker. I have no choice. My body compels me.

Please go. Support. Partake. You will be rewarded.