Sunday, November 02, 2014

Jandek stars in a movie!

Jandek's first film will air on PBS this Tuesday. But you can watch it right now here. And it's precisely as gnomic as you would anticipate.

For one thing, it's called a play, not a film, the official title of which is kooken - a one act play. According to the site, it "was produced by Hardly Sound in conjunction with Corwood Industries and was filmed in Houston, Texas at an undisclosed location on August 29th and 30th of 2014." The end credits read "guest directed and edited by Corwood Industries."

Black and white and running about 27 minutes, kooken - a one act play features Jandek and an unnamed bohemian gal who recalls early 1980s Exene Cervenka. They leave a house and walk around to the backyard where they sit on a small brick patio and talk. Their conversation takes up most of the film. She calls him kooken and the chat proceeds with no direction and plenty of philosophizing. kooken expounds on the need to say no to the past and live in the present. The gal is somewhat familiar with him, comfortable giving him playful pushes but never expecting satisfying answers to her questions. They gab back and forth in a lightly argumentative manner, exacting one moment and contentedly resigned the next. A gaunt, artier Clint Eastwood, kooken talks in the guarded cadence of one not used to conversation. The handheld camera keeps them mostly in a two shot occasionally swooping away to show the trees in the yard and even some of the film crew. There are few cuts. The gal disses Yanni at one point.

They move back inside for the last few minutes with the camera focused on kooken in a medium closeup. He gives forth on bad poetry and distractions, stating that having too many friends means you can't be a friend to yourself. Cut to black. The credits do not identify the actors.

It's easy to read kooken - a one act play as a Jandek manifesto if not a mock interview with the Corwood Industries representative. kooken definitely comes across as Jandek (or the public persona of Sterling Smith we've been exposed to over the last decade) and the film slots into his oeuvre as yet another attempt at meeting the most minimal requirements for communication. There are plenty of ways to remain stubbornly elusive as a public figure (check out the new Jerry Lee Lewis biography for one method). But Jandek's remain the most extreme and uniquely his own.