One of the oddest sights at Tribeca comes at the feature screening of OnticAntics Starring Laurel and Hardy: Bye, Molly and the latest experimental work by Ken Jacobs. The Jacobs film flips and refracts and repeats images of Laurel and Hardy in 1929’s Berth Marks, nearly ad infinitum, in the repetitive method he’s repeatedly reprised. But three shorts precede his work: Laurie Anderson’s Hidden Inside Mountains is a very lush, high-production-quality art film produced for a Japanese art festival that puts Antony and the Johnsons to elegant use and is one of Anderson’s most polished and melodic video pieces. But it’s Robert Wilson who steals the show, with one celebrity “video portrait” of Isabelle Huppert that is luminous in the mode of old Greta Garbo glamour and one that is pure ludicrous bunkum, in the mode of new Hollywood and pretentious art galleries. A throwback to Wilson’s most silly installation art, his portrait of Brad Pitt is half-cocked and wonderfully absurd. Pitt really acts in the piece, or, rather, he subjects himself to it, standing in the pouring rain of a deep blue soundstage in nothing but chiseled pecs and clinging white boxers. A droning, deep I-am-a-gallery-voiceover voice intones snippets from children’s games and fairy tales, while Pitt slowly raises his arm, with excruciatingly slow precision, and points a gun at the camera, at which point he pulls the trigger and fires a tiny spout of water. It’s preposterous in the extreme, but it’s lovely to see Pitt playing so gamely along.
Ontic Antics Starring Laurel and Hardy
Ken Jacobs / Spotlight