George Kuchar’s Otherworldly Humanity
by Charles Bernstein & Susan Bee (Brooklyn Rail Dec/Jan 2011)
. . . In his films, Kuchar is always poking fun and always having a good time, in an apparently sweet and charmingly self-deprecating way. Yet this court jester of avant-garde cinema had a sardonic edge that was as sharp as an editor’s blade. His vision bubbled out of the cauldron of his gay, Catholic, working-class childhood. This led to his lifelong tango with the high, and often dry, seriousness of the art world. . . .
As a writer, Kuchar combined his genre-obsessed irony and self-reflective bathos into scripts of scintillating wit. The opening monologue in Thundercrack! (he wrote the screenplay for Curt McDowell) rivals and extends the best of Tennessee Williams’s plays. (PennSound has a link to his script for The Bride of Frankenstein, which is a perfect example of his largely unacknowledged brilliance as a writer.) Kuchar’s soundtracks, collages from his extensive LP collection, are exemplary for using already existing music in new contexts so seamlessly that you would have thought the music was composed especially for each scene. Kuchar’s films offer object lessons in how a splash of sound totally colors a scene; his quick sound segues contribute to the dynamism of his work and give it that wonderful, much sought-after, B-movie aura. But make no mistake: his editing is as diacritically perspicacious as any sound/image juxtaposition in Godard (even if his ingratiating style would not usually give rise to such terminology).
the article includes an excerpt from Felix Bernstein's video interview with Kuchar, available on the George Kuchar PennSound page.
portrait of George Kuchar by Mimi Gross