Film Forum’s current program New Yawk New Wave showcases director-centered New York films in the 1950s-70s, including D.A. Pennebaker’s 1 P.M. The genesis of the piece, as Pennebaker explained in his comments before the screening, arose from Jean-Luc Godard’s belief that the United States was on the brink of revolution. Pennebaker, esteemed for his work on Dont Look Back, Monterey Pop, Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars as well as The War Room, didn’t share Godard’s belief but saw an opportunity for something to unfold. The film centers on Godard directing various people in 10-minute unedited sequences, including political activist Tom Hayden, Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, actor Rip Torn, The Jefferson Airplane in a rooftop performance, that identify the unnatural order of filmmaking and narrative construction. As heavy-handed and off the mark as Godard might have been about America’s revolution, this is a great film for filmmakers. It is a genuine attempt to merge form and content and also features many candid, almost heart-warming moments of Godard on camera.
A screening of Maidstone followed 1 P.M. Pennebaker confessed in his pre-screening comments that this film (directed by Norman Mailer) had bored him in the end…that is of course until the infamous scene in which Rip Torn attacks Mailer with a hammer. It takes a long time to get there, but we have Pennebaker to thank in the end for never letting go of the trigger.