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City Scherzos, Dick Fontaine, Gregory Markopoulos

For this short roundup of events launching from today throughout the weekend, I want to begin with one happening on Sunday, City Scherzos, presented by Cineaste and UnionDocs and curated by David Phelps, who writes in the program notes, "In the 20s and 30s, at the strange intersection of Impressionist music, constructivist politics, and the broadcast networking of telecommunications, film and radio, City Symphonies like Man With a Movie Camera, Rien Que Les Heures, and Berlin: City Symphony became something of a genre… The films, taking off from modernist city novels like Ulysses and Manhattan Transfer, operate as though the city, not director, is a conductor through everyday rhythms, pathways, and rituals, and its inhabitants the floating nodes in a larger network of information exchange and routine. In the age of global social networks, these films couldn't be more relevant." David will be on hand to discuss Joris Ivens's Philips-Radio (Industrial Symphony) (1931), Alberto Cavalcanti's Rien Que Les Heures (1926) and Michael Snow's One Second in Montreal (1969).

The series Minding the Gap: The Films of Dick Fontaine opens tonight at Anthology Film Archives and runs through February 24. After sketching Fontaine's background in "Britain's post-Grierson documentary scene" and his portraits of Norman Mailer, Michael Joshua Rowin, writing for Artforum, notes that "his greatest passion has been African-American culture, as documented in Beat This! A Hip Hop History (1983), graffiti defense Bombin' (1988), and I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1980), a James Baldwin-led odyssey through the torn and struggling cities that gave birth to the civil rights movement. Whether charting the sympathetic contact between South Bronx spray-paint stars and marginalized Thatcher-era British youth or listening to the unfinished dreams of the men and women who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr, Fontaine's real subject seems to be the founding principle of the documentary genre: communication." Update: More from Sander Hicks at Cinespect.

Bass Notes: The film posters of Saul Bass opens today at Kemistry Gallery in London and, for Eye Magazine, designer Jim Northover looks back on the impact of Bass's work on his own.

Pacino's 70s opens for a week-long run at Film Forum tomorrow and Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf files the seven films into "four Pacino personas we look forward to revisiting."

Gregory Markopoulos's four-and-a-half-hour Eniaios: Cycle Five will be screened on Saturday afternoon at the Museum of the Moving Image, followed by a panel discussion. J Hoberman in the Voice: "Overtly predicated on the 24-frames-per-second rhythm of the motion-picture projector, it merges physiological with aesthetic response. White light is dazzling shock. Images fly at the viewer as if from a slingshot. Each is a fleeting epiphany that turns into a percussive illusory after-image before you can even grasp it. Rarefied yet visceral, at once austere and sensuous, Eniaios is pure cinema, a monument — unyielding and elusive — to fleeting sensation."

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“Eniaios: Cycle Five” is not to be missed. Back in the 60s’ Gregory was a familair figure on the avant-garde film scene, his “Twice A Man” (which among other things is the motion picture debut of Olympa Dukakis) something of a hit. But when he moved to europe towards the end of that halcyon decade his work became impossible to see stateside. Visually sumptuous and intelllectully demanding — in the best possible way — I’m glad its surfacing here one again.

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