Considering our own unforgiving summer of wildfires and Paris Hilton, one is apt to become a little dewy and nostalgic for 1967's Summer of Love, when the countercultural consciousness made the global scene.
A film series that harks back to those more idealistic times, Summer of Love: Sex, Drugs, Rock, Art and Protest in the Counterculture Circa 1967, curated by Andy Ditzler, resurrects the consciousness of the age via its films.
There are artist-made films featuring well-known names such as Nam June Paik and the still-shocking Japanese maverick Yayoi Kusama, documentary works, experimental film and more unclassifiable stuff like LSD Wall (1965), seemingly dedicated to evoking the experience of one long, strange trip. In the film's credits, filmmaker John Hawkins even thanks his "connection." Right on.
The series features some 1960s staples so identifiable with the time they border on chuckle-inducing cliché, like body painting and flowers offered to gun barrels.
The grooviness is comprehensive, encompassing both bearded Vietnam protesters and the "Fuck the war, let's dance!" hotties of Rockflow (1968) – a sort of proto-music video shot at New York's Electric Circus where a bevy of sexy, blasé beauties shake their bony, amphetamine frames for a rapt crowd.
From that eye candy Summer of Love moves to an assembly of more earnest types in corduroy, pipes and Che Guevara-chic. More document than documentary, March on the Pentagon (1967) features shots of the assembling crowds, protesters being pounded by armed guardsmen and numerous Canadian flags. Then, Canada meant escape from the draft. Now it means discount pharmaceuticals. The more things change ... .
But the real showstopper may be Paul Sharits' eyeball-scorching flicker film T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G (think Gaspar Noé crossed with the dream sequence in Hitchcock's Vertigo). A cinematic assault on a par with Luis Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou, the film ties together the seductive undercurrent of shock and awe in so many of the films – the desire to overhaul everything, in art and in the world.
Summer of Love: Sex, Drugs, Rock, Art and Protest in the Counterculture Circa 1967. $5. 8 p.m. Sat., July 21. Eyedrum, 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 8. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.
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