Anaglyph Tom (Tom With Puffy Cheeks)

"Very Good"

Anaglyph Tom (Tom With Puffy Cheeks) Review


On the 40th anniversary of his eponymous experimental diddy Tom, Tom The Piper's Son, and a year after his major-label debut as an actor in his son's modest yet formidable Momma's Man, New York avant-garde overlord Ken Jacobs returns to the material that birthed Tom: a short film shot by Thomas Edison about a young pig thief and a row in town.

Entitled Anaglyph Tom (Tom with Puffy Cheeks), the film does similar acrobatics of manipulation with the film stock that were employed in 1969 when Tom, Tom was released. In 2007, the film was entered into the National Film Registry and has since become known as perhaps one of the greatest pieces of the American avant-garde cinema.

With this revisiting, Jacobs has added a few tricks to his bag. The beguilement with time, magic lantern theatrics, cuts, stencils, and a few dozen other playful spins are noticeable from the first time around and are still quite dazzling here. For Anaglyph, Jacob incorporates many of the same digital processes he used in 2008's Razzle Dazzle, which premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The image is bent, crumpled, twisted, bounced, and thrown to the audience as if you had a catcher's mitt.

The other major contortion is the addition of the 3D process. An obsessive collector and cinematic historian, Jacobs' giddiness at renewing the technology that made films popular in the 1940s/'50s golden age of double-features emanates off of every snippet of celluloid present. Using this technology now, Jacobs has made another timely enigma; a giggling retort to the renewed popularity of 3D (Coraline, Monsters vs. Aliens, My Bloody Valentine 3D).

The commentary gets heavier when the film takes an intermission and actually lets an Edison short play before it cuts to Alan Greenspan's stumbling, tangled acceptance of partial blame for the current economy on C-SPAN. Earlier, Jones cuts to a newspaper chronicling one of the first days of the current meltdown. Like 3D, a decaying economy has returned to become yet another part of the cultural ticker and, as with all his films, Anaglyph acts as a timestamp for the film contortionist.

Jacobs founded and has taught in SUNY Binghamton's prestigious film program for years. Not too long ago, a friend of mine was under his tutelage and told me a story about how Jacobs condemned an entire lecture hall for not being up-to-date with current events. One would think after about 40 years in filmmaking that Jacobs would have calmed down, gone cynical, or simply plateaued. But, as with all the greats, he's still discovering, and even the old stuff seems new again.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Ken Jacobs

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