The only way to account for the modest showing at Sunday's screening of Suzan Pitt's films would be to assume that everyone is waiting for the opportunity to skip work tomorrow to see them.
I'd seen "Asparagus" and "Joy Street" a few dozen times and "El Doctor" maybe two or three. The first time I saw "Asparagus" was actually in a film to tape transfer with Suzan -a story I'll save for my memoirs.
This was the first time I'd seen "Asparagus" on film, the first time since 1996 or so when it played at The New York Film Festival that I had seen "Joy Street" projected.
As much as I love these works, a TV monitor does them little justice. The art work and production are one thing, but moreover the pacing is cinematic. Television is a weak force, it needs constant stuff to keep our attention -quick cuts, sexy people, shouting people, jazzy graphics. Both "Asparagus" and "Joy Street" are diminished in that format. They don't really work. On screen, though, it all makes sense.
"Joy Street" on video can drag a little. In its natural environment the timing is flawless. The transitions from somber to whimsical to despair and ultimately joy all strike perfect tones and all happen in a particular space.
These are films which exploit the strengths of animation to create their narratives. They are artful, abstract and concrete, philosophic and fun.
Everyone should skip work tomorrow and go to Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater at 2:50. Walter Reade, along with the MoMA, is the best screen in Manhattan -the chance to see such beautiful work in ideal conditions should be too great to pass.