From the quiet psychedelia of Greg Weeks’s solo projects to the gorgeous, textured folk of Espers, the Philadelphia band he fronts, Weeks’s fascination for the 60s-70s is evident. Unsurprisingly, all but one of his top 10 movies come from that era. His new solo album ‘The Hive’ is released on October 27 by Wichita Recordings. He will embark on a European tour throughout November. For more information, visit his MySpace page or Espers. He has also founded a record label, Language of Stone. Interview by Lucy Hurst.
1- Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Like similar works, Innocence, Walkabout, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Picnic evolves with dreamlike lucidity, touching on truths without ever laying down an explicit moral paradigm. For the viewer, the satisfaction lies in the moment, be it lush, poetic slow-motion figure studies, explorations of the natural world or a weighty conflation of sound and image (in this case the inspired trio of pan pipe, mellotron and modular synthesizer).
2- Accident (1967)
Hands down the best edited film of all time (as if a person can actually make such a claim!), and thus one of the best directed, since this temporal study required careful planning in both scripting and shooting. I don’t know what exactly created this blip on the radar of British cinema, but I imagine Beat-era psychology and psychedelics had something to do with it.
3- The Day of the Locust (1975)
On the surface this epic production seems to examine systemic corruption and greed and its impact on the common folk, but its true meaning shifts that blame completely. The Locusts referred to in the title aren’t the millionaires, moguls and decadents that drive the action of the film’s first 120 minutes, but the common folk who usurp the film’s final 20. As powerful as individuals get, it is ordinary men and women who allow them their influence. Here, that truth proves apocalyptic.
4- Irréversible (2002)
As nauseated as the viewer gets while watching the ‘opening’ club sequences (the entire film is edited in reverse chronological order) and the 10-minute or so rape scene two-thirds of the way through, the emotional rawness one reaches by the end allows for one of the deepest, most spiritually complex experiences in film history.
5- Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
I could just as easily have picked Night Moves, Loving, Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter or any number of existential 70s films, but Electra Glide really speaks of the modern condition in a way that’s been bothering me lately. The best we can do in the face of no afterlife assurances is withstand the constant assault on our moral and ethical belief systems without finding ourselves subverted. We may get to where we are trying to go, or we may end up dead in the middle of some desert highway, but at least we stuck to our guns. It’s really all we’ve got.
6- The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (1971)
Let’s lighten things up here with what could be considered the best Italian giallo outside of the Argento oeuvre. Hyper-mod apartments, widescreen Technicolor cinematography, acid-rock tinged orchestrations, chiselled leads, liquid eyeliner, the glorious Edwige Fenech, slow-mo scenes of sexuality laced with violence… this film has it all, right down to the standard bottle of J&B whisky in every study. I defy any modern action film director to trump the power and dead cool of this film’s last five minutes.
7- Three Women (1977)
Suffused in a malaise particular to the 70s, Three Women seeps anxiety and dread as its protagonists drift through a vacant culture, cobbling together psyches as if sifting through some overstuffed wardrobe. I remember stumbling onto this film in the early 80s (back when we only had five channels), thinking I’d found some little known work of horror. Twenty some years later I feel pretty much the same about it.
8- A Clockwork Orange (1971)
I must have watched my VHS recorded copy every day for three months after discovering this film. The opening surge of psyched-out Wendy Carlos Beethoven wed with the Moloko Milk Bar imagery imprinted itself on my brain in ways no other movie did or ever will again.
9- A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
Who makes movies like this anymore? It doesn’t even seem possible… catching people off guard (with a camera), lifting the veil of pretence to reveal raw humanity. Is there a director left who would ham it up to the extent Cassavetes does in Rosemary’s Baby in order to turn around and crank out a motherfucker like Husbands? Will an actress ever touch Gena Rowlands’s performance in this film? It certainly seems unlikely.
10- Thundercrack! (1975)
I would like to be the first to lobby that the epic piece of crap that is The Silence of the Lambs forfeit its Oscar to be awarded posthumously to Curt McDowell and George Kuchar for making the best, funniest (and perhaps only) pornographic melodrama ever created.