Avant-Garde Film examines fifteen of the most suggestive and useful films from the independent film tradition.
The 15 films featured here are not of the ``midnight movie'' ilk (though John Waters is mentioned in passing), but works whose form, structure, and content challenge the most basic conventions of mainstream film: Peter Watkins's The Journey is more than 14 hours long; Yoko Ono's No. 4 (Bottoms) is an 80-minute montage of bare bottoms in closeup. McDonald (English and film, Utica Coll. of Syracuse Univ.) examines the technical and artistic features of each film, placing it in context within the avant-garde's trends and movements. An earlier book with a similar focus, Stan Brakhaga's Film at Wit's End: Eight Avant-Garde Filmmakers ( LJ 10/1/89) is more readable, but lacks MacDonald's depth of analysis; since there is virtually no overlap in terms of artists covered, libraries serving serious students of such movies will want both.-- David C. Tucker, De Kalb County P.L., Decatur, Ga