SLANT | Bruce Conner: The Art of Montage

A naked woman performs a striptease as fireworks burst. Mickey Mouse, looking off-screen left, shoots goo from one of his eyes while Minnie scowls. The end of the reel rolls. Then a close-up of the girl, breast to butt, with a bright lollipop of lights above her. A diagram of egg-like teeth appears with "No brushing" shown upside-down. Another reel starts. The upright lady dances, more fireworks. Reel end. She's totally naked, and we can see all the sweet spots. Another reel mark, with a countdown. Soldiers march to war. Reel mark. Breasts, hand, and waist. Reel mark. Breasts and hair. Reel mark. The boys plant the flag at Iwo Jima. Breasts. Reel mark. Soldiers. Fireworks. Ray Charles, singing "What'd I Say" on the soundtrack, moans.

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FILM COMMENT | ONCE UPON AMERICA: The multi-faceted career of artist Bruce Conner has a brand-new object.

A Bruce Conner film might be constructed from a dozen or a hundred instances—shards, jolts, figments—of déjà vu. Though it may employ fewer: Marilyn Times Five (68-73), where an iconic handful of b&w nudie tableaus are gracefully looped back on themselves as though refracted through a peep-booth's two-way mirror (just a recumbent Monroe lookalike, a bottle of Coke, and thou). These images, scavenged from home movies, newsreels, stag films, Defense Department footage, educational shorts, and TV commercials, are summoned forth from our collective consciousness, and beckon us down that irrationalist primrose pathos into their subterranean lairs. If the specter of the Sixties continues to haunt the imagination, as an unraveled utopia of ruined shrines, forsaken promises, and impossible desires, then Bruce Conner is the era's truest documentarian, as well as its shadow DJ.

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