Talk about realizing a pedagogical dream.
Yesterday we began our unit on documentary. I chose to screen the Mayleses' and Zwerkin's Gimme Shelter in Criterion's shiny transfer, partially because we are just coming off the discussion of sound/music and performance in Singin' in the Rain and partially because I fucking love this movie in all its downer glory and make a point of seeing it projected whenever I can.
Of course, there are, conservatively speaking, a billion docs I could have chosen. In fact, I got the students to shout out some titles before our screening because--who's surprised?--no one had prepared the reading. Apparently, they were all busy studying for that morning's midterm. Riiiight.
This meant I had to riff in front of an audience that knew nothing of the material and less still about this film [although one kid, to his credit, came up with the word association "Hell's Angels"]. It wasn't pretty, but it did have one moment of sheer beauty--nay, transcendence.
See, I was talking about the Rolling Stones as cultural figures and cinematic subjects within the larger tradition of the tour/concert film, and I wanted to let the kiddies know not to expect booze, groupies, and excess. I told them that came a little later, and was captured in a suppressed documentary shot by Robert Frank in 1972 that circulates unofficially and manages to make getting wasted and fucking groupies boring.
Which is when I got to say "cocksucker" in class. It felt good.
[The Fesser is beside himself with envy and is channeling it into recipes for Oscar nominees. Go see.]