With the hyper-corporate Tribeca Film Festival in its final days, Anthology Film Archives is launching the perfect bit of counter-programming.

Films of the Situationist International: Guy Debord, Rene Vienet and Jean Isidore Isou
starts tonight with The Society of the Spectacle, Debord's movement-launching cinematic adaptation of his own manifesto of the same title.  It's here that Debord introduces us to détournement - the SI's greatest contribution to media militarism - essentially, the process of taking pre-existing works of media and recontextualizing them until they start to critique themselves. The Society of the Spectacle thus merges elements from advertising, television, Classical Hollywood Cinema and pornography to illustrate Debord's activist prose. "The spectacle is not a collection of images," he narrates. "It is a social relation between people that is mediated by images."

Debord's movie was the first and, some say, greatest work of détournement, but I think Viénet's Can Dialectics Break Bricks? is a lot more fun. Martial arts film Crush Karate is re-edited to the sounds of Situationist discourse; so Chinese warlords discuss their alienation, vigilantes go to work in the name of Marxism, and, at one point, the female narrator even reccommends a Situationist text the viewer can consult for additional insight. If you've seen Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily?, then you get the general idea - but where Woody Allen leaves off, Viénet is just getting started (Allen had certainly seen Dialectics, and conciously takes a step away from the violence of its critique).

Films of the Situationist International runs tonight through Sunday at Anthology Film Archives in New York; there's a detailed schedule on their website.
categories Reviews, Cinematical