When working on a zero budget many would say that Smith invented what is regarded as “camp”. Susan Sontag’s “Notes On Camp” essay was written just a few years after Flaming Creatures and can be found in her essential Against Interpretation (1964). She explains that camp is not a cynical critique of consumerist culture but a sensibility towards the unwanted and unseen. “Random examples of items which are part of the canon of camp” is number 4 of 58 theses, the last on the list being “stag movies seen without lust”.
My favorite Smith film has always been “Scotch Tape” with its rugged junk yard and doo woop style. But Flaming Creatures is generally considered the masterpiece. It helps that the film made Jack Smith into a cult celebrity and also caused a controversy at the time of its release by being banned, still is technically to this day.
Saturday night in Cleveland the Cinematheque will be showing “Flaming Creatures”. I think it would be the best bang for your buck to go see Jean - Pierre Melville’s “Un FLuc” (a cop) aka Dirty Money. They work as a nice double feature with both directors having very distinct and unique visions that are at once dark and mysterious but with wit. I was reluctant to write about “Un Fluc” because I have never seen it. But Melville’s filmography is filled with a very distinctive style of crime and espionage film that is an influence on Akron native Jim Jaramush. Called the father of the French New Wave, Melville made three masterpieces that I have seen: “Bob Le Flambeur”, “Le Samourai” and “Army of Shadows”. “Un Fluc” is Mellville’s last movie and I am very excited to see it this weekend for the first time.