Tracy Likes This One: Films from the Future 

Some movies are time capsules, snapshots filled with the streets and clothes and attitudes of an earlier era. Not that the filmmaker has necessarily set out to make time stand still. They are just trying to tell a story with the tools they have on hand with little foresight about the exact details that will date the film. Capturing particular stories means preserving elements of a moment, and often, as with the compulsive use of racial and sexual slurs in mainstream ‘80s movies, these elements can shrink a film down to the time in which it was made, alienating the future audience. And sometimes, what is being worked out on screen is the kernel of an idea that will come to fruition in the future, giving these movies a prescient feel. Threads are pulled that are still being unraveled decades later. These are two of those films. 

Funeral Parade of Roses

Sunday, June 18, 1 pm 


“Funeral Parade of Roses” (1968) is New Wave Cinema, Japanese style. Meet Eddie, the new, hot young thing in Tokyo’s drag club scene, and a callback to her Factory Girl namesake, Edie Sedgewick. Eddie is looking to usurp her boss Leda’s hold on The Genet, the club where they both work, as well as her hold on Gonda, the club owner. Gonda spends his time whispering sweet promises to both Eddie and Leda, and dealing drugs to his club’s underground clientele. We follow Eddie and meet her friends and clients, getting access to a counterculture that is experiencing a shakeup as younger people aggressively work to supplant the older generation.  

“Funeral Parade” wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. You can see Goddard and Alain Resnais’ fingerprints on director Toshio Matsumoto’s decisions, but, in contrast to his European counterparts, Matsumoto is showcasing a nation trying to define itself after a WWII defeat. Hallmarks of ‘60s cinema are on full display: performance art, street protests, melted film stock, sped up, obnoxious music, speech bubbles, and fuzzy guitars. It never lands on a genre, and plays that as a strength, using a time-jumping narrative to reveal layers to Eddie’s story, while also breaking the 4th wall to interview the actors about their lifestyles and identities, resulting in a stylish field recording. 

And did I mention that it is a retelling of the Oedipus story? By using a classic tragedy to frame Eddie’s tale, the film can be lumped into the unfortunate “Tragic Gay” film category along with many early examples of Queer cinema. But what separates Matsumoto’s cult classic from “The Children’s Hour” or “Suddenly Last Summer” is that the experience of these gender nonconforming characters (and actors) is centered, and accepted. No one is asking these club scenesters to change, they are in fact celebrated, and the camera has a habit of lingering on characters loving their bodies. In this way, it is a film from the future, imagining a strata where gender expression is fluid, playful, and unapologetically erotic. 

Long unavailable in the U.S., this remastered version is a crisp and beautiful print to be savored in a cinema setting. This screening in courtesy of the Asia Institute Crane House for Queer Trans Asian American Pacific Islander Week. 


Saturday, June 17, 6 pm

Sunday, June 18, 3:30 pm

$12 | $8 Speed members 

Fast forward 30 years for another film from the margins. Shot over 22 days in late 90s Oakland, CA, “Drylongso” is director Cauleen Smith’s lost ‘90s Black indie film scene classic. Heralded at film festivals across the country, it never had a theatrical or home video release — until now with this remastered release.  

Like “Funeral Parade of Roses,” “Drylongso” defies genre classification, choosing instead to bounce between being a romance movie, a murder mystery, an artist awakening tale, and buddy picture. Oakland art student Pica is finding her way into young adulthood, establishing herself as an artist by photographing the young Black men in her neighborhood. She is outraged by the constant death of these men, and uses her art to mark their passing. Meanwhile, she is on the lookout for a serial killer stalking Oakland, while simultaneously befriending a young woman, Tobi, who is hiding out from her abusive ex by taking on a male persona.  

Drylongso is a Gullah language word meaning ordinary, as in an average day for our main character and her neighbors. Calling on this and other motifs from an earlier generation’s transplanted Southern roots brings to mind Charles Burnett’s excellent Los Angeles film “To Sleep With Anger.” Like Burnett’s film, Smith’s community based filmmaking lends authenticity to the film. Her camera sets in amber a pre-gentrified West Oakland, the same streets where the Black Panthers set up shop decades earlier, with non-actors onscreen. While the clothes and music set the film in a certain time, the concerns and actions of the main characters are perennial. Whether it is concern about violence among and against young Black men, domestic violence, police abuse and neglect, or a frank discussion about gender expression and the way it relates it to racial politics, these questions are louder every day. Couple these themes with the fact that the serial killer in this film is based on the Grim Sleeper, years before the police admitted a serial killer was on the loose. It was not until 2010 that he was named, though the locals knew he was stalking their streets for decades, including the film’s director, who used the film to draw attention to this situation. That makes this a film from the future too.