SF Weekly – Jeanne C Finley + John Muse

Wednesday, Mar 7, 2001

Reel World

By Michael Fox

Big Bad Mama As a responsible member of the Fourth Estate, I can in no way condone the five-finger discount. But filmmaker Jeanne Finley, back in town and teaching at the California College of Arts and Crafts after a few years in New York, can be a little more candid. “The thrill of shoplifting is something I remember very, very well and with great pleasure,” she told a select group at the Patricia Sweetow Gallery on a recent Friday night.

The lucky few had been invited to the space at the foot of Geary for the final night of Finley and collaborator John Muse’s dreamy video installation, “The Trial of Harmony and Invention,” and a sneak peek at Loss Prevention, their marvelous short portrait (made with Doug DuBois) of the thorny relationship between a 79-year-old Miami shoplifter and her perplexed daughter. “It was originally conceived as a radio piece” — a segment of the filmmakers’ audio interviews with older kleptomoms aired on NPR — “then I tried to make a conventional documentary,” Finley related. “It didn’t work, so I threw it all away and wrote a script with a composite narrative.”

The evening peaked with A Song for 3, 4 or 5 Hands, a performance in which new-music diva Pamela Z — impersonating a 21st-century theremin — provided spellbinding vocal and rhythm accompaniment to Finley and Muse’s shimmering images. Loss Prevention screens March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Yerba Buena Cinema for the Arts in an S.F. Cinematheque show wryly titled “Jovial Tales for Tragic Sensibilities.” As a bonus, Pamela Z will also reprise her earlier performance.