Reporting back on that second wave of Mekas DVDs:
Guns of the Trees - A landmark film, more in the mode of the 40s and 50s American avant-garde (doomy hanging-around psychodrama) than Mekas later, much more personal, diary films. Great to have it, but most interesting to me for how generic it looks nowadays.
The Sixties Quartet - Great stuff. Mekas compiles home movies (mostly well after the fact). The Maciunas film is beautifully poignant, and the others are, at the very least, fascinatingly voyeuristic. I mean, where else can you see Miles Davis and John Lennon, at a big garden party, casually slink off to shoot hoops together? (Lennon, it seems, is pants at basketball.)
Scenes from Allen's Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit - Another extremely moving, death-obsessed film. The significance of the title is that it begins right after Ginsberg's death, and follows the aftermath through to the funeral. It's shot on video, and Mekas is only just starting to find his way around that medium, so this film is no great shakes formally, but the content is very strong.
A Letter from Greenpoint - Several years later, and Mekas still hasn't really got to grips with video, and with material as thin as this, it becomes a real problem. The premise is decent enough - Mekas relocates to Brooklyn after decades in the Village and wants to chronicle his new life - but what we get is lots and lots of rushes (with video, the sharp economy of his earlier diary films, in which events are sped up and glancingly edited in camera so he can fit everything in without running out of film stock, goes out the window) of Mekas hanging out with his young cool buddies, drinking beer and improvising 'hilarious' new lyrics to the songs they're listening to on the radio. It's a home movie from hell that could have been made by anybody's drunk uncle showing off their new camcorder.
Sleepless Night Stories - By the time of this film, Mekas has finally found his video 'voice', and this is a pretty delightful riff on the Arabian Nights, casting lots of his artist and celebrity friends in little impressionistic and dream-like vignettes. A lulling little free-associative charmer that seems like a great thing to stick on when you're battling insomnia.