For the cinema class that I am taking this semester we are watching all avant garde short films from directors I have never heard of. To be honest, I'm slightly disappointed because I wanted to a chance to be introduced to new films like I was last semester, which I am, but I wanted them to be films/directors that I have actually heard of before. However, that being said, I'm trying to keep an open mind. And for class I have to keep a journal analyzing the films/ reflecting/ making connections/asking questions so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and just talk about the films here for my "journal."
In order of preference:
1. "Black Ice," Stan Brakhage (1994)
(Yes, that was the entire movie.)
Brakhage's film seems like a journey down a rabbit hole, with a Wonderland that never comes. The forward momentum created by the moving frames pulls the viewer in and never allowing you to look away. The length of the film is perfect because after the allotted time, your eyes are blurred from the colored frames on the screen. The whiteness that comes abruptly at the end of the film seems jarring because of the drastic change from the previous images.
With "Black Ice," you constantly expect something to happen, almost like actual black ice itself. There is a sense of impending doom that I think is caused especially by the lack of sound. The darkness of it all leads to feelings of foreboding, the same that come from driving on black ice. Out of the four films viewed, I really liked this one because of how much of a response it evoked with so little.
2. "Necrology," Standish Lawder (1969)
I did not get the premise of this film until halfway through when there was a dissolve of a river over the image of the people riding on the escalator. For some reason, with the upward motion of the people and the juxtaposition of the river over them reminded me of the River Styx. It was the first time I thought about death in relation to the action occurring on the screen (having no knowledge of what "Necrology" actually is). The people seemed like they were being ferried across the screen to a land beyond. This feeling was enforced as they people disappeared on the top of the screen.
I liked how much effort was put into the credits; each character came with their own back story, a life they had lead before ending up on the escalator. As I read, I remembered some of the people that I had seen and wished that I had seen others or paid more close attention. When the film was over I wish that I gotten what was going on from the beginning or just understood more in general because upon the first watching of all these films I was slightly confused as to what I was supposed to be getting out of it.
3. "A Movie," Bruce Connor (1958)
Before discussing this film in class I was not really sure what was going on. The images seemed disconnected to me, I did not understand that the point of the film was to be incongruous. Having "the end" displayed numerous time throughout the film confused me because I always believed the film was actually ending, except when it did. I think it does comment on the way we watch films because watching a film comes with such high expectations and this film used these expectations to trick the viewer. With "A Movie," Connor breaks traditional film expectations.
4. "The Amateurist," Miranda July (1998)
This is the film I liked the least because I did not understand the point. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to anything that happened. Half of the time the actress (July herself) seemed to be addressing the camera or an omniscient figure that the audience was unaware of and occasionally she addressed the TV she was holding and the girl there. I feel like there was some metaphysical stuff going on that went completely over my head since July played both characters.