This week was by far my favorite in the world of the avant garde because I found the films viewed in class to be entertaining and enjoyable. The theme was also very interesting: found footage. None of the directors this week shot their own material, they solely used footage they had found and reassembled the images to create new meaning. This was a very interesting premise which created some unique results.
Report, Bruce Conner (1967)
This film dealt well with a very heavy subject: the assassination of a much loved president and what it did to a nation. At the same time, it comments on the issues of the media and the ways in which it portrayed the event. By making a film that criticizes the media, I feel that Conner is being contradictory. Through his film he is saying that the media took advantage of Kennedy's death, but at the same time he is doing the exact same thing. However, Conner's film does not exploit the event. The moment of the assassination is not even shown in the film; at that moment there is a cut to a screen that resembles one of a flicker film. We can hear what is being said by the announcer but we cannot see the actual action. This makes the moment of Kennedy's death more personal to the individual viewer. This flickering, image-less screen made it easier to be absorbed into the moment. There was nothing to distract from the words being said. I felt myself tearing up because I was able to put myself into what it must have been like to suffer such a tragedy as a nation.
Home Stories, Mathius Muller (1990)
I really liked this film for its use of sound and editing techniques. The music and sound effects helped to heighten the tension of the film and add a sense of paranoia. It allowed the viewer to become a part of the film and experience the same emotions as the women in the scenes. The editing of Home Stories was also really well done because it helped to tie these diverse images together into a cohesive story. Muller picked images of women that are typical of classic Hollywood films. With the use of editing he was able to tie the images together to create a seeming narrative flow different than that of the narrative from which the image originally came. As stated in the article about Home Stories, "Thoughts on the Transformation of Meaning in Found Footage Film," by Lucy Reynolds, the film only gains meaning through its dual layers. The "original histories inscribed in the found footage images" is used in order for the film to comment on another societal issue (p 3). There cannot be an idea of subversion without the original idea already in place. In this film, Muller seems to be subverting the idea of the female character in classic Hollywood cinema.
Removed, Naomi Uman (1999)
I felt that this film was similar to Connor's in its contradictions. Through her film Uman is commenting on the female body and how it is exploited by men through pornography. In those types of films, women are seen solely as objects of sexual desire. Through removing the female figure, with nail polish remover, a very female object in and of itself, she is taking away the idea of women as a objects of desire. At the same time, she is exploiting the female form for the sake of her art. She is using the void of the female body to make a point and to make a film.
Somewhere Only We Know, Jess McClean (2009)
This film used reality television clips to express the obsession of Americans of the genre. Through here film, McClean is showing the range of human emotions of people getting their dreams crushed and comparing them to the very real event of an earthquake. In doing so she is showing how unrealistic reality television can be. I would have liked her to compare the faces of the people losing competitions with people suffering actual devastation as a result of the earthquake or other real events. I think that could have added a stronger emotional impact and a larger social commentary.
Rehearsals for Retirement, Phil Solomon (2007)
Hearing that this film would use clips from the Grand Theft Auto video games, I assumed that there would be violence and maybe some commentary on violence of video games and the affect it has on children. However, I was hugely mistaken. This film takes a somber look a life all through the use of actual video game images. I thought the concept was interesting, but I'm not sure if it was executed in the right way. The scenes of the cars flying and the people just walking did not seem true to real life game play. Also, I wasn't sure where the film was actually going for the most part.
For a Blonde...For a Brunette...For Someone...For Her...For You, Mike Olenick (2006)
This film was unique because of its interactive experience. At first, I was afraid that no one in the class would be interested or enthusiastic about reading the lines aloud. I was surprised at the response at which we all joined in and took part in the film. There was a feeling of collectivity that came with the experience of reading it together; it took away the act of the film as an insular, personal experience and made it a group event.
Security Anthem, Kent Lampert (2003)
There is something very strange and haunting about this film. Lampert uses simple phrases to create a haunting poem that to us living in the post 9/11 world seems like a morbid threat to our security. The words being said are all banal but it is the way they are read, the expressionless tone accompanied by the alarm sound in the background that creates the air of creepiness and paranoia. Phrases such as "they have only one son" and "the car is going too fast" no longer seem like simple statements but warnings of violence and loss. There was also something hypnotic with the way the words were being read that pulled the viewer in and never let go.
Passage A L'Acte, Martin Arnold (1993)
This film, with all its stuttering and stops reminded me of a broken down animatronics ride in Disney World or as someone put it in class "a DJ mixing on a turntable." Arnold was able to take such a simple 15 second scene and break it down so far as to be able to see every small detail, and then some. There is a musical quality that comes from this breakdown of image; the characters seem to almost dance and create music with their bodies and the objects around them. He is taking a very serious movie and removing the realism, breaking it down to its most simple cinematic form. The film reminded me of a flicker film in the way that it distorted language until there was almost no meaning and the way the images flashed on the screen.