Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Story Telling 2.0

This week's film were avant garde, but attempted to have some sort of narrative structure whereas most of the films we have watched so far do not try and even pretend to make a cohesive story. The films deconstructed or experimented with the idea of narrative so there was still an abstract element that was going on.
Hold Me While I'm Naked, George Kuchar (1966)
Hold Me While I'm Naked is a film about film; it shows an independent director and the struggles he is having in making his masterpiece come to life. He faces many obstacles on the way to making his creation: the lead actress quits and the director cannot find a replacement. The director himself is a weak and almost pathetic character as all his attempts fail. He lives miserably with his mother and cannot achieve his dreams. This film would be horribly depressing if not for the stylistic element of camp. The film is so over the top and overly dramatic in terms of acting, the setting and costumes are garishly bright. This helps add some humor and some good natured self deprecation to the film. Kuchar is showing that all artists struggle for their art, it is just the way in which some go about it that is better than others. Also, the campy-ness makes the film more fun in general and more visually pleasing.
Tommy Chat Just Emailed Me, Ryan Trecartin (2006)
Move 40 years away from Hold Me While I'm Naked and you get Tommy Chat Just Emailed Me. This film takes camp to a completely new level. The colors are even brighter, hair make-up, furniture, nothing is safe from paintbrush like hues. The use of camp in this film seems to apply more to the currently social issues rather than just poking fun at a small group like Kuchar. The over the top acting and colors, along with the use of digitization for the actors voices makes the film seem artificial. There seems to be an emphasis on superficiality throughout the film from the way the characters are dressed to the things they discus, everything is just noise, excess, fluff; there is nothing substantial going on. This idea seems to mirror Trecartin's ideas of society. With the reliance on technology, people have become increasingly fake. There is a distance and a disconnect that individuals experience from each other and that viewers feel in watching the film because of the surrealist aspect caused by the film's campiness.
Nest of Tens, Miranda July (2000)
I was not a fan of July's first film and I feel the same way about this one. Her attempt at narrative was disconnected at best. The jumble of the four separate stories confused me because they all had so little connection to one another. One thing July did do to bring together the dissimilar stories is through the use of a sound bridge. Especially with the man reading the list of phobias, the sound could be heard over the images of the next scene, bringing with it some sense of cohesion. There is just this element of questioning that comes with all her films. I found myself constantly wondering why the characters were doing what they were doing; part of me believe that the film was occurring in medias res.
Guest Filmmaker Melika Bass
The guest filmmaker this week had a very specific style. Her two films Songs from the Shed and Shoals both had this very vintage, ethereal feel about them. The characters and settings could have been from modern times or years in the past; there was this sense of frozen time or the fact that time did not really seem to matter in her films. This sense was also conveyed by the length of the films. They were both rather long and seemed to drag the viewer into this strange dream-like state.
I also liked hearing her speak at the end about the use of sound and how important it is to her. She films sound first and then develops the film around that, something I found very interesting.

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