Outside screening #2 – Her

I decided to postpone writing down my thoughts on this film until after I had slept on it, and even after some time, I still am not sure how I feel about it. It was such a departure from anything I had ever seen. The beginning started out like a dystopian film, much like the black mirror episode we screened. Usually with films about the future, there is some outside commentary on how humans will inevitably destroy our humanity or compassion towards each other. However, Her did not have this. In fact, it was really hard not to fall in love with the characters. Theodore writes love letter for a living for God’s sake!

However, there still felt like something wrong. It felt like humans could not connect, and while Samantha was having a positive impact on Theodore’s life, it also felt like spending so much time with something intrinsically non-human could not be good for humanity. In the end, I think that it was good all the OS systems left. Because, suddenly almost everyone is broken hearted, and longing for contact with a friend to replace the void they just got left with.

Looking at the film a bit more on the critical side. I thought the use of color was very cool. The entire movie is a love story. A strange love story, but a love story none the less. To compliment this, most of the scenes consisted of pastel reds and pinks. It was as if the entire film took place inside a valentine’s day card. Even down to the style of dress. Theodore rarely wore anything besides his red button down shirt. The one time that this intense red seamed to fade was at the end of the film. When Amy and Theodore walk up to the roof together, there is almost no red to be seen. Granted, it is night time, but Theodore is instead dressed in a white shirt, and lacks his brownish-red glasses.

I think that the red obviously represents love or passion. This would make sense as it fades when all the OS systems leave. I imagine that for many people, the world lost its reds and any other vibrant and vivid colors. Loosing something so close to many of them probably left many of them feeling like the world lost its color.

Overall, I think it is one of the most thought provoking films. To me, it represented a world that is not that far off, but instead of the director forcing his criticism upon the viewers, the film simply presents an alternate reality, for better or worse, and allows the viewer to make their own opinion on it.

Reflections on Sans Solei:

I thought this film was incredible. I have never seen a film that captures its intended feeling so well. I lived in Italy my freshmen year of high school, and while this was very different from both Japan or Africa, the feelings I got from being in a new cultural were very similar.

From the syth-esque background noise to the focus on very un-interesting detail, the film gave off an intensely alien feel. The other feeling that really reminded me of travel is the feeling I had after the film. At the end of the film I felt exhausted. I also knew that a lot of things had occurred in the film, but I had trouble remembering any single thing that stood out, because everything was so strange. This is the exact same feeling I get when traveling. I always feel very tired and happy to be home by the end; however, I can never pick out what happened to make me feel such exhaustion.

One thing about the film I did not connect with as much was the sadness. It seemed that there was nothing redeeming about the film. Everything he showed, from blatant oppression to simple activities people did for fun were cast in such a bad light. I think a lot of this stemmed from a pessimistic perspective, though. For instance, he was obsessed with sleep and dreams. However, there is no way to tell if the people he was filming were dreaming, let alone what they were dreaming of. However, Marker loved to impose his feeling that everyone was dreaming the same communalism dream that was drenched in propaganda and western commercials. I thought that this is a common reaction to travel, but definitely not a good one.  He understands so little of the culture, so that everyone appears the same to him. He boils down their weirdness into a set of adjectives, and then proceeds to lump everyone into the same pot. I could not tell if this was intentional or not. It was very difficult to see if he was making commentary on how others view different cultures when they travel, making a commentary the culture itself, or some mixture of both.

The other thing I noticed was the different sides of loneliness that the film portrayed. The scenes in Japan were filled to the brim with people, however, it still felt just as lonely as the desert scenes of Africa. One of the first scenes is a man in the street who is pretending to direct cars. He is clearly begging for attention, but no one will stop to give him such a luxury. It is as if there are so many people that individuals no longer matter. You get the feeling, sad as it may be, that that man could pass away the next day and almost no one would notice. To me this is worse than being in the desert. In the scenes of Africa, there were far less people, however, when people were together they showed intense and very true emotions.

The thing I did not fully understand was the man who made distortions of films. This is likely over my head, but he seemed like just one stop on the journey, and not a very important one at that. There were so many other characters that embodied his travels better than this man, and the distortions he made were not improvements aesthetically to the original footage in my opinion.

Overall I thought the film did an excellent job of capturing the feelings that come from travel, however morbid they may be.

Outside Screening 1: Visual AIDS presents Alternate Endings and Radical bennings (Nasher 12/1/17)

This screening was set up very similar to how we screen moving images in class. The event was centered around the intersection of African American culture, and the AIDS epidemic. The event started with a short film that served as introduction to the topic, and then proceeded to show six other short films all centered around the intersection of LGBTQ+, HIV/AIDS, and African American Culture:

 

About Face: The evolution of a black producer – by Thomas Allen Harris:

In this film, a former commercial producer turned artist talks directly and candidly to the camera about a topic close to him, the AIDS epidemic, and its effect on marginalized communities. I thought this was a great way to start off, because many of the films were quite radical and required some serious inference about their meaning. So, If I had not viewed this piece first, I would likely have been lost for the remaining films. I also liked getting the point of view from a producer as well. Often, producers and film artists must convey their opinions and motives through various film techniques. However, the direct interview negated any possible ambiguity and allowed the producer to directly express just how important this topic was.

 

Goodnight, Kia – By Kia LaBejia:

This was the third film shown, but the first I truly connected with. The topic is incredibly interesting, but as a white straight male who has had no interaction with the HIV/AIDS virus, it is not one I particularly have any direct experience with. However, Kia’s film was about the struggle of losing her mom to an AIDS related disease at a young age. The film intertwined a mix of childhood videos of her mom supporting her love for film, and her current state as an artist in New York City. The film was particularly powerful in showing just how much the loss of her mom has affected her work, and brought a touch of reality and sadness to the once fun loving girl she used to be.

 

100 Boyfriends Mixtape (The Demo) – Brontez Purnell:

This film was a little strange and uncomfortable for me. The moving image documents an African American Male who is wet-fitting recently shoplifted jeans, while talking on the phone about random topics. At first I hated the main character of the film. He starts off by bragging about how easy it is for him to shoplift, and most of the conversations center around how many drugs he regularly consumes. However, early on he reveals through the phone conversation that he is living with HIV, and passes it off very non-chalantly. While the main content of his conversations made me despise the character, he does have incredibly insightful philosophies into his current state of being an impoverished African American homosexual male, living with HIV. I liked this film because of its setting in particular. As I said before, HIV is something I have had no experience with, so when I think about what it would be like to have the disease, I only think of the major events such as getting the news from the doctor. However, the true pain and experience lies in the everyday difficulties and musings that are so vividly caputred by this film.

 

DiAna’s Hair Ego REMIX – Cheryl Dunye & Ellen Spiro:

This film documented a young director who is out to meet and interview several people in the deep south who influenced her film career greatly. Two joint owners of a hair salon in Colombia, South Carolina previously made a film in the early 1980s about how the HIV/AIDs epidemic was affecting the African American LGBTQ+ community a disproportionate amount. This was interesting because I had never thought about this intersection as being any different than the normal HIV/AIDS experience. However, as the film points out, more than 44% of all HIV diagnoses are of African Americans, however, African Americans only make up 12% of the American population. It also affects the LGBTQ+ community of the south because of the heavy Christian influence in the area. Many believed, and still believe that HIV was/is God’s way of punishing some for their sexual preferences. This film was neat to see because I always thought of intersectionality as being a brand-new topic, however, this hair salon has been promoting rights and awareness for the different cultural experience for almost 40 years. It also showed that their quest did not go unnoticed and that many have picked up the fight they laid down so long ago.

 

The above films were my favorites of what was shown, however, the following films were also screened:

The Labyrinth 1.0 – Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Stones & Water Weight – Mykki Blanco

Atlantic is a Sea of Bones – Reina Gosset

Reflections on “This is not a Film”

While this week’s screenings were far more accessible than many of the earlier screenings, I still found it one of the most difficult. In previous week’s screenings, they were portrayed as being so intentional in everything they did. This film was portrayed as being hap-hazardly thrown together and only recounts the events of a single day. I went into this film the same way as all of the others, in that I looked for every nitty-gritty detail, and analyzed its symbolism. However, I then thought to myself that there is no way there could be symbolism in this film if it is only documenting the course of a single afternoon, especially if the film is being made on a whim as it implies. By the end, I was so confused about what this film’s intentions were, so I will analyze it as if everything was intentional, and discuss the possible symbolism I picked up on.

 

The first segment that appeared intentional to me was the scene in which he is discussing one of his previous films where a girl actor throws of her cast and asks to be let off the bus. Panahi introduces this film by saying something along the lines of “I am like the girl; I must throw off my cast.” At first I did not understand what he was implying, but I think I understand now. When the girl throws off her cast, she is no longer acting. She says “cut”, and refuses to respond to anymore of Panahi’s commands. At this moment, the film transfers from faked emotions to real ones. I think this is the aspect that Panahi is trying to get across. He is no longer manufacturing fake scenes and stories to get across his commentary on the Iranian society. This is his life, and the consequences of such a society are suddenly tangible and real to him.

 

The second part of the film that I found interesting was when he is talking about the film that he was never able to make because it was denied by the Iranian Government. I thought it was striking how similar his situation was to hers. The girl was not allowed to go to college because her parents (her “superiors”) would not allow it. The result is that she is locked inside her house, and not allowed to leave. Similarly, Panahi was not allowed to make his film because the government (his “superiors”) would not allow it. As a result, he is put under house arrest, and not allowed to step outside either.

 

The other thing I noticed was how happy Panahi was to be behind a camera. He was such a socially awkward guy, and seemed to be constantly talking in riddles until he got behind his iPhone camera and started recording. This showed just how much filming meant to him. He is locked in this incredibly elegant home, yet is so depressed because of the incredibly cruel punishment imposed on him. This was not my favorite film we have watched, yet I think it is one of the most important, and I am very glad to have seen it even if I do not completely understand its complexities.

Reflections on “Pan’s Labyrinth”

This week’s screening was one of the first feature length films that I felt twisted with my emotions. There have been few other films where I deeply care about what happens to the characters. Looking back, I did not see all the symbolism in the movie until it was pointed out by my classmates. However, I think it was a large part of why the film captivated me so much. Something about that film felt like there was more to the conflict than was shown. It was as if everything good about humanity and moral correctness laid upon the shoulders of Ofelia and Mercedes. Looking back at my notes after the class discussion helped me see some of the symbolism that I had previously not noticed, and here is my interpretation of some of the aspects of the movie and their meaning:

 

One of the first things I noticed about the film was the reoccurring image of what I thought was the horns of the faun.  They appeared everywhere, from the tree in which the toad was under to the bed headboard of where the mother and Ofelia originally slept. At first I thought this was a comment on the undefined line between reality and fantasy in the film. The fact that these symbols kept showing up served to either give more proof of the faun’s existence, or show how it is easy to imagine such things in this timeline. However, during the discussion there was comments about the feminist themes in the movie. Knowing this, the horns also could represent a uterus, which is another common symbol for feminism. This makes a lot more sense because so much of the film revolves around the female leads and the inequality they experience. After all, the pregnancy of the mother is the great catalyst that brings these characters together. It ends up helping Mercedes in the end, as Vidal constantly underestimates her due to her gender which makes her cutting his face all the more satisfying.

 

For me, a good film is only as good as the bad guy. I love films such as the “No Country for Old Men” where the villain is so evil and so good at being evil that you know there cannot be a sappy ending with everyone shaking hands and walks away happy. For me, there must be this cold pressed determination mixed with an irrational love for their cause so that the villain is both predictable and unpredictable at the same time. Meaning, the viewer always knows what they intend to do, but is constantly surprised by the lengths they go to achieve it. Vidal ranks up there as one of the best bad guys I have ever seen. His lack of human emotion, and blatant disregard for human life make him ideal for the role he plays. This is echoed in the symbolism of machinery and gears that seem to constantly surround him. In the background of Vidal’s room there are large gears and beams, he also is constantly carrying around his pocket watch. I thought of two interpretations of this that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The first is that his character is like a machine: Cold, calculated, designed for a purpose, and will keep marching towards that goal until he is broken (aka killed). This would make sense because his father broke the watch when he died, and gave it to his son as his final gift. The film shows that Vidal has every intention of doing the same for his son when he dies. This means that the life of Vidal is deeply tied to the watch, and it being a reflection of his character is highly possible. The other interpretation is that Vidal is just a cog in a greater machine. There is a quote in the movie, but I forgot who it was from, yet they call Vidal replaceable. Meaning when he dies, someone just as evil will take his place and continue where he left off. This is also likely why he is so insistent on having a baby boy. By him being so replaceable, he never truly dies if there is someone to take his place. His ultimate goal is to be exactly like his father because it is the only thing that will ensure immortality. However, his character is more complex than this as well. He seems to be aware of how evil he is, and hates himself because of the role he is forced to play. Doing a little back tracking, Vidal’s father was also in the military as a high-ranking official, and you often do not get to such rank without connections. This means Vidal probably came from a long lineage of military men, and never had a choice as to what he was going to be when he grew up. It is as if this brave and unyielding military figure is actually the biggest coward of the film because he never had the guts to tell his father or others around him that he did not want to follow in these footsteps. He very clearly hates himself almost as much as anyone else in the film. There is a scene where he is shaving in the morning, and takes the straight razor blade to his reflection and slits his throat. Also, when he is running up the hill during the battle scene with the rebels, he leaves cover and safety to run directly into fire and continue fighting. The captain continually shows suicidal tendencies, and wants the sweet release of death as it will mean he no longer must play a part he never enjoyed. The watch is such a good symbol to represent this because it is both linear and cyclical at the same time. It reminds Vidal that he is steadily and constantly moving towards his death, but the rotation of the hands represent how his role will long outlive him. He will be replaced, and he hopes it will be his son who fills his vacant position.

 

The end is more satisfying the more you think about it because it ties up both issues I addressed. Vidal tries to give the order on his death bed that his son be given his watch, and told exactly what time he died. However, Mercedes stops him short saying “No, He [Vidal’s son] will never even know your name.” This takes the power away from Vidal and puts it in the hands of Mercedes who is a woman, and someone who has been taking orders from him for her entire life. Secondly, it ends the cycle Vidal was caught in. With any luck, Vidal’s son will grow up to be nothing like his father, and will likely fight to undo everything Vidal worked for. The watch dies with Vidal.

 

The last thing I noticed about the film was the duality of reality. At the beginning, Ofelia is reading a story about how a princess escaped the dark fantasy world to come to the reality, which was bright and full of color. It is assumed that this is the backstory for the world of fantasy, and is confirmed when the Faun calls her royalty. However, most of the film is very grey and lacks color, and when Ofelia returns to the world of fantasy, it is bright and full of golden hues. This goes against the story, insinuating that world she left behind was the fake one, and it is her life as a princess that is reality.

 

Overall I really enjoyed this film. As I said before, it is one of few films that have deeply played with my emotions, and it also continued to do so long after I stopped watching. I found myself for days after still contemplating the film and what exactly each part meant. I think it is one of the first films we have screened in class that is something I would normally have watched for fun, but also has so much meaning behind it that I would have missed so much had I not viewed in the setting we did. I still have so many questions. For instance, I do not understand the role of the Faun, as he appeared creepy and deceiving for what seems like no reason. I also do not truly understand the role of the toad, or why the pale man had eyes in his hands. However, I enjoy making conjectures about them.

Reflections on Radical Satire

Despite being made almost fifty years apart, there are some very striking similarities between the Star Trek and Black Mirror Episodes we watched. I had previously heard of both shows, but never knew that either were satiric comments on society.

 

Besides the blatant race conflict between the two aliens (for lack of a better term), there were several other things that I felt were distinctive choices by the director to make it more applicable to the time. First was the colors that they chose for the pigment of the two aliens. The stark black and white contrast is most likely a reference to the racial tensions happening at the time between African Americans and Whites in America. However, it also probably represents the ideals of that society as well. The two main characters had no sympathy for each other. There was no grey zone. For them, their issues were black and white. There were also some references to very prevalent issues of that time.  There is a scene where Lokai is talking with some of the other crew on the ship, and explaining how Bele’s government forced people to fight in wars for which they had no stake in. When this episode was made in 1969, it was the height of the Vietnam war. A major racial issue of the time was that the American government was drafting African Americans. This had heavy opposition because African Americans were dying in a “War for white man’s freedom” (Malcom X). I also thought it was interesting how trivial they made the difference between the two characters. It was not until Bele pointed out the pigment was different on different sides of their face that anyone besides the two took notice. The one criticism I had about the episode was its ending. Having both characters continue to fight and die on their dead planet was most likely a satirical warning that getting caught up in so much hate only brings destruction. However, it also paints them as equally at fault. I know that hindsight is 20/20, and fifty years is quite a lot of hindsight, but there was a fairly clear right and wrong in that conflict. Lokai may have been caught up in hate, but I am sure most people would be if they had witnessed their friends and family being murdered, enslaved, and marginalized in such a terrible way. There is no sympathy for Bele. He was the representative of an oppressive government, just looking to terminate the last loose end for total racial enslavement.

 

The Black Mirror episode was nothing like I had ever seen. It was horrific yet entertaining at the same time. I usually try to detach from emotions so that I can have a rational commentary on the moving images we screen. However, I could not help but cringing in disgust for many parts of the episode. I think the thing for me that was so striking was the type of dystopia the episode portrayed. I have read 1984 and A Brave New World. For me, they both gave a similar feeling to that of Black Mirror episode, but I never took either that seriously because they always seemed so far-fetched that they would never become reality. However, the way in which this society was set up was different. It was not an overbearing government who was the source of the radical change, but rather society itself, and the vanity that everyone has. The technology was very plausible, and seemed like something that Apple or Facebook could very well introduce in their next update. It is also tough because your mind automatically wonders how you would react in such a society, and I have no doubt that many of us, including myself, would take part in it to some degree. The one thing standing in the way of this becoming reality is diversity. There is always some human attraction to the rebels. From George Washington to Star Wars, humans love a good rebellion. I think there are (and I hope as well) too many people like the truck driver. People who have a grasp on what matters in life, and do not particularly care about trivial things like social media. After discussing the episode with one of my classmates who has seen a lot of Black Mirror, and called this one “tame,” I do not think I will watch another episode. However, I think it is a very important show that gives a much needed reflection of society.

Reflections on Music Videos

I had previously seen about half of the screenings that we watched this previous week. However, except for a Hard Day’s Night, I had never sat down and watched any of them with the intention of watching the video. Music videos were always something I put on when I did not own a certain song. They were always more about the music than anything else for me.

 

However, going back and actively watching “Thriller” or “Fell in Love with a Girl” brought a whole new experience to the music. I particularly liked Gondry’s visual rendering of the “Fell in love with a Girl” There is something about The White Stripe’s music that always seemed blaring sharp, and bright: All things that also characterize Legos.  The music video was consisted of rapidly changing scenes made of basic bright colors. It fit perfectly with the tone and mood of the song. Being a bit of a White Stripes fan myself, I could not help but notice that the Legos used were primarily red white and black. These are the colors that dominate most of their clothes and album covers (In fact, all their album covers use only those three colors) of the White Stripes. However, it was also neat to think about how much time, effort, and planning must have gone into that two and some change minute video. This was not a stop motion with premade figures, or anything of that nature. Each scene likely had to be built from scratch, photographed, and then torn down for a new frame to be assembled. My taste in music is liable to have biased my opinion. However, I thought this was one of the coolest music videos I have ever seen.

 

I also enjoyed Gondry’s video for “Around the World” by Daft Punk. Knowing that Gondry made both the White Stripe’s video as well as the daft punk video made a lot of sense after I had seen both. They were both a little strange, but fit the music perfectly. I did enjoy the videos by Romanek, however, Gondry’s films all seemed to be more of a stand-alone piece of art that invited the viewer to engage with the video equally as much as they did with the music. I think I appreciated the “Around the World” video more after having just studied performance art the previous week. Similar to the video for “Fell in love with a girl” Daft Punk’s video made heavy use of color and lights to reflect the mood of the song. The overall darkness mixed with flashing neon green, blue, and red lights gave it a quasi-rave feeling. The fact that the four groups of characters are all orbiting around a central cylindrical platform could not have been by chance either, as the only three words in the song are “Around the World”. I would also consider this performance art, yet the video was not shot from the perspective of a viewer in a theater. The shots varied throughout the film, focusing on one group for a little bit before panning back to the larger scene. This reflected the song itself, as the words are monotonous, yet it would switch up the background melody frequently. It seemed that each time this would happen, the video would bring its focus to a different group.

 

I did not enjoy many of the other videos as much. My opinion on this is liable to have been affected by the genre of music they were set to, but to me they were either too odd or blatantly commercially driven. To me, they either were direct byproducts of the music, or so distracting that they did not truly compliment the song being played. The video for “Are you going to go my way” in particular seemed to just be made for the purpose of selling music. It was pleasing to watch, and fit well with the accompanying music. However, it lacked a uniqueness that the other films had. I think that it is important for me to keep the time frame in mind when viewing this pieces too though. This music video was made in 1993, which is four years before I was even born. The grungy live concert-style of music video was likely very original at that time. However, I feel now it is a something that has been over used in music videos now, and is probably the reason I did not enjoy it as much.

 

This is reflection ended up a bit longer than I anticipated, so I will condense my thoughts on Lemonade and A Hard Day’s night into one paragraph, although I could have easily written multiple pages on both. To me, both films were so different than any of the others. By virtue of the medium of a music video, there really isn’t that much room for a full narrative. However, by having a longer duration, these videos could have a plot, conflict, and all the essentials for an engaging film. With both, the music did not dominate, but was rather a tool to motivate the moving image. Granted, they were incredibly different. I had seen A hard Day’s Night before this, but it was still my favorite of these past screenings. If you were not a Beatles fan before, it is hard not to love them afterwards. Each character is so unique, yet the way the band fits together, and is constantly bouncing from one adventure to the next forces you into a good mood. For Lemonade, I was not a huge fan at first. I have never been a big fan of celebrities, and always thought that their wealth shields them from reality, and grasping most people’s everyday struggles. So, when first seeing a full-length feature film about her experience with being cheated on, my first reaction was that this is incredibly superfluous, and something only someone with her amount of wealth could pull off. However, the more I watched the film, the less it seemed to be about just her struggle. There was commentary on race relations, feminism, African American history, and problems with society in general. When the music pauses, and was replaced by Malcom X’s speech on the African American woman, I realized how important this film was. Beyoncé took a huge risk to utilize her position as a pop superstar and discuss these ever-important themes. It also made me realize that while I enjoyed A hard day’s night more, this had a far greater societal importance, and that music videos are not always something you watch for the music.

Reflections on Performance Art

Similar to last week, I had a difficult time with this week’s screenings. I think hearing from the artists first helped a lot. I also enjoyed seeing the processes by which the artists go about making each performance. Especially the performance by Joan Jonas. Seeing her create each step in the process, and hearing from the piano player about how many hours they would spend together in preparation was something I had honestly not expected.

The parts of the screenings I did not enjoy was parts of the works and interviews with Maria Abramović. I thought that the work she made was incredibly interesting, and that she was clearly very talented. However, I struggled with how little she seemed to care about anything but her work. From the stories of her childhood, it was clear that she came from a lot of money, and I do not think she would not have been able to create such compositions if she had grown up as such. This became clear to me when she asked to borrow a jet fighter for her 17th birthday, just so she could draw with jet trails in the sky. This is an incredibly expensive task, and the artwork itself would not last for longer than a few seconds. She also wished bring speakers to a bridge and play the sounds as if the bridge were crashing all around. However, if you date back her childhood, she would have been growing up in cold war era USSR. This was a time when bombings and falling bridges were not a joking matter, but a very real possibility. For me, it was clear that she lacked a grasp on certain aspects of reality, and that made it difficult to for me to fully enjoy her work. That being said, I cannot boil her entire career as an artist down to a few actions. Nor were these situations probably nearly as cut and dry as I made them out to be. I did enjoy her work “Art must be beautiful, Artist must be beautiful,” because it showed a different aspect. It was clear that while she may have grown up with money, she still experienced struggles as an artist. There seems to be an endless positive feedback loop that she is exploring. Consumers like beautiful art, which drives artists to focus primarily on beauty when creating their art, which only reinforces the consumer’s idea that art must be beautiful. The same goes for the artist. This film also was perfect to deal with the reservations I had about Abramović. Would it have been better if she was creating beautiful and traditional art? I still find it difficult to see the works she created as anything but works for herself. However, she is incredibly creative, and very brave for being so ahead of the performance art timeline.

Reflections on Motion(less) Pictures

To be honest, I struggled a lot with this week’s screenings. Even after the first two or three screenings, I could not help but get antsy and a little bored. I understand that the film is trying to force the viewer into a quasi-meditation state, while also challenging their ideas about what a film is supposed to be. However, it may have been the setting but I could not get encapsulated by this moving image like I normally do. While I did not enjoy the films themselves per se, I really enjoyed the idea that they are trying to challenge. The Warhol quote in the beginning of “the point is to watch time go by” captured it perfectly. Time is so subjective yet impersonal, in marches along at a constant rate. However, can appear to pass incredibly slowly or quickly depending on the situation. Humanity also has a fascination with endless stimuli. Most of the images we witness throughout the day do not hold our attention for more than minutes at a time. By forcing the viewer to stare at the empire state building for 8 hours straight, they are forced to experience the entirety of the duration of the film, and truly come to know the image of the building well.

The screening I enjoyed the most was Blue. I have seen sad films. Old yeller made me cry for days, however, Blue was so different in comparison to anything I had previously seen. There is no plot, or hope, or happiness, the only thing is a slow and humiliating decent into death. Death is one of those concepts that is so foreign to all living things that it is almost best to push it out of your mind anytime it comes up. Most humans have experienced the loss of a close friend or family member; however, it is so different hearing the story in the first-person perspective. The most powerful moments in the film, come from the most boring circumstances. For instance, when Jarman is walking down the street and sees a pair of shoes he likes, but then thinks that it is useless to buy new shoes, as his current ones will be more than sufficient to carry him out of life. Or when Jarman is looking at the ocean, and the thoughts of all his past partners who are going through the struggle of AIDS with him, and how so many of them have passed away, and he knows he will be short to follow. These situations are very difficult for people in the present to put themselves into. In this way, the film becomes more real for the viewer than were likely liable to be comfortable with. This film does not have the comforting detachment that can be found in Old Yeller, it is reality. The film brings death into perspective, as it is an experience all humans must go through one way or another. It sobers the viewer, and snaps petty problems into perspective. This film was an intense experience, and one I am not liable to forget for a while.

Reflections on 10/3 screenings

The screening I enjoyed most from the previous class was The Lanthanide series by Erin Espille. I think I enjoyed this film so much because it was so many things simultaneously. I could watch that film 3-4 times over again, and still pick out a new theme I had not caught in the previous viewing. The themes that stuck out to me the most were its environmental and societal commentaries. While the moving image could simply have been a unique approach to a documentary on the rare-earth metals, I think it was by no mistake that she chose to emphasize the environmental concerns that come from mining these materials. She also inadvertently shows that the only reason for such damage to be caused is so that we can view the world through our modern black mirrors. Reality can be tough and confusing, but obscuring it through the medium of social media makes it more bearable and familiar. Now, as stated previously, this could solely have been a unique take on a documentary, and it still would have been a fantastic film. It makes an incredibly original film that she talks about everything that goes into making a smartphone, from glass to all the other various materials, and films it all through the reflection of a blank iPad. It was interesting for me because I spend a lot of my time looking at my phone, yet I never knew what goes into making it. I also thought it was interesting that the film revolved so much around smartphone devices, yet never truly talked about them directly.

 

The other film I enjoyed was Video Ravingz by Cory Arcangel. I am not the biggest video gamer, and I have not played many Mario games, but the film and accompanying music seam very happy. As one reviewer online said in reference to the accompanying music “I feel like I’m supposed to know this song, and that I’d probably slap my head in recognition if I were to hear who recorded it originally” (Collin Marshall). The film has a very nostalgic feeling. I am too young to have spent much time playing the classic NES games as I said before. However, they were very popular among my older brothers, and some of my first memories of them are sitting upstairs watching them play together. Having been made in 2002, I doubt this was Arcangel’s intention, but I cannot help but get this feeling of nostalgic happiness when hearing such 8-bit style songs, and seeing those pixelated screens.

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