I was completely transfixed by Best of Luck With the Wall, a recent offering from Field of Vision. Technically impressive and buoyed by a sharp original score, the only words you'll find in the film are in the title; the rest is a sweeping visual assertion unlike anything I've seen this whole election season.
What would it mean to try to “see” the entire southwest border at once? To travel the whole 1,954 miles in, say, six minutes?
2015's Victoria, directed by Sebastian Schipper, is not the first one-shot wonder, but it's the first THRILLING one-shot wonder. In addition to the incredible camerawork that follows multiple characters, locations and rhythms, the film is crowned by phenomenal performances and writing. In terms of picture editing, the only decision was to choose which of the 3 takes would be used. How difficult was that choice?
I caught my second Chairlift show a few months back at the Biltmore Cabaret. Everything about this band is top-notch: their weird wonderful range of sounds, masterful arrangements conducive to dancing or kicking back, clever lyrics, wildly original music videos and lead singer Caroline Polachek's outstanding voice. After the show I had a chance to briefly chat with Polachek about one of my favorite music videos of all time, from their first record:
That hypnotizing glitch effect is a technique called datamoshing, which I'm sure will be of special interest to any codec nerds out there. Here's a great website about it, including how-tos. Curious what else could be done with this. I sense a lot of potential, e.g. used as device within feature films. Apparently the team behind the video was racing to release it before their peers, who were using the same technique for Kanye West. Yeezy's video came out second. Still excellent:
I was lucky to catch the documentary Salero, one of my favorites from the SFIFF. It presents a stunning salt flat in Bolivia as a character, not simply a backdrop for human stories. Thanks to exquisite cinematography and sound, open-minded direction, and generous participants, it transcends any particular issue and allows us to feel first, and think later... and there is lots to think about too.
At the Exposition Universelle 1900, in Paris. This boat ride simulator provided the feeling of seafaring for up to 700 people at a time. with rolling panoramas, rocking floor, seaweed odours, synthetic ocean breezes and accompanying sounds. I'm feeling hints of that Borges story about the world-sized world map.
I can see something true through the camera that is not immediately visible. If I start from you and your expectation as a participant of what cinema should be, you will start staging yourself, you’ll start acting out an idealized image of yourself, you’ll start acting out the fantasies that you hold of yourself. And I’ll be able to know how you dream of yourself, how you imagine the world. And that’s also how I tried to use the camera, especially in The Act of Killing. And I think that’s the state of nature for the non-fiction camera. If I put a camera on anybody, they start to perform. And from that performance we can see how people want to be seen. And we can infer how they really see themselves. In short, we can see the role of fiction storytelling and fantasy in constituting our apparently factual reality.
It was an intense week, watching one episode per night until there were no more.... or so I thought. It got under my skin so much that I keep seeing more parallels over here in the 'real world'. A dark looking glass indeed. There are so many works out there that imagine not-so-distant places based on existing technologies. Of those this show is the best I've seen in a long time. It doesn't shy away from disturbing scenarios, nor does it eschew our stickier/uglier proclivities as humans.
"... in even the most perverse installments, there’s a delicacy, a humane concern at how easily our private desires can be mined in the pursuit of profit. The worlds can be cartoonish, but the characters are not. [...] it works because it’s not cynical about emotion. " - Emily Nussbaum for The New Yorker
Sparse highlights from the great spinning sphere of publication.