I got a (cheap!) Metrograph subscription to watch this, with accompanying shorts and a live Q&A, already paying dividends. Velez & Stephens traveled and filmed in 16mm whenever they had time over the past five years, aiming to shoot all the sections of the Berlin Wall on display in the USA. Clearly a lot of thought went into editing and sound design, and instead of a rigorous Benning approach, they take each wall location on its own terms and include chance encounters with locals, forming a kind of meditative Profit Motive road movie / snapshot of America in a breezy 70 minute package.
This guy in Suwanee seems cool:
Mr. Yellow Sweatshirt (2017, Pacho Velez & Yoni Brook)
A pleasing top-down angle on the subway turnstiles, where among the general bustle an extremely minor drama unfolds when a yellow sweatshirted fellow’s card won’t let him through. Can’t decide whether to root for Mr. Sweatshirt or be mad at him for holding up traffic.
Perfect Fifths (2020, Courtney Stephens)
“All stability is temporary.” Narrator named JJJJJerome, unseen except his hands, is a philosophical piano tuner. Focus on piano, with pictureboxed (interlaced) cutaways to construction scenes, soft piano soundtrack. I don’t know if the beach scenes were supposed to be visual analogies for the talk about time intervals, but it really worked for me, mad bonus points for the inclusion of pelicans.
Mating Games (2017, Courtney Stephens & KJ Relth)
I’ve been using tags to quietly keep track of movies that feature cat tossing or bird tossing, but it’s apparently time for a girl tossing category. Slow-mo home movies of bodybuilders and gymnasts showing off at Los Angeles beaches in the 1950’s/60’s, set to music.
Muscle Beach seems like an intimidating place – reading online that Danny Trejo used to hang out there, while downstairs my dad is watching Grindhouse. Seeing all the girl tossing through the lens of this movie’s title makes human existence seem head-spinning.
The Starting Line (2017, Pacho Velez & Nicole Salazar)
Official USA/Mexican border crossing and surrounding area on the day Obama’s presidency ended – vague talk on the TV news, but normal daily life on the ground.