In between short films, we watch couple-minute Mitchell & Webb segments about a post-apocalyptic game show. Unknown Male 282 doesn’t survive, and we are urged to remain indoors. Also, a stir-crazy, homebound Madonna sings a parody of her own song into a hairbrush, but this was on instagram so the endless scroll of horribly rude user comments next to the image is unavoidable.
It Is Here Where We Are (2018, Andrew Busti)
A 14-second flicker film loop of planets and circles and HERE.
I watched it a bunch of times, sometimes chanting along with the HERE voice.
I have Busti’s vimeo bookmarked to watch more shorts for a different but related thing, so more on him later. Busti teaches in Boulder, wonder if he knew Brakhage.
Apt. 309 (2014, Rosario Sotelo)
“Remain indoors.” Quarantine cinema, shot inside an apartment with a Timecode split-screen, unusual way to make art out of the everyday.
Victory Over the Sun (2007, Michael Robinson)
Real standard-def macroblocky quality to the trees. Some serious chanting/recitation in this. Futuristic architecture covered by weeds and trees gives a post-apocalyptic feel, then we go into flicker-film hyperspace and back again.
Apparently last time I watched this moments before seeing The Wizard of Speed and Time for the first time, which pretty much erased it from my memory (and that music that sounded “very familiar” is November Rain, duh), but this is good – apparently I like Robinson now, and can move past the Full House thing.
Life is an Opinion, Fire a Fact (2012, Karen Yasinsky)
Death scene on VHS, paused and blown up so each pixel is visible.
Hand-drawn man on fire.
Rotoscoping and filming a TV, both techniques to borrow someone else’s motion (and the latter reminds me of Paul Schrader’s Dark).
Reading material is provided for most of the films, and the Yasinsky interview is the best thing so far.
The older I get, the less I believe in just about everything involving institutions and ideology. But I believe in art, I have faith in the artistic impulse, and I believe in artists, not in some master / genius kind way but in the simple fact that our works, our gestures, are expressions of altruism in the face of the utter venality of our time.
Barneys New York (2020, Sara Cwynar)
Visiting the final sales inside a high-end store, the slashed discount prices still unreasonably high. Completely silent – I filled the audio in my head with memories of the Sabres of Paradise / Red Snapper song from that late-90’s Warp comp. Could be multiple camerapeople, but I think Sara came back on different days, once with ink all over her left hand, and once without. More Cwynar another day, but remember to come back to this one, because I want that camera mount she’s using.
37/78 Tree Again (1978, Kurt Kren)
Another one I’ve seen, another silent, and another movie where the trees are too low-res, sorry ubuweb. Last time I watched this I excerpted Huber’s article about this being the greatest movie ever made. My opinion of it has risen, watching in this program, rather than alongside Kren’s actionist crapola.
Strange Space (1993, Leslie Thornton)
Rainer Maria and hospital tests on dying Ron Vawter, grid graphics and pictures-in-picture by Thornton, mixing in what looks like moon rover images. The second intriguing short I’ve watched by Thornton.
Rehearsals for Retirement (2007, Phil Solomon)
As I said last time, “Argh, machinima.” I think it’s Grand Theft Auto, not Second Life, and reading about Solomon, I realize that Untitled (for David Gatten) is in fact the short I watched as Crossroad, and both of these were written up in Cinema Scope 30, if I could find my copy. Anyway, a single chord drone, and moody, foggy textures (weird thing about watching avant-machinima on youtube is you don’t know if the low-res texture is part of the original or not) with a dark figure looming in the foreground, airplanes in the distance. Weirdly, it’s really good.
Lachrymae (2000, Bryan Frye)
Fireflies in a cemetery. In the side reading, Frye writes about found footage and copyright law, but fireflies in a cemetery brings to mind childhood summers in Virginia, and I’m going on my own journey here and have little interest in the reading.
All My Life (1966, Bruce Baillie)
It’s perfect that the program ends with the fourth (at least) film to display low-res flora via poor digital transfers, accompanied by a Manohla Dargis article saying: “You can watch All My Life and other Baillie films online, but donâ€™t.” This loops back to Sicinski’s intro statement: “We did not count on toxicity or being under house arrest. We didnâ€™t count on everything suddenly becoming television.” He could’ve picked 1080p HD Jodie Mack shorts with nice bitrates and perfect color on vimeo, so all these blurry TV trees were chosen for a reason. Anyway this was fun, and there are at least six more Ultra Dogme programs to check out as we remain indoors.