Inventing the Future (2020, Isiah Medina)

“Such protests are registered only in the minds of their participants, bypassing any transformation of social structure.” Dense sentences on voiceover with dense images flickering by. When it switched to a table of young guys discussing collective economies, I got tired real fast.

Sound and picture editing are hyperactive and wandering, some segments repeating, and clarity of the voiceover is sometimes sacrificed to the random sfx. Not random though – the movie has a particular look despite all the jumping around. A fascinating object, though the VO is too academic to follow for any length of time, reading political essays aloud. Sometimes even the movie itself tires of the narrator and fast-forwards her. And when the essays go on too long they start to overlap and destroy themselves, the visual flitting from swans to mathematics to abstractions to vibrators to legos.

Freedom and power… AI vs. the human mind… the meaning of work. The politics are advocating for three-day weekends, and given that I had time to watch the movie because of a three-day holiday weekend, I would agree. Other works this reminded me of: All Light Everywhere, Ken Jacobs’ Seeking the Monkey King, the less narrative Adam Curtis docs.

Phil Coldiron in Cinema Scope speaks of the difficulty of watching this in the covid era, and pulls the movie into editing software to analyze it further.

Though its pace and intensity will be familiar to those who have followed Medina’s earlier work, Inventing the Future marks a major step forward in terms of density and, in turn, musical or motific intricacy.