Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stan Brakhage: An Anthology

I have to say, I didn't like Dog Star Man as much as the other three films.

The film is fascinating in small amounts, and I was with it for a while, but I think this could be a lot more impactful at 7 minutes rather than 75, and although it's definitely artistic and interesting and in a technical sense is quite impressive (that's a LOT of cutting, scratching and footage), but I got the message early on and I understand his attempt to create essentially the entire experience of life with literary connotations as well, but brevity would, in my opinion, have served it well. I think if I could have talked to Brakhage, during and after the film (i.e., he grew up and taught here in Colorado up in Boulder, and I feel too bad that I was not able to join something up there before he died in 2003), I could have gotten perhaps more out of it.

Anyway, the other three shorts I watched were more interesting, the first two of which dealt with keying in on specific senses purely and alone: Desistfilm is essentially a bunch of shots of beatniks sitting around being bored, but the sound (a brash dissonance of almost insect-like buzzing and it almost gives you the feeling that you're a fly watching these other beings interact and don't understand what is going on.

Wedlock House: An Intercourse focuses on his more usual sense: sight. The film is a series of quick, glancing shots of a couple in their early experience of marriage, and whether it "says" anything is unimportant, as its mostly just fascinating to watch and ends fairly quickly.

And finally, on the topic of what films "say", The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes is funny in the sense that people assume that, just because someone as experimental as Brakhage filmed it, it must have some metaphorical meaning, when in fact it's simply a look. The film is a pure documentary exhibiting autopsies, and all the gory details therein. It's easier to watch than Franju's The Blood of the Beast, mostly because they're already dead and not being turned into food, but if blood or bodily functions make you squeamish, this isn't exactly your film.

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