We begin our look at the amazing cinematic year that was 1980 with a consideration of Friday the 13th. Yes, it was the beginning of a massively important franchise that also didn't quite fit what the franchise would become. We look at the reasons it should be on the National Film Registry, what the impact was on the world of genre film, and why it and Halloween are so important.
One of the most important avant garde feature films of the last fifty years, David Lynch's Eraserhead is on the Registry and for very good reasons.
The danger of making a sea crossing while fleeing danger in your home country is real, and can be so heavy. In the case of the film Irregulars, we are told the story of a journey across the Mediterranean Sea and the perils it constitutes. The story, if that's all we had been given, would be enough. It's the kind of painful memory that draws in viewers. My wife, when we watched it at home, gasped at the last spoken words, which is an excellent example of the effective power of the sound design.
Also, the visuals are absolutely stunning.
Instead of directly presenting us with the shots of the voyage, or in fact of any voyage, we are presented a factory in which mannequins are made. The process is shown, and it becomes apparent that the building of these faux people are given great care, there are practically nursed to life, treated incredibly well. But what of those who cross? The visuals are so perfectly constructed, and I found myself piecing together a philosophy based on the treatment of these inanimate objects and how we view those who cross into 'our' country. It's also a painful view of the state of the world, and it plays even more powerfully when you factor in the last few weeks to that equation.
Irregulars screens as a part of DocuNation on March 1st at 415, March 5th at 615, and March 12 at 415 at the Century Theatres in Redwood City, and on March 7th at 345 at the Hammer Theatre in Downtown San Jose.
The world of animation is wonderful. I've learned that so many artists have signatures that are instantly recogniseable. The moment we put on Boomerang, I knew it was Steven Vander Meer. His 2015 film Salmon Deadly Sins was an absolute highlight, and this was very similar to it in methodology, but also worlds way in emotional resonance.
Boomerang is a beautifully made animation, with each frame numbered in the corner. The thing is, it's a music video based on a song by Chris "Bird" Jowaisas. Again, like so many films we're featuring this year. the music and the imagery play within the same sandbox, and they make the entire work far more impressive.
Vander Meer's animation style is wonderful, and yeah the way he treats the reality of his images reminds me of Bill Plympton, but here the sensation given off is so much more than just surreal, which it is, but it's also beautiful, evocative, and most of all, it is generous with itself. That may sound unusual, but some films demand, insist, but Boomerang gives to the viewer, making it more impressive.
The figure of the Jester, based on the model Bella Uribe, is persistent, and gives us a trickster, but moreso, it ties it into the long standing tradition of clowns and jesters in Surrealist art. Add to that the visual signature of stripes, in everything from the tights of our trickster to the tiger shark a great white becomes after eating a swimmer, and you see the power of that particular character.
The impressive flowing images, morphing from one, often concrete, form to another which tends towards the organic through a set of doughy stages, makes for the entire five minutes to feel as if we are bring washed over, that these images are coming to us as a cleansing. The Boomerang motif is apparent, but more importantly, the transition from the hard/rigid/scientific to the soft/pliable/natural is a wonderful path, and through it, I found myself moved deeply. This is exactly the kind of film that makes programming a shorts program difficult; the moment it finishes, you have to go back and re-watch it or else you'll feel like you've not given it justice.
Boomerang shows as a part of the Animated Worlds program showing at Century 20 Redwood City Thu, Mar 2 9:15 PM, Sat, Mar 4 8:15 PM, and Sun, Mar 12 6:50 PM, as well as in Downtown San Jose at the Hammer Theatre on Wed, Mar 8 3:45 PM
Martha Colburn is a helluva filmmaker. Her works are, well, indescribable, and not in a Gaspar Noe sort of way. Her stuff ranges all over the place, and she is exciting! Her films and installations are wonderful ruminations on all sorts of things, and when she hits, she hits hard!
You inhabit two of the worlds of film – the festival and museum realms. What role do you see film playing in museums today?
I am thinking about how the public can be part of my work, through costumes and clothes and sets. I will be showing some films in Varbergs Konsthall in Sweden in October.
Your films are often incredibly scored, you've created music, and also done music videos for bands. How does the process for each differ?
It’s the same for me– its musical. Next week I have a performance where I play a sampled set and some drums, with a drummer and a synth / harmonica player. I put together the group and do projections. I had a band that put out six records – The Dramatics. I’m musical, but now I am interested in applying this to scripts and stories.
I absolutely adore the style you employed for MYTH LABS. Where did that film come from? When you work on a film like it, how do you get started?
I started with personal stories, people I knew from High School and friends of friends were being impacted somehow by the epidemic of Methamphetamine when I made the film. I then go to research, books, internet, talking to people, writing, and collecting images. It is my writing and research that I find to be the most work.
When you are struck with the concept for a work, how do you go about choosing its form, whether an installation or a film? Do you ever start down one road and then end up having to re-work everything?
I am working on scripts and with actors, and performers now – as part of my filmmaking. I don’t even want to think as narrowly as film or installation- however practical approach that may be- but I first think outside the box- how I can do something live, something engaging. I am an animator for the last years, but when I am not behind the camera – which is not very often - I like to think way beyond that, how I can work with fashion, music, opera, theater, sexual education, political movements, environmental campaigns and anything but animation.
Klaus at Gunpoint
A Film Journal dedicated to all film.A segment of Office Supply Publishing.