Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New York Film Festival Screenings 3

Autumn (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2016)
The Dreamer (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2016)
Bagatelle II (Jerome Hiler, 2016) 

Program 8 of the NYFF's Projections slate ("an international selection of film and video work that expands upon our notions of what the moving image can do and be") featured the latest films from Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler and they were presented in the order above. I note this for two reasons: 1. Each film was (felt? became?) more representational than the previous. 2. Autumn is my favorite film of the year but it could have been any one of these had I seen them in a different order. That might seem damning (of my critical faculties and/or avant-garde cinema) but it speaks to the indigestible nature of these gorgeous films. With multiple superimpositions, out-of-focus shots, and the general information rich tumble of imagery (and no sound to direct our gaze), they resist attempts to consume them, nay, even to conceive of them. Much of the time, we don't even know what we're looking at, what is figure and what is ground. We could be gazing up at a zeppelin or some sort of seed-like formation within a water drop.

They reminded me, of course, of Brakhage, particularly his Arabics and the sense of cinema as eye-confounding abstraction devoid of any referent. But more often, it reminded of the popular music I hold most dear, consumer products that sound unconsumable, that you'll never get to the bottom of, songs where the figure of the vocals engage in an unresolvable struggle with the ground of the music, striving to be heard but never quite succeeding. The sample-dense strafing of Public Enemy and M.I.A. The murk of the Stones' Exile, Sly's Riot and Ariel Pink's Doldrums. The shoegazing yearning of My Bloody Valentine, Glasvegas, and Belong's Colorloss Record.

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