EIC Film Reviews

In the coming months, Experiments in Cinema will invite a variety of writers to “pen” their thoughts about some of the great media we've screened. Our first contributor is David Camarena. David is a great writer and screenwriter who is interested in both classic and contemporary art-cinema from around the world and although he has a particular interest in Latin American Cinema, he first introduced us to the films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Film reviews by David Camarena

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

(Shown on April 16, 2014 at Guild Cinema as part of EIC 9.72, Experiment 9)

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (Mexico/Colombia, 2013) is filmmaker Jorge Lorenzo’s unique, 14-minute cinematic presentation of the classic beat novel. However, Lorenzo does not translate the novel into any ordinary cinematic interpretation.

Instead, what Lorenzo does with the book is closer to a “transliteration” of the medium, by typing its every word directly onto 35mm black leader film. This thoroughly complete, cinematic version of the work becomes a visually complex experience for the viewer, as the words fly by at 24 frames per second, turning the novel into a moving pattern of symbols and spaces that changes depending on where on the screen the viewer focuses at any given moment. As Lorenzo himself similarly put it during a Q&A session after the film was screened at the 2014 Experiments in Cinema festival: the rhythm and poetry of the original is completely taken out, and replaced by the visual mechanics of the written word. Lorenzo’s film is a truly experimental work, pushing cinematic imagery into creative new territory.

Markings 1–3 (Shown on April 21, 2013 at Guild Cinema as part of EIC 8.53, Experiment 15)

Eva Kolcze’s Markings 1–3 (Canada, 2011) is a beautiful cinematic correspondence between nature and the human body. Through the intermediary of black and white 16mm film and the utilization of several techniques (including superimposition, scratching, hand coloring, and tinting), Kolcze reaches out to the world around her. The result is an imaginative film that is both playful and mysterious.

The film begins with a pair of bare disembodied legs and feet walking, which are superimposed onto the moving image of a dark, lush forest. An ambient soundtrack accompanies the walk, bringing to life the sound of the forest, which adds greatly to a sense of place. This combination of sound and image is strangely hypnotic in its effect. As the feet encounter a variety of natural textures in this forest, they respond in different ways. While leaves, water, and grass seem pleasant enough, other things encountered in this forest are not so inviting. Wanting to mingle with nature, the body finds itself caught at an intersection between desire and fear.

In the second half of the film, more stationary images of rural landscapes appear. This time the filmmaker begins a more playful interaction between these images and her own body. Here, Kolcze enters the frame in a unique manner: by breaking the fourth wall from behind the camera. As we watch the pastoral landscape, the camera operator’s “oversized” hand enters into the frame, and “touches” elements in the camera’s view. Kolcze is able to interact freely with the objects, which causes a “reaction” (achieved by scratching the surface of the film in post•production). Things such as cows, a barn, stacks of hay, and a fence are subjected to this tactile outreach by Kolcze. This action is accompanied by a dissonant sound effect, which makes for an interesting connection. The uneasiness that was found in the previous portion of the film is somewhat mitigated through the surface of the film, although a tension remains between the body and the world.

At the end of the film a pair of rubber gloves appear, hanging out to dry. They look like the type of gloves that are used to process film. This time, when the hand reaches out to touch these dripping wet objects, the dissonant sound is gone. Perhaps these gloves were later used to process the film that we are watching? Hand in glove, the world can be transformed… and accessible.

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Experiments in Cinema is an annual project hosted by Basement Films. Basement Films is a 501-c3, non-profit organization. This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.