Oh, to be a Blogger!
There are frustrations in editing a published-quarterly magazine like Filmmaker. As media cycles accelerate around us, we still publish every ninety days, trying to write intelligently about the aesthetics, business, and reasons for making independent film while pretending not to care that, with our long-lead schedule, we can’t really comment on that day or week’s movie news. The current issue of Filmmaker, for example, went to bed in mid-December, will be first read at the Sundance Film Festival, and will linger on newsstands until early April or so. Which means that meaningful commentary on the latest breaking news is pretty much foolhardy to even attempt — even though Anne Thompson did a pretty good wrapup of the whole “screener ban” issue in her new “Risky Business” column.
Hence, this film blog. Here you’ll find postings, notes, and opinions from the magazine’s staff encompassing topics that would be stale by the time they hit the pages of Filmmaker. Or, we’ll be tossing out random thoughts and musings that would be likely be edited out of the book in a space crunch. Or, perhaps, we’ll be covering our critical ass on stuff that should have been in the magazine but which we were simply too lame to pick up on in time.
An example of the latter is the French artist Pierre Huyghe‘s Streamside Day Follies, a film installation that closed this past weekend at the Dia:Chelsea in New York. Huyghe’s 26-minute DV film dispassionately chronicles a young family relocating to a brand-new housing development. Deer wander through the half-constructed houses, costumed children parade the streets, and a giant helium-filled china-ball acts as a fake sun in a work that expertly pinpoints the horror within the perfectly mundane.
But what sends Huyghe’s work over the top is its staging, which delivers a deft conceptual punch I wouldn’t have wanted to reveal if I had reviewed this work earlier. Arriving in an empty gallery space, with only the artist’s pencil-drawings on the wall, viewers are left to wonder just where the exhibition is. Slowly, though, the walls begin to move on mounted tracks, converging into the center of the space and gradually forming an exhibition space. There’s a great moment when you have to decide if you’re “in or out,” and once you jump into the suddenly constructed theater, the lights dim and Huyghe’s film begins.
With its grand metaphor about culture and nature, colonization and crowds, Hugyhe’s piece is an alternative film for the e-Walk era. If I had done a ten-best list, it would have been on it.