An unmoving, overheard shot of a series of photographs, slowly burning on a heating coil. On the soundtrack, there are autobiographical notes (read by Michael Snow) about each photo. However, the audio and video are jumbled, so that you’re never hearing about the picture you’re seeing. It’s a simple but effective bit of recontextualization, each image transformed not only by its immolation – a perversely hypnotic thing to behold – but also its associations (dissociated audio and video seems to be a common theme in Frampton’s work). When you watch, you can choose to match the picture onscreen with the story, or try to recall the photo he’s talking about, or keep the narration in mind when we eventually see it. Or attempt to absorb it all as a whole. The most intriguing and rewarding I’ve seen by Frampton yet. Continue reading
A table with a small cactus, a cup of coffee and a stack of paper. One by one, separated by white flashes, we see the text written on the pages. It is a screenplay, each of the 240 pages describing a single shot of a four-part film. The screenplay contains no dialogue, but concerns some sort of melancholy romantic tryst between “yourself” and “your lover”, with occasional appearances by “me” (or more frequently, “my hand”). There’s something to be said about the relationship between filmmaker and viewer, as well as a twisted take on the voyeurism of cinema. But as an experience it can be a tough slog. The most interesting part is the third “tableau”, a surreal and often comical scene consisting entirely of sexual congress while assorted bizarre things are going on outside the window. I also liked the very ending. Much of the rest of it is significantly less compelling, as the concept wears thin. Continue reading
As soon as Los was completed I added Sogobi to make it a trilogy, the urban and rural portraits needed the Californian wilderness to put them in perspective. Following the same structure Sogobi would look and listen to that wilderness. The first shot of Sogobi would relate to the last shot of Los, and the last shot of Sogobi would return to the first shot of El Valley Centro, revealing its mystery. The entire trilogy would become an interrelated puzzle.
James Benning, December 2001
Coming after the spectacular El Valley Centro and Los, Sogobi is a colossal disappointment. James Benning is the most methodical, careful and mathematically precise of film-makers, so it’s baffling that he should abandon the logical progression established in the first two parts of his California trilogy. Centro examined California’s farming heartland. Los explored the greater LA county, and skirted around the edge of the city itself. Surely the next step should have been to tackle Los Angeles in all its garish, terrible splendour, providing a filmic counterpart to Mike Davis’ books of dystopian polemicism, ‘Ecology of Fear’ and ‘City of Quartz.’ Continue reading
These two one act plays were shown as part of the “A Wake for Sam” season on the BBC.
Krapp’s Last Tape (UK, BBC, 1972, 35 mins)
Theatre play, written 1957 in English
First published: New York 1958; Paris 1959
First production: Royal Court Theatre, London, 1958, directed by Donald McWhinnie
Directed by Donald McWhinnie
Cast: Patrick Magee Continue reading
While visiting SUNY Binghamton, Frampton asked for the two most “volatile” acting students and had them improvise an argument. It was his first time utilizing actors, and the results aren’t bad. Of course, much of the credit belongs to the two young performers, who were only given a basic starting point and did all the work themselves. The woman (Barbara DiBenedetto) in particular is on fire… kind of a shame that she has no other screen credits. So where does Frampton come in? He stutters and repeats the film, amplifying the intensity and giving a sense that this is a perpetual, ongoing argument. At first it’s just a black screen (I would assume because the audio was rolling before the camera was set up, but I don’t know) and the sound of lines and fragments of lines being repeated is merely annoying, but once it gets melded with the image it lends the piece a crazy, stilted momentum. I would say this one is better for the performances than the concept, but either way it’s worth watching. Continue reading
A poor man in his mid seventies lives alone in a house near the beach in the south of Mexico. He doesn’t have the and deed and a foreign man claims the property is his. The man attends a hearing to solve the conflict, but nothing gets resolved. During this time he starts losing his mind. Memories of the past start hunting his daily life. He ends up losing his property and his house gets demolished. He embarks on a journey to the mountains in search for people he knew in the past. A memory of his younger self hunts him throughout the trip. He ends up finding some people he knew, but no one he can stay with, so he continues wandering through the forest and into his memories. He meets his younger self, but doesn’t recognize him. They get drunk together, sing songs of the past and nearly pass out after a long night of drinking. Continue reading
The film is a video-art para documentary following Adam, a literature scholar who has a hard time in making a connecting with the surrounding world after he survives an accident. He quits his job and becomes a store cashier in order to have more time to study Dante’s Divine Comedy. The film is both a visual experiment and a tribute to Majewski’s beloved city Katowice.
“These are intimate visions, things that are in my head that are taking place in Katowice. Why Katowice? I was born there, I lived all over the world, but the visions that I have are usually connected with this place,” Majewski told FNE. Continue reading