Christopher Maclaine – Scotch Hop (1959)

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The wonderful Scotch Hop (1959) [ imdb says 1953] is something of a letdown only after seeing his first two staggering, shattering masterpieces. In that film Maclaine intercuts a small band of bagpipers with other scenes, making some costumed young women appear to dance to the bagpipes’ rhythms. Scotch Hop is animated by a tension between synchronicity and asynchronicity — the rhythms of the images and the music converge, then diverge. Each image feels as if it were perched on a knife-edge between a world of smooth, lyrical dance and a world about to be torn apart. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – The Man Who Invented Gold (1957)

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The Man Who Invented Gold, very different from The End, is fully as masterful. It focuses on a modern-day alchemist whose zombielike neighbors think of him as “madman” while he aspires to become “goldman.” Again Maclaine narrates, likening the quest to create gold to a quest for the “world of light”; the editing is as disjunctive as in The End but arguably has a much more optimistic meaning, bringing to the forefront the Gnostic longing to escape substance and recover light that underlies parts of The End. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – The End (1953)

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Description from Beat Cinema
The End is in six numbered sections, each separated by long stretches of darkness during which Maclaine speaks directly to the audience. Each of the sections is a tale of a different person on the last day of his or her life. The characters in the first three sections meet their end either through random acts of violence or suicide (none depicted graphically), after which Maclaine (in dark humor mode) acknowledges that the audience may not yet be identifying with his characters (“These people are all violent!”). The characters in the second half seem to meet their end through a large-scale disaster, unspecified in Maclaine’s narration but undoubtedly the atomic explosion shown at the beginning and end of the film. The two halves of the film are bridged by Maclaine’s narrator, who equates the self-destruction of the first three characters with a complacent world awaiting “the grand suicide of the human race.” The finale of the film is the end of the world as Maclaine imagines it might look, set to the tune of Beethoven’s ninth symphony – presaging Stanley Kubrick, who would also juxtapose an atomic explosion with ironically uplifting music in Dr. Strangelove a decade later. The End is not just a stern warning, but a prophecy of absolute doom – Maclaine seems to have believed the world was ending before his very eyes, and the eyes of his audience. Continue reading

Jem Cohen – Chain (2004)

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“Jem Cohen’s Chain is a hypnotic, highly original piece about what
it’s like to live in the new global corporate landscape.”

Daily Telegraph
“Dreamlike… transforms a mundane world into something strange and
new… formidable power… fierce political intelligence.”

Village Voice

Synopsis:
As regional character disappears and corporate culture homogenizes our surroundings, it’s increasingly hard to tell where you are. In Chain, malls, theme parks, hotels and corporate centers worldwide are joined into one monolithic contemporary “superlandscape” that shapes the lives of two women caught within it. One is a corporate businesswoman set adrift by her corporation while she researches the international theme park industry. The other is a young drifter, living and working illegally on the fringes of a shopping mall. Cohen contrives to turn the entire planet into a stretch of New Jersey commercial property–a universe that feels entirely real yet has the distinct smack of J.G. Ballard otherness. Continue reading

Maureen Blackwood – Perfect Image? (1989)

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Quote:
Bright and imaginative in its approach to its subject, PERFECT IMAGE? exposes stereotypical images of Black women and explores women’s own ideas of self worth. Using two actresses who constantly change their personae, the film poses questions about how Black women see themselves and each other and the pitfalls that await those who internalize the search for the “perfect image”! Continue reading

Barbara Sternberg – Like a Dream That Vanishes (1999)

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“Like a Dream That Vanishes” continues Sternberg’s work in film both thematically and formally: the ephemerality of life echoed in the temporal nature of film, as the stuff of life echoed on the energy, life-force in rhythmic light pulses. (Your life is like a candle burning.) Imageless emulsion is inter-cut with brief shots of natural elements and mise-en-scene of the stages of human life: a little boy runs and falls; teens hang out together at night smoking; sun shines through tree branches; men pace, waiting; flashes of lightning; an elderly man speaks philosophically about miracles. Continue reading