Category Archives: Video

Video: A New Man With a Movie Camera?

Happy New Year everyone! Those of us who live on the East Coast of the United States were treated to a post-Christmas, pre-New Year’s Eve gift this year: a two-day blizzard that left over a foot and half of snow in Central Park and over two feet of snow in other parts of New York City. During the maelstrom Astoria, Queens resident Jamie Stuart ventured out to create a short film documenting the trials, tribulations, and beauty of the snowstorm. He sent the film to famed film critic Roger Ebert who posted it on his blog along with a breathless review. In the review Ebert opines that it should win the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short subject for its, “wonderful quality,” homage to Dziga Vertov’s 1929 Soviet Montage masterpiece, “Man With a Movie Camera,” and its, “almost unbelievable technical proficiency.” The film (which is embedded below along with Vertov’s original) is indeed a marvel. It’s a great document of the blizzard (especially for those of us who were elsewhere when the storm hit and stranded in its wake) and the technical skill involved is indeed impressive, but is it the Vertov homage that Ebert claims?

I’m not quite as convinced. Although I see the similarities, Vertov’s film was imbued with such a strident political message that it’s difficult to separate filmic image from political meaning. In Vertov’s critical writings one can see just how important politics were for him and his filmmaking process. In his poetic-essay, We: Variant Of a Manifesto, Vertov writes:

In an art of movement we have no reason to devote our particular attention to contemporary man. The machine makes us ashamed of man’s inability to control himself, but what are we to do if elecriticy’s unerring ways are more exciting to us than the disorderly haste of active men and the corrupting inertia of passive ones? Saws dancing at a sawmill convey to us a joy more intimate and intelligible than that on human dance floors.

While I agree with Mr. Ebert that Stuart does an admirable job at creating an homage to Vertov (especially in the piece’s first minute or so), I hesitate to push the analogy much further than that. It documents a specific event in an interesting way, but isn’t as interested in the underlying politics of man in the mechanical age and the mechanization of society that makes “Man With a Movie Camera,” such a sentient film. That being said, Stuart does get some amazing images and makes excellent use of them. But, what do you think? Is Ebert right? Is it Oscar-worthy, or is he just being hyperbolic?

Stuart’s video and Vertov’s “Man With a Movie Camera,” are after the jump. But first:

Jamie Stuart’s website, The Mutiny Company.

Mr. Ebert’s own take on “Man With a Movie Camera.” Continue reading

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Video: The Vertigo of Time

I made this video as an independent project while a junior Film and Media Culture major at Middlebury College. It was made, partly, in response to several interesting ideas proposed by my project advisor, Chris Keathley, that dealt with the disjunction of sound and image, as well as the video essay as a means of personal expression. The other inspiration came from Chris Marker’s “Sans Soleil” (the film’s title is derived from a line in that film), as well as the personal work of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin. It was slated to screen at an exhibition of independent film work at Middlebury, but I declined to show it for personal reasons. I now, however, feel comfortable showing it to whomever cares to view it.

This film is my own meditation on my family’s history, as well as my place within that history. I tried to make the audio mirror the images in the beginning of the film, but as it goes on the audio and image become more disjointed, forcing the viewer to question the relationship between the two. I hope you enjoy.

One of Many Questions That Arise Out Of 2001…

I’ve been watching this particular 40 some odd second clip in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how Kubrick and his special effects team did this. Any ideas? Any specific stories involving this particular effect or insight into how it was done? I feel like I’ve thought of everything from super imposed images to editing tricks, but I just can’t figure it out…

Video: A Casablanca Query: Rick and the Glass

Here’s a quick video I did as a result of a curious moment in “Casablanca” that’s captured my attention for quite a while. I’m hoping to do more of these types of projects, so any comments on the form, format or content would be appreciated.