Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Experimental/Avant Garde Cinema Week Day 3

There are several experimental or avant garde films on the 1001 movie list. In trying to figure out how to deal with them, I decided that the best way for me to handle these often tough nuts to crack is just watch them and try to answer ten basic questions about them on my personally devised standardized test. So let us continue with...


1. What happens?
We see a room. It appears to be a business of some kind which overlooks a fairly busy city street. There is a chair, a desk, a phone and a few pictures in the room. A couple of girls wander in and listen to "Strawberry Fields Forever." The room changes intermittently between light and shadow, between silence and a loud buzzing. There appears to be a man die at some point and a woman comes in a few minutes later and calls the authorities. We conclude by coming to a close-up picture of the ocean which the viewer appears to be taken into it.

2. Was it heavy? Did it achieve total heaviosity?
Few are heavier.

3. What was your favorite part?
The woman that called the police did break up the monotony of staring at the wall for the last ten minutes, though I also liked the "Strawberry Fields Forever" interlude.

4. What was your least favorite part?
I could only take so much of that buzzing sound.

5. Did you get it?
Sometimes yes, sometimes not so much.

6. Might the viewing experience have been enhanced from either prescription or non-prescription medication of some kind?
Without question

7. What about the sex?
The woman that called the police, I imagine being sexy in a goth kind of way. Didn't really get a good look at her though.

8. What about the violence?
A guy appears to be killed. How and why is up to your imagination. I admit I kind of like that.

9. Describe this film in one sentence starting with "This is the film..."
This is the film where nothing much happens for long periods of time, though if you were to argue that by nothing happening, many things happen really are happening, I would't try to argue with you.

10. Would you watch it again?
I might. Maybe after a fast so my head will be clear of my preconceived bourgeois ideas of what a proper narrative should be.


  1. There's no way to sugarcoat this: I think Wavelength is a 45 minute waste of a person's time. Any meaning that people find in it is what they project onto it themselves. The human mind wants there to be a reason for things. That's why we invented gods to explain the sun, the wind, the rain, and the lightning. So when presented with 45 minutes of nothingness a person's mind will try to rationalize what they are not seeing and then come up with any number of theories as to why this is supposed to be good. That's my cynical take on things.

    And no, I didn't do much better with most of the entries in the list labelled Experimental. Vinyl was the worst, in my opinion.

  2. I'll counter Chip's opinion. I'd be hard-pressed to say that I enjoyed Wavelength, but I appreciated it. I thought it was interesting, and aside from the buzzing noise, I feel like it was worth seeing. I understand Chip's cynicism on this film, and even see why he got there, but something about this film worked for me, even if I can't fully explain why.

    But, for the record, I agree with him completely on Vinyl.

  3. I am glad that the book includes experimental films. Determining which ones to choose for a book like this is much trickier than choosing some of the more traditional films I would guess. Did the the 1001 editors pick the right ones? Not so sure about that. Not that I have a list of alternatives.

    I haven't seen Vinyl yet...and thanks for the warning...