A New My Antonia & Getting More Out of a Phone Selfie
Sense/Perspective #7: The Imagination of Limits
Tired Moonlight, a film by Brittni West
Connections: I have met Paul D, who is in Tired Moonlight, although I didn’t know he was in the film until I got to the theater.
There is a whole world out there, not that far from here, of which I know absolutely zilch. I know the middle of nowhere only from roadtrips, places where I’ll get a slice of Sysco pie and mutter something horrifically snotty like, “Wouldn’t it be just terrible to live here, but it’s cute for the moment.” I know more about the internet, which is not a place, than I do about the town in Montana that is the setting of Tired Moonlight, which is any small, isolated town or city in the U.S. west of the Mississippi and 200 miles inland from the West Coast.
West’s film is a slice of life — to use a literary term I learned in 6th grade — of three generations of women, all of whom are various incarnations of the word “young.” There is no pity in this view of working women in a small town who have little money; West is from Kalispell, Montana, and her vision nets the film in affection. The film runs like a modern My Antonia but without the male perspective, or an hour of Neko Case singing “Pretty girls you’re too good for this” surrounded by mountain rams and sparklers and Ray from Girls. Sure, I’d never actually want to live in this town, but watching Tired Moonlight was better than a slice of high-fructose corn starch compote pie.
#firstlookbrushes by Giovanna Olmos for Rhizome
Believing in selfies is one of the fundamental tenets of digital feminism. Mostly feminism isn’t cut and dry, but we’re all pro-choice, pro-equal pay, and pro-selfie. Control the objectification! Take a selfie! That said, selfies as an art form are ready for the next wave of invention, and it’s quite possible that Giovanna Olmos has stumbled on it. The classic mirror selfie — popular long before Olmos was born or I was born or any of use were born — is obscured and abstracted with digital painting, and the effect takes you inward, to the action of the mirror selfie.
Meat, a short film by Michael Forstein, and The Mountain, a short film byPablo Jones
Screened at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival
Connections: In a few ways — including writing events and a film we both worked on — I know Sheila Regan, who starred in and alerted me to The Mountain, which I would have liked regardless of knowing her or not. That is the way of this newsletter. I don’t write about things I wouldn’t have liked otherwise.
Here’s an old chestnut: do something traditional but do it really, really well, or try something completely different and make it messy but resonant. Meat, a short film about a middle-class white guy with a very middle-class white guy story, was impeccably written, shot, acted, directed, cut, like a Coen brothers movie except about unsatisfied men in Minne…. like a Coen brothers movie without kidnappings or ruthless violence. Watching it, I had no other thoughts besides, hey! this is really good! I hope I can see more from this filmmaker!
The Mountain was another matter, a short relationship film that riffed on the quirky promise of a rom com, looked a little bit like a music video and sounded like it could have been a play. Lovers talk, then meet, cuddle chastely between the sheets while talking about sex, then break up: it’s a setup of the context that makes a Hollywood romance. But without a set script (I think? I’m not sure? it doesn’t matter) or a continuous narrative thread, the premise of the film is the lovers’ chemistry and how it plays with the camera. Wholly unconventional and a clean break from anything relating to movie industry or the idea of “movies” at all, it was still chewable and silly and deeply entertaining and new and different. The Mountain was at once everything I’ve ever known and filled with all the ideas of all of the new things that could happen when we play and make within the boundaries that we know.
October 15, 2015 / Deborah Carver