Wed, Oct 3rd, 2012
 
Jordan Belson's Magical Motion Pictures

I saw some other wonderful Belson movies on vhs tape that day, such as 
"Re-Entry", "Chakra", "Northern Lights", "Bardo", and "Cycles". I immensely 
enjoyed all of them. I thought the beautiful moving color light effects of 
"Northern Lights" were especially interesting as they seem to mark a departure 
in his life. He started to foreground those kinds of visuals in his later works 
such "Fountain Of Dreams" and "Epilogue" and that imagery is always flowingly 
colorful and luminously gorgeous to behold.     

"Sausalito" Frank Stauffacher

A lovely black and white piece with some nice camerawork and editing. Some 
striking shots of a man's eye peering through a peephole of some kind, intercut 
with the imagery of the small Bay Area town on the pier; the interior close ups 
of the man's face reminded me of similar close ups in Vertov's "Man With The 
Movie Camera". I could definitely tell that it suffered from being on seen dvd 
and projected that way but it still retained a lot of gorgeous filmic 
qualities. From this piece and "Notes On The Port of St. Francis" it is clear 
that Mr. Stauffacher possessed a fine control of cinematic craft, with a 
beautiful camera eye and smooth editing rhythm. He had a subtle, excellent 
visual sensibility and style and I really wish he hadn't passed away so young. 
I'm sure we would have more of these exceptional movies to enjoy if he had 
lived to an old age.

"Image, Flesh, and Voice" Ed Emshwiller  

A very strange black and white 35mm piece by the great abstract movie maker Ed 
Emshiller. For the last few years he's been one of my top cinematic passions 
and interests. I love his 16mm work "Thanatopsis", "Carol", "Film With 3 
Dancers", and "Life Lines", and I really enjoyed his lyrical portrait "George 
Dumpson's Place". I'm also excited to see his extraodinary-sounding 
"Relativity" and his other celluloid work such as "Dance Chromatic", 
"Transformations", and "Totem". 

He was a very skilled and agile camera man. He could operate 16mm and 35mm 
movie cameras with a graceful dance-like precision and control. This talent of 
his was especially valuable in the days before the steadicam and he found easy 
employment as director of photography and camera operator on many other 
director's features such as dance movies, narrative independent features, and a 
beautifully shot docmuentary from the 70s on modern New York painters called 
"Painters Painting".

Having said this, "Image, Flesh, and Voice" is a purposely odd and truly 
experimental work. It is very dark and stark, floating camera moves in 
interiors, gliding past people in people in seetings such as living rooms, 
usually when they're together at parties, with a constant soundtrack montage of 
conversations, presumably between those people. They are all reflecting on 
different aspects of social behavior, such as learning how to visually observe 
people's physical mannerisms and behavior in a more concentrated non-verbal 
manner. It's a long piece, over an hour I think and it didn't help that I saw 
it projected on dvd. it seemed to especially suffer visually this way. I was 
bothered by what looked to me to be a technical flaw - he has a lot of match 
cuts on black screens when he slowly moves the camera from people to an unlit 
black space and cuts to another screen of black and moves the camera to reveal 
some other lit setting; on these cuts
 there are jarring frame lines on the bottom of thw image that are especially 
noticeable because they're purely black. Emshwiller was a technically 
meticulous craftsman and he never has these kinds of mistakes in his other 
work, so i don't if they're intentional. maybe he had an esoteric reason for 
including them?

Robert Haller has said that it is an important and overlooked work that needs 
to be seen more than once to be comprehended. I'd definitely like to see it 
again, preferrably on 35mm on the big screen.
            
Doug Graves
 
4636 Talbot Drive
Boulder, CO 80303
 
702-580-4293
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