"Liberating film and video from a prehistoric value system" since 2011. This site was founded by Writer, Video Essayist and Webby Award Nominee Nelson Carvajal. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Motion Picture Superimposed
Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)
In its earliest days, the superimposed image was used mainly as a special effect, most notably in Victor Sjöström's 1921 film The Phantom Carriage, where it created the illusion of ghosts in the afterlife. These days, the superimposed image is almost everywhere, from an editing dissolve that suggests a continuation in mood (e.g. the transition from a saddened Don Corleone in bed to his home country of Italy where his son Michael has sought refuge in The Godfather) to a literal visualization of a character's inner psychology (e.g. the face of death on Norman Bates in Psycho). For me, I find the superimposed image to be one of the most powerful visual strategies for conveying an idea or a feeling. In fact, last year I created a video essay on the works of Wong Kar-Wai that heavily relied on the use of superimposition to demonstrate the filmmaker's trademark visual fervor. Below, I've curated some standout superimposed images from over the years, including Orson Welles' iconic lit window from Xanadu in Citizen Kane and a clip from video essayist Rodney Ascher's Room 237, which dwells on the implications of superimposed footage from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
Beyoncé knocked the wind out of the Internet when she dropped her nearly hour-long visual album Lemonade on HBO this past Saturday night, April 23rd. The inspired film is a remarkable piece to be sure--even for the Queen Bee herself. And while everything from the sound design to the collective creative direction from the team of filmmakers, editors and art department is exceptional, much of the receptive chatter online has instead circled around the implied infidelity that spurs the narrative of Lemonade; the idea that hubby Jay Z did Beyoncé wrong with a certain "Becky with the good hair." Which is too bad; that's the kind of fodder for tabloids and it marginalizes how much great film art is packed into this thing.
So, as a reactionary cinephile, I thought I'd redirect the public's attention to the striking images that Lemonade presents, the ideas behind them and, more pointedly, where these vignettes drew inspiration from. In contrast to the possible off-screen…
"Sooner or later, your past catches up to you." That's the tagline Disney is going with for their live-action Winnie the Pooh movie Christopher Robin, starring Ewan McGregor. While watching the teaser trailer (which debuted today) and getting my first look at a real life Winnie the Pooh talking bear, I couldn't help but be reminded of Seth MacFarlane's Ted, the R-rated comedy which featured a protagonist who's a foul-mouthed talking teddy bear. Ironically enough, MacFarlane's talking bear Ted has a much more cuddly and lovable look to him. Disney decided to give Winnie the Pooh a crude and homely-looking appearance -- not exactly what you'd expect for their intended child audience. So I decided to create this mashup trailer, which rewrites Christopher Robin's (McGregor) backstory to suggest that Ted was his original bear and he just sewed up the teddy bear's parts to look like Winnie the Pooh.
Talk about your past catching up to you! Watch my…
The latest trailer for Steven Spielberg's upcoming futuristic epic Ready Player One (based on the popular sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline) gets the Willy Wonka treatment with an updated cover of the song "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. IMDb provides a synopsis for Spielberg's film:
"When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg."
Tye Sheridan (The Tree of Life) stars as Wade Watts, along with a cast that includes Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom) and Lena Waithe (Master of None). Previous teasers for Ready Player One showed us popular screen characters like The Iron Giant, The Joker and Freddy Krueger. This latest trailer gives us exciting glimpses of King Kong, the Spartans from Halo and the T-Rex from Jurassic Park. Check out…
"He's making all this up as he goes along." NOTE: I was fortunate enough to attend a rare 70mm screening of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master on Thursday August 16, 2012 at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. In attendance were writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and one of the film's actors, Kevin J. O'Connor (both of whom are pictured with mehere).
The key to the success of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master doesn't come in its mammoth achievement of being shot on 70mm film or its carefully constructed parallel origin story of L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology practices. Rather, that success is embedded in an intimate scene: a single shot close-up on alcoholic war veteran Freddie Sutton (an unforgettable Joaquin Phoenix) during a "process of time" session with Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman in prime Hubbard form). Up until this scene, the character of Freddie dutifully performed the task of delivering the film's dark lau…
“Making videos becomes a way for someone to make sense of what they experience.”
That line, as said by Kevin B. Lee in his new collaborative video essay with Chloé Galibert-Laîné, pretty much sums up the motivation behind every Video Essayist. It's the spur behind every idea for a montage, mashup or academic act of image prodding that results in a video essay.
In Lee and Galibert-Laîné's new video essay "Reading // Binging // Benning" (commissioned by the International Film Festival Rotterdam), the pair employ the desktop documentary genre that Lee made popular with his sensational Transformers: The Premaketo make a case on how to present a film neither of them have seen -- Readers by James Benning -- to a crowd of people (i.e. an audience at IFFR).
Watch their illuminating and perfectly paced video essay below.
Some people should never get married. Likewise, some people should never become parents. Crudely enough, the protagonists of Andrey Zvyagintsev's new film Loveless fit both of those descriptions. The Leviathan helmer returns with another bleak and unflinchingly honest portrayal of family dysfunction and social politics. Loveless is also a commentary on modern Moscow. Zvyagintsev uses the car radio as the film's cultural master of ceremonies, informing the audience of the state of Russia, the political climate and expected societal norms. In fact, the only other time the car radio isn't used for exposition, is when a character turns it into an aural weapon to antagonize another character, by blaring loud metal rock during an inappropriate time. The coal-hearted characters in Loveless listen to the radio, but hardly to each other.
Early in the film we learn that Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are in the final steps of finalizing their divorce. While Zheny…
The protagonist of Estonian filmmaker Rainer Sarnet's Where Souls Go (from 2007), a fifteen-year-old girl named Ann, sets the plot in motion when she visits a satanist's website and says a prayer (in an effort to seek solutions) that inadvertently gives her newborn stepbrother a heart disease. Ann also has a poster for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on her bedroom wall, prominent in many shots of the film. This image is a strong representation of Sarnet's interests: to acknowledge how fantasy (with its mythical creatures and wish-granting powers) shares an overlap with hell (and its evil incarnates). Considering this, it's no wonder that Sarnet chose to adapt Andrus Kivirähk's novel "Rehepapp," which focuses on 19th-century Estonian village peasants and the dead souls that lurk in the forest, for his latest film November.
How can I best describe November? Well, it's as if Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon was re-constructed by Salv…
Yesterday we learned that the brilliant and world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. In the early 1960s, Hawking developed an early form of motor neurone disease, debilitating and paralyzing him throughout the decades. However, he did not let such a devastating physical disability stop him from becoming a truly iconic figure, thinker and leader in the sciences, and in specific, cosmology.
Hawking's built a legacy of scientific works, breakthroughs and publications throughout his academic career but it was his best selling book "A Brief History of Time" that caught the eye of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (Oscar winner for The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara). Morris' doc A Brief History of Time looks at the impressive life and work of Hawking, told in the signature way that only Morris can, all scored to a soundtrack composed by Philip Glass. While the film is available on Blu-r…
Carlos Reygadas won the Best Director prize for his visually striking Post Tenebras Lux at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The images in Reygarads' film looked like they emerged from a dream; there was a soft focus around the edges of the frame, giving its characters the cinematic equivalent of a screen halo. Now those indelible visuals from Post TenebrasLux are challenged and intensified in a captivating video art piece by Kevin L. Ferguson.
Using progressive summed frames, Ferguson creates a unique side-by-side cine-essay ruminating on two ideas: what we see and how much of it we see in total. On the left side of the screen, Ferguson presents a still from every ten seconds of the first five minutes of Post Tenebras Lux and on the right side of the screen he sums those progressive frames into ten-second intervals.
The result is an arresting piece of moving image impressionism. See for yourself.
In regards to the moving image essay, Stanley Kubrick's final masterpiece Eyes Wide Shut has been studied, broken down, built back up and labored over in almost every way. I myself have even tied images of the film to Kanye West in the past. But in addition to Eyes Wide Shut's haunting portraits of sex and its embedded labyrinth of Kubrick's own personal secrets, I don't believe there's been a video essay on how important the act of "walking" is in the film.
Fabian Broeker's "Dream Walking: Eyes Wide Shut" makes a good case for paying closer attention to the film's pedometer. It's also nicely edited to symphony music, alternating back and forth from full frames to split screens, giving the whole thing an easy-viewing experience too.
Broeker: "Characters retrace their steps, mirror each other and wander aimlessly through imposing, hollow interiors, decorated with bright pinpricks of light. This is Kubrick’s nightmare o…