David Lowery's Short Films
I’ve been reading David’s blog regularly for over a year but only recently did I mosey on over to watch—and enjoy—his short films. Especially for someone so young, they’re remarkably wide-ranging in subject and style. Among others, there’s an “illegal music video”, a film about a pregnant woman (make that two films—a motif becomes visible!), and an ode to film-loving. Maybe my favorite of the shorts I’ve seen is Some Analog Lines, a first-person essay film about filmmaking. It is publicly unexhibited as of yet, but I’ll link to it when it becomes available.
Among the films viewable on his site is the 20-minute Still. It is instructive to watch it and then hear David’s commentary because he has such strong mixed feelings about it. (He is too hard on himself and the film!) We watch the movie the way it turned out and then, to the accompaniment of his unsparing critique, imagine a glimpse of an alternate film.
A great moment from Still: A man and a woman ring their neighbors’ doorbell. No one answers, though they could’ve sworn someone was home. They turn around and leave. As they do, the camera pans upward on the exterior of the house and our eyes get ready—conditioned by a hundred movies—to search the windows for someone watching them leave. But the pan is (purposely) interrupted by a straight cut before that can happen: The man and woman are now in bed. She looks over at him. Cut to a close-up of her caressing hand. Cut to a longer shot of them far apart in bed; she’s not touching him at all. Cut once again to an intimate moment.
The first time I saw this I was startled by what I thought—me of little faith!—was a continuity error. But it’s a nice example of using the formal means of cinema in the midst of a small moment to make meaning by posing (silent) questions: Are these close-ups flash-forwards? Or might they be quick flashes of “subjective cinema” in that we are seeing her “wishes” preceding “reality”? Such little moments that one comes upon and uncovers in the interstices of a movie have been occupying me a lot lately.
On a related note, here’s wishing the best to filmmaker-critic-blogger extraordinaire Matt Zoller Seitz on his feature film "Home".