Thursday, June 16, 2011


New York, July 1967. A somewhat anomic young man with too much time on his hands and too much film equipment in his home begins a film diary. Even as his project captures some of the more mundane aspects of his life, his involvement in his project threatens his relationships, and, indeed, his very soul.

Jim McBride's notorious but little-seen indie is both of its time, and timeless. It captures both its moment and our own tech-fuelled alienation of 2011. (I'd also place it as a film of the early 80s, as McBride and crew's subversion of filmmaking technology and practices qualify as a form of hacking, as indeed does David's.) As fun as the movie often is, it touches on fears both modern (alienation via our increasing dependence on technology) and ancient (the camera does appear to have captured David's soul). The film is weirdly prescient about the present tendency to relate to the outside world through technology - David's obsession with filming his girlfriend eventually creeps her right out, and he soon stalks women with the same camera. David's eventual meltdown is a powerful moment, but seems preordained. Fittingly, David's meltdown can now be found online along the Youtube rants, diaries, and explosions of his virtual children. Even the film's credits, supposedly a relief, only shatter the illusion, and rather than let us go they only seem to mire us in the labyrinth even further as we contemplate the labyrinth of reality and untruth we've just navigated, and the one that awaits us outside.

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