Experimental Films are Funny!
EPFC | November 7th, 2017
MARVELOUS MOVIE MONDAYS!!
Guest curator: Andy Spletzer
Like with any art form, there is a wide variety of experimental films out there. Some are poetic, some are abstract, some are absurdly narrative, some are subjective, some explore long-take realism, some are pretentious in a good way, and some are pretentious in a bad way. One reputation they rarely get is for humor. Unfairly.
My theme this month: Experimental Films are Funny!
I remember when I first learned about San Francisco filmmaker Robert Nelson. I was in college, the lights went down, and his short film “Bleu Shut” started unreeling. By the end I was giggling, trying to hold laughter to keep from infecting or being judged by my classmates. At the same time, my eyes were opened. This was funny and abstract and smart and stupid, all at the same time.
Made in 1970 or ’71, “Bleu Shut” claims to be 30 minutes, which is its first lie. At its heart, it’s a structuralist film. There’s a clock superimposed in the corner that marks the time, and every minute there’s a beep and a title card that tells you how many minutes have passed. There is also a narrator who tells you what to expect: The film has a boat game and entertainments (TRUE); at 11:15, a wiener (TRUE); at 21:05, pornography (TRUE). This format has the effect of making the film’s running time fly by because you know what to expect and how long you’re going to be watching.
Then there’s the boat game! That’s what has stuck with me through all these years. That’s what made me realize how funny experimental films can be. I hope you agree.