Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Arnold Conquers the Fourth Dimension

Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy is a vehicle for experimental filmmaker Martin Arnold to make a couple statements. A quick search on Google turns up this quote by the artist:

"The cinema of Hollywood is a cinema of exclusion, reduction and denial, a cinema of repression. There is always something behind that which is being represented, which was not represented. And it is exactly that that is most interesting to consider."

So Martin sets about exposing the hypocrisy in the "wholesome" work of Andy Hardy. Is there really a Freudian/Oedipal subtext in these movies? If so, was it the actors who snuck it in or was it explicitly directed by a bored Andy Hardy? Who knows.

What's intriguing about Life Wastes is not so much the overt accusations that Arnold makes about these films but his method. With one hand glued to the jog shuttle, he turns Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland into his slaves, his puppets, his marionettes. Arnold is able to manipulate his playthings into new gyrations, extend a fleeting glance or gesture into a minute-long expose, turning a whispered, hidden emotion into one shouted from the rooftops for our amusement.

We the audience are his puppets, too, as we are forced to watch this or that bit of the original sample over and over, long past our standard tolerance for the stuttering, nauseating motion. It made me more aware of how my attention is manipulated and directed (a la Vertov's Kino-Eye) in all film, although I am usually too entertained to actively resent or resist it.

Ultimately, Arnold has conquered the fourth dimension. For fifteen diabolical minutes, Arnold flaunts his newfound power like a child who has just learned how to disrupt an ant colony. Throughout our lives, we are slaves to the constant march of time, never able to pause it or stop or reverse or loop it to our own ends. When given the opportunity, who could resist the giddy feeling of turning the tables and becoming master of time, shaking it around, holding it upside down, bullying it for lunch money.

It's a bit juvenile, but it was pretty funny in a couple spots.



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