London Brief | Chicago Reader

London Brief

Lately veteran filmmaker Jon Jost has been advocating digital video as a cheap alternative to celluloid: this 90-minute portrait of urban life (1998) cost him only about $1,000. Its vision of London is both mesmerizing and alienating, the handheld camera searching for meaning and finding only patterns. Anonymous travelers enter and leave the frame, their personalities reduced to facial quirks; objects at art exhibitions offer nothing but empty repetition. Someone wearing a virtual reality helmet jerks his head back and forth, responding to stimuli we can't see, and the city seems to control its inhabitants the same way—like Jost's camera, they can only respond to the stimuli surrounding them. Most of the imagery is slowed down so that it appears as a rapid series of stills, a mechanized way of seeing that parallels the film's theme.

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