Movieside Film Festival, program one | Chicago Reader

Movieside Film Festival, program one

Impressive in its range and quality, this avalanche of 26 films and videos is characteristic of the series's programming, an offbeat but ambitious mix of experimental film, underground music video, and live performance. Odilon Redon, or the Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Towards Infinity (1995), a stunning black-and-white 16-millimeter film by Guy Maddin, approximates the mythic imagery of the Russian silent era for its surreal story of a bearded old train engineer and the young woman who takes control of his engine. Even more strange is Brett Foxwell's 16-millimeter animation Buy American, in which a weird creature with an animal's skull for a head and coiled wire for a body battles a little tank with bicycle chains for treads; ultimately the tank uses a pile-driving arm to pulverize the skull. A great many works use found footage for a quick buzz: Mark Hejnar's black-and-white 16-millimeter 0502 sets cryptic shots of dancing girls wearing boxes for costumes to a weird soundscape of boings and oscillating tones, and Eric Fensler's GI Joe is a series of oblique narratives created by dubbing half-decipherable dialogue onto old animated TV commercials for the G.I. Joe toys. Music videos are central to the series, linking the films and the live show, and here they're as feverishly imaginative as the straight experimental work. The Brothers Quay created the chilling black-and-white 35-millimeter film Can't Go Wrong Without You (1993): set to a song by His Name Is Alive, it pits the grim reaper against an animated stuffed rabbit spied through a keyhole. Even at the low end of the production scale, the music stuff can be remarkably lively, like the 8-millimeter highway shots Gus Frej combines with a Bob Seger song in Ramblin' Gamblin' Man. 102 min.

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