The Films of Jay Rosenblatt | Chicago Reader

The Films of Jay Rosenblatt

For two decades experimental filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt has explored the dark side of human behavior through a compelling series of miniatures consisting almost entirely of found footage. The five shorts on this program cover most of Rosenblatt's work from 1990 to the present, and while each is a self-contained unit, viewing them together allows his larger themes to emerge with considerable cumulative power. The Smell of Burning Ants (1994, 21 min.), which examines the ways boys are socialized into aggression, becomes more resonant when followed by Human Remains (1998, 30 min.), a catalog of deceptively mundane traits shared by Mao, Franco, Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, many of which originated in childhood. Short of Breath (1990, 10 min.) is a disturbing collage about the repercussions of postpartum depression, and the humorous one-minute film Restricted (1999) undercuts our “go for it” mentality by juxtaposing it with our simultaneous fear of overindulgence. Closing the program is Rosenblatt's most affecting work: King of the Jews (2000, 18 min.) begins as an essay on his boyhood fear of Jesus and the anti-Semitic undercurrents of early Christianity and gradually develops into a luminous meditation on human transcendence.

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