Maya Deren: Experimental Films (1943-1958)
Genre: Experimental Short
Starring: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid
Directed By: Maya Deren
Overview: This is a collection selection of Maya's most famous works, including her award winning short, Meshes of the Afternoon, a story about the thin line between reality and fantasy.
Acting: This woman can't act. Produce, direct, convey your message, fine, but know your limitations and stop acting in a way that makes me think you're an angst-riddled Goth trying to express your infantile emotions. That's how bad she is. Hated it. Worst expressions ever, her and her crew of malcontents.
Cinematography: This is high art, I will admit. The images are a hard, gritty, black and white. Meshes of the Afternoon, being the first film of the collection sucked me right in, made me think, "Good someone who's going to teach me about art." I don't know what happened along the way, but grainy, black and white turned into "you have no budget". Erratic camerawork made me think not that 'her reality is being shaken', but that she didn't know how to handle a camera. Amateurish.
Script: The silent film was the point. And by silent I mean SILENT, no music, no dialogue, no words anywhere. The Brothers Quay do some pretty crazy stuff in their silent films, but I get them. This definitely needed more explanations. You can't overestimate the audience. At this level, she's not doing it for us, she's just showing off her pretention.
Plot: If you want to be confused right, watch Mulholland Drive or Eraserhead. That, my friend, is great experimental film. This woman has nothing on David Lynch. Her stories can't be understood by watching. Some critics may read the program at the vernissage and say "Aaaah! How interesting!". I put my hand up and say, "Why didn't you explain that in the film? Couldn't you do it better, so I could understand it in the medium it's presented in? If I wanted to read, I'd pick up a book."
Mood: Damnit, you're allowed to tell a story that we understand and still call it Experimental, and if you can't, at least spend some money to make it look good. I'm not going to dump all over post-modernism, fine, fine, but after all is said and done, I didn't watch the whole thing because I found it boring. Not only does this go into my seen it pile, but into "Why bother?"
Overall Rating: 36% (The Reality? Deren't See This!)
Aftertaste: Look I'll be the first person to put 'Experimental film' at the very top of my Hierarchy of Film list, but this high-art was low budget. Looking at this woman's list of work on IMDB was like looking at the menus on the DVD I rented: she's done very little else. Her work seems to comprise of just over an hour's worth of film shorts. I know that quality is not quantity, but this was just too out there for me. Thank God the DVD included explanations. Her husband, Alexander Hammid, did The Secret Life Of A Cat, included as one of the special features. That was so much better, less nonsensical. I'd rather watch his stuff, it was cool.