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Slow-Moving But Visually Interesting and Thought-Provoking
7 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"Blood of a Poet" has often been compared to the infamous surrealist 1929 short "Un Chien Andalou", but despite some similarities many may find between the two, both films are entirely different. "Un Chien Andalou" was entirely random in its incomprehensible storyline, bearing no meaning, no coherency, and just throwing its unusual imagery out there to shock spectators; "Blood of a Poet" seems to contain a more deep meaning in what it presents and follows a fantastical and thought-provoking tale more traceable than that of the former. In addition, the ideas and visuals are very much different from each-other, some only slightly comparable.

Maybe Jean Cocteau was not thinking deeply in this work. Maybe he meant to make it a series of visual highlights, and that's basically what it is if nothing else. The surrealist work follows a constant stream of poetic and artistic visuals: the movie theme itself seems to be centering around art as a whole as well as containing a wonderful if unintentional commentary. Indeed, the main character it follows is an artist, a topless man encountering a series of strange occurrences, including his own hand taking on a mouth, a statue coming to life, and himself falling into a mirror. Images including a girl in bells climbing on the walls, paintings of reclining models with human arms and legs, and the face of a dead boy with blood dripping from his mouth are highlights.

The commentary appears through the second half of the film, in which two posh people, one of which is the artist from the first part, play cards at a table stationed next to the boy's corpse. To me, this seems to be commenting on how the upperclass people often ridicule and vainly ignore the poor suffering folk, indulging in their own privileged lives. The message is further emphasized by having King Louis XV and his friends watch the scene from a balcony, which definitely shows the director was playing with the idea.

Cocteau ends the film with an archival footage clip of a chimney falling over. While completely disconnected from the rest of the work, this brief finale makes a good finishing touch to the film, and was likely meant to be such - Cocteau probably wanted a memorable ending rather than having the last scene leave the viewer wondering what happened.

The film is fifty minutes long, and this is due largely in part to slow-moving action. It takes a little bit to get going and the second part is quite slow-paced in action - so needless to say, some people, including myself, might become impatient with the molasses pace at which everything occurs. Nevertheless, the unusual images and thought-provoking ideas make it a much deeper watch than "Un Chien Andalou" - its strange occurrences and visuals give the viewer something to think about, and are not there purely to shock the audience. A very thought-provoking movie and not at all to be compared to Bunuel's movie - as both are entirely different.
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Wavelength (1967)
Variations on a Scene
1 September 2019
"Wavelength" is and will always be one of the most controversial films of experimental cinema: the type of film that you either despise it or you consider it a masterpiece. From the ratings and reviews on IMDb, it is evidently the former is definitely common among most cinema goers, those who criticize it as being "boring"' "drudgery", "annoying", "unbearable", etc. Frankly, those claims cannot be directly pushed aside due to the truth that is in them: yes, to some forty-five minutes of a single scene would be the most intolerable thing on earth; indeed, for those with sensitive hearing, the sound would be enough for anyone to tear their hair out. But that does not mean it's bad. On the contrary, I believe Michael Snow was not a horrible, untalented filmmaker that tried and backfired to please audiences when he made "Wavelength", but deliberately attempting to be unconventional, boring and downright irritating. This was not the only film to fall in such a genre either; there were actually quite a number of unpleasant avant-garde films made around the sixties period, some even worse.

The forty-five minute long work is a single scene of a room, experimented with using various color filters, slowly and gradually zooming in to a photo on the wall of the room. Very little occurs onscreen except for the zoom, and in many ways it is really a series of film variations on the only focal point. That's not to say there is no onscreen action though; traffic can be seen occasionally moving outside the windows of the room, several women enter early on whilst a Beatles song is played, and the climax is a series of loud banging noises--as though a burglary is happening offscreen--before the great experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton enters the shot and falls dead to the floor.

One other reviewer has interpreted that the film's goal is that to have almost nothing happen the viewer gets to appreciate more what does happen, and this is a very interesting point. In either case, it's very interesting and abstract as well as the ending which does a quite literal turn on the title, and an absolute must for fans of experimental cinema. It's boring only if you look at it as a scene of a room; it becomes interesting when you delight in the moments of action. I found that when watching it it was not a painfully boring watch like many say, because after a while you accept nothing big is going to happen and let the movie play out as it is. To be constantly bored at a movie for an entire forty-five minutes is quite unnatural, at least for me.
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Entertaining if Badly Animated
17 August 2019
"The New 3 Stooges" is very little remembered today as a sixties classic animated series due to lasting only one year, and containing some of the cheapest animation in cartoon history. Like all the television animated series of that period, this is to be expected, but the simplistic art style and stiff, unmoving characters may not be for some people's taste. It's not a bad attempt however even despite this, and retains watchability for younger children and cartoon buffs through its simplicity.

The cartoons themselves are rather short even for that period in cartoon history, but this is to accommodate the extra addition of a sequence at the beginning and end of each episode starring the actual stooges. The viewer is first treated to watching the live-action clip, which is then cut in the middle so that "you can watch a cartoon while we figure our way outta this mess." After the animated part, which may or may not bear similar themes to the live-action, the stooges return at the end to finish their act. It is unfortunate that most DVDs that include episodes from the show exclude the live-action--to be able to pack more on the disc--and I can say I've only truly seen five complete episodes.

The cartoons are good and entertaining though cheap and lacking in real laughs. I myself have no problem with the way the stooges's routine is dumbed down, having only seen a couple of the trio's early shorts, but because of this change in dynamic fans may not like the show. The theme song is catchy, and I enjoy both parts of it--the live-action and cartoon, although it's not outstanding and awful from a technical point of view.
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Hoppity Hooper (1964– )
7/10
A Watered Down "Rocky and Bullwinkle"
16 August 2019
The other reviewers are right that "Hoppity Hooper" has been largely underrated, but not without reason. When it comes to remembering the work of Jay Ward, this particular show is little recognized today, mostly due to the few years it ran. "Rocky and Bullwinkle" had a total of five seasons, had a large cast of recurring characters, creative plots each time, and long-spanning story arcs sometimes lasting more than ten half-hour shows. Albeit poorly and cheaply animated (understandable since most sixties cartoons were every bit as bad) it lived to please both kinds of audiences: the adults could see it for its witty and sophisticated puns, the kids could watch it for its funny character designs and lovely colors. It is no wonder then, that because of all the lovable characters and witty jokes that R&B is a remembered classic.

"Hoppity Hooper" had lots of potential. It makes me sad to think how little of it was used. The show ran for about two seasons and is hugely overshadowed by its longer-running predecessor. Furthermore, each story-line feels cramped and little-used since all story arcs run for only two half-hour shows ("Jet Fuel Formula" from R&B had a total of twenty) and all of the various adventures Hoppity and his friends go through could have been more filled with gags. The characters are all great: Filmore makes a good Bullwinkle while Waldo's brilliant ideas make his person a success, but Hoppity himself is uninteresting and lacking in any real noticeable traits apart from being the smartest of all three. The stories are creative and fun, but as stated above are not exercised like those of "Rocky and Bullwinkle".

Jay Ward and his company unmistakably stumbled upon some excellent characters and ideas, but they didn't seem to realize it. "Hoppity Hooper" is cheaply made, conformed to a very tight space to where it's only decent entertainment, and little effort appears to have been put into it. It's sad, because the premise could have been just as good as "Rocky and Bullwinkle", but with four-part stories, great ideas left un-exercised, and great characters unused to their full extent, the show is mainly one for younger kids and serves as little more than decent entertainment. I like what I see, and I think it's sad that the studio never realized all the things they could have done with it.
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10/10
The Best Children's TV Show of All Time
15 August 2019
PBS nowadays is not at all like PBS back when this show aired. Back then, they knew what was educational and worthwhile for kids and did not put on any old thing just for money. Nowadays, kids are stuck with watching stuff like "Peppa Pig" (which is lacking in anything educational) "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" (which is a sad, cartoon-ized ripoff of the characters from this show) and worst of all, "Teletubbies" (which actually does the opposite of educational to the one-year-olds it targets). In fact, it was only a few years after this show ended that the channel decided to give it the boot--showing how crazy some people can be. Simply put, "Mister Roger's Neighborhood" is the best kid's show ever created, by one of the loveliest, pleasantest, and most caring person that ever lived. Fred Rogers was a dedicated and humble man and in his show, he blends education, psychology, and entertainment into one half-hour bag. Not only is this show entertaining and provides an array of interesting things for small children, it also teaches its audience how to deal with anger, sadness, and all sorts of feelings. The man truly cares, and he does in a short amount of time what most kiddie shows nowadays fail to do: teaches his audiences life lessons and illustrates his lessons in a number of ways. Just because a show is a cartoon nowadays doesn't mean it's better.

"Mister Roger's Neighborhood" is the best kid's show for anyone to see, it's targeted to kids four to eight but its lessons are often ones that even older kids and adults fail to use. Instead of looking at the various crap shows PBS runs today, just buy the DVDs of this. Fred Rogers's show is centered not around the people in it, but pointed entirely in the direction of the viewer's well-being. He stars as the host of each episode, as he visits his 'television house' every day and talks directly to the viewer about the feelings and thoughts they have from time to time, and enhances these ideas with songs and events. Each day in each episode will be part of one 'week' that has a constant theme, which is illustrated through the 'Neighborhood of Make-Believe' and the various things Mr. Rogers 'does' with the viewer and the other people on the show. Sometimes, he'll talk to famous musicians and other celebrities; sometimes he'll go places, such as an art gallery or doctor's office; sometimes, he and Mr. McFeeley will go on factory tours with 'Picture Picture'. It's a wonderful mix of education, life skills, and is extremely entertaining for all the children. The fact that Rogers starred in it for a total of thirty-three years shows how much he cares for the well-being of younger kids, and as other reviewers have already pointed out his kind manner of approach toward the audiences is oftentimes the only kindness most children see these days.

Now, there will be those who won't ever understand this show, dismissing it as 'goofy', 'boring', or 'stupid'. These people are adults that don't realize what the show is trying to do. It looks a little dumb on the outside to most, but that's exactly the opposite of what it is. Even though kid's shows have gotten more advanced these days, we are actually heading in the wrong direction. PBS has ended this show for good and gone on to indulge in the mindless, money-making drudgery that hardly matches up to this show, which is not what you want your child to watch. "Mister Roger's Neighborhood" is educational, fun, and life-changing, and altogether is the absolute best show for the young'uns ever made. No one will ever provide the kids of this generation with such a kindness again, and if you want your four-year-old watching television at all, then this is the best thing you'll find.
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In Memory of Frampton
14 August 2019
"A and B in Ontario" belongs more to the output of lesser-known experimental filmmaker Joyce Wieland than it does to the great Hollis Frampton's. In 1984, the former died of lung cancer at age 48; his output, up to his death, had been entirely focused on completing the "Magellan" film cycle which he had began in 1974. Thus, this sixteen-minute short was actually shot by both filmmakers in 1967, seventeen years before the footage was finally edited to be released as a final result. Due to Frampton's death that year, it is assumed that Wieland remembered the footage she and he had shot in the sixties and thought to make it a finished product as a sort of tribute...and because motion picture records of the great experimental filmmaker are somewhat rare, we are lucky to have this.

"A and B in Ontario" was shot as a sort of amateur home movie originally by both filmmakers as they visited each-other in Toronto, which explains the clumsy camerawork. It is a self-reflective work in which the two directors shoot each-other using film cameras, and the entire movie consists of the footage each is shooting of the other. The concept is creative, and the manner in which it results is rather comical, as the pair hide in bushes, stare at each-other over the roofs of cars, and hide behind buildings. Occasionally, each will stop to load their cameras again, whilst the other takes this as an advantage to capture that person on film.

It's not an experimental work, per se, as it is a comedy--and because of how it begins in the house and continues outdoors, has a sense of continuity between the shots filmed by both cameras. Rather funny and lighthearted, and while obviously shot silent, the addition of sound effects to match the setting enhances the film.
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Gloria! (1979)
The Epilogue to Magellan
13 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"Gloria!" of 1979 was intended to be shown on day two, January 2nd, of Hollis Frampton's gigantic film cycle "Magellan" in the ending section entitled "The Death of Magellan". In this ten-minute film, Frampton once more does an homage to silent film as he had in an earlier segment of the cycle, utilizing archival footage to the project and creating a comedic yet touching work through the few images it consists of. Although hardly involved or abstract in how the images are presented, the short is unique yet beautiful in how it presents its "story", and through the intimate, touching yet comical tribute it creates, makes a brief sort of biography due to the subject it is centered around. Furthermore, it could also be analyzed as another exercise of the director's to make audio and visual aspects respective, through the brief use of sound seemingly matching up with some of the imagery presented afterwards.

"Gloria!" is an personal, intimate biographical portrait of Frampton's Irish grandmother Fanny Cross, who raised the filmmaker from his birth. At the beginning and end, footage from two early film comedies of the earlier 1900s based off the Irish ballad "Finnegan's Wake" are featured, the one at the opening to my knowledge being "O'Finnigan's Wake" of 1903. What follows after this is largely text, as Frampton provides a series of notes about Cross against a green background, detailing her early life of the 1900s, such as her wedding, children, and other personal aspects. The addition of cheerful bagpipe music (which "quacks like ducks" according to the notes), matched with the dancing in the film segment at the conclusion, makes one wonder if the pipes were intentionally meant to be played with the footage, but played prior to disconnect their relation.

Admittedly, as the other reviewer said, much of "Gloria!" is not really film itself but text revealed through stop-motion. Yet, it is this use of text that makes the film touching and poetic in the tribute it pays to the main subject; had Frampton actually made a live-action biography film, it would not have created the impact. The ending statement, that the film is "given in loving memory" to the filmmaker's grandmother, serves to make the film almost like an album in what it is. Yes, this experimental work is more a lovely piece of poetry than a film, but it is powerful and interesting, with a slight touch of humor in the addition of the archive footage.
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Abstract Superimpositions and Color Tones
12 August 2019
"Matrix: First Dream" was a Hollis Frampton short intended to be used on apparently the first day of the Magellan cycle, as one of the "dream" films (specifically the first). In it, Frampton creates a new and unique abstraction deriving its footage from three other earlier works: the "Solariumagelani" trilogy, consisting of "Winter Solstice", "Summer Solstice", and "Autumnal Equinox" (all from 1974). While it is quite obvious and undeniable this twenty-eight short has no real scenes shot for its own making, the film on the other hand does not directly use the imagery in its original form but creatively uses a couple different effects to make it a new work. Rather than seeming like documentary scenes (like the three original films were) this one becomes a truly abstract and unique work because of these effects, and remains one of the most visually effective pieces of cinema by the filmmaker.

The above is not to state either that the "Solariumagelani" trilogy was shot entirely for the making of this film; it is a well-known fact historically that each film in that trilogy was to be viewed on their titular respective days. Rather, "Matrix: First Dream" makes use of these films in a different way than they were originally shot. Each one--"Winter Solstice" with the blast furnace, "Summer Solstice" with the cows and "Autumnal Equinox" with the disemboweled animals--is color toned in pinks, blues and other shades. Then, different segments of all are superimposed over each-other in different ways to create a truly psychedelic experience, with both effects contributing to make it what it is. The overlong run-time of the movie was probably intentional so as to make it memorable, and as a whole the film is really one that must be seen and not described for those interested to get the full idea.
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Unrelated Sound and Image
11 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"The Birth of Magellan: Cadenza I" was originally intended to be part of Hollis Frampton's enormous film cycle "Magellan", on the first day of the work and also as the very beginning of the entire thirty-six hour cycle. Like several others of his career, including "Public Domain" (1972), and "Magellan: Drafts and Fragments" (1974), this six-minute segment incorporates scenes from silent films as part of the work, not remade as the previous reviewer has stated but actually copied directly for the project. In addition, it revives the old but still worthwhile concept experimented earlier in the filmmaker's career: the disconnection of visual and audio aspects which seek to confuse the viewer's senses. In this case, the aforementioned idea is particularly effective in what it does, and due to the sound being part of the short, it feels more complete than others made for the work which seem more like raw footage.

The opening minute-and-a-half of "The Birth of Magellan: Cadenza I" is entirely a black screen save a few quick flashes. During this time, the viewer is treated to the audio of an orchestra tuning up and a violent thunder storm, none of which is seen and can only be imagined. The film then devotes the rest of its time from cutting between a 1902 comedy film entitled "A Little Piece of String" and a color scene of a bride and groom in the woods accompanied by canned applause. An abstract image presumably cut from film leader serves to separate the two.

Although simplistic, the separation of sound and image is undeniably different and used even more effectively than the directer had before in previous years. Furthermore, it would certainly have worked as an excellent, not to mention engaging, opening to the cycle and I would be interested to see what further films in the work were like. On its own, without the unmade/unavailable films following it, the film is interesting in how it executes its ideas, and despite the lack of context for it today is a good work in experimental filmmaking regardless.
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A Study of Death
10 August 2019
"Magellan: At the Gates of Death, Part I: The Red Gate I, 0", as evidenced by the title, was a film intended to be edited into Hollis Frampton's colossal "Magellan" cycle, in the final section entitled "The Death of Magellan". Because very few segments from this portion of the cycle were actually made, this five-minute short is remembered as being part of a sort of movie trilogy, the other two films in the trilogy being "The Green Gate: Magellan at the Gates of Death Part II" and "The Red Gate: Magellan at the Gates of Death Part I". Interestingly enough, those other two films were both feature-length movies of fifty-two and fifty-three minutes, and due to Frampton's original plans for those other two works being to disassemble them into twenty-four different five-minute segments, this particular one is no doubt only an excerpt of the first part. It would have been interesting to view both parts in their entirety, but they as of this date remain unavailable online.

"Magellan: At the Gates of Death, Part I: The Red Gate I, 0" was undoubtedly pulled from these larger works as a sample for Criterion's collection of Frampton films, entitled "A Hollis Frampton Odyssey". It consists of a series of images of human skulls, bones and rotting corpses, shown in black and white and sometimes digitally tinted to create a unique effect. For whatever reason, psychedelic imagery of a geometric pattern are also shown between the skull imagery, and as a whole the visual effects produced are strange and colorful. As for said tints, they consist of green and red making a wonderful contrast between the two and undoubtedly referencing the red and green gates of both parts. Because of being only a fraction of the original hour and forty-five minute footage, it is judgeable only as an example of a larger work and undoubtedly seeing the entire thing would be great. On its own, visually interesting in the patterns and color contrasts it uses, and realistic since Frampton visited a laboratory to film actual bones.
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Abstract Double-Exposures
10 August 2019
"Not the First Time" was presumably intended to become a part of Hollis Frampton's "Magellan" cycle, due to that particular project being the only thing the filmmaker was working on by 1976. The title, while seemingly unfitting to action, refers to the subject of the film itself: double exposures, which cause two different shots to be superimposed over one another to create an interesting effect. The concept of a double-exposure is one which is used commonly by directors as part of the stories in films today, but this film shows the potential of the idea, using it to make the short an abstraction. "Not the First Time" indicates that the viewer is seeing an image more than once, and the film does just that, taking the title to the most literal sense of the word.

This five-minute movie consists of a series of scenes, including the dunes, water and dirt, the beach, and a woman in a red coat. Each image is played so that a similar scene is placed on top and causes the same thing to be seen over the other, sometimes in such a way that the two different shots nearly meet perfectly. Particular scenes such as the dunes and the water and dirt are done in such a way that it is abstract, while others are obviously superimposed and done to play with the eye. While unexceptional, the short does serve as a basic demonstration of the editing concept (which was all it was going for), and the effects produced are visually unique and interesting even if some may find them insignificant compared to technology today.
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Abstract Lack of Context
8 August 2019
Of the three half-hour films made as part of Hollis Frampton's "Solariumagelani" series for the Magellan cycle, "Autumnal Equinox" is the most visually interesting if not structurally interesting. While one might misconstrue this twenty-seven minute work as being a mere documentary of meat-processing, that assumption, however logical, would be mistaken. On the outside, this film appears to be a basic excuse to shock and gross-out audiences; on the inside, it is a uniquely abstract work due to the lack of context for its images. This idea was one originally investigated in "Winter Solstice" earlier on in the series through the eye-catching visuals of sparks and glowing metal, but that film while visually beautiful, was not unique in what it presented. "Summer Solstice" was abstract in its shooting pattern, but contained the context for the viewer to know what they were looking at and thus did not exercise this principle. "Autumnal Equinox", however, has no context for its images and consists largely of closeup shots of the action rather than an overall view; and while the viewer may understand basically what they are looking at, the feel of the film is different due to how the action is shot.

Meant to be viewed on the Autumnal Equinox of the title as part of the cycle, the film was shot inside of a Minnesota slaughterhouse where animals, particularly cows, are butchered to be made into various meat products. Only instead of showing long sweeping views of the place like a workplace documentary would, Frampton makes the film into an abstraction by filming graphic and horrifying closeups of the blood covering the floor, internal organs being ripped out of the cows, meat-scraped skulls, livers and intestines being cut, etc. Thus, rather than the film seeming like a recording of everyday work in the factory, the location of said factory is transformed into an abstract world of carcasses and gore. "Winter Solstice", although using the same idea of lacking context in imagery, is not nearly as effective due to less interesting visuals, and this film is fascinating if one can see the imagery as more than just a lot of ripped-up animals. Not one for the squeamish obviously, but an interesting abstraction and definitely more than the average educational documentary.
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Circle Abstraction
7 August 2019
Hollis Frampton's "Noctiluca" was a film designed to be shown on the second day of the Magellan cycle, the filmmaker's unfinished magnum opus work consisting of a series of films intended to be shown in certain sequences, several for each day of the year. While the project was largely populated by the "Pan" films, seven-hundred and twenty of shorts made to shown for two each day as part of "Straits of Magellan", this was one of the exceptions in its (presumed) connection with "The Birth of Magellan: Cadenza I" earlier on in the cycle. Unlike those films, which were only one-minute in length largely, "Noctiluca" (sometimes with the added subtitle "Magellan's Toys: #1") is quite stand-alone for being part of this greater context and works on many levels with its simple yet unique abstraction. The basic visual itself is different enough to be interesting, and the unique images that the film presents are dreamlike and surreal in their simplicity.

The short depicts a series of circular shapes resembling binocular lenses that consist of several colors and which are overshadowed by other objects, shown in a black void. It's hard to see how it was made and the abstraction of it is marvelously executed, with the basic visuals and the chaotic camera movement both contributing. Furthermore, while different in presenting its images, it's undeniable that the abstraction itself resembles one of the filmmaker's earlier works "Information" from 1966, although not as mesmerizing as that effort. Visually unique and/or beautiful, and it remains a puzzle to this day how Frampton accomplished the effect.
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Pan 700 (1974)
Pan 9 of 9
6 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 700" is what could be considered as the last movie in the series, although if Frampton had made more intending to be shown after it that are unavailable now, this would be incorrect. Like "Pan 4" before it, this last film is a simple scene turned experimental by a double-exposure causing the uninteresting shot it consists of to become surrealistic in what it presents. "Pan 700" features a typical street scene shot presumably from somebody's back yard, showing a series of cars and vehicles passing by the camera. The gimmick here is that instead of straightforwardly presenting the documentation, which would no doubt be boring to many people, Frampton uses a superimposed shot in such a remarkably seamless fashion that the vehicles appear transparent--causing it to be very unique indeed despite how simple it is. Doubtless he had filmed the cars elsewhere and superimposed the shot onto the outside location, then sandwiched the car shot by superimposing the fence closest to the camera over all of it to make the effect. As always hard to judge because of its intended participation in "Magellan", but creditable for how seamlessly executed the effect looks when viewed now.
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Pan 699 (1974)
Pan 8 of 9
5 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 699" is what could be considered the penultimate short in the series (although it's possible Frampton completed all seven-hundred and twenty, which would make this only a later installment) and also, like "Pan 697", not really experimental but more a straightforward documentary snippet. Further comparison between both segments can be made due to yet another aspect which makes them similar: the scenes shot in both are undeniably cruel for most viewers because of what they depict. The earlier episode mentioned was more a downright gory depiction of animal slaughter and thus more effective in what it does; this one on the other hand is the type of film one might dismiss as being an exploitative or snuff movie that could offend many. It consists of a single shot of a young boy possibly eight or nine, dangling a frog from a fishhook and seemingly celebrating his catch. Not particularly disturbing like "Pan 697", but more cruel and insulting rather than making an impact, although as always it can't be judged out of its context. And admittedly, even despite how provoking it may seem, one can't deny that the single shot itself is colorful, effective and somewhat memorable due to the composition and the unusual scene it presents.
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Pan 698 (1974)
Pan 7 of 9
5 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 698", like the several of the earlier pans, is visually interesting in its constant movement although uninteresting when compared to the more unique effects of "Pan 0" and "Pan 3". It consists of a quick-moving back-and-forth panning shot of several flowers, creating movement only through the action of the camera itself and thus making the film an abstraction. Like other "Pan" films from the later part of the series, it is more a documentary than an avant-garde work, but in this case not completely so because of being turned abstract through the presentation of how it captures its subject. It is not a constant amount of dizzying movement, however; the camera takes a pause between every blur and thus strongly reminds the viewer of an earlier "Magellan" work: "Summer Solstice" from another section in the cycle. As always, unjudgeable due to the greater context it would belong to but a good example of how simple an abstraction can be.
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Pan 697 (1974)
Pan 6 of 9
4 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 697" is the sixth one, although technically speaking the 698th film in the series (if he actually had accomplished that many, which it's possible he did). While the earliest ones served to create an interesting effect, this one will no doubt be looked down upon considering the gore and purely sickening sight the film displays, and it does go for more of a documentary style than an experimental film since there's nothing really avant-garde about it. In the segment, Frampton films a man beheading a butchered cow in a fashion many would consider not only gruesome, but downright deplorable. The short is effective in how it displays its imagery: while most movies today that aim for younger audiences try to present darker themes mildly, Frampton here films the gory act just as it is and even pans down to capture puddles of blood covering the ground. A somewhat striking image is that of clouds being reflected in said blood, although this probably wasn't intentionally done at the time. Needless to say, not one for the squeamish, although undeniably effective in how it straightforwardly captures such a provocative scene.
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Pan 4 (1974)
Pan 5 of 9
4 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 4" is relatively simplistic when compared to the previous movies but serves to support a basic special effect when put on its own. Like all of the Pans, this one undoubtedly had a greater intent in how it was to be used in the film cycle as one of the "Straits of Magellan", and would easily become more interesting when placed among the variety of material Frampton meant to include. It consists of a single closeup shot of some papers tacked to a wall, which flutter in the wind for the entire minute. Actually, the fluttering effect is produced by apparently doing a double-exposure of each paper so that it is transparent, although some would argue that it could be the use of tissue paper that makes it come across as such. While unjudgeable on its own, it would be safe to say that among the seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" movies Frampton had in mind this would undoubtedly be one of the lesser ones when it comes to visual look, although the superimposition effect is masterfully executed for what it is.
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Pan 3 (1974)
Pan 4 of 9
3 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 3" is the fourth of the series and like "Pan 2" before it, also bears a distinct similarity with an earlier work preceding the short. Whereas the latter consisted of the familiar rock-falling scene from "States" (1967) presumably recreated, this film brings back the timelapse/fast-motion photography seen originally in "Surface Tension" (1968), but here resembling Part V of "Hapax Legomena"--"Ordinary Matter" of 1972. In it, the viewer is once again treated to a visual thrill as the camera moves rapidly through a cornfield, reminiscent from the final scene of the aforementioned film and probably using the same location. If one would say any of the "Pan" films were stand-alone, this one would probably rank more on that side along with "Pan 0" due to the fact that the effect itself is already fascinating on its own. Furthermore, the use of color as opposed to the B&W from the other film brings the imagery more to life, and because of the short run-time it is not repetitive like that 1972 work. Interesting for what it is if remaining unjudgeable due to being part of a greater context.
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Pan 2 (1974)
Pan 3 of 9
3 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 2" is what could be considered the third in the series and in it, the director reprises an image originally featured in "States" (1967). The visual is that of falling rock, coming in a quick downpour before the camera in such a way that it creates an interesting abstraction--and possibly (like it did to me) creates other mental images in the mind of the viewer. Certainly it is possible that the image itself was borrowed directly from the latter film, and while simple on its own it is clear that had the "Magellan" project been completed it would doubtless become more interesting among the array of various other films Frampton had prepared. On its own, it is interesting visually but little else for the average viewer.
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Pan 1 (1974)
Pan 2 of 9
2 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 1" is the second film, and while the first could almost work as an individual piece, this particular segment is even more confusing when taken out of context. As pointed out by other commenters already, both this and "Pan 0" are both appealing toward the visual: while the first creates a uniquely interesting effect by superimpositions done lightning-fast and flickering on and off, this uses a constant movement throughout its run-time to lapse the viewer into a state of exhaustion. The segment merely features a sort of pendulum--more like a bead on a string--swinging back and forth for an entire minute, and while that sounds boring it is actually somewhat hypnotic in what it does. Had "Magellan" been completed, this clip would have been even more interesting when put in context, and doubtless the entire cycle would surely be remembered as Frampton's grand magnum opus. Unfortunately, because it exists only as a series of fragments, the filmmaker remains a lesser-known figure in the history of experimental film despite the large recognition he undoubtedly deserves.
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Pan 0 (1974)
Pan 1 of 9
2 August 2019
The "Pan" films, presumably not titled as such originally, was a series of nine different one-minute short films created by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton for his enormous thirty-six hour film cycle "Magellan". As such, they were never released as individual works or given title cards because of being an intended part of this greater context, and in the end never actually used due to the project being cut short by the filmmaker's death in 1984. Reportedly, Frampton had originally hoped to complete seven-hundred and twenty "Pan" films in all, although for whatever reason only nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 697, 698, 699, and 700 are available now. One would think that because of the large gap in numbering there were more shot remaining unavailable; but due to a lack of evidence supporting this, the series is generally known as containing only nine.

"Pan 0" was obviously the first and like all of them, very little can be judged from it when taken out of context. For one minute the viewer is treated to a single long panning shot of white clouds, over which are superimposed dark storm clouds flickering quickly to create an interesting effect. The other reviewer clearly does not understand the relevance of the series and cannot see this as being any more than a short clip of flickering clouds; it would be difficult for any of us to understand the relevance without the cycle being completed to fully know what he was trying to do. One interesting thing about this particular segment is that it's possible it was a shortened remake of Frampton's first film, "Clouds Like White Sheep" (1962), although that short was reportedly destroyed--and no more comparison can be made apart from the assumed content.
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Cow Documentary
1 August 2019
"Summer Solstice" was the second short film of a trilogy of movies entitled "Solariumagelani" that was intended to be edited into Frampton's "Magellan" project and in this case, the editing is not nearly as lackluster as it was in the first one. Whereas "Winter Solstice" was intentionally abstract while being a documentary in its seemingly incomprehensible shots, this film is more a documentary and less and abstraction, containing a more composed style of presenting its images. Considering both were evidently unedited--either dropped out of the project or not intended to be seen as individual works and thus untampered with--it is strange I would think this, but one must admit: if you took out the automatic red flashes, added the ending HF logo and included a title card, this could pass as a finished work. The camerawork for this thirty-three minute film is admittedly jerky at times, but not nearly as chaotic as the shaky shots making up the first movie, and in general the way the footage was shot makes a more interesting and mature style than "Winter Solstice".

Like the latter, this movie too is centered around a single subject. Only, instead of creating eye-catching effects as before, this movie relies on lots of color contrasts and structural abstractions through reverting between shots of grass and scenes of cows--seen in closeup and long shot. The manner in which it alternates between these blurred pans and cow shots suggests that the filmmaker was almost structuralizing it as he went along, whereas in the first movie he just shot a lot of footage to presumably work with later. At times, the abstraction is embellished through pulling the image in and out of focus, and occasionally one sees a stand-out shot such as a dog watching or a pond (in particular the end, where the cows are reflected in the water for a remarkable contrast. While the other short was flashy with its visual interest, the color contrasts and editing style in this one remains more interesting due to being composed more complexly. Watchable even for those who don't like experimental cinema, and almost like a complete film even if remaining unfinished.
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Abstract Documentary
31 July 2019
"Winter Solstice" was part of a trilogy of short films entitled "Solariumagelani" that was intended to later be used as part of Hollis Frampton's enormous film cycle "Magellan"--a thirty-six hour work consisting of a huge series of films, several to be shown every day of the year at a specific interval. Many films from the cycle are stand-alone works that work well without this greater context, but without any background the footage here that comprises this thirty-three minute movie comes up, to the average viewer, as very badly edited and overly choppy. While I have no other statement to support this theory, I think that, because of lack of title card and ending logo, the footage in this film actually remains raw to this day and was probably shot for future use, but dropped from the project eventually. As such it is not very easy to judge, and no doubt had a bigger purpose unseen due to remaining unfinished.

"Winter Solstice" was shot in a steel mill, and consists of a series of repetitive shots showing the full process of manufacture within the building. The effects of fire, lava and sparks produced in the footage are interesting and eye-catching, but the lack of editing is obvious due to jittery camerawork and lots of repetition. It's hard to tell exactly what you're looking at when you view the footage, and due to the abstract quality of the imagery Frampton probably intended this to be so. In the end, more a documentary than an experimental film, but an abstract one at that and not easy to judge due to presumably never being completed. Likely as not if it had been edited, the run-time would have been much shorter and the large bulk of footage was shot probably to ensure Frampton he would have enough to work with.
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Apparatus Sum (1972)
Phantasmagorical Death
29 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"Apparatus Sum" is a Hollis Frampton short which includes some of the strangest and possibly the most nightmarish images of his career. Although made in 1972, two years before he began his enormous film project "Magellan", the short is labelled as a "Study for Magellan" on the Filmmaker's Cooperative and it is unclear to me if it would go on to be included as part of that project or simply as a stand-alone work. In either case, the somewhat disturbing imagery in it remains unique to this day, and no matter how many times one could look at it they still couldn't positively identify what it is.

The vomit-inducing imagery in "Apparatus Sum" begins with a series of colors, including blue and red, the latter remaining onscreen for an overlong amount of time. After this, which is already more than half the film, the last minute devotes itself to some unsettling visuals of a dead man's face and then what looks like body organs. The film is tinted red this entire time, although for whatever reason it shifts to blue at the end.

Frampton gave a single sentance describing the film: "A brief lyric film of death, which brings to equilibrium a single reactive image from a roomful of cadavers." The images are certainly reactive not to mention disturbing, and it is an interesting film visually even if this response remains a puzzler to this day.
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