Underground Film Journal

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Short Film: Visions Of Wasted Time

By Mike Everleth ⋅ August 28, 2012

Is making movies a waste of time? Neil Ira Needleman‘s short film Visions of Wasted Time explores the obsession with capturing moving images in quite possibly the most startling, provocative and gut-wrenching way possible. (Note: Film is silent.)

At the Underground Film Journal, we’ve long touted Needleman’s filmmaking brilliance. However, Visions of Wasted Time is extra special to us as this was the first film of his that we ever encountered thanks to the ATA Film & Video Festival who screened it way back at their 3rd annual event in 2008.

Immediately upon screening this little gem, we had to find out exactly who this filmmaker was and devour everything possible that he’s made, which given his complete, massive filmography is a lot of genius to wade through. While there’s much to love and to be loveably baffled by in Needleman’s work, such as Meeskeit, Corporate Art Policy, New Old Videotape Memories and more, Visions of Wasted Time is his most stark, on both emotional and physical levels.

On the one hand the film fits in perfectly with the Needleman oeuvre with its unsettling autobiographical subject matter and its experimental-tinged story structure and shooting strategy. But, the film is much more stark and crawls underneath the viewer’s skin more deeply than many of Needleman’s other work, most likely due to the painfully intimate shot of his father literally on his deathbed. While death is not an uncommon subject in a Needleman film, it is so direct and immediate in Visions of Wasted Time that it becomes an almost confrontational vision that is asking the viewer to pass judgement on the appropriateness of its inclusion.

Dying man lying in a hospital bed

Also, for those unfamiliar with Needleman’s other films, Visions of Wasted Time must be taken completely at face value. Those who have developed a familiarity with his other work — as we have at the Underground Film Journal — one has to question the veracity of what we see on screen, which adds yet another unsettling layer to an already complex film.

If you want to learn more about Neil Ira Needleman, please check out the Underground Film Journal’s interview with the filmmaker and watch more of his fantastic short films on Vimeo.)

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