Underground Film Journal

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Trip The Film Fantastic

By Mike Everleth ⋅ May 7, 2009

Here are three short films that screened as part of the Boston Underground Film Festival’s curated program called “Psychedelicinema.” And yes, all three films are pretty trippy.

Embedded above is The Illogic of a Dream Had Taken Over Completely by Ruby Quincunx, which plays like a combination of ’60s psychedelic film, a ’70s high school science film and the opening of Dali and Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou. (Sans slicing.) It’s a silent film and I’m not sure how the effect of the spinning lights, which look like a thousand spinning eyeballs, was done, but it looks terrific. And I like how the effect slowly evolves and becomes more complex during each sequence between the waking eye.

Next up, embedded right below is Scott Nyerges‘ epilepsy-inducing Polar. Nyerges describes the film as:

Arctic as metaphor for body out of balance. Fissures emerge. Mass transforms. The sea falls into itself.

[NOTE: Unfortunately, film is no longer online.]

But what I get out of it is just a terrific splash and blast of different colors. It’s like running through a gallery of abstract expressionist paintings at supersonic speed. We could be looking at the chemical composition of ice or a maze of distant nebulas or fungus growing on slides. Fascinating color patterns. Also, this is a silent film, too.

Lastly, embedded at the bottom is Trinity of Three Dragons by Orland Nutt. Dance film has a long tradition in underground filmmaking, but I can say I’ve never been the biggest fan of modern dance. Nutt’s film is an interesting piece, though, as he has two alternating dancers — one man and one woman, never on screen together — going through some pretty far-out body contortions. The woman, Ashby Lee Collinson, looks like a refugee from The Grudge, yet we never get a clear look at her face, while the man, Nathan Lee Johnson, is almost all facial contortions, which is a nice contrast.

There’s also good intercutting from one dancer to the other and one thing I started thinking about while watching is that the film’s structure implies that the two performances were actually performed in the linear pattern the film has placed them. But, the locked-down camera has its position moved between cuts so that the dancers move from close-up to far shot during each performance. So, were they performing in a different linear fashion than the film has arranged them and what are all the connections in the cuts from one dancer to the other. Sometimes that’s obvious and sometimes it isn’t. Also, this film does have sound:

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