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¶ Short of the Day #65: Telephones

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Perception de Ambiguity
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¶ Short of the Day #65: Telephones

#1

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

"Short of the Day" is the daily discussion of a short.

Tasks:
1) Watch.
2) Discuss.
3) Send me your suggestions for the next Short of the Day per PM, along with links to the shorts and comments, questions for the other users to think about, and/or info about the short.

Detailed project introduction: here


Image

Telephones (Christian Marclay, 1995) :letbxd: Image

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH5HTPjPvyE
Length: 7 minutes 17 seconds

Suggested by: Perception de Ambiguity


Hello. For those who didn’t get a chance (or didn’t have the time) to see Christian Marclay's magnum opus 24-hour-film 'The Clock' here is sample-size Christian Marclay as he is doing telephones, and he does the shit out of them in its 7 minutes. The individual clips aren’t exactly made to look connected to each other or like the characters are in a conversation with each other, nor does it try to match and/or contrast the same actions from different films as precisely and often as possible, and it isn't exactly a slavishly faithful compilation video (towards the end the audio of the original clips seems to have been altered), and yet it’s all of those things with the final impression being that the characters and the films themselves partook in one giant group call. I also find the film weirdly funny without being completely sure why.

Phone conversations usually are among the most uncinematic frequently seen type of scenes in movies. But take the "characters dialing a number" or "characters approaching a ringing phone" sections, for example. Many of the scenes have suspenseful music and chances are that we don't very attentively watch those moments in movies - "OMG, what number will she dial next!?", "I can't wait to see how many rings it takes before he reaches the phone!?" - rather we already think ahead and wonder who could be calling or who is being called, what information will we find out and what consequences could it have for the character, so our mind is already occupied with what comes next, the dialing and the walking to the phone itself usually is of very little interest. Removed from their context of course we don't feel the suspense of those scenes, and instead it makes us look more closely at the actual, mundane action of a character dialing a number, walking to a phone or hanging up. Bye-bye. *click*

Comments by: Perception de Am∞iguity
Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on April 18th, 2017, 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on April 21st, 2017, 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#3

Post by Carmel1379 »

That was quite amusing, indeed.

I didn't get the chance to see 'The Clock', but I remember following someone on CFB (I think it was the guy with 'The Seventh Seal' protagonist's name and avatar) writing about his viewings. Did you see it/parts of it in a proper installation? I forgot that the times from the film excerpts corresponded to the exact time of the day that the project was screened, that makes it of course even more impressive.
Perception de Ambiguity on Apr 18 2017, 04:06:29 AM wrote:Phone conversations usually are among the most uncinematic frequently seen type of scenes in movies.
I had to take a while to think about this; I guess you're right. To remark on one example that's fresh in my mind, I found the constant barrage of phone calls to Locke as he drives his car quite annoying. I know they were meant to be informative, helping build up the character study and distanced relationships, but they suspended the brooding atmosphere of driving in the night on a motorway with passing lamp posts and many cinematic opportunities in using that environment.
Last edited by Carmel1379 on April 23rd, 2017, 3:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#5

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

Carmel1379 on Apr 22 2017, 08:53:34 PM wrote:That was quite amusing, indeed.

I didn't get the chance to see 'The Clock', but I remember following someone on CFB (I think it was the guy with 'The Seventh Seal' protagonist's name and avatar) writing about his viewings. Did you see it/parts of it in a proper installation? I forgot that the times from the film excerpts corresponded to the exact time of the day that the project was screened, that makes it of course even more impressive.
Perception de Ambiguity on Apr 18 2017, 04:06:29 AM wrote:Phone conversations usually are among the most uncinematic frequently seen type of scenes in movies.
I had to take a while to think about this; I guess you're right. To remark on one example that's fresh in my mind, I found the constant barrage of phone calls to Locke as he drives his car quite annoying. I know they were meant to be informative, helping build up the character study and distanced relationships, but they suspended the brooding atmosphere of driving in the night on a motorway with passing lamp posts and many cinematic opportunities in using that environment.
No, unfortunately 'The Clock' was never exhibited in my parts to the best of my knowledge.

I don't know what 'Locke' film you wanted to see (maybe one about John Locke), but there would be any less a 'Locke' without phone calls than there would be a Marclay's 'Telephone' without phone calls. Driving around at night listing to pop songs is fine, but there are other films that do that. and they obviously don't fill up 90 minutes of runtime just with this either. Part of what I admire about 'Locke' is that it builds upon the premise that modern life is an interconnected one, the protagonist's life is on the hinge and he has to get through a crisis just by making phone calls. This combined with the mundaneness of the story to make a thriller in real-time. Films that I think would be most comparable to it would in contrast concern in addition to a personal crises also a, let's say national one, and it would likely have several characters in a room, like for example JFK and his staff in the Oval Office managing the Cuba crisis or whatever.

'Locke' pretty much could have just as well be about a guy making phone calls from home but it would very much change the feel of the whole film, the driving gives it a bit more urgency and (perhaps a false) sense of destination. It adds to the character's strain and probably a bunch of other things, but it has little to do with Locke's relation to the city. The camera exploring the surrounding space, the night, the city or whatever, that's just not what this film is. From what I remember I actually thought it was a bit of a shame that there were some wide shots at all, that the camera didn't stay inside the car (or on the windshield or somewhere attached to the car) the entire time.

The guy for all intents and purposes is locked inside his car, heading into one direction, because in his mind that's the only viable option he still has left. Thanks to the interconnected modern world he still has a perhaps realistic chance of managing the crisis by "talking his way out of it" despite the small Spielraum he has left (sorry, "leeway", "elbowroom", "wiggle room", etc. seem like weak substitutes for the German word). That's also why anything outside the car is besides the point, the city as a space here has lost its relevance for the protagonist, while with his car he does try to bridge a space there is little he can do to make his car run faster, his mind is primarily occupied with all the other things while the car basically "drives itself".
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#6

Post by Carmel1379 »

Perception de Ambiguity on Apr 23 2017, 11:17:00 AM wrote:
Carmel1379 on Apr 22 2017, 08:53:34 PM wrote:That was quite amusing, indeed.

I didn't get the chance to see 'The Clock', but I remember following someone on CFB (I think it was the guy with 'The Seventh Seal' protagonist's name and avatar) writing about his viewings. Did you see it/parts of it in a proper installation? I forgot that the times from the film excerpts corresponded to the exact time of the day that the project was screened, that makes it of course even more impressive.
Perception de Ambiguity on Apr 18 2017, 04:06:29 AM wrote:Phone conversations usually are among the most uncinematic frequently seen type of scenes in movies.
I had to take a while to think about this; I guess you're right. To remark on one example that's fresh in my mind, I found the constant barrage of phone calls to Locke as he drives his car quite annoying. I know they were meant to be informative, helping build up the character study and distanced relationships, but they suspended the brooding atmosphere of driving in the night on a motorway with passing lamp posts and many cinematic opportunities in using that environment.
No, unfortunately 'The Clock' was never exhibited in my parts to the best of my knowledge.

I don't know what 'Locke' film you wanted to see (maybe one about John Locke), but there would be any less a 'Locke' without phone calls than there would be a Marclay's 'Telephone' without phone calls. Driving around at night listing to pop songs is fine, but there are other films that do that. and they obviously don't fill up 90 minutes of runtime just with this either. Part of what I admire about 'Locke' is that it builds upon the premise that modern life is an interconnected one, the protagonist's life is on the hinge and he has to get through a crisis just by making phone calls. This combined with the mundaneness of the story to make a thriller in real-time. Films that I think would be most comparable to it would in contrast concern in addition to a personal crises also a, let's say national one, and it would likely have several characters in a room, like for example JFK and his staff in the Oval Office managing the Cuba crisis or whatever.

'Locke' pretty much could have just as well be about a guy making phone calls from home but it would very much change the feel of the whole film, the driving gives it a bit more urgency and (perhaps a false) sense of destination. It adds to the character's strain and probably a bunch of other things, but it has little to do with Locke's relation to the city. The camera exploring the surrounding space, the night, the city or whatever, that's just not what this film is. From what I remember I actually thought it was a bit of a shame that there were some wide shots at all, that the camera didn't stay inside the car (or on the windshield or somewhere attached to the car) the entire time.

The guy for all intents and purposes is locked inside his car, heading into one direction, because in his mind that's the only viable option he still has left. Thanks to the interconnected modern world he still has a perhaps realistic chance of managing the crisis by "talking his way out of it" despite the small Spielraum he has left (sorry, "leeway", "elbowroom", "wiggle room", etc. seem like weak substitutes for the German word). That's also why anything outside the car is besides the point, the city as a space here has lost its relevance for the protagonist, while with his car he does try to bridge a space there is little he can do to make his car run faster, his mind is primarily occupied with all the other things while the car basically "drives itself".
Prior to watching 'Locke' I only knew that it extensively featured Tom Hardy as he drives during the night; and until somewhere in the middle of my viewing I had come to accept that he wouldn't leave his car and that the phone calls weren't merely supplementary information, but almost totally constituted the primary focus of the film, i.e. through them we learn about the guy driving the wheel. But to fully develop such a premise a degree of being "cinematic" is necessarily renounced (which I don't "see as a "problem"", I was simply insufficiently gripped by it to like it as much as you did); the story could've easily been written as a play (the film was shot in pretty much one go, from what I've read), though the latter art-form in turn cannot naturally transport the feeling of driving, that you mention gives it a bit more urgency and (perhaps a false) sense of destination.

I like your ideas that the surrounding space is narrowed as a corollary of the character's state and the need to show him within the inner shell striving towards a singular goal-priority, that however is still penetrated by modern telephone calls signalling problems behind him he cannot fully abandon. Can't think of anything to add; just perhaps that this baby with another woman coincided with two things that would've made him happy - watching a football match with his family with the wife finally deciding to wear a t-shirt for the first time & an important step in the construction of his building. Becoming dispassionate about his team winning the game (=irrevocably worsening relationship with his son), putting his marriage in jeopardy and getting fired from work makes the script tragic and distressful; even Tom Hardy cannot fix everything and some things have to go.
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#7

Post by Carmel1379 »

Telephones - Twin Peaks special

Last edited by Carmel1379 on April 28th, 2017, 6:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#8

Post by Mario Gaborović »

Telephones is now added to IMDb.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11371026/
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#9

Post by Carmel1379 »

Carmel1379 wrote: April 23rd, 2017, 2:53 amI didn't get the chance to see 'The Clock'
This piece of information written down by Carmel1379 at time "1492916014" is no longer true. Please see this thread started by kathulu which includes two posts (& one link to a weekly thread) written by myself in the past recording bits and pieces about my experience of Christian Marclay's 'The Clock'.
arittake no yume (nikki) o kaki atsume & I suppose I’ll have to add the force of gravity to my list of enemies

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