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The Experiments of Michael Snow [TALKING IMAGES]

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St. Gloede
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The Experiments of Michael Snow [TALKING IMAGES]

#1

Post by St. Gloede »

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Special episode: RIP Michael Snow.

In this episode, we'll look back at his key experiments, discuss whether they actually work, explore why he is an important artist, and dive into his 7 biggest films.

We'll also make the case for why even those who disliked Wavelength and La region centrale should not bail on his later films, with Sol making one rather extraordinary claim, that 1 of Mr Snow's films is the best of its century.

Oh, and we'll also drive home the rarely-mentioned point that Michael Snow's films are filled with comedy and humor!

You Can Listen Here:

Update: Sounder is closing and we are therefor moving to Anchor, which is connected to Spotify. We will start linking Spotify first to see if we can build the podcast there, but you can also listen directly on Anchor.

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6l2Hf7OKYdpuKGU4EAKSQG

Anchor: https://anchor.fm/talking-images/episod ... ow-e1t7bi3

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/t ... 0593027602

Participants:
  • Sol / Sol
  • Chris / St. Gloede
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How many Michael Snow films have you seen?

If zero, (or just Wavelength) did we make you remotely interested in seeking any (others) out?

What is his most successful experiment?

What is his least successful experiment?

How would you rate and rank his films?

Do you believe Michael Snow deserves his place in the cinematic Canon?
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#2

Post by AdamH »

Chris in the Snow episode: I love Snow!
Chris in the Why We Watch Films We Know We Won't Like (a few weeks earlier): I hate Snow and won't rewatch any of his films unless Sol makes me do a Snow episode!
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#3

Post by St. Gloede »

AdamH wrote: January 8th, 2023, 5:33 pm Chris in the Snow episode: I love Snow!
Chris in the Why We Watch Films We Know We Won't Like (a few weeks earlier): I hate Snow and won't rewatch any of his films unless Sol makes me do a Snow episode!
Haha, that's an amazing coincidence that's both fun and a bit sad at the same time. Too bad it took Snow's death to finally push through Sol's long-time wish for this episode to come true.

Though I haven't actually gotten to the spot where I love Snow ... I think I started the episode by saying I'm more on the fence with Snow, but have come to appreciate him more.

The rewatches worked, with Wavelength moving from a film I honestly disliked to a film I appreciate, <---> improving as well, and the first time viewings mainly falling into the good column, so I have gone from "hating" Snow to liking Snow. I even found 1 film I find absolutely great. (people reading this can give the episode a listen to find out which).
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#4

Post by sol »

St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm How many Michael Snow films have you seen?
Seven. La Region Centrale is my least favourite. Of the others, Presents and Rameau's Nephew would rank 5th and 6th for me, but mostly because I have only seen them one time (I anticipate, like his other films, they will go up in my estimation upon rewatch).
St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pmWhat is his most successful experiment?
Sorry, you guys will have to listen to the podcast to find out my opinion on this!
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#5

Post by 45MinuteZoom »

Great episode Sol and Chris! I'd still say you might be the top Snow fan sol, you've definitely seen more of his movies than I have. I still need to check out Rameau's Nephew and *Corpus Callosum. Wavelength just hit me at exactly the right time in my film journey.

I joined icm in 2013, worked at a movie theatre for 2006-2011, and saw a ton of new releases in 2012. Before 2013, mainstream new releases were basically all that I watched. Through icm, I started going over the TSPDT list and the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die and worked through a lot of the shorter movies on those lists (check whoring). This naturally led to experimental shorts and other experimental films. Starting with Mothlight and Meshes of the Afternoon in August 2013, in September I saw Wavelength and fell in love with it. It was just so radically different than anything I had seen up to that point. The sense of tension as you get closer and closer to the final shots, the sound getting higher pitched as the wavelength shortens, absolutely loved it! Immediately I watched the other structuralist movies listed on wikipedia, Zorns Lemma which I found fun and Tony Conrad's The Flicker, which I didn't like at all.

Then in February 2014, the National Gallery in DC announced that they would be showing Wavelength as well as some of Snow's other movies over a weekend, and that Michael Snow would be there to speak after them. I was so excited! Got to see Wavelength on a big screen, and saw <--->, So Is This, Presents and One Second in Montreal. I remember that he was very disappointed with how dirty the copy of One Second in Montreal the NGA received was since the point of that was was not to be able to tell how much time was passing over the (I think still) image, and the dirty spots ruined the effect. I really loved So Is This, like you were saying in the podcast, it has such an amazing sense of humor, I too wish more people had seen it. He talked after, I just remember that he seemed very unassuming and nice.

NGA showed WVLNT: Wavelength For Those Who Don't Have The Time some months later, and I liked that one too for it's sense of humor. The fact that two parts are overlaid and I think sped up as well, the soundtrack is practically oppressive for that one. I remember a couple of people in the audience had said thank god that is over once it had ended.

Just a little more rambling before I answer the questions. I've traveled up to Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal at different times in 2014 and 2015. Canada really reps for Michael Snow, especially Toronto. At museums in each of the cities, there was some Michael Snow artwork. There was a sculpture of a rolled woman in Toronto, paintings of the Walking Woman in Montreal and I think Ottawa, and in Ottawa he repurposed the equipment he used to shoot La Region Centrale and adapted it as a video installation. I remember walking through the atrium where it should be, but can't remember if it was working the day I went up. In Toronto, I went to the Roger Centre where he made huge sculptures of various people watching a baseball game from the audience, it they are a ton of fun, also have a lot of humor in them. Blue Jays fans love those sculptures, there was a post on their subreddit about his passing. He's also done a ton of photograph, and you can see a lot of his humor in them as well. I really like Of A Ladder (1971) and Egg (1985). He seems to try to make his photography seem sculptural as well, they often involve specific setups.
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#6

Post by 45MinuteZoom »

St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm How many Michael Snow films have you seen?
I've seen 7:
Wavelength, Presents, So Is This, One Second in Montreal, <--->, WVLNT: Wavelength For Those Who Don't Have The Time, La région centrale
St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm If zero, (or just Wavelength) did we make you remotely interested in seeking any (others) out?
You both convinced me to check out *Corpus Callosum and Rameau's Nephew sooner.
St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm What is his most successful experiment?
Just due to the divisiveness of Wavelength, I'm going with So Is This. The streamer Northerlion just the other day had a little bit shitting on Wavelength. So Is This has such a good sense of humor, and I really like how it played with the medium to differentiate itself from something else written.
St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm What is his least successful experiment?
One Second in Montreal, I think others had done better with still images on film. La région centrale is also pretty challenging, though I'm not sure it makes it unsuccessful.
St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm How would you rate and rank his films?
It's been a while since I've seen all of these, but I would go in this order:
Wavelength - 10/10
So Is This - 9/10
<---> - 9/10
Presents - 6/10 - the section with the stage moving is fun, but like Chris said, the section of all of the possible camera movements is trying
La région centrale - 6/10
WVLNT: Wavelength For Those Who Don't Have The Time - 6/10 - fun for an offhand joke, not worth another watch
One Second in Montreal - 5/10
St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm Do you believe Michael Snow deserves his place in the cinematic Canon?
Yes, I think he's incredibly inventive and love his work, especially when he shows his sense of humor.
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#7

Post by sol »

Thanks for the detailed response, Robert - and thanks for listening to the podcast. :thumbsup: I meant to reply earlier to you and now time has escaped me and I'm feeling exhausted, but I'm glad that we got you interested in two Snows that you haven't seen. And I still think you're the bigger fan. :)
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#8

Post by Fergenaprido »

45MinuteZoom wrote: January 10th, 2023, 12:46 am Just a little more rambling before I answer the questions. I've traveled up to Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal at different times in 2014 and 2015. Canada really reps for Michael Snow, especially Toronto. At museums in each of the cities, there was some Michael Snow artwork. There was a sculpture of a rolled woman in Toronto, paintings of the Walking Woman in Montreal and I think Ottawa, and in Ottawa he repurposed the equipment he used to shoot La Region Centrale and adapted it as a video installation. I remember walking through the atrium where it should be, but can't remember if it was working the day I went up. In Toronto, I went to the Roger Centre where he made huge sculptures of various people watching a baseball game from the audience, it they are a ton of fun, also have a lot of humor in them. Blue Jays fans love those sculptures, there was a post on their subreddit about his passing. He's also done a ton of photograph, and you can see a lot of his humor in them as well. I really like Of A Ladder (1971) and Egg (1985). He seems to try to make his photography seem sculptural as well, they often involve specific setups.
Snow was from Toronto, so it makes sense that the city reps him. :D

Those sculptures at SkyDome are great and famous, but I didn't know they were by Snow until reading it on Wiki after his death. To me, his most famous sculpture is the Canada Geese installation inside the Eaton Centre, which I did know where his. I think they even feature briefly in one of Cronenberg's early films, maybe The Fly.

I haven't seen any of his shorts, and I've only managed to sit through 3 of his films so far. I'll probably watch La région centrale this year in my quest to complete the TIFF list, but I can't say I'm looking forward to it.

1. 6.4 - So Is This (1982)

2. 2.8 - Wavelength (1967)
3. 2.4 - <---> (1969)

Experimental films are not my jam.
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#9

Post by St. Gloede »

45MinuteZoom wrote: January 10th, 2023, 1:03 am
St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm If zero, (or just Wavelength) did we make you remotely interested in seeking any (others) out?
You both convinced me to check out *Corpus Callosum and Rameau's Nephew sooner.
Really happy to hear that, especially re: *Corpus Callosum. Can't wait to hear your take on this one!

Loved the backstory. Really interesting that you went to experimental shorts almost right away, and must have been great seeing them with Snow himself.
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#10

Post by 45MinuteZoom »

I swear I’ve been in Eaton centre, but can’t remember if I saw the geese.

I’m sure I was working through the 50 greatest cartoons at a similar time as going through the experimental shorts.
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#11

Post by matthewscott8 »

St. Gloede wrote: January 8th, 2023, 12:08 pm We'll also make the case for why even those who disliked ... La region centrale
No such person exists *sticks fingers in ears and wails lalalallalala*

I am actually gutted that I missed a screening of this some years ago, as they don't come up often and people have even less time and patience these days. Have to make do with the crappy rip.
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#12

Post by OldAle1 »

Very cool stuff guys. Haven't listened to the podcast yet (maybe soon) but love 45minute's experiences. I saw two Snow films in the cinema - Wavelength, which was a rapturous experience - and La région centrale which wasn't, but was certainly like nothing else I'd seen at the time. I think I've probably mentioned that experience before - saw it with two of my best cine-buddies at the time, and my brother. This was at the University of Chicago's DOC films, which had some of the best programming in Chicago in the 90s (maybe it still does) and would always get a crowd for *anything*. As I remember, this played on a very, very cold winter night and the audience was less than 50 people, maybe less than 25 - and at the end it was only me and my two friends (my brother got bored after 5-10 minutes and spent the 3 hours drinking somewhere). One of my friends thought is was the most boring thing ever and the other - who definitely dozed during much of it - said he really liked it and that it was "relaxing". Hah, that's one of those memories that sticks with me after 25 years or so. Anyway -

GREAT FILMS
1. *Corpus Callosum
2. Wavelength
3. So Is This

EXCELLENT
4. <--->

UM, VERY GOOD? I DON'T KNOW
5. La région centrale

The shorts I've seen are hard to rate - both because they've mostly been poor quality rips, and because I'm not sure at this point if I think his work does so well in shorter forms. I don't dislike any of them but, meh. They are, in no order:

6. One Second in Montreal
7. Breakfast (Table Top Dolly)
8. Prelude
9. A to Z
10. Dripping Water

Like others, I appreciate his humor, and his particular kind of experimentation with form has no real equal or analog that I know of except *maybe* Hollis Frampton.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
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