Saturday, July 31, 2010

Found Footage - Part Three

Part One; Part Two


Shuchikar is busy compiling the unreleased filmography of his recently deceased mentor Andy Umbrage. Unbeknownst to him however, we have managed to find a cozy little corner wherefrom we can secretly spy on him, view the avant-après garde never before seen films pushing-the-medium-up-to-its-maximum-stretchable-limit-till-the-medium-tears-apart-noisily-and-reveals-an-inside-out-perspective-on-the-vacuousness-of-the-aforementioned-pushing-the-medium-up-to-its-maximum-stretchable-limit approach and record the impressions that these works of art have on our troubled, tortured, self doubting, potential genius-in-the-making protagonist.

It is notable how the new works of the late filmmaker incorporate settings, themes and concerns of science fiction, previously dismissed by him as adolescent fantasies of socially inept, autistic geeks. In fact, Shuchikar still cannot ascertain if this new fascination that the director showed was a parody ridiculing the ascendancy of the geek squad or a genuine late appreciation of the genre, for his science fictional tropes are often awkward, irrelevant, idiosyncratic and often totally orthogonal to the subject matter in his films.

His unreleased filmography includes the following films:

Soliloquy : Umbrage's first digitally shot venture. The film credits indicate only one name - that of Jenny Nosecondname in what would be her fifth collaboration with the director. 1

The scene shows a dark room, so dark in fact that one can't make out anything at all. There is a vague appearance of someone sitting in a couch or a recliner, speaking in a monotone. From the voice, it can be ascertained that the figure is a woman and Shuchikar remembers the voice well enough to know it's Jenny's.

You claim that crudely speaking, music is for the head or for the feet. So I come along and ask you what does it mean and you respond with a smirk on your face (which I can't see now since it's so dark) that The Who, Marvin Gaye, Dick Dale, Cream, Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Deep Purple, Hendrix etc. - these are for the feet. Okay, I say and you continue with your 'for the head' brand of music - The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, you say and give me a smug smile. Ha! I laugh. Where does Pink Floyd go? And you fall off your high chair, tumble down, roll about, pick the katana and commit harakiri.

Yes, where indeed does Pink Floyd go?

The lighting in the room is not back, but the room seems to have been bathed in some sort of strange glow. Blacks are becoming slowly, oh so slowly, greyish; the change in luminosity is barely enough for Shuchikar to make out the outlines of the couch and Jenny's figure. The grey scale manipulation of the image seems slow, deliberate and displays a mastery of technical aspects of film technology and image processing/editing that Umbrage wasn't known for. Greyness seems to be seeping into the image, at the expense of the black parts - as if blackness were being drained off/greyness was pumped in slowly. Meanwhile, the soliloquy of the unnamed female protagonist continues and the camera, excruciatingly slowly, in a long, slow take begins focusing on what seems to be the outline of the face of speaker.

Take the example of progression of, say, rock music. You start off with certain basic set of themes - guitar based music for example, with easy, singable, likeable, short pieces. Then slowly you see complexity set in. The bands become more ambitious since they see that the competition warrants them to be different from the herd so that it's cooler for the fans to proclaim themselves as their fans and thereby appropriate from the bands the 'differentness' from the herd. So now mainstream rock music (which started off itself as a 'rebellion') begins to exhibit aversions to its own popularity and crumbles under its own weight and branches out as different 'kinds' of rock music. Some of these new forms are more mainstream friendly, some are rabidly otherwise. So you see critics coming up with taxonomy programs for labeling these movements with weird, sometimes funky names that in a sane world should make no sense at all. What does technical death metal mean, or indeed jazz punk? Is it that one is at liberty to take the basic building blocks (Blues, Jazz, Punk for example) and combine and permute them in any arbitrary order to label that which passes for music these days?

The pitch of the delivery has steadily been climbing, mimicking the monotonous increase in the greyscale level of the scene. The face of the protagonist is somewhat visible now. It's a beautiful, beautiful face that bears marks of supreme erudition and thoughtfulness. Even though the soliloquy steadily descends into a rant, the beauty, intelligence and profound sincerity of the face creates a deep impression on the viewer.

The camera begins to zoom out now and the image is more than well lighted to make the objects in the room visible. As the rant continues and becomes harsher, for the first time, the viewer gets to see the entire figure of Jenny Nosecondname.

She is dressed badly, skimpily and her overly exposed body bears the marks of numerous tattoos - most of them extolling the virtues of living fast and loose and championing the fulfillment of all carnal desires. Her legs are spread out wide and on the insides of her right thigh can be seen a huge pink tattoo proclaiming "I heart sex", with the heart being the somewhat angular cardoidish, red symbol so commonly referred to as the heart shape. The walls of her room has pictures of Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, Backstreet Boys and Lindsay Lohan. The rant has become a full fledged shriek against the lack of quality and intelligence of modern music and the greyscale level of the scene has reached whitish proportions so much it hurts the eye and in one final, continuous swoop of incomprehensively loud noise and glowing white light so harsh that one can't make out anything in the room, the screen goes totally white and all activities cease.

And then comes over a badly cutout figure of an astronaut who takes off his helmet, winks at the camera and flashes a corny thumbs up sign on which is tattooed "The End."


1. A promising undergraduate in the Cinema Studies department of the University at the time of her first collaboration, Jenny was also once the big, great, larger-than-life, true love of Shuchikar at the time when he was a devoted disciple of Umbrage. In fact, it was he who had suggested to Umbrage to cast Jenny as the actress after the sad demise of the director's wife for the film "No Obfuscation, No Prevarication" for which he was the Assistant Director.

No sooner did her voice fill the room, than Shuchikar experienced a sharp, painful pang. He hadn't seen her in over two years now and as her monologue occupied the enclosed space aided not in small measure by the surround sound equipment, her suppressed memories took form and flooded his mind.

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