You are here

Dani Leventhal and Jesse McLean introduce Look at Our Life Now

Film/Video

Hearts Are Trump Again
Image courtesy of Dani Leventhal
Dani Leventhal and Jesse McLean introduce
Look at Our Life Now
Wed, Feb 16, 2011 7 PM
Dani Leventhal, a talented filmmaker from Columbus who is now based in Brooklyn, and Chicago-based video artist Jesse McLean introduce this one-of-a-kind program of new shorts.

The program seeks to take stock of this present moment in a handful of recent videos and films that balance the impersonal technological tenor of the times with a complex emotional palate ranging from tenderness to irony. At the center of the program is Leventhal's Hearts Are Trump Again, a remarkable diary collage film. Pop songs feature prominently in several other works, including Wex favorite Michael Robinson's new video, These Hammers Don't Hurt Us, which imaginatively and astonishingly fuses footage from a Michael Jackson video with Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra. McLean's Magic for Beginners assesses a particularly modern emotional landscape through an examination of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tron videogame machines, Celine Dion, and Andy Warhol. And that's just the start of the evening—you won't want to miss this. Click through below to see the full program contents. (program app. 100 mins., video and 16mm)
The Eternal Quarter Inch (Jesse McLean, 2008) 9 minutes, video.
Rising fundamentalism and a government that cites faith to defend war actions have helped grow a desperate society. Dipping between ecstasy and despair, transcendence and absurdity, this movie journeys to a hidden space where you can lose your way, lose yourself in the moment, lose your faith in a belief system. An exhausted and expectant crowd waits on this narrow span. It is not a wide stretch, but it can last forever.—Jesse McLean

Hold Me Now (Michael Robinson, 2008) 5 minutes, video.
Hold Me Now continues Michael Robinson's project of exploring the poetics of loss: daring to find emotion in the cold world of pop songs and television melodrama, he squeezes sentimentality from the mundane, prompting an agonizing response between pain and laughter.—Steve Polta, San Francisco Cinematheque

Plagued by blindness, sloth, and operatic devotion, a troubled scene from Little House on the Prairie offers itself up to a karaoke exorcism.—Michael Robinson

Hearts Are Trump Again (Dani Leventhal, 2010) 14 mins, video.
By way of formal and associative shifts, Hearts Are Trump Again evokes the ever-present tension between seemingly polarized states of experience. Desire and repulsion; freedom and constraint; pain and pleasure find articulation in images of ferocious dogs and mock conversations about childbearing. Tonally complex and viscerally rich, Hearts Are Trump Again is a lyrical exploration of emotional weather.—Brett Price

Magic for Beginners (Jesse McLean, 2010) 20 mins, video.
Magic for Beginners examines the mythologies found in fan culture, from longing to obsession to psychic connections. The need for such connections (whether real or imaginary), as well as the need for an emotional release that only fantasy can delivery, are explored.—Jesse McLean

Cry When It Happens (Laida Lertxundi, 2010) 14 mins, 16mm.
Los Angeles City Hall is reflected onto the window of the Paradise Motel. It serves as an anchor for this traversal through the natural expanse of California. Here, we discover a restrained psychodrama of play, loss, and the transformation of everyday habitats. Music appears across the interiors and exteriors and speaks of limitlessness and longing.—Laida Lertxundi

These Hammers Don't Hurt Us (Michael Robinson, 2008) 13 mins, video.
Tired of underworld and overworld alike, Isis escorts her favorite son on their final curtain call down the Nile, leaving a neon wake of shattered tombs and sparkling sarcophagi.—Michael Robinson

Looking to a future beyond death, Michael Robinson's These Hammers Don't Hurt Us, one of the filmmaker's most sophisticated found footage concoctions yet, combined Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" music video with footage of Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra and roughly a dozen other sources, creating for the late pop star a solemn passage into a bedazzled Egyptian afterlife tenderly ushered by his real-life confidante.—Genevieve Yue, Reverse Shot

Draft 9 (Dani Leventhal, 2003) 28 mins, video.
This movie was collected for four years before being sprayed scattershot over 28 minutes of psychic mayhem. The line between living and dead is a frontier crossed and re-crossed here. The living are dead while the dead are animated, breathing, swimming, giving birth. Consumed by the animal life of the city, the artist undertakes a first person journey, producing diary notes from one of the most skilled lens masters of the new generation. The camera is her company in this duet of death, the instrument that permits her to see the impossible, the unbearable, the invisible.—Mike Hoolboom, International Film Festival Rotterdam

[In] a masterpiece of editing, Leventhal presents rich short clips and seemingly unrelated snapshots of daily life. Beautiful, touching, and thought-provoking, Draft 9 invokes deeper understanding of everything from our relationship to animals, to quotidian routine, to the legacy of genocide.—K J Mohr

In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails (Fern Silva, 2010) 13 mins, 16mm.
Fern Silva's In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails suggests a future already arrived, merging the destruction with the creation of life as seen in the tiny turtles crawling their way to the sea, or heard in the crackling of a Geiger counter as a masked man sprays plants with pesticides. Though only 13 minutes, the film's span is enormous. As revelers in Salvador, Bahia, parade through the streets, a gnat-sized Mercury passes across the surface of the sun, and men slowly make their way up the giant steps of an ancient temple; the film resides in a well of deep time, civilizational history swallowed by the life of the planet.—Genevieve Yu, Reverse Shot