We're always happy to have an excuse to welcome Guy Maddin back to the Wex, and The Flyover Fest is a great one. The filmmaker returns in conjunction with the the three-day multimedia event this Friday to present his latest film, The Green Fog. Commissioned by the San Francisco Film Festival and codirected by Evan and Galen Johnson, the dreamlike work is an elevated supercut of clips from over 100 films and TV shows shot in San Francisco framed by Alfred Hitchcock's classic obsession saga, Vertigo. Its impending arrival led to thoughts of some other film artists using the fan edit format to create works with their own unique lives. Here are five of the best.
Bruce Conner's A Movie (1958)
Conner's first film presents a stream-of-consciousness wave of images from vintage stag reels, stock films and newswreel footage broken up by nature scenes, images of unnatural horrors, and a disorienting misuse of time-establishing title cards à la Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou. Conner's choice of found imagery is as strong an argument as any for the Duchampian influence on the higher end of the supercut spectrum.
Bill Morrison's Decasia (2002)
For Morrison, the content of the footage he slices together can be secondary to the luscious blooms and sudden blurs that pop up on an antique nitrate film image when it begins to rot. The flaws create a layer of visual consistency over scenes from the different films edited together in Morrison's short feature, along with an inescapable sense of the age of what's depicted and our own finite nature. At this point in time everything and everyone on screen really is nothing more than shadows, and even the shadows are unstable and apt to disintegrate.
Christian Marclay's The Clock (2010)
Maybe the most dizzyingly meticulous supercut ever made, Marclay's work presents a genuinely hypnotic 24-hour cycle synced to real-world time, using clips from movies and TV series from the iconic to the obscure. Here's hoping you were able to experience at least an hour or two of its run at the Wex in early 2013. (I was sucked in for nine.)
Heaven's Gate: The Butcher's Cut (2014)
"I acknowledge that what I have done to this film is both immoral and illegal," begins the 108-minute fan edit of Michael Cimino's notorious 1980 box office failure by Steven Soderbergh (under the name Mary Ann Bernard, a pseudonym he uses for editing work). The nearly four-hour director's cut has its supporters, but so does Soderbergh's version; for instance, Rolling Stone has argued that it helps surface the greatness within the widely panned original. Soderbergh's also had his way in the editing room with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Raiders of the Lost Ark; both cuts have been pulled for copyright reasons but no one's sent a cease-and-desist on this film's behalf as yet.
Mike Olenick's Heston of the Apes (2000)
The Wex's own Film/Video Studio Archivist has several great supercuts under his belt, including the expansive video essay All the Memory in the World and the ingenious John Travolta survey Playing Alive. He's also done fan edits, and for a while the work of Charlton Heston was a particular obsession. This one is an odd delight, distilling the original Planet of the Apes down to the moments when star Charlton Heston speaks.