A few years ago, when I was finishing up the final edits on Cinema in the Digital Age, a colleague and I got into a heated debate about a section of the book where I argued that some of the images and sequences in The Ring (Gore Verbinksi, 2002) were as visually radical and avant-garde as, well, so-called avant-garde films.
In the grand scheme of things, a pretty dumb thing to argue about, no doubt. But there’s always that question about the relationship between art and commerce. Take the short cursed video within The Ring, for instance. If this were shown—independent of The Ring—in a an avant-garde video installation in a museum/art space venue, would it attract a different sort of attention than it did embedded in the blockbuster that was The Ring?
Along those lines, there’s a strange correspondence between the blurred faces in The Ring and those in Man Ray’s creepily great short film L’étoile de mer (The Starfish) from 1928.
I was very sad to learn recently that Nagi Noda, the director of this wonderful video of the Japanese singer Yuki’s song “Sentimental Journey,” passed away. I had missed this news. The video is a technical and artistic marvel occurring in one long take with no CGI, hearkening back to the beautiful possibility of mistakes that characterized the analog film era.
Let’s end with some David Lynch, whose birthday is today.
P. S. What’s an “art” film? Is that term even useful anymore?