Review: Film Title Poem (2016)
Film Title Poem (2016, dir. Jennifer West)
I wrote this review, and watched the film, before reading Jennifer West’s introduction to the film (linked above). I am happy that I was able to mostly correctly deconstruct what I was watching, but the additional context is really nice to have.
Of the many shorts I’ve seen that appropriate and then collage movie stills or sequences, I interpret Film Title Poem as one of the more appreciative ones. In it, Jennifer West shines a flashlight on many of the films in the western canon, the ones that either have weird staying power (Men in Black) or are held up as cult classics to the cinephiles (L’Avventura) or are the more obscure works of particular filmmakers who are considered canonical (Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park). There are even shout-outs to some very revered experimental titles (go T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, Moth Light). I should also mention the expertly stolen soundtrack, featuring scores from Solaris among other movies I’m blanking on, even though the music is still as clear as can be in my memory.
When I say, “shines a flashlight,” I mean exactly that. As someone with warm feelings for the majority of these movies, I was happy to see them being rediscovered on this wall of film titles somewhere. The titles are presented in half-alphabetical order, half-some sort of order. In some moments I looked for meaning in the order: hidden sequences in the blinking, the repetition of some titles. I didn’t get very far reading the film like this, but didn’t mind either way. I was more focused on the Brakhagian scratches in the celluloid, highlighting movie-crushes and crossing out the (?) trash. Whether you can enjoy following along on this late-night tour or not, I think there’s value in flipping through these film titles with very little other context, re-evaluating them on the spot, re-evaluating my memories of them, and pitting them against the other film titles on the wall.