Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Did Nicole Kidman's 'Grace of Monaco' Go From Cannes Opener to Lifetime Movie? The Movie's Writer Tweets All How Did Nicole Kidman's 'Grace of Monaco' Go From Cannes Opener to Lifetime Movie? The Movie's Writer Tweets All A.O. Scott on Why the New York Times Changed Its Review Policy A.O. Scott on Why the New York Times Changed Its Review Policy The Best Films of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival According to Criticwire The Best Films of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival According to Criticwire The Top-Rated Movies of 2015 So Far: Addiction Tales and Another Flurry of Docs The Top-Rated Movies of 2015 So Far: Addiction Tales and Another Flurry of Docs 'Aloha,' With Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone: Cameron Crowe's Worst Movie, or Just One of His Worst? 'Aloha,' With Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone: Cameron Crowe's Worst Movie, or Just One of His Worst? First Cannes Reviews: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "The Assassin" First Cannes Reviews: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "The Assassin" First Cannes Reviews: Gaspar Noé's 'Love,' A 3D Art-Porn Mashup First Cannes Reviews: Gaspar Noé's 'Love,' A 3D Art-Porn Mashup First Reviews: Netflix Series 'Sense8' Goes 'Full Wachowski' First Reviews: Netflix Series 'Sense8' Goes 'Full Wachowski' Daily Reads: Why Critics Don't Have to Review 'Game of Thrones,' The Clash of Action in 'Avengers' and 'Mad Max,' and More Daily Reads: Why Critics Don't Have to Review 'Game of Thrones,' The Clash of Action in 'Avengers' and 'Mad Max,' and More The New York Times Is No Longer Reviewing Every Movie That Opens in New York The New York Times Is No Longer Reviewing Every Movie That Opens in New York Meditations on a Mad Man Meditations on a Mad Man Every Shot From David Letterman's 'Late Show' Farewell Montage Every Shot From David Letterman's 'Late Show' Farewell Montage 'San Andreas' Turns 9/11's Tragedy Into Pure Corn 'San Andreas' Turns 9/11's Tragedy Into Pure Corn The Mary Sue Freezes Out 'Game of Thrones' to Protest Yet Another Rape Scene The Mary Sue Freezes Out 'Game of Thrones' to Protest Yet Another Rape Scene Daily Reads: The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, Why Your Favorite TV Show Was Cancelled, and More Daily Reads: The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, Why Your Favorite TV Show Was Cancelled, and More What Critics Are Saying About David Letterman's Final 'Late Show' Episode What Critics Are Saying About David Letterman's Final 'Late Show' Episode Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more First Cannes Reviews: Todd Haynes' "Carol" First Cannes Reviews: Todd Haynes' "Carol" The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World Daily Reads: 'San Andreas' and the Art of Destroying L.A., Why Ferris Bueller is the Real Villain of his Day Off, and More Daily Reads: 'San Andreas' and the Art of Destroying L.A., Why Ferris Bueller is the Real Villain of his Day Off, and More

Watch (Almost) Every Film From Kevin Lee's Provocative Video Essay

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire July 18, 2013 at 2:44PM

Kevin Lee's provocative video questions the nature of the essay film. Here are (most) of the ones he cites.
1
Kevin Lee

Prolific video essayist Kevin Lee has a new one up at the British Film Institute's website, and this one's a bit of a pot-stirrer. (The video's not embeddable, so click here.) In "The essay film -- some thoughts of discontent," Lee questions the definition of the essay film itself, both as it was was original conceived -- free-flowing, meditative, inward-looking -- and as it's currently applied, to supercuts and other less analytic forms.

The video essay itself is worth watching several times, and it's paired with a text essay where Lee questions whether the essay film, whatever that might mean, has lived up to its potential, or whether it's just one more flood of images in a world already bursting with them.

In this way, the essay film might realize a greater purpose than existing as a trendy label, or as cinema’s submission to high-toned and half-defined literary concepts. Instead, the essay film may serve as a springboard to launch into a vital investigation of knowledge, art and culture in the 21st century, including the question of what role cinema itself might play in this critical project: articulating discontent with its own place in the world.

"The essayistic," Lee quotes a member of the collective Otolith Group, "is dissatisfaction. It's discontent." There are several points in Lee's essay -- inspired, in part, by his recent trip to the Flaherty Seminar -- at which I balk, but I prefer to let them sink in for a bit, and reapply them to the many classics of the form Lee quotes from. To make that easier, Criticwire has gathered links to every one of the film's Lee cites in his credits, most of which are available in full online. Watch and enjoy.

A Valpariso (Joris Ivens, 1962)

.


A propos de Nice (Jean Vigo, 1930)


L'Amour Existe (Maurice Pialat, 1960)


 


A Diary for Timothy (Humphrey Jennings, 1945)


Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (Mark Leckey, 1999)


F for Fake (Orson Welles, 1973)

Film not available online, but Welles' 10-minute trailer, a masterpiece in its own right, is here:

Handsworth Songs (Black Audio Film Collective, 1987)


The House Is Black (Forough Farrokhzad, 1973)


LBJ (Santiago Alvarez, 1968)


Letter to Jane (Groupe Dziga Vertov aka Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972)



Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Anderson, 2003)


Madrid (Patricio Guzman, 2002) -- trailer


O saisons, o chateaux (Agnes Varda, 1968) -- not available

Otolith I (Otolith Group, 2003)

10-minute excerpt here:

Rock My Religion (Dan Graham, 1984)


Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, 1983) -- excerpt


79 Springtimes (Santiago Alvarez, 1969)



Slow Action (Ben Rivers, 2010) -- excerpt



Toute la memoire du monde (Alain Resnais, 1956)


Train of Shadows (Jose Luis Guerin, 1997)

Here.


E-Mail Updates



Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome