Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Love or Hate 'American Sniper,' We're Brought Together By Its Bad Fake Baby Love or Hate 'American Sniper,' We're Brought Together By Its Bad Fake Baby 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 2, 'Triggering' 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 2, 'Triggering' 'Better Call Saul': 'Breaking Bad' Prequel Accepts the Charges 'Better Call Saul': 'Breaking Bad' Prequel Accepts the Charges Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 1, 'Iowa' 'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 1, 'Iowa' The A.V. Club's 25 Best Sitcom Episodes of the Past 25 Years: 'Seinfeld,' 'The Simpsons' and More The A.V. Club's 25 Best Sitcom Episodes of the Past 25 Years: 'Seinfeld,' 'The Simpsons' and More First Reviews of Johnny Depp's 'Mortdecai': Scraping Bottom With a Waxed Moustache First Reviews of Johnny Depp's 'Mortdecai': Scraping Bottom With a Waxed Moustache At Last, the Four-Hour Cut of 'The Hobbit' You've Been Waiting For At Last, the Four-Hour Cut of 'The Hobbit' You've Been Waiting For Not at Sundance? Watch 14 Festival Films Via Sundance's #ArtistServices Not at Sundance? Watch 14 Festival Films Via Sundance's #ArtistServices 'Strange Magic' Reviews: Yup, That's Late Period George Lucas, All Right 'Strange Magic' Reviews: Yup, That's Late Period George Lucas, All Right Daily Reads: Stop Pitting 'Broad City' Against 'Girls,' How Political Pundits Warp 'American Sniper,' and more Daily Reads: Stop Pitting 'Broad City' Against 'Girls,' How Political Pundits Warp 'American Sniper,' and more Meet the Indiewire | Sundance Institute Ebert Film Criticism Fellows, 2015 Meet the Indiewire | Sundance Institute Ebert Film Criticism Fellows, 2015 Criticwire Classic of the Week: Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' Criticwire Classic of the Week: Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss 'The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore': A Ways to Go, But Its Aim Is True 'The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore': A Ways to Go, But Its Aim Is True Daily Reads: Movie Monsters That Look Like Genitalia, Why It Feels Like There's Too Much TV and More Daily Reads: Movie Monsters That Look Like Genitalia, Why It Feels Like There's Too Much TV and More Daily Reads: Stop Calling Tom Hanks an Everyman, 'Blackhat' as Michael Mann's Lonely Film and More Daily Reads: Stop Calling Tom Hanks an Everyman, 'Blackhat' as Michael Mann's Lonely Film and More 'Justified' Season 6 Reviews: After a Stumble, It's Back in the Saddle 'Justified' Season 6 Reviews: After a Stumble, It's Back in the Saddle Daily Reads: Is There Middle Ground for 'American Sniper?' Why 'Selma's' Oscar Omission Matters and More Daily Reads: Is There Middle Ground for 'American Sniper?' Why 'Selma's' Oscar Omission Matters 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