607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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AlexHansen
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#26 Post by AlexHansen » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:12 am

A Ben Rivers Blu would make me plotz.

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tarpilot
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#27 Post by tarpilot » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:35 am

Just the thought has me ripe with the vapors...

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Matt
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#28 Post by Matt » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:21 pm

jonah.77 wrote:Everything I've heard is about how the second set, and the Blu-Ray combining both volumes, sold poorly.
Well, that part makes sense. I, for one, have the first DVD set but didn't buy the second or upgrade to BD.

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Tribe
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#29 Post by Tribe » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:59 pm

In today's City Room blog in the NY Times: Following, and Filming, in Hollis Frampton’s Footsteps.

EDIT: And another from a couple days ago: Hollis Frampton’s Mysterious Woman in White.

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whaleallright
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#30 Post by whaleallright » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:39 pm

Well, that part makes sense. I, for one, have the first DVD set but didn't buy the second or upgrade to BD.
I think that for a lot of libraries and film departments, there was an unfortunate thought that owning the first Brakhage set meant that they had "covered" Brakhage -- they could show Mothlight, Dog Star Man, Dante Quartet, etc. That probably explains why the Frampton set aims to provide a kind of primer to Frampton, including all the most-discussed titles. Those who wish to show the more obscure works can continue to rent them in 16mm.

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Gregory
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#31 Post by Gregory » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:53 pm

I believe the Brakhage 1&2 blu is not only one of the most glorious Criterion releases but was also one of their most urgently needed upgrades, to improve the resolution that had obscured a lot of the fine details in the DVD set and to get rid of the MPEG2 compression that really changed the experience for people viewing the earlier set, consciously or otherwise. If the blu-ray set has sold more poorly than Criterion had hoped, it's probably because many people don't perceive the importance of what I'm saying here, or they bought the Brakhage DVD set out of curiosity and didn't want to go back for a second purchase, especially when we're talking about box set prices, or some combination of the two. FWIW, the original DVD set still has a very respectable second-hand value on Amazon Marketplace compared to a lot of other $40 SRP Criterion DVDs that have ended up in the $10-12 range or less as people rush to get rid of them.

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zedz
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#32 Post by zedz » Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:44 pm

I agree completely. The Brakhage Blus are probably going to remain a high water mark for the format for many years to come. The visual impact of the extract from Ellipsis or the Persian samples is absolutely stunning, and pushes the encoding right to the limit.

I think another factor might be that a lot of libraries etc. are probably not eager to go the Blu route yet, and there's little understanding about just how important and transformative the format upgrade is in this particular instance.

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MichaelB
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#33 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:01 pm

I think it was an inspired decision to combine Brakhage volumes 1 and 2 on Blu-ray - because it made the decision to double-dip on Volume 1 a complete no-brainer for me. (Having already seen how dramatically Jeff Keen's work was improved on Blu-ray, it wasn't a hard decision).

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jwd5275
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#34 Post by jwd5275 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:39 am

Release delayed 2 weeks to April 24th.

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htshell
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#35 Post by htshell » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:45 pm

Received mine in the mail today via Deep Discount. Great release! Checked out a few films (Maxwell's Demon, Process Red, Surface Tension and Critical Mass) and the wonderful book. Unfortunately I'm going out of town tomorrow so it will have to sit until next week.

For those in Toronto, artist Kerry Tribe will present her live staging of Critical Mass at the Power Plant as part of the Images Festival on 4/18. For those not able, there is a video here.

And Ben Rivers on Criterion would be a home run. Perhaps Luke Fowler too.

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Napier
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#36 Post by Napier » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:00 pm

Beaver review.

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knives
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#37 Post by knives » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:32 pm

Could they have chosen any more boring shots? With like two exceptions you'd think that this was a collection of average documentaries, not the work of such a fantastic texturist.

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knives
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#38 Post by knives » Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:12 pm

Don't have the time to watch this right now, but can anyone explain what the booklet means by four films are menu animations?

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warren oates
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#39 Post by warren oates » Fri May 04, 2012 12:18 am

knives wrote:Don't have the time to watch this right now, but can anyone explain what the booklet means by four films are menu animations?
Just that. The four additional films are used as rotating menu animations for the disc itself.

Have to admit that I almost cancelled this order. And I'm so glad I didn't. I don't know what I thought these films would be like, but they are way better than I imagined. I'm sitting here arrested by Zorns Lemma, not doing what I should be doing and staring at it instead.

I'm really not generally a fan of experimental films. I've rarely sat through anything like this actually watching it with full attention the way I would with a more conventionally narrative feature. It takes a talent like Maya Deren, James Benning or Bill Viola to get my full attention. Most of the rest of the best of experimental cinema I'll use as eye candy. Even some of Godard's later features. I don't have the patience to watch them straight through with the sound on, following the argument or what passes for the story. I'll cue them up on a monitor, go about my business and be arrested by images that catch my eye. I've definitely used (or abused?) the Brakhage Blus this way too.

Anyway, for what it's worth, the Frampton set looks quite good on Blu-ray, not even halfway through. It should be interesting to anyone remotely interested (even as remotely as me) in experimental filmmaking.

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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#40 Post by Adam » Fri May 04, 2012 9:52 pm

Funny; the exact opposite for me. Experimental films require full concentration for their full length, and may or may not work. Most narrative films follow the same plot points, so I can easily duck in & out of them.

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warren oates
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#41 Post by warren oates » Fri May 04, 2012 10:22 pm

Well, these are pretty broad generalizations. I was trying to get at the sort of experimental films I find easiest to watch the whole way through, which are really on the whole less intellectual -- even if they have strong ideas (like the structuralist programs in Benning or the more metaphysical concerns of Viola) -- and more mysterious, sensual or atmospheric. They tread the line between representation and abstraction and create worlds you can enter into, even if it's just a static shot of a sky beneath a wildfire. There's some quality of special attention inherent in the works themselves too.

I get something completely different from narrative features. Even the most technically ordinary narrative feature can tell a great story and one with surprises that aren't possible for me to predict (I kind of feel sorry for you if that's how you experience most of the films you see). But an ordinary experimental film is more or less just a delivery vehicle for visual/aural ideas, which I suppose I'm not really interested in by themselves or not interested in wading through the whole runtime for. I'd rather be reading the equivalent sort of written poetry, because at least then I can go at my own pace and pick out the one or two nice lines or images in my own time.

But the Frampton set so far seems to have won me over, in spite of the fact that it's not normally the sort of thing I would go for. It's interesting enough on a purely visual level that I may spend more time with it than I imagined.

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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#42 Post by Adam » Fri May 04, 2012 11:54 pm

warren oates wrote:Well, these are pretty broad generalizations. I was trying to get at the sort of experimental films I find easiest to watch the whole way through, which are really on the whole less intellectual -- even if they have strong ideas (like the structuralist programs in Benning or the more metaphysical concerns of Viola) -- and more mysterious, sensual or atmospheric. They tread the line between representation and abstraction and create worlds you can enter into, even if it's just a static shot of a sky beneath a wildfire. There's some quality of special attention inherent in the works themselves too.

I get something completely different from narrative features. Even the most technically ordinary narrative feature can tell a great story and one with surprises that aren't possible for me to predict (I kind of feel sorry for you if that's how you experience most of the films you see). But an ordinary experimental film is more or less just a delivery vehicle for visual/aural ideas, which I suppose I'm not really interested in by themselves or not interested in wading through the whole runtime for. I'd rather be reading the equivalent sort of written poetry, because at least then I can go at my own pace and pick out the one or two nice lines or images in my own time.
Well, the normal way I experience any film is to watch the whole thing from start to finish without interruptions. I just have found in the past two years that Hollywood films have mostly lost my interest, and when I do see any them by-and-large seem predictable. That said, I think I may need to see some soon. But for experimental films, I run & program Los Angeles Filmforum, and mostly see experimental films & documentaries, and when I preview them I watch them in their entirety, because I know oftentimes their power is due to a cumulative effect. I am interested in the visual/aural ideas. Reading poetry is also excellent. Just our different tastes; no biggie.

I am delighted when a scripted narrative feature can bring a surprise, especially one that also is entirely consistent with the characters, The Dardenne Brothers are most successful at doing that for me these days. Also scripted narrative features that create a strong mood and sense of wonder or delight. I think Le Quatro Volte was my favorite film of that sort from 2010 for that reason - the scene with the dog and the goats was one of the most pleasurable things I've seen. But i also haven't seen many scripted narrative features the past two years. Lots of years of seeing 150 or more of them seems to have worn me out for a while. Or my priorities have changed.

I did have a five-part Frampton series in January 2010, and am delighted that this set has come out. Zorns Lemma - yes, one could "get it" in about 2 minutes, but it is so pleasurable to see his selections, and to have the building suspense. Nostalgia - one needs to see all of that, without breaks, I think. Varies by film, though.

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warren oates
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#43 Post by warren oates » Sat May 05, 2012 12:14 am

But for experimental films, I run & program Los Angeles Filmforum, and mostly see experimental films & documentaries, and when I preview them I watch them in their entirety, because I know oftentimes their power is due to a cumulative effect.
Thanks for doing what you do. I appreciate your shifting through it all and picking out the best stuff for the rest of us. I've been to a few of your programs. Obviously, I'm there whenever there's new Benning to be seen. Hopefully you'll get some of his newer video work soon?
I did have a five-part Frampton series in January 2010, and am delighted that this set has come out. Zorns Lemma - yes, one could "get it" in about 2 minutes, but it is so pleasurable to see his selections, and to have the building suspense. Nostalgia - one needs to see all of that, without breaks, I think. Varies by film, though.
I'm actually going to watch Zorns Lemma properly with my s.o., who is a photographer very much into the visuals of words and signs on the street, so I know she's going to love it. I agree that it's what Frampton does with the idea that makes it worth one's time. And I look forward to Nostalgia. Thanks again for the insights, Adam. It's exchanges like this that are the reason I finally decided to stop lurking around here and sign up to post.

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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#44 Post by Adam » Sat May 05, 2012 1:38 am

warren oates wrote:
But for experimental films, I run & program Los Angeles Filmforum, and mostly see experimental films & documentaries, and when I preview them I watch them in their entirety, because I know oftentimes their power is due to a cumulative effect.
Thanks for doing what you do. I appreciate your shifting through it all and picking out the best stuff for the rest of us. I've been to a few of your programs. Obviously, I'm there whenever there's new Benning to be seen. Hopefully you'll get some of his newer video work soon?
I did have a five-part Frampton series in January 2010, and am delighted that this set has come out. Zorns Lemma - yes, one could "get it" in about 2 minutes, but it is so pleasurable to see his selections, and to have the building suspense. Nostalgia - one needs to see all of that, without breaks, I think. Varies by film, though.
I'm actually going to watch Zorns Lemma properly with my s.o., who is a photographer very much into the visuals of words and signs on the street, so I know she's going to love it. I agree that it's what Frampton does with the idea that makes it worth one's time. And I look forward to Nostalgia. Thanks again for the insights, Adam. It's exchanges like this that are the reason I finally decided to stop lurking around here and sign up to post.
You're welcome. I asked Benning last week about showing something new, but he wasn't certain. He's been getting his newer work into galleries, which leads to the gallery/museum vs. theatrical question. We'll see. He has something like 5 or 6 new works that haven't played in Los Angeles yet, I think. But I'm not sure of his concerns over screening them. Most (the "extremely slowed down" works), are more conceptual, and tend to be installed. But "Twenty Cigarettes" hasn't played in town yet either, and that at least is more ripe for theatrical presentation. He might prefer larger venues than what I can offer though.

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zedz
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#45 Post by zedz » Wed May 30, 2012 4:53 pm

What a fantastic set!

And of course, there's bugger all comments on it. I guess all the forum members are too busy pissing and moaning about how predictable and mainstream Criterion's releases are this year.

It's a great overview, even given the incompleteness of the two big series. This is only really an issue with Hapax Legomena, as Magellan is intrinsically incomplete. Even without the inconvenient factor of Frampton's death, the likelihood of a) him ever completing the project in its entirety, and b) anybody ever actually being able to see it as it was intended, is remote.

It's the central works that really get me excited. What I treasure about a good structuralist film such as Zorns Lemma or (nostalgia) (or Sink or Swim, or American Dreams (lost and found)) is that it gets your brain working in thrillingly different ways. And sometimes that's just as, or more, rewarding than getting all involved in a narrative, or being dazzled by aesthetic splendour - not that Frampton's films are devoid of either.

For me, the specific frisson seems to come from having to juggle multiple versions of the film in your mind at the same time. In (nostalgia), the process is reasonably straightforward (although the effect is anything but), as the 'underlying' film you're trying to imaginatively reconstruct is the one in which the narration matches the images. But at the same time, you're also shuttling backward and forward in time in other ways, and micromanaging a whole lot of different, compelling mental tasks:
1) you're trying to process the details of the image before it disappears;
2) you're trying to remember what was previously said about the image before your eyes and relate it to that image;
3) you're trying to process the present narration so you can recall it and utilise it when the next image appears;
4) you're following the biographical narrative implicit in the sequence of photos and their stories;
5) you're appreciating the different patterns of destruction on this image and relate them to past ones - an inevitable consequence of seriality;
6+) you're projecting backward to the beginning of the series and forward to the end: how many images have we seen? Is the narration for the last one going to bring us full circle by describing the first image? Is this film a loop, or a section from a potentially infinite series? Is Frampton going to disrupt the pattern? Is that information we were loaded up with at the beginning strictly accurate or subtly misleading?
Plus, he's delivering humour, suspense and existential dread all at the same time. In under 40 minutes.

That's a lot more brain activity than what you get from a typical modern studio release:
1) you're confirming that, yes, everything is unfolding almost exactly as you could have predicted, only crapper;
2) you're looking at your watch and calculating how much longer it has to run.

In Poetic Justice, your mind has to construct the film that wasn't filmed, just as in Critical Mass you're trying to distill a continuous version of the interaction that's being thoroughly disrupted, while also appreciating the fleeting beauty and oddness of the abstractions that Frampton is mining from that disruption. These are all subtly different kinds of mental exercises, of the kind that most movies never even think to inspire.

The more fragmentary approach in the Magellan films probably delivers more on the aesthetic pleasure side of the scale (Winter Solstice is particularly stunning), but the procedural intensity and processing density of Zorns Lemma and Hapax Legomena are what really get my juices flowing.

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domino harvey
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#46 Post by domino harvey » Wed May 30, 2012 4:56 pm

zedz wrote:And of course, there's bugger all comments on it. I guess all the forum members are too busy pissing and moaning about how predictable and mainstream Criterion's releases are this year.
To be fair, though there's a fervent coterie of experimental film fans on the board, it's a niche genre and one challenging to articulate critical responses for, even for fans

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swo17
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#47 Post by swo17 » Wed May 30, 2012 4:58 pm

zedz wrote:And of course, there's bugger all comments on it.
A) No company in America has this available for rent.
B) It hasn't been available for 50% off yet (but will be soon).

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zedz
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#48 Post by zedz » Wed May 30, 2012 5:10 pm

Those are fair comments, but it's not as if this syndrome is limited to Hollis Frampton. Even Gorin, who'd become a kind of emblem of What Criterion Should Be Releasing, gets only a maimed handful of responses post-release, while people seem to have an infinite amount of ink to spill on Why Tiny Furniture Is Unworthy Of Any Attention Whatsoever.

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domino harvey
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#49 Post by domino harvey » Wed May 30, 2012 5:15 pm

The dynamic on the board has definitely altered in the time I've been posting here away from discussion of Criterion titles and more towards other films... Criterion's become a weaker and weaker glue holding us all together

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Max von Mayerling
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Re: 607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

#50 Post by Max von Mayerling » Wed May 30, 2012 9:40 pm

I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on this, but am waiting for the inevitable sale. Chomping, I say!

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