Saturday January 5 2008As part of a tribute to J. Hoberman at MOMI, the film Day Night Day Night was selected to be shown, as one of his favourite films of 2007. i don’t think many people in the audience (of about 150 film buffs, critics and Hoberman-lovers) enjoyed – wrong word – though it was very good.I own Dream Screen written by Hoberman, but never ot captured enough by it to read it through. It always seemed, although ery engaged, to be dry. But I think now that’s because I didn’t devote it enough attention. I’ve read a lot of his reviews (always based in historical and film culture) as reearch for this MOMI program and I love the way he writes and the things he finds to say about both films and people. And, by extention, about culture. But, back to this film which I would definitely not pu tin my top ten for 2007 (did I even see ten films released last year? Yes, that’s right, I saw about 25 worthless films at MIFF, unfortuately). Hoberman writes in his article in The Village Voice (Jan 2):
Essentially, [it] is a conceptual documentary in the guise of a political thriller. It has nothing to do wtih the psychology of the terrorist and everything to do with the psychology of the spectator.
I’ve seen enough ‘conceptual’ films to be able to recognise them, and I appreciate them immensely. They’re important in that they (obviously) allow and affect though. But Day Night Day Night is not a conceptual documentary. It is not constructed and in in the realm of contemplative time, as Heidigger defined. But it’s not a calculative film either (which would be: suicide bomber + bomb + destruction + poignant score = sad). It’s not really a film that affects the spectator (in Hoberman’s intended way) – all I was really watching the film for, although I was not bored, was to see what happened in the end. The ‘contemplative’ shots did not make me think of things in my expanded world, did not broaden my thought, but only restricted my thought to the minimal event on screen. For a contextually made film witha relevance to now, this is not the way.Hoberman did say in his informal prelude to the film that it is a relevant film today, especially as a New York film and especially to New Yorkers. So if I didn’t think about the political state of surveillance and fear outside of the film, then why and how is it relevant, and what could it reveal about the psychology of the spectator? Weerasethakul’s film Blissfully Yours is a far better example of a film formed around contemplative time, still very much a film about the subject itself (peripherally) but also about the spectator, Sublime moments that affect the mind to go elsewhere, not just to somewhere banal that it’s been before Syndromes and a Century, this director’s latest film, would be in my top ten of 2007 if I bothered to compose one (so would I’m Not There, Man From London, The Boss of It All – otherwise I saw a whole lot of waste). Because, at ground zero, there really is nothing better than the sublime.