Today’s assignment: ‘Wavelength’

Breaking News: Class begins on Wednesday for most folks here at UW-Madison. Upsetting, I know. The idea of being assigned anything strikes me, at the moment, as an entirely alien concept. What better way is there of once more becoming accustomed to the feeling of having something assigned to you than by having something assigned to you? With that in mind, class, here’s your assignment (and yes, there’s going to be a quiz): Watch this wonderfully crackly, slightly pixelated version of Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967), one of the most hypnotic and revelatory films ever made. Wavelength will test your attention span (obviously beneficial with all those power lectures just around the corner); it’ll calibrate your sensitivity to the sheer there-ness of space and time (never a bad thing); it’ll rouse your curiosity in unexpected ways, driving you actively to seek out banal micro-mysteries and larger-scale investigations whenever such things present themselves to you (or at least I think it’ll do this, but I’m not 100% certain).

With the recent proliferation of Flip/Kodak iPod-sized camcorders, might we see a resurgence of so-called “structuralist”-style filmmaking? (I hate that application of the word “structuralist,” by the way. If anything, what Snow and Co. were engaged in was a materialist cinema or, to borrow and mutate the language of David Bordwell and Noel Burch, a parametric-interrogatory cinema; but I digress.)


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