Decay of Fiction at OFFscreen

October 26th, 2008 · No Comments · By

Pat O’Neill’s The Decay of Fiction is showing at OFFscreen tonight, at 7 and 9:30.

It’s an excellent film, and a really entertaining one; if you’re put off by the idea of a feature-length experimental film, you should know that this one is really enjoyable and accessable.

 Pat O’Neill is an LA-based filmmaker who’s done a ton of innovative optical printing work on Hollywood films, and who has also put those skills to use making totally bizaare experimental films over the years. Prior to this his best-known film was probably Water and Power; the majority of his work tends to create Dali-esque surrealist landscapes that combine animation and live action footage with jarring optical-printed juxaposition.

The Decay of Fiction, however, is an altogether different (and more ambitious) project. It has extensive motion-controlled time-lapse footage shot at the old Ambassador Hotel (shortly before it was demolished), mixed with semi-transparent footage of actors who are either 1) acting in short dramatic scenes that might have taken place at the hotel, 2) re-creating scenes from Hollywood films that were originally shot at the hotel, and 3) re-creating real events that took place there. It’s been popularly interpreted as having to do with “ghosts” because of the b&w transparency of the actors overlaid over footage of the dilapidated and crumbling hotel, although the movie is smart enough to do something much weirder and less obvious than that.  There’s a bunch of nightmarish interludes that are quite abstract and hard to place, as well as a whole sequence dealing with the RFK Assassination (which actually happened in the hotel’s kitchen — there’s footage of the spot where he was shot.)

It’s really beautiful and well-done and entertaining and worth seeing. It’s at Newcomb Hall tonight; tickets are $2 for the public, free for members.

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