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Not quite ready for Hollywood

MASS MoCA director Joe Thompson offers these thoughts on his star turn in Guy Ben-Ner’s new film.

I spent most of last week artist Guy Ben-Ner, cinematographer John Russell Foster, sound guru Roger Phenix  our own curator/producer Susan Cross, and problem-solver Eugene Rutligliano, taking a star turn as a perfectly cast museum director/pilot/fool, in Guy’s new video installation which will premier here on May 23rd.

God, was it excruciating, and a lot of fun.

I am a truly terrible actor which Guy kept saying was “perfect, no, really, Joe, it’s ok, it’s ok.”  Though Guy’s dense, sometimes archaic, dialogue was a challenge, it really wasn’t really so difficult as to be a sufficient excuse for my utter inability to remember more than seven words at a time.   Guy wasn’t much better by the way, and he wrote the damn thing.

We shot about a third of the film in a very small plane, the camera literally in our laps, bumping around in turbulence, sometimes at treetop level, in the nap of the Berkshires.   But that was a walk in the park compared to our scenes on a bicycle built-for-two in Charlemont, Mass. on the Mohawk Trail, where I really thought we could be killed.

In spite of the dubious talent in front of the lens, the talent behind it – Guy’s web of clashing metaphor, his whimsical, literate warp and weave of quotes, his film-making sleight-of-hand, and his sly editing,  together with John and Roger’s magical work – may well overcome all my worst efforts.

The visuals are sometimes a riot, and there are moments of outright beauty in the video.  There is a meta-structure and a grand arc to the narrative (which may become a loop, unless Guy slices it), and which will reward (and may well demand) multiple viewings.  And —  I promise —  there is one of the best plane crashes ever recorded on film.  A pretty darned good car crash too.  And literary meteorites galore.

In short, there is plenty of vivid eye candy here to leaven a richly interwoven, profoundly self-referential text:  if you’re a film buff, or a literary hound, or just love seeing the splendor of the  Berkshires in the springtime I think you’ll enjoy this 16-minute buddy adventure gone mad.  And if you don’t, you’ll find seven of Guy’s other terrific video shorts on view in the galleries.

I’m sure casting directors at major studios are battling to get my number first.

Posted May 14, 2009 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Openings, Work-in-progress
1 Comment »

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One Comment on “Not quite ready for Hollywood”

  1. karen matthews Says:

    The film is wonderful. As the little prince said at the end of his story … “And no grown up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance.”

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