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  • Fred Worden: "...modern masters at mid-career"
  • The After Life
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  • North Shore
  • Time's Arrow
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  • REVIEWS of Fred Worden Films:

    More reviews from Michael Sicinski

    October 8, 2007

    Time's Arrow

    Technically not a part of Views, Worden's other new video debuted at Anthology Film Archives as part of the Walking Picture Palace series, Mark McElhatten's "sidebar to the sidebar," as it were.] This nearly 12-minute video has velocity on its mind, which makes it all the more unnerving when it slows down to consider the past. The opening moments are probably the most masterful I've seen all year, with Worden seamlessly blending varied footage of right-to-left horizontal bands. It's immediately evident we're seeing parts of the visual friction around a car trip -- the whizzing abstraction of the guardrail, the bumping of the attenuated yellow line against the asphalt, part of other cars' paint jobs.

    Initially Worden's editing comprises an unbroken line, as if this variety of phenomena all comprised a single forward propulsion. Soon, however, the texture is varied, as we see whole cars and their drivers, little bits of blurred landscape, and other less abstracted bits of the highway environment. At about minute three, Worden starts to intersperse a very different kind of imagery: slow zooms in and out on what appears to be a mass produced replica of a Greek statue, perhaps for a garden or fountain. With the boy's naked torso, upraised elbow and thrown-back head, he may be St. Sebastian, receiving the puncture wounds of those arrows of the title. And in fact, Time's Arrow reveals itself to be a sly riff on mortality; the continued footage of single motorists in close-up, combined with an unexpected interjection on the soundtrack, implies the randomness and ever-present specter of death, making the video a sort of commuters' corollary to Standish Lawder's classic Necrology.

    I'm just not sure about that statue, though. It's a good joke, and from a compositional standpoint I understand the need to introduce contrapuntal imagery so it isn't just zip-zip-zip. But that boy's posture and somewhat fey nakedness (how hard it is to retrieve the Classical from the Romanticists' hijacking of it!) just stops everything in its tracks. Exactly the point, yes, but still, vexing. I am deeply vexed.



    Time's Arrow