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🎬 #74 YouTube Channel as Art Film.
This week is dedicated to singularity in nature - one film set in a remote location, and a YouTube channel that’s built from one man in the wilderness, that I feel could be in the MOMA - and maybe should be someday.
Happy choosing, happy viewing
FILM ONE: KNOCK AT THE CABIN
2023 Dir M. Night Shyamalan
Shyamalan’s latest film is a study in doubt and belief - singularity focused on one scenario, and one very clear simple and importantly, primal, premise. A group of unknown people come to a happy family holidaying in a cabin in the woods - and they demand that they make an impossible decision but with the entire fate of humanity [supposedly] in the balance. The power of the the film comes from the fact that he keeps us guessing almost right to the bitter end. And like most, if not all of his previous films, this is unabashedly about faith.
The entire cast is excellent, but Dave Bautista really stands out as someone you really believe doesn’t want to do anything to harm the family. But he will follow through on it because of the power of his belief, his faith in a vision. The performances are very grounded and almost anti-drama - not leaning into the expected way of doing things. In fact, there’s an apologetic sense to the way the group of people come to explain things to the family. This carries a feeling of inevitability, that extends throughout the film.
The isolated location, a bubble onto itself, is a strong choice because there is a feeling that this could all be a trick, they are detached enough from the reality of the world at large that it could all be an elaborate hoax - something that isn’t really happening. It’s them in their own world, away from the brutal real one. An elaborate stage compared to the lurking real world at the periphery. This is a fun experiment that plays with expectations and second guesses - Shyamalan at his most playful and brutal.
TL;DR Watch Shyamalan direct his very specific vision of faith, doubt and humanity.
*Available for a small rental fee on Amazon, Apple and Google Play in the US and UK.
Fact: Dave Bautista was cast because M. Night saw him in Blade Runner 2049.
“FILM” TWO: PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY
2015 - present Dir John Plant
Honestly I never thought I’d be writing about a YouTube channel on this newsletter, not because it’s not greatly creative but just because I never considered it. But this is a channel I’ve been keeping an eye on since it first started. The idea is super strong and again, primal. Watch a guy, who until recently was unnamed, use ‘primitive’ techniques to build things. It’s captivating. I recommend not turning on the close captions - then it’s in its most stripped back, most sound and visual experimenty form. There is just pure simple action, mostly fixed camera, telling the story step-by- step of how this guy built a mud structure with only his hands and the tools he’s almost made by hand.
There is a hypnotic quality to the pacing, the lensing - a singular focus on presenting information rather than anything beyond that - like emotion or subtext. That’s what makes it very special - that’s what makes it feel like it should be in a gallery. I feel like Jonathan Glazer has seen this channel - his choices feel like they echo this approach somewhat - a distance to the action or emotion that is quite formal and beautiful in its own unique way.
TL;DR Watch John build beautiful primal things, in nature, in a beautiful primal way.
*Available for free on YouTube.
Fact: The channel has a combined view number of over a billion views.
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