THE TASSELED LOAFERS, came about when the Oregon Symphony and Northwest Film Center commissioned Jim Blashfield, Gus Van Sant, Joan Gratz and Chel White to create four original films with their scores to be played live in concert by the symphony while the films were screened. It was a wild night, not only for the 2000 people attending, but also for the conductor, Murray Sidlin, and the entire symphony orchestra as they strove --successfully, of course!-- to do justice to the challenging score and to hit their visual cues. Though the first film uses animated photo-collage to tell its story and the second film employs live-action along with animation, both show the filmmaker's fascination with creating funny tales camoflaged as dark mysteries which, beneath their narratives, frequently reveal additional layers of play and experimentation with the medium itself. SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES was produced by Melissa Marsland with a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission. THE TASSELED LOAFERS was produced by Bill Foster and the Northwest Film Center.
Blashfield's approach to the work-- by turns avant garde meta-film and droll comedy-- is to tightly join Berlioz' famous sonic twists and turns to both the images of the film-within-a-film and to the actions and psychology of the protagonist, an obedient soul apparently unable to resist whatever is demanded of him.
In the second film, THE TASSELED LOAFERS, a filmmaker known for both his experimental forays and for his music videos for the likes of Michael Jackson and Talking Heads takes on a revered 19th century composer's mad orchestral masterpiece Hector Berlioz' "Dream of a Witch's Sabbath".
THE TASSELED LOAFERS, a funny and expected reinterpretation of the Berlioz work, performedby the Czech Philharmonic is
a tale about a handyman compelled to watch four hours of animated industrial test footage while waiting for his pipe sealant to dry. First he becomes hypnotized by the events unfolding on the screen (an explosion of dancing shoes, crashing anvils, strolling baby bottles and ominously advancing alligators). He then turns his attention to a dead man he has noticed in a nearby restroom stall and becomes fixated on his lustrous footwear.
12 1/2 minutes / AnimationJurors' Notes NY Filmmakers Expo
I think there was one bona fide masterpiece in this year's Expo and this is it.
Billed as "an investigation into the disappearance of Herbert Emilio, Jr." Suspicious Circumstances is best approached as avant garde film noir.Here the "examining officer" is filmmaker Blashfield and the cause for disappearance could well be listed as "entering into another dimension." When we last see Herbert he flies through the kitchen on a death-potato shooting mustard at a pair of flying hands. He pursues his target into a fuse box-- a world of even stranger goings on where we've previously encountered a dancing nose-- and Lenore, his wife, jumps up and clamps the door shut. And that's the last we see of Herbert.
Leaking Pipes, Strolling Baby Bottles, and
In many of his films, Blashfield has explored the depiction of common objects and the associations that can be extracted from them through juxtaposition with contrasting (or complementary) sound and images. Here this interest finds its way into the core concept of the film and can be seen for the alchemical experimentation it is as Blashfield subjects his protagonist to his own filmmaker's fascinations.
The film has a stunning visual quality, made all the more so by Blashfield's penchant for domestic surrealism-- images that often provoke chuckles: Donald Duck heads lurking behind couches, magazine pictures falling off the printed page, Herbert's mind opening like a radiator grill... Add to these a delicatessen of crisp, evocative sounds of household knick-knacks dripping, burning, fluttering, tearing, smashing, and clanking in the night, and a musical soundtrack as brooding and full of menace as anything by Bernard Hermann, and you have a modest description ofSuspiciousCircumstances, a fully mature, fully conceived, and perfectly executed work of art.
Described as "a detective story ala Salvador Dali and Betty Crocker", Jim Blashfield's comic surrealist film SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES (12 1/2 minutes) chronicles a midnight visit to the home of Herbert and Lenore by a squadron of flying hands bent on mischief, destruction, and what appears to be a bit of a wine tasting. Herbert, with his electrified carrot and tuber of retribution will have none of it.
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