A Critic's Meta-Review: 5/5

Meshes Of The Afternoon (REVIEW)

Who knew so many themes could be explored in something that spans less time than I took to use the bathroom this morning (lunch was a little too spicy yesterday, thanks to my desire to finish the bottle of hot sauce so that I could repurpose it as a storage container for some homemade almond butter)? Furthermore, who could possibly have fathomed that a film with absolutely no spoken dialogue could say so much about the world we live in?

Indeed, such a provocative, innovative, groundbreaking work of art makes you wonder why in the world people sit around and binge-watch mindless television series — each episode an hour a piece — filled with inane babble and base level commentary that could have easily been penned by a slightly socially aware high school sophomore with some time to kill.

But, yet again, I digress.

Innocence. Secrecy. Beauty. Truth. Sensuality. Sustenance. Vitality. Obscurity. Mystery. Mortality. Impermanence. Decay. Uncertainty. Confinement. Escapism.

These are just a few of the themes explored by the inscrutable Maya Deren and her then-husband Alexander Hammid - the creators of (and sole actors in) this short film. From the opening shot of the sidewalk with Maya’s character dropping the flower to the closing scene in which she is found lying dead in a chair, the whole thing plays out like one elaborate, continuous story rather than a sloppy chopping together of hastily shot scenes (as is the case with many experimental, “avant-garde” style films). This is likely due to the fact that Ms. Deren was a passionate student of what is known as “gestalt psychology” which is, in a nutshell, a way of saying that “the whole is better than the sum of its parts” (kind of like the word “synergy” but much more intellectual sounding and much less corporate strategy sounding).

My only critique of this movie — the reason why I have given it four stars as opposed to five — is that it does not feature any music. I understand the artistic purpose behind complete silence, but even a subtle score would have been nice. It just helps me keep focused. That could just be how my brain works. But, since I am the one doing the reviewing here, my brain is the brain that gets to decide what the rating is. And, based on my brain’s criteria, no music is a knock against you. Sorry, Maya — I know you were, without a doubt, much more of a visionary than me.

I just like music.

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