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"Come on, guys! Let's get a keg, some pizza, and a few girls, and... watch four and a half hours of experimental films from the 1960s and 70s...."
Criterion / 264 Minutes / 1966-1979 / Unrated / Street Date: April 24, 2012
As a veritable curator of cinema, it is incumbent on a studio like Criterion to release a set like A Hollis Frampton Odyssey maybe once a year. This collection of avant-garde oddities from the acclaimed film artist is enough to baffle and, quite honestly, turn off 90% of viewers who might come across it, but there's no doubt that Frampton is among the 20th century's most esteemed and recognized experimental filmmakers, and the fact that so much of his work can be assessed on a Blu-ray collection like this one is enough to prompt even hating cinema scholars to applaud.
In keeping with Criterion's By Brakhage Blu-ray compilation, this set presents Frampton's work with a museum-quality earnest and scintillating technical prowess. I remember encountering works like Zorns Lemma in college and being frustratingly dumbfounded by them - even after having done my course reading, I had no idea what in the shit was going on. But as presented on this Hollis Frampton Odyssey high-def edition, we get background info, even commentary by the filmmaker himself that allows for a sizable background that allows the films to be more easily accessed.
Well, maybe 'easily accessed' isn't the best phrase to use in response to A Hollis Frampton Odyssey. As is the case with most avant-garde filmmakers, the vast majority of his stuff is out-there to an often eye-rolling degree. Even if the intellectual capacities behind the movies here are completely sound, even shorter bursts of experiemental moviemaking on this set are difficult to get through. For lovers of the avant-garde or those looking to familiarize themselves with a moviemaker most of us have heard of but never got a chance to assess on our own, A Hollis Frampton Odyssey is a lovely educational tool.
Manual of Arms (1966 • 17 minutes, 10 seconds • Black & White • Silent)
Process Red (1966 • 3 minutes, 37 seconds • Color • Silent)
Maxwell’s Demon (1968 • 3 minutes, 44 seconds • Color • Mono)
Surface Tension (1968 • 9 minutes, 30 seconds • Color • Mono)
Carrots & Peas (1969 • 5 minutes, 21 seconds • Color • Mono)
Lemon (1969 • 7 minutes, 17 seconds • Color • Silent)
Zorns Lemma (1970 • 59 minutes, 51 seconds • Color • Mono)
FILMS FROM HAPAX LEGOMENA
(nostalgia) (1971 • 36 minutes, 7 seconds • Black & White • Mono)
Poetic Justice (1972 • 31 minutes, 28 seconds • Black & White • Silent)
Critical Mass (1971 • 25 minutes, 11 seconds • Black & White • Mono)
FILMS FROM MAGELLAN
The Birth of Magellan
The Birth of Magellan: Cadenza I (1977–1980 • 5 minutes, 41 seconds • Color • Mono)
Straits of Magellan
Pans 0–4 and 697–700 (1969–74 • 1-minute each • Color • Silent)
INGENIVM NOBIS IPSA PVELLA FECIT, Part I (1975 • 4 minutes, 48 seconds • Color • Silent)
Magellan: At the Gates of Death, Part I: The Red Gate 1, 0 (1976 • 5 minutes, 10 seconds • Color • Silent)
Winter Solstice (1974 • 32 minutes, 36 seconds • Color • Silent)
The Death of Magellan
Gloria! (1979 • 9 minutes, 36 seconds • Color • Mono)