Thursday, July 28, 2011

The spirit of Andy Warhol is alive and well

For the second time this year, I'm going to miss my chance to see the longest film ever made.

I don't know if I'm correct in calling it that, but Christian Marclay's The Clock is playing tonight at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), starting at 5 p.m.

And finishing the next day at 5 p.m.

That's right, it's a real-time, 24-hour movie, which charts the passage of time as captured in cinema over the decades. If I'm understanding it correctly, it's a pastiche of thousands of moments from film in which a clock is captured in the frame, and given how many movies there have been with clocks in them, Marclay has managed to find images that contain every single minute of a day -- all 1440 of them. And no, I don't think he cheats by having a 3:37 p.m. stand in for a 3:37 a.m. That wouldn't be sporting, would it?

What's more, the film is synchronized to local time, meaning that if you drop in from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. of the screening time, you're seeing 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. of the film. That's one feat the TV show 24 could never pull off.

Because very few people are likely to watch the whole movie, and the event by definition depends on people dropping in for an hour here or an hour there, LACMA is not charging for it. The only potential limitations are on the ability to find seats. LACMA screened The Clock for the first time a couple months ago, and it must have gone well, as this is an encore screening.

I would truly love to see this movie. Or some of it, anyway.

It reminds me very much of something Andy Warhol would have done, though perhaps it would be a bit too on-the-nose for Warhol. Still, I think about Warhol's screenings of such films as Empire, the eight-hour-and-five-minute 1964 film which just shows continuous footage of the Empire State Building. He would never allow it to be shown abridged, and if you had a whiff of artistic integrity, you would watch the whole thing.

LACMA is not holding us to that same standard. I was never going to watch the whole thing -- I don't know that I could, even if I had no responsibilities, no job to go to, and a direct intravenous pump of Mountain Dew into my veins -- but I'd sure like to watch some of it. I floated the idea yesterday to my wife in the guise of a joke. You know the strategy -- you bring up something you actually want to do, then laugh afterward, to see if perhaps it will turn into a real conversation about how you actually might want to do it. She didn't bite, and instead started talking about the similarly themed Life in a Day, Kevin Macdonald's documentary culled from footage people took of themselves around the world on July 24, 2010. Which is also in theaters now, but is only 95 minutes long.

I thought this was the end of it, but as I'm sitting here now, writing this, I'm wondering if it might be worth it to take a wild stab at seeing some footage in the middle of the night tonight. If I were to go watch some of this film from, say, 11 to 1, it might not impact either my responsibilities (the baby slept very well last night) or my job (it's Friday tomorrow, so if I'm a bit sluggish, I can probably push through, with the weekend waiting on the other side as my reward).

Because I don't know if LACMA will schedule a third screening. And this is the kind of novelty any film fan should want to experience. Not only does it have the virtue of being a film itself -- a film that, if watched conventionally, would set length records -- but it also celebrates our collective love of film. You'd never know when a moment from your favorite movie might appear.

Then add in the fact that I just love participating in kooky experiments, and the wheels are really turning in my brain now.

So tune in tomorrow -- or more likely, Saturday, since I've already got tomorrow's post planned -- to see if I was able to fit in a couple seconds, minutes or hours of The Clock.

Here's hoping I find the time, as it were.

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