The Disturbatainment That Is Ryan Trecartin...
February 1, 2009 6:57 AM   Subscribe

At first viewing (skimmed), this guy seems to have very little in common with David Lynch or Atom Egoyan. A contemporary John Waters? Sure, I can see that. Maybe. But even Waters had a sense of composition, pacing - hell, of filmmaking. I-Be Area strikes me as sort of the fictional counterpart to Tarnation by Jonathan Caouette, both sort of these deliberate folk-art pieces coming out of a common strain of frenetic video queer art (though Tarnation was actually quite good). Lo-fi is the new style, I guess, but this guy's skills seem limited to smearing makeup on people's faces, silly 2-D clip art graphics superimposed over the frame, and deliberately bad/cheesy/campy acting. It's also very theatrical and could easily be performed as a series of overlapping monologues on a stage somewhere. I guess I don't see what makes this piece particularly cinematic, besides the weird cheesy video stuff. It does seem to be the stylish thing right now, in some circles, but I feel like if any of this lo-fi arty video graphics stuff is going to break through, I think it will be more along the lines of this MGMT video, way more creative and visually playful, kinetic.
posted by billysumday at 7:19 AM on February 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

I feel the same way BillySunday, but I also couldn't stop watching these pieces.

Normally I'd just move on, but in the I-Be Area piece, I also felt like there was a buried kernel of narrative that kept my attention.

I think he could actually get something done with a little more self-editing and a lot less ADD free-for-all going on. There's definitely a foundation happening in his work.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:29 AM on February 1, 2009

Yeah where in the world is a trace of Egoyan in these? I guess you put Lynch because, err, it's kind of weird? I'm curious.
posted by xmutex at 7:46 AM on February 1, 2009

It seems to be shock-mocking the "reality" dorm shows on TV.
posted by Brian B. at 7:51 AM on February 1, 2009

How dare you mention Lynch in the same post as this fart-brain kid's over-indulgent crap. I think because it's shot on crappy video, which Lynch has recently fallen in love? When Trecartin makes something on the same level as Elephant Man or Blue Velvet, or Eraserhead, then come talk to me.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 7:51 AM on February 1, 2009

Looking on this, it is a stretch to include Egoyan. I was thinking of the movie The Adjuster that I saw a long time ago, and the squick feel that movie gave off. Same with the Lynch.

He's far more John Waters than any of those, really.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:53 AM on February 1, 2009

Thanks for this; I'd never heard of him and there are some amazing chaotic genius moments in I-Be Area. Don't particularly want to sit through the whole thing, but damn there are some funny bits. Genderplay, nonlinearity but with narrative elements, rapid-fire shifts - it's got all the pieces I really like.

It's always interesting seeing mainstream critics get a handle on stuff like this; that "quick review" link does a decent job of trying to contextualize, but some of the rationalizations in both Times pieces get a bit ridiculous. I just don't see the "this is what web generation art is like" newness they're going on about; it's got some wonderfully insane elements, but there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about it. On first pass, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 8:16 AM on February 1, 2009

I feel like if any of this lo-fi arty video graphics stuff is going to break through

I'm not sure "breaking through" is the goal here.
posted by mediareport at 8:22 AM on February 1, 2009

I appreciate getting to see this. If people can sit through the funny Star Trek edits (they have a lot in common with this), they should be able to drop their in-joke leaning sticks and find this hilarious too.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:45 AM on February 1, 2009

I am not in anyway comparing Ryan Trecartin's art to canonized works -- I realize it's not an apt comparison -- but after viewing a bit of this and then finding myself somewhere between bleary and greatly annoyed, I was reminded that FPP from yesterday about how, shhh, you don't have to read all the 1000 greatest novels or whatever. I almost feel kind of shitty and close-minded for saying this, but it does actually give me great relief to realize I can turn off disturbatainment and walk away. But thanks for bringing it to my attention.
posted by theefixedstars at 8:55 AM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am always fairly annoyed when people say something is like David Lynch because it's weird or difficult to follow or doesn't make sense. David Lynch's work is the opposite of that: Everything unexpected or bizarre that happens is that much creepier because something about it feels like it makes perfect sense but you have no idea why.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:01 AM on February 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

It reminds me more of Gregg Araki or maybe Stephen Sayadian than David Lynch or even John Waters.
posted by Sailormom at 9:14 AM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm kinda fascinated by the whole weird video art thing, but don't know much about it. Anyone see this?
posted by orme at 9:16 AM on February 1, 2009

I don't get the point of this film. Is there not supposed to be a point? An exercise in post-modernism? Reading the "quick review," it looks like jargony, back-patting, art school kind of stuff. But, uh, whatever does it for you, I guess.
posted by wastelands at 9:19 AM on February 1, 2009

posted by DonnyMac at 9:22 AM on February 1, 2009

I am enjoying it from a sociological perspective, thanks for the link. K-hole indeed... would be better with more LSD.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:26 AM on February 1, 2009

You just made a list of weird filmmakers, because this is a weird filmmaker, whether or not these movies really have any parallels in the work of the others, didn't you?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:39 AM on February 1, 2009

Astro - yeh, prolly. And then I remembered this was Metafilter. But it was too late. It was out there. On the internets.

Also - what is a K-hole?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:53 AM on February 1, 2009

K-hole is what you plunge into when you take ketamine, an animal tranquilizer that people use for recreational purposes, often with MDMA. I once saw two guys at a party snort ketamine, drop to the floor, and remain there, eyes rolled up, for about an hour. They said it was great.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:57 AM on February 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Astro - um, I....well...that you see....when that happens I would.....okay. Okay.

In a related story, an angry dog was found chewing through an electric fence in a local suburban area.

When questioned, the dog barked, "those fucking Giants! They took my fucking meds! I swear to God I'm going to FIND THEM!"
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:07 AM on February 1, 2009

I say it's Flaming Creatures and I say to hell with it.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:51 AM on February 1, 2009

billysumday, thanks for linking to that MGMT video—hadn't seen it before. That shit was awesome and dangerous, yet totally silly.
posted by defenestration at 11:03 AM on February 1, 2009

It is like if Tim and Eric went to RISD.
posted by Falconetti at 1:26 PM on February 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ca-Rackle! I LOL'd!
posted by P.o.B. at 2:03 PM on February 1, 2009

I enjoyed I-BE AREA, but I also enjoy the Teletubbies.
posted by VulcanMike at 2:41 PM on February 1, 2009

I liked it, but then again I ate paint chips as a child.
posted by nola at 9:03 PM on February 1, 2009

I liked it, but I haven't actually watched it. Or loaded the page.
posted by owtytrof at 10:37 AM on February 2, 2009

Rewatched MGMT video. Still silly. Dunno about the rest of the earlier statement; the kaleidoscope effect was really neat, the snotty nihilist thing pushed to the max (now with CG kitten rides!)...

And I have to agree that the comparisons in the OP were off. Now I want to watch some Lynch, though.
posted by defenestration at 4:48 PM on February 2, 2009

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