YEAR IN FILM: Paying tribute to the films that paid closest attention
Rendered as cinema, there is every possibility that ritual will make for a trance. Ben Russell actively cultivates this state in his Black and White Trypps series. Excerpts of all six of these shorts, as well as a 10-minute slice of Russell's acclaimed feature debut, Let Each One Go Where He May, are available on his Vimeo site, but seeing the third installment in 35mm at the Pacific Film Archive raised the stakes considerably. In it, Russell sends a beam of light into the teenage sprawl of a Lightning Bolt show, creating a visible field barely broad enough for one or two wild faces. The crowd's pulse makes for an ephemeral, twisting portrait. Projected on the big screen, the baroque expanse of sound and black gave the mined portraits a distinctly transcendent aura. Russell's Warhol-worthy idea locates solitude in collectivity and authenticity in performance. The 11-minute film also invites us to reconsider the coordinates of that other common ritual that brings us alone together in the dark — cinema.