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Magritte Moment redux

Posted by Mick on April 21, 2010 – 8:43 pm

I have been sick most of today.  When I’m sick, I don’t really feel like writing.

Actually, that’s not true.  I feel like writing.  I want to write.  I don’t feel like sitting here and typing.  There’s a difference.  It’s subtle.

Through a wonderful coincidence, I’ve discovered that Ian Fischer has put his short film Magritte Moment on the interwebs for your viewing pleasure.  In honor of this momentous event, I have decided to re-post my review.

This review was originally published, on the soon to be re-vamped CyberMonkeyDeathSquad website, on January 9, 2009.

*****

I have a confession to make. I’ve done a bad thing. Back in September of 2008 I got a screener of Foet for review. That was the gig – I was supposed to review Foet and I did review it. Rather well, in my not-so-humble opinion. When he sent me Foet, Ian also threw in a screener of a newer short he had written and directed, Magritte Moment. And after I had watched and reviewed Foet, I did indeed sit down and watch Magritte Moment. So what did I do that was so bad?

I didn’t immediately sit down and write a review of Magritte Moment. I had a good excuse (of course). I didn’t want to do two reviews of the same film maker that close together. Fine. But then I kept putting it off. And if I’m to be honest with myself and with you, there’s only one reason why I kept putting it off. It’s a hard review to write. Damn hard.

Magritte Moment is a hard film to review for two reasons. One, it is an “experimental film”. And Two, it’s a deeply personal piece of work by a film maker I respect.

What is an “experimental film”? Look it up if you’re really interested in the clinical definition. I’ll stick with my own definition . . . confusing. But not in a bad way. And Magritte Moment needed to be an “experimental” film, because it’s rooted thematically in the works of Belgian surrealist René Magritte. And yes, a familiarity with the works of Magritte, though by no means necessary, definitely helps with one’s enjoyment of the film. I think Magritte himself may have explained it best when he said “My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, “What does that mean?”. It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.” Oh, and by the way, you also do not want to make the mistake of using this film as a primer on the life and words of Magritte, much of the history is flawed and the quotes are purely from the mind of the writer . . . and I believe René would have liked that.

Ian Fischer, then, has used some of the basic concepts of Magritte’s art to create his own little piece of surrealism, and uses that to tell a deeply personal story about an artist’s struggle to reconcile art and commerce. That sounds right. It’s also way too simplistic. It goes far deeper. Hence the term “deeply personal”. I spoke with Ian after viewing this film again (and again), and I mentioned that it seemed really personal. “Yeah”, he said, “I bled for this film”. To watch this film is to see an artist struggling with his own soul. And usually when you hear a phrase like that, it’s just hyperbolic bullshit. This time, it’s sincere. This is a story of an artist struggling with the compromise of art versus commerce, and searching for his muse. And this film is, in the truest sense, Ian Fischer’s muse. Sometimes a film is just a piece of entertainment. Sometimes a film is a lesson about life. And sometimes, rarely, a film is an open window into an artist’s soul.

And that’s why, I think, I had a hard time making myself review this film. I like Ian Fischer. And I love this film. And in my heart of hearts, I was afraid I could not do this film justice. And then my lovely wife (my muse) reminded me that I wasn’t writing a college paper on this film, I was simply telling the world why I liked it. And it all clicked. There’s a line in the beginning of the film that says “Happiness can be found in a moment of epiphany“. That was an epiphany for me. I’m not here to say this film is good, or bad, or discuss why it’s good or bad. I’m here to say this film matters. What does it mean? It means nothing. It means everything. It exists to evoke mystery. In thinking about this film, I wound up thinking about my very reasons for becoming a writer, the nature of who i am and what I’m doing. And that’s not easy. In fact, it’s quite daunting. And that calls to mind another line from the film, now embedded in my consciousness. “After experiencing the early call of epiphany, it is easier to run away in fear than experience the loss of self.

Magritte Moment was an epiphany for me. It made me run away in fear. It made me look inside myself. It moved me. Sometimes a film is just a piece of entertainment. Sometimes a film is a lesson about life. And sometimes, rarely, a film is an open window into an artist’s soul.

*****

If you find that at all intriguing, now you should watch the short, kindly embedded below, because I live to make your life just a little bit easier.

Magritte Moment from ian fischer on Vimeo.

Be good to each other.


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