This piece is the immediate product of an enraptured first viewing of The Geisha Boy (1958) by means of a HD rip that was the final stop on a trajectory from VistaVision to Blu-ray. In a process that I like to think of as being somehow akin to those single-reel Super 8 “digests” or “cut-downs” of Hollywood productions that circulated in the years before VHS, a feature film is reduced here to its highlights—its “pregnant moments” encoded at random into a fleeting succession of keyframes. When I first completed this previously unreleased piece, a sense of dissatisfaction lingered with what I initially took to be a gesture of appropriation. Coming back to it five years later with the current homage in mind, I understood that it makes considerably more sense, not as an independent work, but as a video essay. And to extend the metaphor, one might say that this silent commentary has something automatic about the way that it was written. By exploiting a glitch produced by moving VLC’s playhead back and forth across the timeline, it was recorded live, in a single take—with the exception of the final moments, which now seem to hint at a slapstick resurrection.
is a daily, international film publication. Our mission is to guide film lovers searching, lost or adrift in an overwhelming sea of content. We offer text, images, sounds and video as critical maps, passways and illuminations to the worlds of contemporary and classic film. Notebook is a MUBI publication.