In the world of low-fi and stubbornly analog productions, there’s a strange undercurrent of fascination with relics of the past amongst its fans. What were things like before media was available at the touch of a button and your Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket had a smart cuff made of Google Jacquard? Do we remember? Does anyone remember? Does Pepperidge Farm even remember?
We often think that the past was awesome. That’s the strange trick of nostalgia. Everything is (and was) FINE back then! Except for when it’s absolutely not (and absolutely was not).
Life was, of course, certainly simpler before digitization in terms of social relationships, sometimes simpler for the sake of not being data mined 24-7, sometimes for our ignorant bliss about the mechanization behind the power structures that obstruct more democratic sensibilities of governance. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that life was better.
The story has always been a tool of reflection of humankind whether the story expresses a fantasy for its improvement or reflects on a quality we’d prefer leave our collective consciousness.
ELLIOT as film reflects on qualities its storytellers find unpleasing about technology. It portrays the sense of isolation that we feel in a world where we often project our best selves into digital landscapes because realities that are unaugmented don’t present as many possibilities for reinvention.
So what to consider about a film shot entirely on VHS (not SVHS or Super 8, mind you which were at one time or another “broadcast quality”) but consumer-end VHS with all of its obligatory warts in considering it as a “film-stock” that intends to make commentary on this situation?
A few things, perhaps. The concept is brilliant. The execution creates an aesthetic that an audience will either find brilliant or obstructive to accessing the true nature of the content all depending on the member. Those who “get” this film are really going to “get” it — especially the elements of storytelling that are meant to reflect the larger ontological and social problem of physical isolation and digital interconnectedness they tackle.
The array of directorial choices made by Director Craig Jacobson in his first debut not shot in tandem with Cassandra Sechler out of their collective Dreams For Dead Cats Productions depict a world in disarray and a deep desire for more substantive human connection. There are mostly dark moments and some obscene moments, as is common fare for this production house.
This film is for those desirous of a specific, cathartic emotional quality who are dealing with their own desire to distance themselves from the phenomenon of being “plugged in” all the time who alsoenjoy gritty visuals.
I think that, despite this not always being my specific aesthetic of choice, I “got it.”