Saturday, June 7, 2014

What's Mark Pellington been working on of late? A long music video titled LONE for Chelsea Wolfe

As TrustMovies has mentioned previously, one of the odd surprises/gifts of this non-paying job is receiving unsolicited emails asking yours truly to watch a new film. Usually, however, these don't come from folk as well-known in the industry as Mark Pellington, the film and TV director (27 credits), producer (11 credit) and occasional writer (2 credits), whose best-known work is probably Arlington Road or The Mothman Prophecies, but whose favorite film of mine is Henry Poole Is Here. Mr. Pellington asked if I might take a look at his new and nearly-hour-long film -- LONE -- that he'd made around the musical work of singer/songwriter Chelsea Wolfe. (Not paying attention to new music or musicians at all closely, I have to say that I had never heard of Ms Wolfe. Evidently plenty of people have, and I've now learned that she maintains quite a following.)

Also, this request from Mr. Pellington (shown at left) came by way of the recommen-dation of another filmmaker, Jeremiah Kipp, whose short work I'd covered, some of which I'd enjoyed immensely, a year or so back. All this is by way of explaining why I'm devoting one of today's posts to--what is for me--an unusual experience. Lone is basically a 52-minute music video. That's kind of long for a music video, right? Most of them, I think, are visual accompani-ments to a single song and tend to last maybe five minutes.

Music videos are also, for the most part, plotless, often relying on crazy themes, snazzy editing and a dizzying pace to pull you in and hold you fast. This is difficult to do when your video lasts nearly an hour. Approaching this work as the novice that I am (certainly regarding Ms Wolfe and her life and music), I have to say that Pellington makes a very game attempt to keep us enticed and watching.

Lone is a riot of images and sounds, a kind of stream-of-consciousness video, with an occasional word or phrase employed, taking us from present to past and back again, while serving up everything from monsters and Americana to horror, wild horses, provocative poses, death, birth, religion, a nod to Donnie Darko and... guns! I am certain that this all means one hell of a lot to Ms Wolfe (I am guessing that it is somehow her "story") but how much it might mean to the general public I'm not so sure. Certainly, her fans will eat it up, and I should think it will make fabulous fodder for her shrink (if it hasn't already).

At times the images may call to mind the work of David Lynch, and around the 17-minute point the mood seems to change a bit, but then, no, we go back to pretty the same dirge-like rhythm and music, while the visuals move on to more major destruction -- atomic bombs (and Bambi!). The images and Pellington's use of them seem to be building toward some major conflict and possible resolution between... a daughter and her dad? Or mom? Or both.

The movie is full of symbols, of course (that's what music videos have longed seemed to prefer in order to get their points across in the necessary five-minute time period): bloody sheets, the dead mother, the angry or stoic dad (are we being told of some kind of abuse, perhaps?). Choice phrases -- "When your blood races, my blood races" "I am not afraid of you"  "I'm not afraid to remember" "Freedom in life, freedom in love, freedom in nature, freedom in death" -- are repeated over and over, as are the music and many of the visuals. In a film like this, however, to accuse the finished work of repetition is to miss the point: Lone is mostly about repetition.

In the last five minutes, some resolution -- acceptance? -- maybe occurs. I believe I read somewhere, after I watched the film, that Ms Wolfe used five different songs during the course of the film. But to my aging ears, it all sounded like one long, same song. Still, some of the images -- white dresses, red blood, white sheets, and our heroine in her black attire -- do prove striking. Overall, though, this is heavy-going. There's a reason that music videos tend to be short.

So how do you actually get to view Lone? You can find the free video preview here. To view the entire 52-minute movie, however, I think you either have to plunk down $20 to purchase the film on a 4 gigabyte USB drive (click here), or pay $35 for the Lone bundle, which includes the film on USB Drive, a folded 11x17" poster and your choice of one of the two different tee shirts on display (click here for the bundle).

I would imagine that something such as this might better be streamed as a rental, costing less money and reaching more fans. But what the hell, I guess Ms Wolfe's marketing team knows best....

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