I claimed, when wrapping up the blog in December, that I would return to write about any particularly extraordinary movies that crossed my path. Reader, I have found such a motion picture: Sufjan Stevens' 'The BQE', an experimental presentation about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, setting forty minutes of well-chosen motorway to an amazing musical score.
The film does this with with a great enthusiasm and pace. It's presented as a triptych of images, giving us three shots of the road at once, in extreme wide-screen. Sometimes it's the same image three times, offset by a second or two. Sometimes the cameras give us three different shots around a theme. Occasionally one image, mirrored back and forth. And sometimes, for variety, we see the Hooper Heroes, a trio of hula-hoop artists, Botanica, Quantus and Electress, splendidly arrayed in old-fashioned futuristic costumes, the sort of thing normally only worn by Sufjan Stevens himself, or avant-garde roller-derbyists. They suit the expressway and the film perfectly.
|The Hooper Heroes. Their moves aren't perfect,
nor quite graceful, but they share the road's wonky energy.
Of course, in the case of 'The BQE', the director and the composer are one and the same, but I suspect the movie's main audience will be fans of Sufjan Stevens, entranced by the eccentrically baroque electronica of 'The Age of Adz', or 'Silver and Gold', or the quieter Indie pop of his earlier records, and curious to see how he might point a camera and aim an orchestra. The result is engrossing and exciting, and makes the Interstate look by turns ancient, mechanical, exciting and sad. The film isn't too long, and the images are well-chosen and artfully woven together.
|The same shot, thrice, in high speed
P.S. IMDB lists the film as coming out in 2009, as that's when the DVD came out, as part-and-parcel of the soundtrack release. However, it was first screened in 2007, with live accompaniment, so that's the date I've accorded it here.
P.P.S. This isn't the only motorway-based film I've seen this May. I also went to the cinema to watch 'Locke' (2014), an excellent piece of drama about a man in his car. I've never seen a film like it, and I very nearly wrote it up for you, but didn't - except in this paragraph, which conveys all the salient points. Why not go and watch it?
The BQE soundtrack and film come together, and even if you hate them both the packaging is astounding.