At the press showing of The Films of Joyce Wieland, the presenters, Four Wall Cinema Collective, passed out a seven-page critical examination of the evening's longest film, La Raison Avant la Passion (Reason Over Passion). The piece, by critic George Lellis, revolved around the following argument: Like many non-narrative films, Wieland's film tends to bore audiences, and seems to wear its irritating qualities with pride... Yet the work does not appear to be constructed with the specific purpose of boring or irritating its audience, and one must look... for the reasons why that boredom is allowed to remain in the work.
Excuse me? One must look for the reasons why the boredom is there? One MUST?!? Was I being told that, to fully appreciate the films I was about to see, I was going to have to not only accept the boredom and irritation dished out by the author, but actually wallow in it, like a hippo in a shit bath? I think I was, and I didn't, and still don't like it. I have no problem with artists who are intentionally obnoxious. I have no problem with fans of those artists. What I will not tolerate is the implication that I am somehow unenlightened because I prefer my art to be both edifying AND entertaining.
Besides that detail, though, I have no problem with Lellis' analysis of Wieland's work. It's actually spot-on. La Raison is 30 minutes of landscapes shot from a moving train. Solidarity is 10 minutes of peoples' feet. Hand Tinting is 10 minutes of shots of random people doing nothing interesting, while the tint of the film changes from yellow to magenta. These films are boring and irritating, and they're not aesthetically pleasing, either. Some of the camera work is downright nauseating. They can only be enjoyed with the idea that boredom and irritation, when contemplated upon, are outlets to higher meaning. If that's your bag, then fine, great. These films are for you. If not, then that's fine, too! You are NOT a shallow person, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!