This site began innocently as a visual catalog of some of my favorite films. I never intended to write a “culture blog”, rather I wanted to study the composition, costume, lighting, and styles of forgotten movies. …
As a film school dropout, I’ve explored the academic approach to classic cinema. Film analysis generally restricts itself to themes, genres, overarching similarities in plot and character – ponderous categories that are supposedly relevant because of Cinema’s unique ability to capture and reflect the zeitgeist of society. Film history is judged against the ever changing moral codes and liberties of an era, like a core-sample drilling back in time and revealing *gasp* Sexism, Racism, drifting political tides, and self-awareness. However, this does not set film apart from newspapers, novels, advertising, and other published ephemera. Movies are an entertaining microcosm, offering multi-sensory cues as well as ideas (sometimes deliberately and sometimes not). As a teaching tool, films deliver huge amounts of information. Hollywood movies are perceived to be ourselves wrapped up in a tidy time capsule.
But I felt some real gems were ignored from this discussion. In my classes I attempted to interject examples of what I felt were truly remarkable films. Obscure or forgotten classics, off-genre and cult films, low-budget and limited audience…. My sister had bought a second VHS recorder in the early Eighties to build our “library”, and we voraciously explored the local rentals for imports and oddballs. These were films I could watch again and again, however when I tried to introduce them to my critically-minded classmates my beloved movies fell apart under thematic analysis. Once the “discussion” began I was forced to admit these films weren’t very “deep”. At the time I didn’t have the skills to re-direct the conversation to what was great about them. I couldn’t put them in historical context, and without access to “stills” it was difficult to discuss the visual details I found so appealing. The plot of a Hollywood musical is often deliberately inane (now I would say “iconic”). The characters and conflicts are usually tissue-thin. There was no way my choices would stand up to “serious” scrutiny. I knew there was something special about them, but I couldn’t explain it persuasively. I had to admit there wasn’t much substance, and *poof* their worthiness vanished like fairy glitter – the thing about gems though, is how they sparkle.
I’ve spent a lifetime collecting DVDs, and pouring over rental collections. The internet opened new threads to follow, underground directors, pockets of influences…. I regularly hit the bootleg stalls and Chinese imports. I bought discontinued rental copies and used VHS. Dusty fingers and bins of crap to find one or two treasures. My desire to find these film never stopped, but I kept it mostly to myself. I knew very few people would appreciate them as I do, and I didn’t want my gems tarnished like before. Outside of ironic counter-culture – if a movie was awful enough to be deemed “cult” – there just wasn’t any interest in curiosities. I didn’t share them, and never developed a language to discuss them…. Then came IMDB, the Internet Movie Database, and the internet’s infinite ability to catalog everything in existence with user-generated content. I found some of my beloved films and there wasn’t much information about them. I tried writing some “reviews”, hoping to be a sort of tour guide and curator. Almost immediately I was forced to admit that I still sucked at it. I’d never developed the language for compelling arguments. Anyway, I was trying to describe in words what needed to be seen. So this visual blog was born: the original Wetcircuit.
In 2006, I had done extensive touring with bands as a VJ and had made some money, but I was burned out artistically and needed to spend time at home. Slowly I began to watch my films with a new critical eye. I examined entire scenes frame-by-frame, eventually taking screengrabs to inspire my own visual art. I used the blogging software WordPress as a content management system so I could sort through the images. This process of culling individual frames and publishing a selection of stills became, in effect, the development of my visual language skills. I still attempted to write something about the films (otherwise Google wouldn’t have any context with which to associate the images), but continue to admit that these films value cannot be discussed in words. The visual image alone can stand as testament to why these films are worthy.
In the process, something a little unexpected happened. Through the joys of blogging, I discovered that random thumbnails pulled from different movies, sorted together as visual links to other parts of the blog, began to look remarkably similar. Regardless of which era the film was made, its subject and genre, I was pulling extremely similar images from them. The juxtaposition was often jarring, as profound and undeniable as any wordy analysis. A definite and deliberate pattern emerged: I was discovering my own taste in completely visual terms. A similarity in composition and focus, elaborate and bizarre costuming, a focus on women of a certain type: flamboyant and stylish. Visual spectacles in complimentary colors and geometric design.
I’m no longer concerned that these films will ever be considered “deep” or reach sophistic importance under academic analysis. This films were meant to be enjoyed by a certain audience – usually women, but also men of certain preferences and sensibilities, experienced like the bloom of flowers or the sensory delights of a feast. These films are ephemeral, just fairy glitter but how they sparkle – and that’s exactly why they are important.