A cascade of Hollywood test patterns acts as prelude to Raya Martin and Mark Peranson's feverish, shape-shifting La última película, which romantically explores the ramifications of celluloid's demise via an unlikely production in the Yucatán.
RP31 and La última película
Though the imminent death of film has been announced innumerable times throughout the history of the medium, there's no denying that our cinema experiences have been profoundly affected — if not homogenized — by a sweeping digitalization. With RP31, American artist Lucy Raven ingeniously references, and refutes, this current state. Animating thirty-one digitized test patterns that have been extracted from their original 8mm, 16mm, 35mm and 70mm film loops and printed to 35mm, Raven both underscores the uniformity of our current media culture and pays homage to the vivid colours and graphic beauty of celluloid — which, forever imperiled, stubbornly refuses to succumb to its destiny.
Case in point is the shape-shifting feature that follows, La última película, by prolific Philippine filmmaker Raya Martin and Canadian critic/filmmaker Mark Peranson. Reimagining Dennis Hopper's 1970 film maudit The Last Movie, it accompanies a disillusioned and delusional American filmmaker (Alex Ross Perry, director and star of The Color Wheel) and his bemused local guide (Gabino Rodríguez, frequent star of the films of Nicolás Pereda) while the former conceives, prepares and ultimately makes a psychedelic Western in the Yucatán. This cult curio in the making critically and romantically explores the aesthetic ramifications of the shift from film to video, employing multiple formats to create an alchemical collage.
Set on the brink of the Mayan Apocalypse
and conjuring up the combustive atmosphere
and combative spirit of seventies
American independent cinema, this fact/
fiction hybrid delves into the fissures of our
scattered, globalized era, leaving a host of
cinematic clichés in its wake. With humour
and passion to spare, La última película
looks backwards and forwards at the same
time, creating an oneiric gesture toward
salvation even as it considers its own
demise. Is this filmmaking as criticism?
Or a feverish and wry cri de coeur for an art
form that has radically altered the way we
see the world?