In Memoriam (Mark LaPore, 1952-2005)

Rental Format(s): Digital File

Package of three films comprising the trilogy In Memoriam (Mark LaPore, 1952-2005)

1. Rehearsals for Retirement (2007) 11 minutes
2. Last Days in a Lonely Place (2007) 20 minutes
3. Still Raining, Still Dreaming (2008) 12 minutes

Sometime during the new century, I began to suspect that videogames (which I had literally not seen since PONG in the 70's) were having a major impact on the aesthetic and philosophical renderings of time, space and gravity in the commercial cinema I was seeing. The simulacrum and its attendant theories had finally caught up with me, and so I promptly went into Best Buy and bought a PlayStation 2 and asked about interesting games that I could explore without actually having to play. The Geek Squad recommended the infamous Grand Theft Auto series to me. Needless to say, I was shocked, appalled, disgusted... and absolutely fascinated. Mostly I became intrigued by the (narratively unnecessary) level of detail assigned to the renderings of landscape (particularly in the small rural area-this is a game of primarily urban warfare after all). I spent a great deal of time in a Warholian trance just noting the light change, the grass gently swaying in the wind.
In the late summer of 2005, the filmmaker Mark LaPore, my best friend since college days, when we discovered the art of film together, visited me in Colorado and insisted on making a short piece together - something we had never done before. We stayed up all night and created a short rather uncanny piece ( of what I later learned would be described as "machinima" a genre I was thankfully unfamiliar with) which was first referred to as Untitled ( for David Gatten) and would eventually be re-titled Crossroad.
About 3 weeks later sometime in the early hours of 9/11/2005 (a date no doubt chosen intentionally), Mark LaPore ended his life by his own hand. I realized the film we had made together was his parting gift. In response to this utterly shocking and tragic event, I created the trilogy In Memoriam (Mark LaPore 1952- 2005) with all visual materials culled from Grand Theft Auto gameplay. The great challenge here was to treat the crude, sometimes cartoon-like simulacrum with profound tenderness, rather than easy irony (which is already built in and which pervades much of this kind of work). In Memoriam offered me a new opportunity to stretch what I was creatively capable of achieving (particularly by now being able to traverse the z axis to "track" as it were ...) without resorting to my usual bag of photochemical cinetexture magic - I was on my own again nowhere to hide. And so in speaking plainly, I searched once again for the uncanny sublime...

All images for In Memoriam were captured from the videogame series Grand Theft Auto,
where Mark and I,
boys of summer,
were allowed to roam and wander
without mission
without murder
"cheating" our way through the streets of polygonal horrors,
finding (to our continuing astonishment)
just over there
at the edge of town...
(Phil Solomon )

NOTE: The italicized lines of song lyrics by Robert Johnson, Phil Ochs, P.J.Harvey, Jimi Hendrix, and the poetry by Emily Dickinson were all chosen by Phil Solomon and were once published as stand alone descriptions.

1. Rehearsals for Retirement (2007) 11 minutes

The days grow longer for smaller prizes
I feel a stranger to all surprises
You can have them I don't want them
I wear a different kind of garment
In my rehearsals for retirement

The lights are cold again they dance below me
I turn to old friends they do not know me
All but the beggar he remembers
I put a penny down for payment
In my rehearsals for retirement

Had I known the end would end in laughter
I tell my daughter it doesn't matter

(Phil Ochs, Rehearsals for Retirement)

A human life brought to an early stillness splashing down in oceanic oblivion searching for the depths of the sky. Darkness at the edge of town, light at the end of the tunnel, a stalled hearse and a souvenir from a dream. We walk in our sleep and fire walks with us. By fire we are consumed.
Rehearsing for eternity, for retirement. Life a sum of stolen moments stolen away by the Grand Theft. Next stop, the twilight plane, as an essence scattered, haunting all we ever knew.
(Mark McElhatten)

"Cross over boy, Cross over" - Patti Smith

2. Last Days in a Lonely Place (2007) 20 minutes

Farewell my friends
Farewell my dear ones
If I was rude
Forgive my weakness
Goodbye my friends
Goodbye to evening parties
Remember me
In the spring
To work for your bread
Soon you must leave
Remember your families
And work for your children

I don't need much
and the older I become
I realize
My friendships
Will carry me over
any course of distance
any cause of sorrow
My friends that last
Will dance one more time
with me.
I don't need words
This, I need.

(Polly Jean Harvey Before Departure)

Solomon references Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause (1955) specifically the apocalyptic enactment inside the planetarium at Griffith Park Observatory, underlining cosmological mysteries in contrast to our relative human insignificance.
Solomon often matched unlikely sources, finding affinities and strange harmonics in these fluent combinations. The second piece of the In Memoriam trilogy joins the names of two very different films from different centuries to give the suggestion of a chronicle or an epitaph. The two titles couple as melancholy statements of fact to make a stronger pronouncement, implying finality if not fatality or a sentence served - Last Days In A Lonely Place.

Gus van Sant's Last Days (2005) evokes the wayward spirit of Kurt Cobain, a fugitive figure nearly a ghost, already entering an overture to the Bardo state during his waning time on earth.
Bogart in Nick Ray's In A Lonely Place (1950) appears as a turbulent screenwriter placed under suspicion. A man of violent outbursts, covert generosity and wounded tenderness. His troubled spirit and uncontrollable impulses assure true love will be vexed and vanish.
LaPore was haunted by each of these films as cinematic experiences and as premonitions. In Solomon's Last Days in A Lonely Place, LaPore's stoic spirit seems to unsettle the calm of familiar interiors and deserted streets. A charcoal world where the invisible resides and reigns. (Mark McElhatten)

3. Still Raining, Still Dreaming (2008) 12 minutes

Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I knew 'twas Wind-
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand-
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
That was indeed the Rain-
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road-
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad-
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.

(Emily Dickinson, Like Rain it Sounded Till it Curved)

Rainy day, rain all day
Ain't no use in gettin uptight
Just let it groove its own way
Let it drain your worries away yeah
Lay back and groove on a rainy day hey
Lay back and dream on a rainy day
Lay back and groove on a rainy day
Lay back
Oh yeah !

(Jimi Hendrix, Still Raining, Still Dreaming)

"Mark LaPore always professed his dream to do a re-make of Basil Wright's great ethnographic essay film, Song of Ceylon. Still Raining, Still Dreaming, the final film of the In Memoriam series, is my homage to that dream, dedicated to his memory." (Phil Solomon)

Mark LaPore filmed in rural Sudan, Sri Lanka, India, and New York City while living in these places for extended periods of time, looking for unique defining elements, practices in peril and reciprocal correspondences. His early work elegantly comprised of unedited but carefully selected camera rolls strove for transparent documentation. The later 16mm films were highly edited with scrupulous integrity creating constellations from disparate elements, unreconciled puzzle pieces of telling evidence with the admission of incomplete knowledge.
LaPore's intended version of Song of Ceylon was abandoned. A long term project 100 Views of New York (after Hokusai's 100 Views of Mount Fuji and the first 100 films of the Lumiere brothers) was dismantled. Some material migrated into other films including the unreleased Shop Windows project.
LaPore's work often made incongruous leaps including New York's Chinatown as an orbital point of reference. He found elements of India displaced in New York and a notion of lost New York in Kolkata.

"I was listening, listening to the rain/ I was hearing, hearing something else" -
Tom Verlaine from Marquee Moon

Still Raining...takes place in a phantasmal New York where light is not light and substance is not substance. Solomon pays tribute to LaPore's forgotten projects bringing the oneric disembodied mobility of the trilogy to a stirring apotheosis. (Mark McElhatten)

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Digital File $300.00  

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