November 16-22, 2005
ROSENBLATT ASSEMBLES HIS SHORTS
By Gregg Rickman
Single shots, the building blocks of film, mass into palaces or collapse into rubble depending on the mortaring skills of the filmmaker/ architect. San Francisco's Jay Rosenblatt practices the homelier art of collage, in which he assembles bricks from older pieces (educational documentaries, home movies, Hollywood features) into postmodern playgrounds or arenas of sadness. In Friend Good, Rosenblatt reworks James Whale's classic Frankenstein to amplify the creature's loneliness. Prayer is a post-9/11 plea for tolerance comprised of ancient films of pilgrims with their heads bowed. In his latest piece, Phantom Limb, Rosenblatt repurposes hospital scenes of amputees to illustrate the pain he still feels over a lost kid brother, while the autobiographical Worm mingles new and old footage to relay a childhood memory of the creatures in the rain.
A nine-movie collection of new work, "Matters of Life and Death: Recent Films by Jay Rosenblatt," also includes four diarylike shorts mixed through digital-video technology. Three of them, consisting of a daddy doting on his tiny daughter, may seem sugary, but they contribute to the strength of the collection by balancing out the melancholy. The fourth, A Pregnant Moment, captures episodes during Rosenblatt's dog's pregnancy, with the puppies being reared and then given away. It may sound trivial, but the desolate look on the pooch's face after her last pup is gone speaks volumes. Irrevocable loss is Rosenblatt's great theme.