This is the third installment of our new series, MyTube, which asks some of our favorite web dwellers to escort us through their own personal YouTube hall of fame.
Mark Slutsky is a Montreal-based writer, filmmaker, and bon vivant. His short film, The Decelerators, which you can watch in full on Vimeo (watch it noooow), is one of the most poignant media on the experience of time I’ve ever experienced. His project Sad YouTube is what made me think Mark would make an excellent MyTube subject. On his blog Sad YouTube, Mark collects those rare affecting reflections from the “semi-literate cesspool” that is the YouTube comment thread. Mark explains:
Dig deep into comments — particularly on pop songs — and you’ll see that buried beneath the hate speech, the poorly formulated insults, and the Obama conspiracy theories are countless amazing nuggets of humanity. You’ll find stories of love and loss, perfectly crystallized moments of nostalgia and saudade (a Portuguese word meaning an ineffable longing for something lost in time). It’s a repository of memories, stories, and dreams, an accidental oral history of American life over the last 50 years written by the site’s millions of visitors every day. (Buzzfeed)
Here, Mark shares five videos which express his taste for the saudade.
1. Exile, “I Wanna Kiss You All Over” (1978)
“when my Daughter bought this album I told her it was a dirty song as I listen to it now I like it, time seems to change things, It come out not too long before she married, she was Killed in an Auto wreck when she was 19 along with my Nephew who was driving that was May of 1983 I will miss them the rest of my life, i’m not sure I will ever be over it, Laura and Gary 1983 love you forever, sweet child of mine”
Some of the YouTube comments I find and post on Sad YouTube are as complex and multi-layered as any literary text. I love this one because of the strange and almost mystical way it interacts with this creepy sexy minor ’70s hit, and how it exists in three moments in time simultaneously–the moment when the mother chastised her daughter for listening to the “dirty” song, the moment of the auto wreck that took her young life, and now, the moment of remembering, the moment where mother’s regret, loss and startled recognition of the song’s pleasures all intermingle. “Time seems to change things.”
2. Roy Andersson Commercials
In 1970, Swedish director Roy Andersson made the gorgeous adolescent romance A Swedish Love Story. Thirty years later, in 2000, he released the brilliantly, apocalyptically slapstick Songs From the Second Floor (and a few years later its follow-up, You, the Living). What was this singular genius of cinema doing in between? Directing commercials for Swedish TV, where he created and honed his signature one-shot style to perfection. Thanks to YouTube you can finally watch them; each one is a miniaturist masterpiece of visual storytelling. (And funny, really funny.)
3. Mariano Llinàs, Historias Extraordinarias
“OK, it’s like this. A man (we can call him X), arrives in the middle of the night…”
My favourite movie in the last decade or so is an unfairly-little-known, four-and-a-half-hour Argentine semi-experimental narrative with little to no discernible dialogue called Historias Extraordinarias by the director Mariano Llinàs. And despite those qualifiers, it’s one of the most entertaining and engrossing movies I’ve ever seen, interweaving three stories and as many narrators, who tell the story as we watch it take place, the images sometimes aligning with their voices, sometimes not. It really inspired me when I was developing the idea for my movie The Decelerators. This is labelled as a trailer, but it’s actually just the first scene of the movie, which totally hooked me when I first saw it. Pretty sure you can seek it out the entire thing on YouTube.
4. On Battleship Hill, PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy
To create a visual accompaniment to her (heartbreaking, mindblowing) album Let England Shake, PJ Harvey recruited conflict photographer Seamus Murphy, known for his photography in Afghanistan, Palestine and around the world. Together they created a series of short films that feel like a perfect fusion of performance, documentary, and photography. Like the album, they’re about war, England, the past, the present (and how the last two aren’t really distinguishable). They feel like no music videos I’ve ever seen–if they remind me of anything in particular, it’s the writing of W.G. Sebald. I love them; you should watch them all.
5. Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Is there anything more beautiful than this? More comforting? More stoned? More sad? Watching it, listening to Sagan’s voice, I feel like I’m being carried through the universe on waves of infinite kindness and understanding. When I cut The Decelerators, I asked CFCF for music with some of the same Vangelis-ian mixture of endless beauty and endless heartbreak.