We tend to think of the relevance of films as statically contained by the time in which they were produced. Some movies are hopelessly dated, trapped in the present they were produced for, which, becoming past, reveals them as little more than documents of a certain schema of fads and manufactured desires. Others perfectly encapsulate, embody or criticize the moments of cultural production from which they emerge, offering an aesthetic and cultural history. Other films, the ones often worshiped by the critical establishment, are “timeless”: transcending (though of course still emerging from) these historical trends and ideas.
But there is another kind of film, one which becomes more relevant and more important as time goes on, whose futurity gains it use-value as its vision approaches reality; a movie history’s angel watches on her backwards flight. Wild in the Streets, which The New Inquiry will be screening and holding a panel on next Tuesday, is one such film. Marie Menken’s Go! Go! Go! is another.
Though the tropes of the city presented here are thoroughly Fordist, with the sense that bustling work and construction are centered on building and producing, not consuming and circulating, the visual and conceptual speed is pure Adderall. Menken’s opening sequence, with its glitchy car window angle on the city, seems to prefigure the experience of Google street view, while the flickering attention and absurd conception of life ‘milestones’ reflects the sort of manic, constant sharing that social media has turned into the ‘social.’