Runs at Northwest Film Forum, Fri., Jan. 4–Thurs., Jan. 10. Not rated. 90 minutes.
Probably the most ambitious film at October's Local Sightings Film Festival (where it won top prize), Brian Short's documentary All My Love has no narration, no plot, and little more structure than its three themed movements. It's very much a landscape/trance film in the tradition of Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi. That said, if you program your iPod for a screening of Lawrence of Arabia at the Cinerama, it's also a landscape/trance film—but one with the power to compel your visual surrender, as it were. Here, unfortunately, viewers must spend too much time squinting at the grainy screen, trying to decipher the director's grand plan. Using three different camera formats in Colorado, Mongolia, and Berlin, Short doesn't lack for stark and potentially beautiful locations. But jittery notebook impressions on Super 8 and mini-DV do not a philosophical breakthrough make. As he explained to me last fall, the project is meant to suggest the reconciliation between the two hemispheres of the brain. Fine, we're all in favor of syncretism, but what about the eyes? His low-budget wanderings, funded by now-defunct local producer the Film Company, followed what Short called "Zen and happenstance." I only wish that his journey through the mesas of the American Southwest and the high plains of the Gobi Desert had been blessed with Zen, tripods, and 70 mm film stock. Not many filmmakers have the guts to pursue such a solitary quest, and Short deserves credit for persistence. If we can't share his vision, his singular itinerary is still worth following.