Flipping the Whale | Chicago Reader

Flipping the Whale

Sean Guinan's debut feature, shot in black-and-white digital video, is a beguiling, maddening melange of songs and skits that purports to tell the tale of five whalers (led by Guinan and Eddie Shin) who travel from the 1920s to the present and back again, searching for lost love and utopia while a demon tries to frighten and discourage them. Guinan's direction and Joshua Eckhardt's excellent videography are deliberately anachronistic, suggesting the indeterminate time and setting of a dream as they mimic, among other things, Harold Lloyd, Our Gang, Hitchcock, A Hard Day's Night, and Night of the Living Dead. The musical numbers, most of them composed by Guinan, recall Yankee hymns, minstrel music, early Beatles, and Kurt Weill, and generate a sweet, nostalgic, at times sardonic tone. In its love for early cinema the video suggests Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating, though unlike that film it fails to replace conventional narrative with a pleasing logic of its own. Still, any video that turns Ravenswood into an idyllic “ocean” is definitely worth a look. 90 min.


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