Sunshine and Shadow in New York: Recent Films by Brian Frye | Chicago Reader

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At 27 Brian Frye has become one of the most original experimental filmmakers around. At first his movies sometimes look a bit like failed documentaries or home movies, but they have subtle moments of beauty and a philosophical dimension that make them rewarding. Nadja (2001) consists of multiple repetitions of a brief view of a woman's face and the bands of color labs use for print-quality tests. She winks and talks to the viewer but remains a cipher, like the woman in the Andre Breton novel of the same title; the resulting mix of sensuality, formal structuring, apparent randomness, and denial of knowledge is characteristic of Frye's work. In Self-Portrait as Kaspar Hauser (For T.C.) (2000), Frye films himself with a pinhole camera, the jittery movements and fuzzy images countering the usual intimacy of self-portraiture. For Across the Rappahannock (2002), he filmed a reenactment of a bloody Civil War battle in Fredericksburg, Virginia, giving it an appropriate melancholy distance. On the same program, seven other recent Frye films and a travelogue about Hollywood. 74 min.

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