Poetic Justice (1972)
Critical Mass (1971)
“To speak of Frampton’s films as merely structural riddles or philosophical proposals, however, fails to take into account their pleasurable and poetic nature. The gamelike qualities of his films prove playful rather than didactic and always retain a residue of enigma. And he is more of a storyteller than the structural label would suggest. His films are told with an erudite wit, an often stark beauty, and deep emotional resonance. This last quality is one that sets him apart from many of his ‘structural’ fellow travelers and is most apparent in his only completed film cycle, Hapax Legomena (1971–72), a seven-part sequence including three of his best-known works, (nostalgia), Poetic Justice (1972), and Critical Mass (1971). Throughout the cycle, Frampton continually reveals intricate relationships between time and memory, word and image. He called the project ‘an oblique autobiography, seen in stereoscopic focus with the phylogeny of film art as I have tried to recapitulate it during my own fitful development as a filmmaker.’ This aspect is most explicit in (nostalgia) but is also evident, in a more buried way, in Critical Mass, which creates hypnotic rhythms from footage of a woman and a man engaged in a heated argument—completed when Frampton was working through the tumultuous end of a six-year marriage.”
Ed Halter, Criterion Collection
Alternative Candidate Rating: 4/5
So I may not be doing anything with my film degree these days, but one of the many reasons it was worth it anyway is that it introduced me to Hollis Frampton’s work, and my life is richer for it.