Film and video artist Gary Kibbins, formerly of CalArts and now teaching in the department of film studies at Queens University in Canada, returns to Filmforum with five short works, including two from 2006. Kibbins often plays with language and text, crafting incisive, frequently humorous gems akin to poetry or philosophical language games. His video April 1967,for example,deploys three elements: a spoken phrase, “April 1967,” which seems to have been taken from an old newsreel; two faded shots that alternate at differing speeds — one showing an old satellite dish and the other a gridwork of fencing; and text laid over these images. As the piece progresses, the soundtrack gradually slows down, becoming a low, incomprehensible drone, then reverses direction, then speeds up, creating a Möbius strip of language in which meaning warps and then disappears. The text performs a similar arabesque, beginning with “April 1967” and a description of a place that suggests the Cu Chi tunnels of Vietnam but is described in a way that also suggests a postapocalyptic wasteland in some indeterminate future. The text continues, fragment by fragment, like poetry, beautifully illustrating the slipperiness of language and suspending the story forever between meanings. The images and voice-over similarly hover, and in the end, the piece shows us the narrow spectrum in which sounds, images and text finally cohere. Like chunks of bittersweet chocolate, Kibbins’ works are rich, deep, pleasurable nuggets of filmmaking that merit repeated viewing. Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre; Sun., Jan. 21, 7 p.m. (323) 466-3456 or www.lafilmforum.com.
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