Dazzling color, feverish pacing, superimpositions that boast a sense of the ethereal and dialogue that could have been pieced together from IM fragments all make Ryan Trecartin’s 40-minute video, A Family Finds Entertainment, a testament to the possibilities of a next-gen digital aesthetic. It’s psychedelic and ecstatic and delirious, a mash-up of the lyrical video self-portraits of Sadie Benning with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, combined with the sexual mayhem of Jack Smith and the childhood pandemonium of Peggy Ahwesh’s Martina films. But as one of Trecartin’s characters would say, “What-ev-er.” The point is that it’s totally — surprisingly — stunning. The story follows Skippy (played by Trecartin), who’s holed up in the bathroom of his family’s house as a party takes place. He mopes about, slices his arm and, when he finally leaves the house, is run over and killed. But then he’s resurrected. Skippy’s story threads its way through a series of raucous episodes, sometimes fading completely into the cacophony. In one sequence, a girl named Shin (also played by Trecartin) rants on her phone, speaking directly to the camera and spewing teen phrases like, “I mean, for real,” or, “Oh my god, so honest” that, in Trecartin’s hands, come to resonate as poetry or philosophy. In another, the characters set off firecrackers in the street at night — here, the screen is divided into three frames, and there’s a sense of joy and violence as the lights sputter and spark and Trecartin delicately repeats frames to create frenetic movement. Every minute of the video pulses with an anarchic energy that taps into the chaos of childhood, and while the whole thing may seem like unscripted lo-fi chaos, it’s astutely crafted, both in terms of the avant-garde narrative, the excessive production design (with walls covered in wrapping paper) and the digital manipulation that layers and multiplies the images relentlessly. (QED Gallery, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd.; thru March 11; 310-204-3334)
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.