A Visit to THE CLOCK (or, as my twisted mind sees it, the Best Actress All-Star Game)

Christian-Marclay-The-Clock-011

We’re down to the final push: 19 more films to go before next Sunday’s firm deadline, the screening of The African Queen at the TCM Classic Film Festival, which I intend to be the capstone for my quest to watch every nominated performance.  At this point, the last thing I need is to take a huge chunk out of time needed for schoolwork, sleep, and nominee-watching, and so of course I did exactly that.  I wound up watching about ten and a half hours of mashup maestro Christian Marclay‘s epic artwork, The Clock.  Running from noon yesterday to noon today at the Bing Theater at LACMA, this compilation extracts filmed representations of every time of day and edits them into a real-time 24-hour onscreen timekeeping device (view a video here, if it happens to be 12:04pm at the time of your reading this).  Personally, I think it’s some of the most brilliant, impressive, and sublimely enjoyable filmmaking I’ve ever seen, and over multiple screenings I hope to eventually fill in the full 24 hours; in the meantime, yesterday I watched from 3:15pm to 5:02pm, 9:42pm to 12:18am, and 5:57am to 12:05 (the conclusion of the screening).  I spent some stretches with truly wonderful company, and a few stretches bravely soldiering on alone.  No regrets; one of never knows if this will be the last time I can easily set aside so much time for the project in a single weekend.

However, if I’m going to take time off from watching Best Actress nominees at this stage in the game, you’d better believe I’m going to find a loophole.  In one sense, I saw more nominees in the span of a single day than I ever have, and it served as a refresher of some of the more satisfying performances I’ve seen in both the distant and recent past.  All of my miscellaneous musings on The Clock could probably fill a book, but I’ll just mention how comforting it is to catch glimpses of these familiar characters out the window of a film that chugs by at about five hundred scenes per hour.  As many have pointed out, The Clock is on some level a grandly realized trivia game for film buffs, spotting the things you can be familiar with.  I can reasonably guess that I recognized less than 20% of what I saw (maybe less than 10!), and encountering these actresses was a source of terrific comfort.  Lastly, it was somehow wondrous to see these characters living out their adventures side-by-side, threads in a single cosmic, cinematic day.  They might obliviously bump into each other, on occasion, unknowingly obstructing each other’s goals or exchanging a few friendly words.  But that’s mostly my sleep deprivation creeping up on me.  If you should ever find yourself partaking in this marvelous theatrical experience, here are some Best Actress highlights to watch for:

Between 3:15pm and 5:02pm (note: I wasn’t taking notes during that stretch!  The batches that follow are more precise.)

  • Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
  • Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  • Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins
  • Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking
  • Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia

Back for more later on!

  • 9:52pm – Bette Davis in The Letter
  • 10:45pm – Joan Crawford in Sudden Fear
  • 11:00pm – Barbara Stanwyck in Sorry, Wrong Number
  • 11:30pm – Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth
  • 11:35pm – Carey Mulligan in An Education
  • 11:47pm – Bette Davis in Now, Voyager
  • 12:10am – Greta Garbo in Camille
  • 12:15am – Jane Fonda in Klute

Sleep break!

  • 6:12am – Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County
  • 6:30am – Angelina Jolie in Changeling
  • 7:04am – Cher in Moonstruck
  • 7:13am – Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry
  • 7:22am – Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight
  • 8:04am – Susan Hayward in I Want to Live!
  • 8:08am – Claudette Colbert in Since You Went Away
  • 8:30am – Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
  • 8:55am – Kim Stanley in Seance on a Wet Afternoon
  • 9:30am – Jodie Foster in The Accused
  • 10:26am – Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind
  • 10:28am – Carroll Baker in Baby Doll
  • 10:45am – Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice

And just to make clear that nominees & winners aren’t the be-all end-all (and to indicate that I’m capable of noticing non-Oscar-shaped roles), some of the other glimmering, unnominated performances that make an appearance:

  • 10:35pm – Katharine Hepburn in Adam’s Rib
  • 10:40pm – Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall in 3 Women
  • 11:22pm – Ivana Baquero in Pan’s Labyrinth
  • 11:28pm – Claire Trevor in Raw Deal
  • 11:30pm – Dorothy Comingore in Citizen Kane
  • 11:40pm – Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation
  • 11:42pm – Julianne Moore in Safe
  • 5:57am – Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (note: walking into the theater and seeing a clip from this hypnotic, surreal-around-the-edges movie, less than twenty minutes after waking up in my bed at home, was the absolute best way to sink back in.  I felt like I was still dreaming!)
  • 5:58am – Deborah Kerr in Black Narcissus
  • 9:10am – Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby
  • 9:19am – Ruth Gordon in Harold & Maude
  • 10:05am – Frances McDormand in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • 10:10am – Gene Tierney in Laura
  • 10:50am – Véra Clouzot in Diabolique
  • 11:45am – Audrey Tautou in Amélie
  • 11:50am – Franka Potente in Run, Lola Run

All right, off to rest and get back to the main task this evening!

Footnote: I don’t see how viewing conditions could possibly be more optimal than the Bing Theater; LACMA statements on their blog and the event website that this was the last time The Clock would be shown in that venue had BETTER not mean it’s going to get harder to see.

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One thought on “A Visit to THE CLOCK (or, as my twisted mind sees it, the Best Actress All-Star Game)

  1. Mr Jerome says:

    Sincerely hope it’s not the last time. it’s an amazing work. When it was shown in a gallery at LACMA(only during normal hours) it was always crowded. I remember waiting in line for over an hour to get in once around 11pm.
    You can attest that a six hour stretch is hard, but it just moves and sweeps you up – the underlying music tracks hep carry it. Ithe editing is seemless. A tour de force. I hope it comes back again and again.

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