88:88 ★★★½

[7]

My capsule review from my TIFF Wavelengths coverage for MUBI:

If scheduling allows, please try to see 88:88 and Mark Lewis's Invention on the same day. Both works are examples of a relatively new conjuncture between HD cinema and video art, and of artists boldly working with the gestures and vocabularies of “experimental film,” historically understood, but in no way beholden to them. At the same time, the two films exemplify radically different and possibly complementary poles of this new media experience. Whereas Mark Lewis’s art is almost impossibly stately and austere, Isiah Medina uses an equal degree of precision to attack the screen with a barrage of images and ideas. If you have ever been in an argument, or a moment of panic, and desperately wished that you had more than one mouth, because you needed to say two or more things at the same time (saying them in sequence would inevitably lend devastating weight to whichever came first), you can begin to grasp the explosive yet meticulous audiovisual headspace of 88:88.

There are fragments of an ostensible narrative. Or perhaps it is better to say, there are figures whose affect and experiences we observe across the running time of Medina’s film. They bob in and out of our view—a coterie of young Filipino-Canadian friends and lovers, given to creativity and anger and philosophizing and confusion. But 88:88 does not adhere to any given point of view. It hangs out, but in a jittery, caffeinated way, holding onto present moments without deadening them into connective tissue, mere “moving-towards.” Or, if there is a point of view, it’s that of “the digital image,” which is indiscriminate and regards a private breakdown with the same impassive fascination it affords greenish-yellow light through a treetop. 88:88 is a young film about youth. Medina is aware of the traditions he’s engaging (Godard, Trecartin, and Raya Martin come to mind), but like so many other places his film fitfully stops, these figures are merely momentary flashpoints, orbiting the others with no impulse toward hierarchy. This is unbridled filmmaking, resoundingly alive.

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