16mm, color, 6.5 min
"The filmmaker describes his work as 'a single take, fixed camera meditation on a dead rabbit on Highway No. 1, outside Iowa City.' As the viewer stares at the almost still-life, the elements of composition come together in sad juxtaposition; the silence of death is set off against the impersonal whizz of passing cars, their momentary appearance in the frame creating almost subliminal flashes of bright metallic color. Otherwise the only movement in the film is provided by the dead rabbit's fur, ruffling in the wind. In the background, blue sky and brown trees, blurred and leafless. In the foreground, hard white gravel. The rabbit's body, caught in the right center of the frame, lies on the side of the highway, which is reduced by the camera angle to an almost imperceptible gray line dividing the composition in horizontal halves. "I think Murphy's description of HIGHWAY LANDSCAPE as a 'meditation' is quite accurate, since minimal cinema allows the viewer to examine in such radically increased attention the elements of the film he is watching. Although the reality on the screen may be static, the reality in the viewer's mind is not: under the right circumstances (seldom possible in film-viewing situations), the viewer can 'contemplate' what he sees, examines, let his eyes (and mind) wander, taste the possibilities of response." -- Ron Epple
16mm Rental: $20.00
16mm, color, 17.75 min
Co-maker: Ed Small "All the short movies that opened yesterday at the Film Forum make some gesture toward elaborating concepts implicit in the nature of film, concepts having to do with its existence in time and the quality of its images .... J. J. Murphy's and Ed Small's IN PROGRESS is the loveliest, most idiomatic, most responsible work in the program. "IN PROGRESS is a 20-minute time-lapse movie recording the passage of days and seasons from September through May on a bit of landscape photographed on an Iowa farm. The camera doesn't move (though there are two or three slightly different locations) and it is so nearly passive that at one point frost is allowed to form on its lens, and at another the dew turns its image into a glamorous haze. IN PROGRESS really proves nothing except that it has a subject worth sustained contemplation. The film provides an access to such contemplation, and its beauty -- including its ravishing variations of color within the natural blues and greens, grays, blacks, whites, and reddish browns -- is in large part the beauty of the subject in view." -- Roger Greenspun, The New York Times Awards: Refocus, 1972; Independent Film-Makers' Competition, 1972; Judge's Award, Bellevue Film Festival, 1973.
16mm Rental: $25.00
16mm, color, 7.25 min
ICE is a film of a film (Franklin Miller's Whose Circumference Is Nowhere) rephotographed through 50 pounds of ice. The soundtrack is a loop -- sound equipment recording underwater. "The films of J. J. Murphy elicit a response based upon purely aesthetic experience; however, they grow from the artist's concern with particular concepts. ICE was created by rephotographing a film from the opposite side of a slab of ice. The new work explodes into rays of alternating color and intensity." -- Karen Cooper "ICE (1972): made in collaboration with another film-maker in Iowa. Murphy uses his friend's film projecting behind a 50 lb. block of ice. The ice, a frozen but ever-changing lens between the projector and Murphy's camera: a chilled aurora dialogue." -- Mike Reynolds, Berkeley Barb
16mm Rental: $20.00
Sky Blue Water Light Sign
16mm, color, 7.75 min
"SKY BLUE WATER LIGHT SIGN is best seen in total innocence. My guess is that if one knows what he or she is looking at before seeing this little film, half of its excitement and a good deal of its meaning disappear. Seen in total innocence, though (and maybe I'm exaggerating the importance of this), SKY BLUE WATER is a wonder. With Gottheim's Blues and Frampton's Lemon (for Robert Hunt), it is one of the happiest, most uplifting short films I've ever seen." -- Scott MacDonald, Idiolects
16mm Rental: $45
16mm, color, 50 min
"PRINT GENERATION is a masterfully accomplished film. With it, Murphy sums up concerns that have marked independent filmmaking since the late Sixties: intrinsic film structure and personal diary." -- Mike Reynolds, Berkeley Barb "The film begins with glimpses of a series of shimmering red points of light which, through succeeding generations, begin to reveal the definition of a figure or an object. The sparkling reds -- actually the last vestige of light held by a tiny crystal of emulsion -- transform into whites, then the shock of blue-green is discovered, separating next into blue and green and combining for secondary colors in what by now is a recognizable representation. "Once the images are brought up to full color, the movie heads back toward abstraction. A viewer, having built a picture from an abstract pattern of dots, now must literally choose what is seen, whether to hold memory's trace of the representation or swim into the dancing crystalline waters of emulsion. It's a wonderful choice, a fine film." -- Anthony Bannon, Buffalo Evening News Awards: Centre Experimental du Cinema; Fifth Int'l Experimental Film Competition, Knokke Heist, Belgium, 1975. Exhibition: Fifth Int'l Forum of Young Cinema, West Berlin, 1975; Edinburgh Int'l Film Festival, 1975.
16mm Rental: $75.00
16mm, black and white, 44 min
Original footage: Chuck Hudina. Assistance: Terry Williams. "The more recent MOVIE STILLS (1977) is a melancholy procession of frozen moments being born, ripening, beginning to die before our eyes. Murphy selected 16 frames from a found home movie, photogrpahed them with a polaroid camera, then filmed the three minutes it took each image to materialize. Because of the higher contrast caused by this rephotography, the pictures seem to be darkening past their prime just as Murphy cuts to the enxt. Every shot starts out white and there's a key element of suspense as one's retitnal afterimages compete with the emerging forms of the developing photo. After a while, the ghost of an anecdote -- a woman and two men mugging for the camera, an odd flirtation -- develops too. 'A photograph is a secret about a secret,' Diane Arbus once wrote. 'The more it tells you the less you know.' With its heightened sense of mortality, MOVIE STILLS invites the viewer to contemplate not only the fleeting gestures and expressions momentualized by the camera but the process by which our minds construct narratives or deduce character from them."--J. Hoberman, Village Voice.
16mm Rental: $65.00
16mm, color, 5 min
A recycled film that playfully explores the space-time continuum as it applies to narrative structure. "J. J. Murphy's SCIENCE FICTION, a dazzling five-minute experimental fantasy that at first appears to be a 1950s travelog gone awry, features technical trickery that will impress and bewilder filmgoers and filmmakers." -- Max J. Alvarez, Milwaukee Journal "The second night's surprise was J. J. Murphy's wonderful SCIENCE FICTION. Made from a high school-level film on the effects of relativity, it was Murphy's insight to manipulate the footage and to add a moment here, delete a moment there." -- Raymond Foery, Downtown Review Awards: First Prize, Great Lakes Film Festival, 1980; NY Filmmakers' Exposition (tour), 1981; Ann Arbor Film Festival (tour), 1981.
16mm Rental: $30.00
16mm, color, 3.25 min
"Murphy combines several kinds of imagery (footage from old movies, passages of what appear to be auditions of some sort, apparently diaristic images ...) and two kinds of sound (the track from a preview of a film called Dirty Pictures and passages of canned laughter), in such a way as to reveal the ambiguity of personal and cultural significations once they are removed from their usual contexts." -- Scott MacDonald, Afterimage
16mm Rental: $20.00
Night Belongs to the Police, The
16mm, color, 28.75 min
Music: The Republicans, The Appliances, and The Suburbs "THE NIGHT BELONGS TO THE POLICE concerns a burned-out agoraphobe (Jerome Carolfi), his frustrated girlfriend (poet Tess Gallaher), a wonderfully kinetic proto-punk Tinkerbelle (Michelle Davis), and a malevolent network of chiropractors. A satire of fashionable nihilism, it manages to stimultaneously mock and embrace the so-called posturing of the so-called New Wave. It is, most of all, funny."--Chris Ward, CityLights.
16mm Rental: $50.00
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