Watch This Space Film Magazine Issue 2 | Page 10

Review Still Lives (2016) Written by Dustin Chandler The division between the natural world and the material world is a theme as old as time. In an industrially and technologically evolving environment such as this, the downfall of modern society has made for good, cinematic fodder to alert pressing ecological issues that are relevant to thoughtful, existential people such as ourselves. In a recent effort, filmmaker Patrick Sheard presents this with the 16-minute tone piece STILL LIVES (2016). Split into three chapters (Lamenta, Libertas, and the finale, Exitus), STILL LIVES is an experimental essay that combines images and footage of the organic, natural environment with the stark, hustle-andbustle of urban lifestyle, all matched to melancholic, yet often soothing orchestral score. On a cinematographic level, Sheard knows how to set a divide between the natural and the material: in Lamenta, our introduction to the natural is through a breathtaking crane shot through the heavens of a mountain landscape. It’s warm, comforting, and brings us to a collective consciousness as a choir invites the viewer into the bliss above. Immediately, we are thrown into a quick montage of the modern environment, best presented through the image of a lone tree planted in the middle of a strip mall and enforced through the eerie chimes of an organ. In Libertas, we are finally caught up to the aftermath through verite footage of life in the urban society. Buses ride through cities even though half the seats are empty; customers walking in large masses throughout shopping centers; homeless citizens sit in destitute on the pavement as the world around them continues to move forward. Thankfully, in Exitus, we reach a moment of serenity: relaxing images of trees billowing in smaller towns, diegetic sounds of rushing waters and cicadas, and long, winding dirt roads that allow transportation and sight-seeing rather than bumber-to-bumber frustration. And in between it all, we have haunting, Bergmanesque images of religious statues, like the observant eyes of a universal energy much bigger than our own. STILL LIVES is a rather transcendent experience by someone who confidently pleads to a downsizing of the modern world. Highly important, highly recommend.