By Don R. Lewis | January 28, 2006

Sharon Lockhart’s “Pine Flat was the most fun I’ve had in a movie in a long time. Even before the screening, I had heard advance word that the film was slow. It features twelve or so scenes of ten minutes each with no cuts. In fact, nothing happens at all. Here’s an example. The film opens with a camera on a tripod, filming snow falling on a forest hillside. The shot isn’t composed poorly or very well, it’s just kind of there. After a minute or two of watching snow fall, we hear a childlike voice echo. Is the voice searching for a friend or a dog? Who knows. That’s all we get. For ten minutes. Add that to the eleven more times it happens (sans an “intermission”) and you have a movie that’s over two hours long. To say this type of film is self indulgent would be putting it lightly. As disussion about the plodding, pointless nature of the film ran rampant through the theater, pre-screening, I decided two things. One, I would watch the whole thing, come hell or high water. If people started to leave, I would stay. I’d make the review like one of those radio contests where a bunch of people put a hand on a car and the last one standing still touching the car wins. The second thing I would do was document the screening itself. Hell, there’s nothing else to review. So with that, I bring you a timeline review of my viewing of “Pine Flat.” Sentences marked with * are my inner thoughts as noted during the film. 5:01 p.m. The film starts. Snow falls on a forest. 5:05 p.m. After 4 minutes of the same shot, a man gets up and leaves. 5:06 p.m. Same shot, someone takes their cue from the first guy and leaves. 5:07 p.m. Something howls onscreen. *Or was that another yell? 5:09 p.m. A woman gets up to leave, same shot on-screen. 5:11 p.m.CUT TO A NEW SCENE! A girl in a pink sweater sits in a green grassy meadow reading a book. 5:13 p.m. The guy behind me to the right checks his watch while the girl may or may not have just turned a page on-screen. I’m not sure. Same shot though and she really seems to be digging this book. *What book is that? Hmm. 5:17 p.m. Mr. Watch Checker grabs his stuff and leaves *Quitter. I shall remain till the end! 5:18 p.m. The girl stops reading and itches her neck. *Wonder what book that is? I think I might have to pee. 5:22 p.m. CUT TO NEW SCENE A little boy with bare feet sleeps on the ground in a forest. He’s real twitchy, can’t get comfortable. *If these seats were more comfortable, I could go to sleep now. I want nachos. Maybe I don’t have to pee. 5:26 p.m. The boy stretches out a little bit. *I don’t think he’s really sleeping…but I don’t blame him if he is. 5:28 p.m. The kid moves 5:32 p.m. CUT TO NEW SCENE A young boy who looks like he just went swimming sits on a rock in a stream playing a harmonica. Badly. Redundantly. Repeatedly. 5:35 p.m. Still sitting there playing the same chords *I wonder how that harmonica will sound when I shove it up his…nose 5:38 p.m. Same exact bullshit on-screen as a man to my right gets up and leaves. 5:39 p.m. The kid washes off the harmonica and then sits back down and continues playing. 5:39 and 38 seconds, p.m. The man who has left comes back *Dude, you were free and clear and yet you returned. He’s gonna be tough competition. Could he have peed that fast? I have to pee I think. 5:40 p.m. The woman in front of me dozes and then jumps awake. *I hate when that happens. It feels like everyone saw you snoozing. 5:42 p.m. CUT TO A NEW SCENE A kid in a yellow and gray jacket sits in some brown leaves in a forest on a slope. *Jeez, this kid looks bored. Is it bad when your movie is so boring the subjects are bored? I think I want some ju-ju bees. 5:45 p.m. Some fog rolls in. The kid looks bored. *Good thing he’s got that jacket 5:47 p.m. The kid coughs and hocks a loogey. he spits it. 5:48 The kid pulls a small rifle out of his lap and aims it to his left. He tracks something left to right then puts it back in his lap. *Shoot this director! Or me. 5:50 p.m. The kid coughs and spits. * I definitely need to pee 5:53 p.m. CUT TO A NEW SCENE A dark skinned boy wearing a backpack paces back and forth. *Ooooh, the films gonna fly now…this kids moving around! 5:55 p.m. Still pacing *So hard to find my way, now that I’m all on my own. I saw you just the other day….oh my, how you had grown… 5:58p.m. The kid stopped pacing and is staring with his back to camera. A bus appears at the top left part of the screen and rumbles slowly towards the bottom right. The woman in front of me puts her jacket on. *Hah! Another one biting the dust. I shall reign supreme! Is that a short bus? I think it is… 5:59 p.m. In a surprise maneuver, a woman from the back gets up and leaves. I hadn’t even seen her back there. The bus is still approaching on-screen apparently. * Sweet! Bonus walkout! 6:01 p.m. The bus pulls up off-screen to the right. The doors open and the kid gets on the bus. *I wish I could catch a bus. I gotta take a leak. 6:02 p.m. We’re still staring at the same shot but there’s no kid 6:03 p.m. CUT TO…INTERMISSION!! A young kid sings a warbly song. He (or she) keeps messing up the words or the chords. The word “INTERMISSION” is written in white on a black screen. *It’s just me and 2 other people. Are they drunk? No one even has to go to the bathroom? This may be harder than I had anticipated. 6:06 p.m. The following are all the words I made out of the word “INTERMISSION” mission, sion, simon, simone, noise, tier,miss, trime, time, rim, rims, Mir, tins, in, term, s**t, tin, 6:09 p.m. Same horrible song, same word onscreem *O.K…I gotta pee. This song sucks. It’s hard to write in the dark. I haven’t played boggle in years. 6:11 p.m. Same ole crap. Man in front of me sneezes. *Got. To. Pee. Got. To. Pee.Got. To. Pee.Got. To. Pee. 6:13 p.m. CUT TO NEW SCENE Two kids are in a small pool of water in the forest. They have their faces in the water and seem to be looking at something. A waterfall trickles in the background. *That waterfall is killing me. I gotta take a leak. 6:14 p.m. Same scene onscreen but I cannot hold it any more. I get up to go to the bathroom. Once outside the screening a lady says, “Can we turn it off now?” “What?” I say. “You were the last one, right. We can turn it off.” At this point I started to really resent the fact that I had been watching this film. Rage started to burn inside me for the simple fact that someone made a pretentious, uninteresting piece of film and I was dumb enough to keep sitting through it. I told the woman there was still two people in there and I went to the bathroom. After that, I left the theater. I conceded my game to the 2 remaining people and I don’t know what happened after I left. “Pine Flat” is boring and annoying. It’s the kind of film that seeks to make you feel dumb by “not getting it.” The shots are not composes particularly well and watching this film is akin to Chinese water torture. Don’t try and outlast “Pine Flat,” it will win in the end.

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