Some Thoughts After Viewing Steven Hinde’s ‘Love On The Airwaves’

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Some Thoughts After Viewing Steven Hinde’s ‘Love On The Airwaves’
“A woman’s voice on the radio can convince you you’re in love
A woman’s voice on the radio can convince you you’re alone”
Some Thoughts After Viewing Steven Hinde’s Love on the Airwaves
By Pablo D’Stair

To get it out the way in front, least my below riffing be wrongly colored with some kind of aggressive tint: I dug this little film, really enjoyed it. I liked the way it was photographed, paced, performed. Really nice little piece.

My thoughts, surrounding my viewing (or in fairness, my thoughts in a time close after viewing) got caught in a kind of roundabout loop, considerations on the short-form in the written-word and filmed medium.  And also they snagged in some version of that age old and somewhat sophomoric rhetorical of wondering what the primary difference is between filmed-medium and written-word, some version of ‘Does film rob the imaginative, interactive aspect of art from audience?’

Of course, in principle, it does not—this is a subjective sort of question, a Socratic impetus for a conversation the conversation is the purpose of, the conclusions moot and dull.

Yet, in specific instances (to be truthful) I do feel film can be a pacifier, a delivery method only, a stimulus that is not enlivened one way or another by action back toward it from those regarding it.

This film, Steven Hinde’s film: what is it?

See, as a short-story, were this a page, two page prose riff, I’d find more to it, more grounding, more of myself to bring.  As a short-film, though, I feel I am listening to somebody else’s take on something, wholly (in this case, someone else’s quaint joke, their light remark on a quasi-subject) anything I might be called on as audience, as thinking-entity, to bring of myself kind of made ill-belonging.

Were these words on a page, this scenario played out quick and simple, I would feel called on to supply something—atmosphere, description of face, of tone, pacing of delivery, to think of it either in abstacto or (I lack the Latin for this) in specifico, at my discretion. Would I, for example, even were I told in a prose-piece it was an older cab driver, paint the driver as he is depicted in the excellent (really, I dug it very very much, would have watched it for hours straight, just his face in this dark cab) performance by Max Cullen? Would I envision the assaults to the driver form the electronics exaggeratedly (would I give them physicality at all)? Would I flesh the world or leave it bare stage? Would I give the gadgets ‘gadget voices’ (whether the written word told me so or no) or would I give them human voices, tonalities, personalities? Would I make them both at once? Etc etc.?

I find myself thinking all this because (I do honestly feel) that beyond the quick joke of the film (dark and/or poignant as it may be) there is something more to the idea of it, some germ in it that is causing this flare up of fever thinking—but having had all of above queries (and more) supplied by director and performer, I feel that bringing an “analysis” to the ideas on display (if the ideas I feel could be there, are) really ridiculous, like it would be belaboring something, going on too much about an idea that only may or may ‘belong to the film’.

The film, everything presented to me as complete, leaves my mind (personally) sure with some questions about technology, kind of, or about the intersection of intimacy with progress blah blah blah. None of which do I think the film, as a film, is concerned with. I am concerned with them—thus, were it short prose, I would supply them along with everything else (as discussed above) and the fusion, the commingling of it all would be my experience. It would be about me.

Taken as just shy of five minutes of cinema, I am timid to do anything other than say ‘That’s there. Cool. Good work.’ Because, really, I wonder what there is for me, as audience, and what, if anything, the folks who produced the thing intended me to bring.

Written word actively requires audience to bring—no matter the pedigree of it, from fluff to pulp to high-art to self-indulgent blather (to wit: imagine the difference between reading my—yes, highly self-indulgent—remarks here, you having to supply a voice for me, a face, an attitude, versus seeing me speak in to a web cam or something, a ‘more fully rendered me’ there for you to regard and to consider my motives and attitudes from) while cinema only sometimes requires anything of an audience.

Truly, cinema at its best equals literature at its best, but other gradations are harder (for me, anyway) to get a finger on. Is the shoddiest novel, in principle, more ‘solid’ than the shoddiest film and (most interestingly to me) are films and written pieces not particularly remarkable in-and-of-themselves equal to each other in that unremarkability, is it the same thing one is ‘unremarking’ just because it doesn’t stir particularly engaged response?

Obviously, I tend to think not. And from this, there is a peculiar emptiness to me as a ‘creative audience’ (to borrow a phrase)—if a film does not require me…what then? I watch Love on the Airwaves and I like it. And I can say ‘I like it’ (or click a button indicating that I do) but to go much further…seems to be going a lot further.

I enjoy every component piece of this film and enjoy the whole, as well—yet the component pieces, removed and held individually, I like much more: the words (script) the actor’s performance, the color palate etc..  I can extricate the one from the other, remark on them—but something in knowing the one doesn’t exist without the other makes this feel (to me) like whistling in the dark.

Because (and I’ll end with this) being given specifics to react to does not, in itself, diminish something. Some things, indeed, can only be filmed. Which might be where my whole unsettledness lies.  I find myself wondering: Doesn’t a filmmaker, intrinsically, have the desire to present things that could only, only be presented as film—as doesn’t a painter, a sculptor, a writer—doesn’t an artist, principia, want to express in one way some thing, some specific thing, that can only be expressed that way?

The above film, which I very much like, runs about five minutes and seems to contain about five minutes, specifically, nothing for audience to add.  Nothing wrong with that. But just to leave a juxtaposition for enduring my rambling, I include the below—a short film running forty-five seconds, about as simple as can be, which (to me) contains an eternity, and one that could not be expressed at all except as Cinema and its components made irrevocably one.

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