Station to Station – Movie Review

station to station

Station to Station – Review by C.K. MacNamara

Director: Doug Aitken

Visual artist Doug Aitken pseudo-documentary of a coast to coast railway adventure attempts to take America’s cultural temperature by stopping at every station along the way to offer a one minute film slot to local artists to showcase their creativity, with seemingly no criteria or rules for entry.

Regardless of the question ‘what is art?’ the result is an unstructured mess of musical snippets and abstraction from the kinds of people one might expect to find loitering near train tracks. While it may claim to be a petri dish of coast to coast creativity, in reality a ‘cultural decline on wheels’ may be the more appropriate label.

Reducing it to a numbers game, the 60 minute showcase of one minute films hosts perhaps five shorts worth a casual glance, including a quick-fire auctioneer/singer performance and a scattering of enjoyable musical pieces. But these are the exceptions to the rule, sandwiched between amateur musicians and moody teens gazing out of train windows.

Far be it from a single reviewer to critique and dismiss what claims to be a microcosm of America’s entire cultural spectrum, but the universal themes of ego centric art pieces and pretentious ponderings comes across more as the film trying to assure itself of its merit rather than engaging with an actual audience. Anyone with experience in the art university scene knows only too well the demographic this kind of experimentation filmmaking attracts.

Overall, the actual film aspects of this film fall by the wayside in favour of abstraction. Shoehorning such a variety of music, ‘art’ and performances into a 60 minute cluster of shorts quickly anaesthetises the viewer to the merits of the individual clips as they flash by in a blur. The result is a cinematic train wreck that requires more effort on the part of the viewer in defusing the various elements than the creators themselves invested in the making of the film.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.