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Film: Discovering a Cinematic Gem

By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES April 2016 online

Drawing by Henry P. Raleigh

You might have noticed in passing a film that recently made it’s brief, unobtrusive presence during that period of time we call the Holiday Season. Yet concealed behind a facade of familiar seasonal symbols there lies hidden the great genius of filmic art. It remains for this modest critic to begin the uncovering of the filmic riches there in, hoping to open the doors for later, penetrating analysis.

Oh, at first I paid little attention, recalling idly that it had been preceded, prophetically as it turned out, by “A Fireplace For Your Home” in 2010. Consisting of three sixty-minute installments. Episodes as these were called, all were identical, showing a fireplace and an arrangement of burning logs. Two episodes were accompanied by appropriate music, one featured crackles and snaps alone. Strangely the placement of the logs gave prominence to a single top log, which unlike the others, lay at a diagonal pointing insistently at the viewer. I came to understand this as the direction, a forecast if you will, for the 2015 film “Fireplace 4K Classic Crackling For Your Home In UHDK”. Five years had not altered in the slightest the 2010 mise-en-scene unwavering frontal symmetry, indeed as classic as a Greek temple, an Egyptian pyramid. Still there is a subtle change yet staggering in its impact. There are now TWO DIAGONALS positioned on top of the log pile, one left, one right they converge towards the viewer like a speeding projective. They demand, compel your attention. And, not without trepidation, we turn to the second of 2015. In 4K Ultra Hd, mysteriously coded as the first it is titled “Fireplace 4K Birchwood Fireplace” a seemingly cheery message claims this is a yuletide fireplace that snaps and crackles in holiday warmth. But this is not really the case for looking closely we find a chilling warning. The logs, once stacked neatly not appear laid hastily, helter-skelter, a single diagonal piece tipped precariously down- a descent into what? We ask- tragedy? Disaster? This is the work of a master filmmaker now inviting, now pushing away. The snaps and crackles are ominous, gunfire? At the end of their allotted sixty minutes each burns down to primordial ash, the finality of eternal dust. Is that what this maker, both producer and director tells us? The identity clearly may not be known until the next holiday season. We must wait.