Mock Up On Mu Dir. Craig Baldwin

[Other Cinema; 2009]

Cosmic rays fire micro-telescopic visions of swirling light in order to ignite the galactic space engines, which by transmitting wave signals through the spiraling golden orb exploits the lunar possibilities of the time-space continuum, which in effect transcends all reality and inspires a mass spiritual reawakening and the dawning of a new post-apocalyptic age.

This is roughly the experience of watching "collage-narrative" specialist Craig Baldwin's Mock Up On Mu, which aligns B-movie footage from various endearingly nouveau-tacky genres with newly-shot, live-action explorations of mythical cult figures of the last century. Re-organizing lowbrow artifacts into an avant-garde form is far from an original idea, but we're nonetheless taken on an exhilarating, hyperspeed joyride through America's alternative past. Mu works not because it successfully merges narrative and avant-garde film, but because in the future (enter Morpheus voice), you won't have to.

In fact, purely in terms of form, Mock Up On Mu most closely resembles the ubiquitous TV documentary, as even Baldwin admits his picture is not far from something you might find on the National Geographic or History Channel. But comparing Mu to cable television would be like comparing Coast to Coast to NPR. Baldwin approaches the format with such surreal, Dadaist anarchy that it's never entirely clear what in the name of L. Ron Hubbard we're watching. Regardless of its form, Mu is probably best experienced by simply surrendering yourself to its wash of images, as if you were a wide-eyed space kid experiencing the awe-inspiring power of a planetarium for the first time.

To be perfectly honest, watching Mock Up On Mu in its entirety is a pretty tough chore; Baldwin hurtles enough über-stimulating debris at his audience to last several light years. The inevitable exhaustion could potentially spoil the free-flowing spirit of the film; in fact, it's quite possible that Mu could work just as well on mute in the background. It's not all that difficult to envision it providing the accompanying imagery to a prog-rock cover band's live show, a bong-friendly ’60s-themed college party, or an intergalactic space rave on a colonized Jupiter. Nevertheless, sonic or silent, it's an invaluable work that amalgamates a massive swath of subcultures into its perfectly rendered miniature form. In other words, it's a totally kickass tiny mix tape.

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