Oddsac’s name, in my opinion, is very fitting. After witnessing the cinematic events unfold at the special screening at Varsity Theatre in Chapel Hill, Animal Collective’s “Visual Album” has left my mind opened with many odd impressions. (And no, I haven’t been doing any hard drugs. The good news is you don’t have to do drugs to “understand” the concept. I’ll explain later.)
Oddsac is an experimental film featuring psychedelic visuals and music by Animal Collective. However, don’t make the same mistake I did and assume it’s a string of music videos that mix seamlessly together for the entire fifty-four minutes. If I had to sum up my experience in one or two sentences, I would probably include the following phrases, “snippets of horror, Itunes visualizer, and classic Animal Collective sound.” All in all, I will admit I was a bit disappointed. The musical interludes of Animal Collective were short lived, pasted periodically amidst the chaotic splash of color, which at first were captivating, but then grew mundane. Instead of constant music, director Danny Perez, who worked closely with the band, chose to add periods of noise, crashes, screams, and everything in between.
Speaking from my film student perspective, I felt Perez’s strengths with Oddsac lay with his captivating live-action footage. There is a strong focus on nature itself, where we find the camera placed in the darkest of forests, beside the murkiest of waters, and stranded in a desert of stone. These are breathtaking spectacles, which are something to appreciate despite the confusion and short attention span of the film’s editing pace. After the screening, the audience was fortunate enough to hear from Danny Perez himself and the Geologist, electronic specialist of the band, who were present at the screening. Perez seemed to calm my uneasiness as I sought answers for the on-screen events. After an inquisitive student asked about the symbolism of the film, Perez reiterated his distaste for films that promote a message or agenda. Instead, the director expressed his view of the film as music. With music, a listener can hear the same song multiple times, but express different emotions each time he or she hears it. With narrative films, that message is locked into a single idea that cannot be manipulated or changed. Oddsac isn’t meant to press into a hidden or higher meaning. Instead, we can only open our minds to the film and take it for what it is.
For more information about future screenings, go to the film’s website.