Sundance Film Review: Station to Station

Posted January 27, 2015 in
Station to Station
The journey of light and sound through music and film. Film: Station to Station, Photo: Alayna VanDervort

Station to Station
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Doug Aitken

Station to Station is, essentially, a quilt of footage orchestrated by Director Doug Aitken on a train from the Atlantic to the Pacific over the course of 4,000 miles. Aitken introduced the film before the SLC Library Theatre screening as a synthesis of different artistic mediums that connect in a filmic juncture, which they initially ventured to shape into a traditional documentary but later decided to condense some of its different portions into 61 one-minute segments to convey certain points of the train’s journey. It’s definitely a concise and innovative way to deliver a lengthy adventure, and though it’s not particularly avant-garde—which isn’t a bad thing at all—the film functions as a fun panorama of different sorts of artists across the U.S. The chief type of artists that Station to Station features are musicians and bands, which includes Cold Cave, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, Suicide, Dan Deacon, Savages, No Age and Cat Power, to name a few in its cache of artists that seem to immediately speak to the white middle class of America, whose collective aesthetic initially makes the film come across as a bit “feel good.” The film eventually gets around to representing black artists/musicians as well, a third of the way through the film, with artists such as Black Monks of Mississippi, Kansas City Marching Cobras and Mavis Staples. Artists that I, personally, enjoyed whom I never heard of before are The Congos, Bloodbirds, THEESatisfaction and White Mystery (who dress like flower power hippies but play some pretty rad, noisy punk!). I didn’t feel that many Chican@s/Latin@s/Hispanics were particularly represented in a documentary with footage from across the U.S.A. going westward, which felt somewhat peculiar. Ultimately, Station to Station is a fun, alternative way to document travel, and it may well expose you to your next favorite band. –Alexander Ortega

Screening Times:
Time: Wednesday, Jan. 28 @ 6 p.m. Venue: Temple Theatre, Park City
Time: Saturday, Jan. 31 @ 9 p.m. Venue: Temple Theatre, Park City