Today, Work on Monday takes a slightly different turn with a look at “Time,” a short student film made by East Hampton High School senior Brian Pucci. The piece placed third among high school films in Guild Hall’s 10th Annual Student Film Project, and it was screened there over the weekend.
Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.
Brian Pucci (East Hampton, b. 1995)
Keeping in mind that Pucci is a young student filmmaker and “Time” is his first foray, at least publicly, into the world of art film, he’s done a wonderful job. Pucci’s previous film experience comprises numerous entertaining skateboard videos demonstrating tricks, cruising around and having a few laughs. With “Time,” the filmmaker stepped outside his comfort zone and allowed his vulnerability to show through.
Set to Tommy James and the Shondells haunting and nostalgic hit “Crimson and Clover,” Pucci’s composition of black and white images is a narrative about death and the complications and frailty of life on the way to the inevitable. The filmmaker presents beautiful multiple exposures, silhouettes and time-lapse footage of the sea and clouds around Cedar Point Lighthouse in East Hampton, where his subject (likely Pucci himself) makes a final attempt to outplay death.
“Time” makes the most of its soundtrack as its main character paces the beach, throws rocks into the bay and says goodbye to a beautiful life. All the while a hooded and faceless “Death” figure follows just a few steps behind, until they meet over a game of chess. Death, of course, triumphs and ends the young man’s life with a tap on the shoulder, leaving the dark figure standing alone with clouds passing swiftly behind him.
Pucci clearly understands metaphor and the film is dense with imagery about death and the passage of time. Whether it’s the chess game symbolizing man’s constant battle to outmaneuver death, the time-lapse sea and sky that literally show time passing swiftly, or the more subtle sunset, Pucci’s message is crystal clear. In fact, there are times the film seems to bang its viewer over the head with its concept, but that can be chalked up to Pucci’s age and inexperience. Instead of trusting the sophistication of his viewer and the power of his more deft and subtle symbolism, the filmmaker presents multiple time-related icons—including a clock, sundial and an hourglass—when just one would have been sufficient.
On the other hand, Pucci’s footage of a gull flying against the wind, and hermit crabs slowly traversing a desolate beach while the world moves quickly around them, is wonderfully subtle and worthy of deeper consideration. Further, the crabs mirror Pucci’s central character, with their rocky beach closely resembling the rocks and sand where the boy spends his last moments.
This film marks an excellent start to what could be a lifetime of brilliant filmmaking for Pucci. The few weaknesses in “Time” are classic vestiges of the young artist, not evidence of poor instincts or a misguided sensibility. Let’s hope Brian Pucci continues to build his artistic film repertoire as fervently as his entertaining skateboarding catalogue.
Watch “Time” below and tell us what you think! Click Here to see Brian Pucci’s other films on Vimeo.