An old VHS tape becomes a conduit for memories in the experimental essay film Stand by for Tape Back-up. Inspired by the synchronicity that comes from watching The Wizard of Oz, while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Ross Sutherland pulls out an old VHS cassette that he shared with his grandfather. Musing over clips from the likes of Ghostbusters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Crystal Maze, and the music video for Thriller, Sutherland connects the clips to memories from is own life.
Stand by for Tape Back-up is a highly experimental film, which reinterprets these old VHS clips into a rhythmic avant garde multimedia art piece. The VCR is used as the film’s main editing device, as Ross Sutherland will repeatedly rewind and fast-forward clips, while providing a highly philosophical narrative and even breaking into raps. Some of the things he does with these clips are quite effective, such as showing Slimer from Ghostbusters in slow motion, making the ghost look much more frightening, than it’s portrayed in the film.
It’s probably safe to say that Stand by for Tape Back-up is not a film for everyone. The heavy repetition in the film does does get a little frustrating at times, as we are forced to watch the same five minute sequence from the British game show The Crystal Maze countless times, each with a slightly different interpretation of the events. That said, it is somewhat interesting how these old VHS clips are used as a catalyst for Ross Sutherland to tell his life story. While Stand by for Tape Back-up is unlikely to be a film that I revisit, it was still a somewhat compelling and highly experimental viewing experience.
★ ★ ★ 1/2 | FAIR
- Fri, Apr 24, 6:15 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
- Sat, Apr 24, 1:00 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
- Sun, May 3, 6:45 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 3