A few days ago, Spike Lee premiered his latest movie. Not Da Five Bloods, coming to Netflix next month, without stopping at Cannes, but a three-minute movie he unveiled on Instagram called New York, New York. Lee calls his film “a love letter to [the city’s] people. Plain and simple”. But it’s not as plain and simple as all that.
Although, the film is only three and a half minutes long, I’m calling it a city symphony, and here’s why. For one thing, the movie is cut to music, Frank Sinatra singing the familiar song ‘New York, New York’ – and Lee’s montage is always on point.
Hipster-favoured photo-sharing service Instagram introduced a video option some weeks ago. It soon became clear that the square-format clips, up to 15 seconds in length, are better suited to visual-led material than talkie stuff. It’s not a great medium for recording a monologue, less still a conversation, but it’s a wonderful way to capture the impact of moving pictures. It’s like the early days of film, all over again in 2013.
I have chosen a few Instavids that have caught my eye so far. All of these “work” as silent films, even though most have ambient sound, and occasionally speech. Some of them even tell a story. They’re all pretty gorgeous too – Instagram’s filter options make it easier to put a sheen on your clips – although a few of these are strictly #nofilter.