Georg Koszulinski (Cracker Crazy, Immokalee USA and Silent Voyeur) is a filmmaker that I have grown relatively familiar with over the past couple of years. This being the fourth film of his that I have watched and written on, it is interesting to see him grow as a filmmaker and the way he demolishes cinematic concepts. A Highway Called 301 isn’t really what one would commonly picture a "documentary" being. In fact, I would venture to say that it has more in common with concepts and artforms outside of cinema than it does any one particular genre. A dissertation, parable or poetry would all seem more fitting titles for this cinematic endeavor. Taken as an exploration of a lost culture, Koszulinski crafts a thick and indiscernible amount of philosophical roughage to browse through in order to better understand his meaning. A Highway Called 301 ostensibly seems like easy enough content, a documentary examining a long stretch of highway featuring numerous abandoned businesses and buildings, the psychological and social examination from a academic level makes the picture difficult to navigate, but very much its own film.
Clocking in just over the fifty minute mark, the movie borders between being a long short-form presentation and a feature length film. Koszulinski seems more intrigued by delving into mood and atmosphere with this piece than in any of his other work. For the most part the film focuses on a visual flow and sparse narration that is usually built around a puzzle-like logic. The film develops a theory based upon "Archi-Textures", which seems to be the examination of this lost culture that has developed due to Highway 301 (a highway that travels down the South-East coast) being somewhat abandoned. The filmmakers break up this concept of Archi-Textures into four seperate categories and visuals that are deemed worthy of our interest. Grids, Portals, Membranes and Strange Totems are the main objects here. Grids being the primary components for any given structure, portals are windows or any space where light can pass through, membranes are the horizontal space where human evidence meets the Earth’s surface and strange totems (incoherent texts) are signs, monuments or any artifact that shows the remnants of human communications. As you can see, the film takes its meaning as a mix of documentary ideas and a study on these historical monuments that have fatigued into nothing as true pieces of a lost civilization. In that sense, the filmmaker crafts his film almost as if he were speaking from the future tense.
It is not always a film that speaks entirely clear for its audience, but like most of Koszulinski’s work it most assuredly remains interesting and engaging. Featuring a wealth of visual scenery for the audience to feast upon, the film shows a beauty in decay that one might not normally pay attention to. Showcasing still photography as well as video footage, there is rarely a shot that doesn’t feature some form of spectacular scenery and beauty. Koszulinski shows an eye for the natural and unnatural beauties of the world. A Highway Called 301 may suffer from some pretensions, I don’t think you could really deny that but I will say that just because a work is difficult does not make it unworthy. It is a project that is hard to wrap your head around, but it is never without ideas. From philosophical banter about cinema and culture, the death of American civilization, the blase abandonment of tradition, America’s "now, now, now" fixation and the inevitable leaving behind of culture in the wake of all things renovated and new… Georg Koszulinski has a lot on his mind. If you want to read more about the film visit the official website at http://www.substreamfilms.com.