By Matt Zoller Seitz
What is cinema? André Bazin published a book of essays that tried to answer that question. But if somebody asked me for the short answer, I'd advise them to visit EternalMoonwalk.com. Seriously.
On first glance, the site seems little more than a poignant goof: a tribute to the late Michael Jackson that draws its inspiration from the John F. Kennedy memorial in Washington, D.C., with its eternal flame—but instead of a flame that never goes out, it's a video loop featuring variations on the Gloved One's signature move.
But it's more than that. In addition to being diabolically mesmerizing—between the array of clips and the faintly "Billie Jean"-like backbeat, one tends to lose track of time staring at the damned thing—Eternal Moonwalk is also an incidental tutorial in the basic properties of cinema. It returns motion pictures to their origin point, when the medium's core appeal was the chance to watch strangers performing, their bodies moving from Point A to Point B, their familiar or amusing actions serving as an emotional connection point, a reminder that we're members of the same species inhabiting the same small world.
A Brooklyn-based filmmaker and the founder of The House Next Door, Matt Zoller Seitz is IFC.com's guest critic for the month of July. You can read the rest of this column by clicking here.