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TSPDT 2013: Empire

Posted by martinteller on March 22, 2013

Before I started this, I was faced with a dilemma.  Watch the full 8-hour version, or the truncated 1-hour version?  On the one hand I wanted to have the full experience, to really earn the right to say “I watched Empire.”  On the other hand, give me a break.  Fortunately, the internet decided for me, only the shorter version was available.  Whew, dodged a bullet there.  So without further ado, here are my thoughts — recorded as they happened — while watching an hour static shot of the Empire State Building at night:


There must be at least a few people in there.  Janitors and whatnot.  I wonder if any of them know what’s going on, that they will be part of a pop culture/art world phenomenon.

Is it too obvious to point out how phallic this is?

6 minutes, 48 seconds in.

I kind of respect the purity of this endeavor.

What is that light that suddenly blinked and came to life?  A window?  The blink was too even.  It must mean something, but what?

I wonder if Warhol watched King Kong as prep for this.

10 minutes down.

I think I’ll order a pizza tonight.  New York is famous for pizza.  I’m a Chicago boy.  I’ve never had genuine New York pizza, but I’ve had New York style pizza.  It’s good, I like it… but give me a Giordano’s stuffed any day of the week and I’m a happy camper.

Were the lights streaking like that before?

Curse those bastards at TSPDT for subjecting me to this.  I know it’s not really their fault that other people put it on their lists, but goddamn.

I remember reading about this movie in “The Book of Lists,” on a list of the longest movies.  All these years I had the impression that there were different angles of the building, I never knew it was just one shot.  That was a cool book.

Hey, there’s a “New Book of Lists”… I should check that out.

Oh shit, that light went out while I was looking that up.  Should I rewind Empire?  Would that be a first?

43 minutes left.

Now the light blinked back into life again.  Is it even part of the ESB, or is it another building?  Too dark to tell.

Paused the movie to answer an asinine email from my wife.  Why didn’t I just leave it running?  Afraid I’ll miss something?

I feel like doing this means I’m an idiot.  Maybe I’m suffering for my art.

I wonder if the occasional flares are lights from passing cars, or just a faulty transfer.  Bad film stock, maybe.

How the hell am i going to give this a rating?  What’s the point?  How meaningless is my existence right now?  Is that the goal, Andy?  To get me doubting the choices I’ve made in life that brought me to this point?  If so… well played.

OMG another email.  I swear she’s being deliberately dumb to torment me.

Halfway done.

I could write a bunch of stuff about how artistically significant this is and what it means for cinema… and I’d mean it, too.  But this is more fun.

Pepperoni and mushroom, I think.  A classic combination.

Yep, it’s still the Empire State Building.

I’m not really getting in the spirit of this by opening up the iPad every few minutes to take notes.  I feel guilty.

Someone might be having sex in there.  Would that make this a porno?  No, that’s dumb on every level, scratch that.

No matter what, this is still better than Empire Records.  At least I don’t have to hear the fucking Gin Blossoms.

I’m bummed that Weerasethakul is one of the people responsible for this being on the list.

10 minutes left.

Another email.  She finally got a clue.  Sheesh.

That light went out again.  Bye bye little light… oh wait, it’s back!  Drama!

Fleeting thought of 9/11.  Never forget.

My vacation is almost over.  Technically it’s just a weekend now.

I gotta pee. Good thing there’s only 2 minutes left.

Makes me sad that the Sears Tower got renamed.  Sears Tower is way cooler than this.



As far as a rating, I’m going straight down the middle.  I like the concept, I do think it’s important that people stretch the boundaries and get people to think.  But as entertainment, well, you know.  Rating: Poor (50)


6 Responses to “TSPDT 2013: Empire”

  1. I was laughing all throughout this “review”. Great job. And I commend you for watching this one, but I don’t think I ever will. I simply do not have the patience.

  2. JamDenTel said

    Yeah, this my favorite of any review you’ve yet written…the bit about this maybe being a porno had me laughing out loud.

  3. Brian said

    Hey Martin! Just found your blog today and as a big TSPDT fan (I’ve made significant gains on their 21st Century 1000 list; still under 2000 on the Greatest 1000) really enjoying exploring your writings. Doing some casual reading up on Empire I came across this article I thought you’d enjoy:

    • Welcome Brian! Thanks for the link, it was very interesting! I don’t disagree with anything the author said, but still… I don’t think I’d ever want to do the full 8 hours.

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