A black screen: a circle appears on the left, with the image of a man seen on his back, and the sound of a drill. Then, a second circle on the right, identical; the man turns around, looks at us looking, turns back. The observer observed. The circles: the front door peephole of an apartment, doubled and turned into two giant eyes, observing through the hallway the front door of the neighbouring apartment and the hallway onto which it opens.
This is the essence of Doctor Korbes: a condensed, prolonged observation of the entrance to the filmmaker’s neighbour’s apartment. The observer, positioning us viewers as identical observers, is filmmaker Derek Howard. The neighbour an older man named Doctor Korbes, who invites prostitutes, runs into trouble with other tenants, collects too much junk, and eventually leaves. We witness it all without much context.
From the start, when a man rings the doorbell and gets no response, we get the sense something is the matter, something is going on. But we only catch bits and pieces, stolen conversation. When later the door is forced open, it becomes clear that things are going from bad to worse. The door is a witness to the series of visitors, a physical witness, suffering; several amendments follow.
The images in the two circles are the same most of the time, but often enough they are not. The differences are sometimes small but when for instance at the end, when the apartment is cleaned out, the differences are substantial; we see different objects carried out simultaneously. It’s an inventive visual form of temporal compaction.
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