Craig Baldwin is a fascinating filmmaker, creating narratives from clips culled from both obscure and celebrated works of cinema. It’s a method that lends itself to creating some very interesting if albeit occasionally hard to follow works. Mock-Up on Mu is yet another film of his that follows this pattern.
Taking as its basis several characters from the birth of the modern American space industry and the southern California occult scene, including L. Ron Hubbard, Jack Parsons, and Marjorie Cameron, Mock-Up on Mu weaves together its footage to create a fascinating story. Touching on Scientology, memory, and the commercialization of space the movie is a great example of both the power and drawbacks of Baldwins style. Using the juxtaposition of the clips and the recorded audio lends itself to some really humorous moments.
I think that’s the secret to why I enjoyed this movie as much as I did, it has a pretty sneaky and sly sense of humor. In particular the dialogue from Marjorie Cameron who speaks mostly in movie titles which tend to be great at provoking a laugh based on the situation. There’s also the humor inherent using certain clips during certain parts. It’s also a fascinating exercise in taking the familiar and twisting it. It’s a sort of remix of a movie, really pushing what the medium can do but that means watching it at times can feel like an academic exercise. If you miss moments it becomes quite hard to follow.
It is this that shows the failings of the style that Baldwin employs. Much like the previous film of his that I’d seen Spectres of the Spectrum, the difference between the relatively normal dialogue and the montage of different film styles can make it difficult to follow the plot. With the fever dream logic that the film seems to function on this can often make it hard to parse the goal of the film. You sort of have to be willing to just absorb the images and sounds coming at you.
In the end though I think I fall more on the positive side with the ambitiousness of the movie winning me over. Baldwins style is just fun, it’s fun to see what clip Baldwin will pull up next and his dialogue is absorbing in the best kind of way. Yes, his style has problems but it is undeniably his style. This is a movie well worth seeking out and watching.
Directed by Craig Baldwin
Starring: Stoney Burke, Jeri Lynn Cohen, Damon Packard, and Kalman Spelletich