As the Weiner Turns

Nicole Rayburn & Veronica Verkley, As the Weiner Turns, 36:30, 2014

As the Weiner Turns, Hotdog TV, Pit Dog Ferris Wheel, Weiner Fireplace – or whatever you want to call it – it is about the Pit Dog – it is The Westminster Hotel’s spinning hot dog machine, feeding the Dawson City’s Tavern hungry for decades past and decades to come. And we find it as mesmerizing, if not more, than all those ridiculous fireplace videos.

By Danny Ebert

The genius is not in how much Nicole Rayburn does in “As The Wiener Turns” but in how little. This is the work of an artist so sublimely confident that she doesn’t include a single shot simply to keep our attention. She reduces the scene to its essence, and leaves it on screen long enough for us to contemplate it, to inhabit it in our imaginations. She is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe.
We are asked to contemplate the process, to stand in space and watch. We know the hot dog machine. It proceeds as it must. And so, through a peculiar logic, the hardware moves slowly because it’s keeping the tempo of life. At the same time, there is an exaltation that helps us feel the majesty of the process. It is hot, frightening, magnificent.
It is impossible to describe the anticipation of the audience adequately. Rayburn has been working on the film in secrecy for some years, in collaboration with special-effects wizard Veronica Verkley. Fearing to eat hot dogs (eating only pickled eggs) and facing a deadline, Rayburn continued to edit the film during the holiday season. Now it finally is ready to be seen.
To describe that first screening as a disaster would be wrong, for many of those who remained until the end knew they had seen one of the greatest films ever made. But not everyone remained. Jimmy Gaddie stormed out, complaining, “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?” There were many other walkouts, (after happy hour) and some restlessness at the film’s slow pace
The film did not provide the clear narrative and easy entertainment cues the audience expected.

The closing sequences, with the astronaut inexplicably finding himself in a bedroom somewhere beyond Jupiter, were baffling. The overnight Klondike Sun judgment was that Rayburn had become derailed, that in his obsession with her set pieces, she had failed to make a movie.
What she had actually done was make a philosophical statement about man’s place in the universe, using images as those before her had used words, music or prayer. And she had made it in a way that invited us to contemplate it — not to experience it vicariously as entertainment, as we might in a good conventional film, but to stand outside it as a philosopher might, and think about it.
The film is willfully anti-narrative; there are no breathless dialogue passages. Instead, Rayburn shows us the minutiae of the hot dog: the design of the machine, the details of service, the effects of zeroness.
Man is confronted with the hot dog, and is drawn to a conclusion: This must have been made.
Later comes the famous “bun” sequence, a journey in which veteran character actor Blake Cameron (A Winter Plan) creates more emotion with his hands and a hot dog, than most actors do with a good script and an onion.
There is never an explanation of who left the hot dogs and provided food for the guests. “Weiner” lore suggests Rayburn and Verkley tried and failed to create plausible explanations. It is just as well. The hot dogs exist more effectively in negative space: We react to its presence more strongly than we possibly could to any actual representation.
“As the Weiner Turns” is in many respects a silent film. There are few conversations that could not be comprehended by sober people. Much of the dialogue exists only to show people talking to one another, without much regard to content. Ironically, the dialogue containing the most feeling comes from the hot dogs, as they pleads for their lives.’
Please see DVD liner for full review.

“The best weiner I’ve ever put in my mouth is a Pit weiner” ~ Dan Murray

Shot on Location: The Westminster Hotel Tavern/The Pit, Dawson City, Yukon

Special Thanks to:

The Westminster Hotel
Blake Cameron, for his fabulous shirts & great maneuvers
Wood Cutter Doug, for the soap-opera-esque title, As the Weiner Turns
Stephan Caffray, for his Pit Dog consumption
Dan Sokolowski, although we can’t remember why. oh – and his fabulous review!
All the Tavern folks & staff – wouldn’t have it any other way

As the Weiner Turns_Still

Nicole Rayburn 2015

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