what the fuck are we seeing?

as the weather gets warmer it makes less sense for some to spend their time sitting in a dark theater.  thats crazy. make movies a part of your life. feed that part of your brain.  

krisha (dir. trey edward shults)

krisha (dir. trey edward shults)

i made a strange choice on what feels like the sunniest day of the year-  i went to see krisha at 1pm at the nickelodeon today.  this is a unique, independent american drama that had a fairly limited release in the area and seems to be heading out of town as today is its last day playing at the nick, railroad square and evening star.  this movie is crazy powerful and i recommend seeking it out.  krisha articulates the pain of expectation within family dynamics, the pain of needing others, of substance abuse and mental illness and the inherent pressure of doing right by the ones you love.  horribly human and aching to its core, this is the kind of drama we don't really see in american cinema these days.  john cassevettes- and in particular a woman under the influence- is a potential touchstone, but really it reminded me of the kind of drama you might come across in scandenavian cinema- melodramas of ingmar bergman or more recently lars von trier or thomas vinterberg.  sweeping cinematography, highly personal performances from unknown actors and a unique and bracing score all work towards making this film feel more compelling than a mere actor pageant or therapy session.  i realize im not really getting into the plot too much but i want to save space for reactions to other films.  

river of fundament (dir. matthew barney)

river of fundament (dir. matthew barney)

a couple weeks ago i went in for the long-haul (6 hours plus two intermissions) with matthew barney's latest opus, river of fundament, and i came out pleasantly surprised.  less a vacant art piece and more visceral, textural and sensual than anything barney has put to screen yet in his career, river of fundament doesn't function in any narrative conventionalities but manages to satisfy anyway.  the sound design, music, costumes, production design, editing, and operatic performances all worked to create a spell so unique and transforming you kind of forget during the process that you really have no sense of what's going on.  id love to take it all in again- a viewing perhaps where i can absorb themes beyond spectacle but it seems unlikely this will screen again any time soon, and true to form barney isn't releasing his work in any home movie format. 

embrace of the serpent (dir. ciro guerra)

embrace of the serpent (dir. ciro guerra)

my favorite movie i've seen in a theater for some time was embrace of the serpent.  can we all talk about it?  i want to get better at taking notes of my thoughts during movies so i can get a little better at writing about them.  saying something other than "wow that was amazing".  this one has that wow factor down though.  the corruption of religion, of commerce, of cultural appropriation, and just the sickness of humanity- its all articulated with grace, sadness and cinematic beauty.  its been about a month since i've seen it and i cant get it out of my head and can't wait to see it again. 

son of saul

son of saul

although its such a cute room, i always forget that seeing a movie in the afternoon at frontier is kind of a pain. theres a window high up in that theater that lets some natural light in from the dining area and its really annoying. especially if you're watching something as dark, dreary and severe as holocaust drama son of saul at 2 in the afternoon.  winner of endless accolades i was surprised at how removed i felt from this film while watching it.  the film is shot mostly in close-up with an extreme, sharp focus, which suits its story of the main character and perhaps what i felt were the film's limitations as well. the story is of main character saul, attempting to give his son a proper jewish burial, and the search for a rabbi to say kaddish.  saul is numbed to his existence as a prisoner assigned to cleaning gas chambers in the concentration camp in which he resides.  he walks around as a ghost and is singularly obsessed with giving his son the type of cultural dignity in his death in a circumstance that otherwise calls only for survival.   even as other prisoners plan an elaborate escape of the camp in one of the film's most gut-wrenching and immediate scenes, saul's focus remains on that of his dead son, and his need for a kind of closure in the death of his offspring- the kind of closure that allows him to ultimately let his mind and body go.  my issue was really in how dour this film felt.  the narrow focus of the character, the narrow focus of the camera, the muted, drained color palate all kind of coalesced into an experience that almost felt too specific.  something i guess i crave in movies are the unknown- the chasing of the transcendent experience.  while son of saul contained a power, it didn't transcend its own framework for me, and despite being more coherent than some of the films mentioned above, it also felt less alive.

whats everyone else been seeing? what are some movies your looking forward to? 

what to check out in the coming weeks:

 

-midnight special(by director jeff nichols) at the nickelodeon. this looks to be a unique hybrid of sci-fi and family drama from the director of the brilliant take shelter, which like this movie stars oddball actor michael shannon. 

 

-francophonia (from director alexander sokurov)- one of the most experimental and celebrated filmmakers in russian cinema, this looks to be another bizarre mix of history, experimental narrative, documentary footage and lush cinematography- perfect for its museum setting.  ive been a fan of sokurov's work for a while and highly recommend checking this, his newest feature out when it plays at the pma on april 29, 30th and may 1st.

 

- speaking of russian cinema greats, solaris(the 1972 tarkovsky original) plays at railroad square in waterville on april 26th at 7pm. it will be shown in 35mm. 

 

see ya soon,

 

greg