|Index||10 reviews in total|
My monthly FilmMovement selection arrived today, I put it in the
player, and I was blown away. The American title is "Found Memories",
which seemed quite appropriate for this mesmerizing film.
It brought back memories of afternoons in the darkroom, playing with high and low contrast paper and double exposures, the weird smell of the photography chemicals in my nostrils, and the low red light. It brought back memories of sitting very quietly behind a door when I was supposed to be in bed, listening to my grandparents tell stories about their youth. It brought back memories of going through boxes of old snapshots found in my grandparents' attic, occasionally stopping to ask "Gramma, what's this?"
Old and new gadgets exist side by side in the film without comment. One camera is a Digital SLR, but the others are pinhole cameras of various construction. Once, the exposure of one of the pinhole cameras is timed with a smart-phone. Recorded music comes from both an old un-amplified gramophone and a pocket digital player with ear-buds and no moving parts.
If there's a constant running through the cinematography, it's abstract patterns and textures: the combination of rust and dust on a decaying mirror, stains and rust on an old bathtub, worn paint, greenery growing through railroad track ballast, ancient clothing with faded printed patterns, heavily weathered wrought iron, abandoned railroad sleeper cars with their regular windows, unexpected angles of light, and paint peeling away to reveal all the different colors the car once was, handmade pottery, an egg being cracked open, a tracery of cracks on an old concrete wall, and on and on. The variations in color are amazing. When there's a wooden kitchen work surface with pottery bowls -some raw and some painted- and baskets and old metal cannisters filled with rough flour and fresh eggs making bread dough, in a faded and stained kitchen that's almost open to the elements, all illuminated by a kerosene lantern, everything is some shade of brown. There must be several hundred different shades of brown, and the film captures them all; point to any area of the screen and try to find that exact color shade again somewhere else, and you can't. Silence and darkness are foregrounded here too, mostly indirectly but once or twice explicitly; six lines of dialog often fills a minute or two of screen time. It was like being in a master photography class, with every scene of the film being one of the example photos.
Often cinematographers have a strong suit: landscapes, or architecture, or people, or... But here everything gets the same exquisite treatment. Just a simple old building, with three openings and a bench outside, the openings painted green and the the walls painted mostly yellow, with a reddish stripe and a brownish stripe, fully occupied the frame and my attention. The lingering, loving, almost caressing closeups of ancient crinkled faces are astounding.
Since the dictum to "hold still" isn't taken very seriously, the results from the pinhole cameras are prints that are sometimes ghostly and often beautiful in unexpected ways. We see those prints being developed and dried, and eventually rummaged through by some of the characters. One would expect those prints to be throw-away props, mocked up to be just good enough to forward the narrative. In fact they're much more. I've seen photographs in museum shows that weren't as good as those prints.
I don't know if the director Julie Murat or the cinematographer Lucio Bonelli should get the main credit here; I suspect though it's the combination, with the whole being more than the sum of the parts.
The premise and narrative are simple -even slight- sort of "Groundhog Day" meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez, something you'd expect to find in a sci-fi treatment rather than a nostalgia treatment. There's not much profound philosophy here. (And I suspect being "old" myself made it easier for me to tune in to the film's wavelength.) If it was just about "getting the point across", it could easily have been done in only thirty minutes. But it's something else, something I can only sorta describe as "visual poetry".
This film is a beautifully photographed fable about a ghost village where no one has died since 1976, and where old people are stuck in their memories - until the arrival of a young female photographer changes things. It is also a melancholy ode to the heydays of the coffee plantations in the Paraíba Valley, once the symbol of Brazil, and a flourishing region that prospered thanks to its coffee plantations, but now a derelict region full of empty estates and ghost towns. This wonderfully touching and melancholic story is beautifully shot, sweet and sour, honest and heart-warming. It shows Brazil as a country with many realities, and reflects one of these realities, one that often remains untold. The film is very well acted, slow at some points, but it definitely stays with you after it ends. It is also a fantastic reflection on the passage of time, a poetic, humble film about the last people left in this small village, people full of hidden memories and set in their ways. As the worlds of the young and old intertwine, the dichotomies between resistance and understanding, and between labor and art begin to fade (like the old photographs hanging on Madalena's walls). Through a growing relationship, each teaches the other about life and about the importance of not letting it slip away. A real gem!
This Brazilian film has some amazing cinematography, including several scenes seemingly lit only by lantern that are truly unique and impressive. I don't know how the DP pulled it off, but I'd like to know! It's about a small, dying community in rural Brazil where only the old-timers remain, due to death or diaspora. The setting seems from another century until a very modern city girl, infatuated with photography, arrives. Like other recent Brazilian films I've seen, this flirts with the language of magical-realism without resorting to it in any absolute way. However you interpret the narrative, the film implies that one's memories are only meaningful if one has someone else to subjectively interpret them- if one can become a story-teller. Indeed, time can only proceed if there is an other to testify to what has transpired, to what has been lost to time. Implicitly, then, life, being-in-the-world, is impossible without death or, as Derrida would say, unless there is an other to sift through the inheritance one leaves behind.
In the past I seldom got excited about watching a film with an entire
cast of ageing actors - until I came upon "Found Memories". With the
exception of one young actress, playing a visiting photograph from a
big city, the film consists of all old folks, many in frail health.
Life in this small village is repetitive, slow and mundane. And yet life goes on. Many of the ageing inhabitants have outlived their children, and past memories helped to fuel their will to live. The arrival of a young girl, a photographer, added a little bit of change to their otherwise uneventful lives. You sense the generation gap, and the gap between the past and the modern. But in the end this does not matter.
I could not help but care about some of the characters, and thought about them after the film is finished. Needless to say, I like this film a lot, and will be training my eyes on any future work by this brilliant Brazilian director Julia Murat.
I don't usually write film reviews but am doing so for Found Memories because the critical reviews and several user reviews seem to entirely miss the point, complaining that there is no plot, it's too slow, an anachronism etc. Some users commented on the ghostly beauty of the photographs taken by the young woman Rita and at least one person commented on the relationship that develops between Madalena and Rita. I think this film is brilliantly insightful about love, community, life and death. The pace of the film reminds us of how much we have lost in the fast paced modern world. Rita says she was born in the wrong time and doesn't have a sense of belonging anywhere. Madalena and Antonio,the town's baker and coffee brewer, have a quirky friendship. As the film unfolds, we learn that these two have both survived their children. The community has no young people and they fear death will completely eradicate the village. Rita brings hope and eventually the villagers warm to her as she begins making photos of people rather than just old artifacts and learns how to make bread with Rita. If you watch this film with your heart, not just with your eyes, you might discover how breathtaking and heartbreaking it really is, much like our lives.
Only rarely I'm absolutely stunned by a movie, the last time it was the
Iranian movie "woman without man" now it is this one. It is a movie
that stays in your head for a long, long time. No, not much is
happening making this movie unfit for the large public but as art movie
it is one of the best I have ever seen. The movie is as calm as the
life in the town, where the people "forgot to die". The appearance of
photographer Rita only makes a subtle difference. I will not give a
full description of the movie, others have done that very well for me,
but without giving away the plot, the references to death, the cemetery
and the ending of the movie make you wonder why Rita came to the town,
without the movie making it clear, you just can wonder for yourself.
Amazing visual poetry
Just one small question kept me wondering: How did Rita fit all those different camera's, chemicals, papers, etc in that small rucksack of hers
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The criticism and praise so far are all on point. Languid doesn't
describe the pace which makes French movies look like action flicks.
However...this might not be a spoiler but will label it so out of an abundance of caution... one scene is worth the wait... when Madelena finally poses, in the nude, and looking down, slowly, almost painfully, silently releases her tensed up arms to reveal her aging body at first with a sort of shame... then gradually raises her head and chin to look proudly then defiantly into the photographer's camera... you get an understanding of this old woman's strength... this one scene demonstrates what acting and direction can achieve...
"Found Memories" is not for everyone; it is for a very sensitive
audience and for those who are artistically open to an interpretation
of moments on screen which embody years of life of others. Other
reviewers are right by writing that you cannot expect everyone to
internalize such an emotional experience created with few words. The
way it represents other human life in a place far away and removed from
our lives appeals as a beautiful and very moving story we do not
usually touch or approach every day.
This particular script did it with a sparsity of words and an amplification of gorgeous visuals. The beauty of the images that came with it, whether shown through photographs or through the movie itself, come together like a fantastic reproduction of the concert that is life. It resonates with me long after the movie is over.
I applaud the screenwriters, the director and the brilliant actors.
Some films just beg to be shorter and this is definitely one of them. What you get with HISTORIAS QUE SO EXISTEM QUANDO LEMBRADAS is basically a glorified Twilight Zone premise stretched out to fit feature length: a young photographer arrives to a rural village in the Brazilian county-side full of old people where it's revealed that no one can die. It might have worked if it had been a short film but, as is, there's just not very much there. It never really moved beyond that premise with real plot. To fill up the time, they force in all these stray scenes of exchanges between the girl and the villagers--scenes full of cloying poetry and insights that would be better suited to a greeting card. The girl wanders around, takes some pinhole pictures, watches the villagers do their daily rituals of survival over and over and over again, etc. After an hour of this you just want to yell at the screen: "I GET IT! LIVING FOREVER AND BEING FORCED TO DO THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN IS BORING AND A HORRIBLE BURDEN!" What might have stood out or worked if it was say, a half hour, gets flattened to lullaby level of tedium in 100+ minutes. That's the dominant adjective for this movie: flat. It just never feels very organic. It's clearly a manufactured film with a manufactured narrative. The writing is very basic and exhaustingly formula driven. I was hoping it would take advantage of all the dark and shadowed possibilities its theme invites or become the real mystery that it promised to be...but there is no payoff. If it weren't for the very lovely lensing provided by Lisandro Alonso's usual cinematographer, Lucio Bonelli, I'm afraid the director wouldn't have much of a film at all. The visuals really do carry this thing. And the actors do a fine job, considering what little they have to work with. I really wanted to like this one, but I'm sorry to say it just put me to sleep. Maybe skip this one and seek out Bonelli's other work instead (like the gorgeous LIVERPOOL).
It's hard to find distinct words to describe this film so lacking in distinction. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but neither is there anything particularly profound or even aesthetically stark about it. Recently acquired by 'FILM MOVEMENT' in North America, I suppose Murat's HISTORIAS could be best summed up as a 'FILM MOVEMENT' sort of film. 'FILM MOVEMENT' characteristically tends to sell bland international films through its monthly subscription service that might otherwise struggle beyond the festival circuit. HISTORIAS is unfortunately such a film. It is the sort of slow moving, under-written, and blankly directed--but technically functional--film common to the world sidebars of film festivals desperate to pander to marginalized filmmakers, but that will most likely go unnoticed in the real world. The synopsis above is pretty succinct and complete--and that's really all you get. In a rural village in Brazil where the old folks no longer die and the village cemetery has been locked, a young female photographer happens upon them to challenge their tradition of immortality. If the parable seems generic it's because it is. Think Borges-lite, but in place of philosophical complexity and poetic subtly you instead get some armchair existentialism about living and dying and rather ham-fisted poetry and sophomoric metaphors. The use of the photographer character (come to show the geriatrics their world with a NEW EYE...get it?) as a story device is the sort of contrived symbology at work here. You get all the clichéd shots and scenarios you'd expect given the topic (camera chasing girl down corridors of the village's abandoned train...because they're STRANDED in time...get it?, or girl dancing for an entire scene to Franz Ferdinand on her ipod, because she's the YOUNG and vibrant contradiction to the immortals...get it?, etc.). The same conceit is underscored again and again until the film's makers exhaust it (and the audience) and stall at the expected climax to put the oldie immortals (and the film) out of their misery. There just aren't any 'ecstatic truths' in it, as Herzog would say, nor are there any real SCENES or points of interest, just the same juvenile ponderance (i.e. "What if we didn't die?") being cartoonishly and artlessly illustrated over and over without any culminating revelation. It's a rather formulaic and cliché abstraction that you can almost SEE being written in whatever screen writing workshop it was almost certainly born in. The direction is as clumsy and amateurish: the presence of the guiding voice just behind the camera is distractingly evident in most scenes (indeed many of the actors' performances seem like on-camera rehearsals) and the anchored-camera mise- en-scene often has the charmless arrangement common to TV production. There is some nice cinematography of the organically ornate Brazilian landscape and the old locals used (exploited?) for the story are compelling, but they make the film only accidentally interesting. The filmmakers may have made better use of both had they forgone their vain efforts of forcing a trite story upon the place and its people and simply made a sincere documentary instead of a forced narrative. As is, HISTORIAS wastes its very real village and its very real villagers for a story that is not worthy of them. Worth seeing if you want a few peripheral postcard peeks at life in the Brazilian countryside, otherwise not worth the 100 minutes it asks you to trade for it.
|External reviews||Official site||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|