Reviews written by registered user
|7 reviews in total|
Having previously seen "Pro urodov i ljudej" in glorious sepia, I was already familiar with the idiosyncratic world of Balabanov, very much akin to Caro and Jeunet's vision of mankind in their similarly bleak rendition of emotional down-spiraling. Constructed as a simile of a theme with many variations, recurring and developing throughout the film, this superbly shot black and white gem could have been shot in the 50s or the 70s or the 90s - so simple and so powerful are its characters and circumstances. The continuous attempts to fit in, to find one's niche in the empty and desolate landscape of a somewhat modern, but clearly abandoned city constitute the narrative, punctuated by eccentric yet very realistic characters some of whom we only hear. Simple events can turn out to be phantasmagorias, and the most unusual noises and visual sequences reveal to be but a look from aside. Camera-work is mesmerizing - the sequences in the dark foyer, the crane shot over the city near the end of the film, as well as the ending - are simply stunning. Fans of Raoul Ruiz, Caro and Jeunet - this is a must-see film!
I am not sure why the other commentators chose to re-tell the plot albeit sparingly, when it is one of the few pleasures of the film to watch the "sudden" twists and adventures of the characters on the run amidst the chaos. The script itself is reminiscent of Stoppard's Goldenstern and Rosencrantz, where second-plan characters take center stage while we can still guess the main characters in the background - now there, the nice reason to watch the movie as you get a glimpse of many historical personalities that are absolutely marginal to this particular plot. The nostalgic feeling that the movie is mocking ever so gently permeates every frame, yet you can be assured that it is very respectful. There are so many superb ironic scenes (watch what keeps happening to the manuscript!). There is a similar movie by Nikita Mikhalkov "Slave of Love" (Raba lyubvi), about an actress caught in the chaos of war (the Civil War in Russia) - almost a perfect companion piece. Highly recommended.
Imagine yourself as a world traveler, who wants to see the world, who is looking for a love of the woman. Imagine you have no money, but great personality, artistic skills and curiosity. Imagine there is a soundtrack and a digital camera which sees everything you see, maybe even the way you see it. Part-dynamic digital photography, part-Discovery Channel, part-VH1, part-Arts and Entertainment, it is hard to nail an appropriate label for this gem of visual artistry. Clearly following the path of Dziga Vertov and Jean Vigo, Sig Zag aka Siegfried created a very personal, yet universal travelogue of our world (or at least three continents). We cross Spain, Portugal, France, Hungary, Russia, Japan, Egypt etc. We see faces of the children, men and women, old and young, beautiful and strange traffic patterns, we travel on trains, planes and automobiles, we become hostages to the Chechen guerrillas, beaten up by the airport security - you have to see it to appreciate the chance to get fully immersed in Sig Zag's vision of the world. Roschdy Zem (or, Le Rosch) is absolutely phenomenal in this excrutiatingly personal film - it is hard to lie with a camera literally in his face, relentlessly up close. Highly recommended - not for home viewing, as everything may distract from this extremely nuanced and finely tuned film.
Having just finished watching this movie for the third time on a recently released in France DVD, I feel an obligation to recommend this movie wholeheartedly and unreservedly to any movie buff. The sheer visual brilliance of this oeuvre will retain your imagination for many days to come, let alone the mesmerizing and murderous child who eats nothing but garlic. Granted, the movie's plotline is very uneven - but then Mr. Ruiz was writing the next installment of the script the day before shooting it. Two crews were working on this film: one filming the actors and another one patiently waiting for the appropriate view of the island and the sea. An artist was employed to paint on a glass through which the sea was shot (all this information is narrated by Mr. Ruiz himself in a bonus interview on the DVD). The camera work is characteristically virtouso, with elaborate long shots that defy all laws of possibility and very impressive editing.
Just another note on the subject: a first ever full translation of the
medieval book: Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (the strife of love in dream)
just been published.
Here is the description of the book: The first, complete, English-language translation in five hundred years of one of the world's most compelling fantasies. It is hard to believe that one of the most famous books in the world, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, read by every Renaissance intellectual and referred to and revered in studies of art and culture ever since, has never appeared in full in English. One reason, no doubt, is the length and difficulty of the text. It is a strange, pagan, pedantic, erotic, allegorical, mythological romance relating in highly stylized Italian the quest of Poliphilo for his beloved Polia. The author (presumed to be Francesco Colonna, a friar of dubious reputation) was obsessed--one might say sexually obsessed--by architecture, and the book's 174 woodcuts are a primary source for Renaissance ideas on both buildings and gardens. In 1592 a beginning was made to produce an English version but the translator gave up part way. Now, at last, the task has been triumphantly performed by Joscelyn Godwin, who succeeds in reproducing all the wayward charm and arcane learning of the book in language accessible to the modern reader. Printed in the same size and format as the original, the book includes all the woodcuts and has a substantial introduction by Professor Godwin. Its appearance is a publishing event, filling a notorious gap in every academic library, in the collections of scholars, and on the bookshelves of everyone interested in the history of Western culture.
The title of the movie may be misleading for a person who is about to see
the movie, but once the movie is seen, the sentimental value of the small
radio player becomes much clearer. The movie has been described as
musical, Thai soap opera, etc. It may be all that, but it is never just
that. The very first opening shot of the movie will convince you that the
image is the work of the true artist.
As the movie progresses, the "art" slowly transforms into "life, and nothing but". The pace, images, story line - all reflect the slow disappearance of the "movie storytelling" and ever growing realism. True, it is more convenient to see poverty through the wide lens with lush soundtrack, but this script superbly mastered the art of walking on the edges of all the genres without falling into any one of them. It is a "must see" to appreciate superb acting, beautiful cinematography, very ironic, but never sarcastic, look at life of two young Thai lovers and the convoluted ordeals through which life (or was it the script author? :) ) led them.
This superb exercise in combinatorics demonstrates the cinematographic power of Raoul Ruiz. A black and white prelude to the movie sets up the tone and announces the intent to tell nine stories, all marked with letters of alphabet, with the subsequent permutations of these stories. Not only the plotlines get mutated and re-ordered, so do the actors, hats, beards, accents, manners - in short, whatever MAY identify an actor in a role ceases to be such an identifier. The plot itself becomes a mystery, since there are parallel searches for the treasure, the map of treasure, which as we learn is a treasure in itself, a coin, a kidnapped father etc. etc. etc. The camera work is breathtaking. From the very first tale, where camera makes a full circle around a reading monk while the surroundings change from daytime to nighttime (all in one take), to the very end where the same woman appears both in a coffin and on a tree, as well as a free spirit. One can only feel happy to hang on to one's good senses immediately after the dazzling story twists and visual bravura. It would be foolish even to dare think of "getting it" in one screening. This movie, filled with visual, verbal and audio gags must be seen numerous times. Knowledge of French would be beneficial since the subtitles cannot convey the semantic depth of Ruiz's sharp and tornado-like dialogues (e.g. when asked about the cause of death, the character responds that the deceased just had a "crise de foi(e)", which is either "liver deficiency" or "crisis of faith" depends on what one hears :) ) If you have enjoyed the visual luxury of Le Temps retrouve, you would be dazzled by Combat d'amour. The only thing that I find missing is Catherine Deneuve or Gerard Depardieu, the only two names that can practically force distributors to buy this movie. Just like Donald Sutherland almost single-handedly brought Canadian taxbreaks to thousands of American and Canadian movies, the French government should oblige the abovementioned "godparents" to appear in almost every French movie, making them exportable and distributable :)