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May Tomorrow Shine The Brightest Of All Your Many Days As It Will Be Your Last (2009) [Short Film] Titan (2010) [Short Film; Lior Shamriz] Victory Over The Sun (2007) [Short Film; Michael Robinson] You Don't Bring Me Flowers (2005) [Short Film; Michael Robinson] Holy Woods (2008) [Short Film; Cécile Fontaine] If You Stand With Your Back To The Slowing Of The Speed Of Light In Water (1997) [Short Film; Julie Murray] Rue Des Teinturiers (1979) [Short Film; Rose Lowder]
All Is Futile (Spoilers)
Kosmos (2010) = 10/10 Masterwork
All creation exists as an allegory of the soul: the microcosm and macrocosm form a (mystical) metonymy in which biblical events are interpreted and reformulated as phases in the development of the soul, and its relation to the phenomenal world. Kosmos (2010) by Reha Erdem is such an allegory, a parable of kosmic biblical proportion.
The film opens with inhuman howling winds whirling round and round over a white wintry snow-scape, and on its rounds the wind returns (Eccles 1.6), snowing the whole world over, shifting to night, with its hoary silver-gray sky menacing a vacant snow-scape, shifting to day again, a pure argent white snow-scape undisturbed and unperturbed by a background speck of movement, a lone feral-like man running breathlessly, at full speed towards white nothingness, wailing at whatever he's left behind - a vast boundless vacant snow-scape of white nothingness. But then the run ends at the snowed-over cliff, and he takes in the view, right out of an impressionistic painting: the outline of a snow-swept medieval town sculptured by the blizzard and hewed right out of the rocks of the valley, domes and spires of trees and serpentine roads completing the vista. The wind echoes, the sound of emptiness reverberates across all the corners of the earth, synclastically returning to this medieval town, hallowed out of the stones of the earth.
The man, among rocks, an up-heaving whorling wine-dark river tressilating impartially alongside him as he takes a knotted mess of money out his shoe. Catacoustical, tintinnabulating sounds of nature and mechanical melt into each other: fermenting water and crunching snow and echoing rocks spectrally intersecting with distant sounds of machinery and battle. A young girl, howling a wail, and the man, abandoning his wealth to the rocks, runs responds to the call: he runs into the ferocious slate ice-waves to save a child drifting unconscious in the water. Breathing the child back into life, he then collapses, his winded breathing the sound of a wounded animal.
The father of the young woman and the saved child, thanks the feral man, who responds by naturally articulating a verse from Ecclesiastes (9:2-9:5), and when asked his name, he replies, "Battal".
Battal, a prophet, a thaumaturgical, wild, feral man with a wondrously mellifluous voice flowing with honey, trilling ululations like a wolverine, his veriloquence enrapturing the townspeople just as Ecclesiastes has enraptured listeners and readers for over fifteen- hundred years. Most of his dialogue straight out of Ecclesiastes, a few bits come from the Book of Job and Song Of Songs.
Battal preaches to any and all, chases after three women (lonely exiled vespertine teacher, a woman with a handicapped leg, the equally wild and feral girl whose brother he saved), performs miracles (resurrects drowned boy, self-heals his cigarette burn, spirits out the infernal cough of an ailing old tailor, pleasures the teacher out of her migraines, guilts the boy who stole money from him into speaking again after being mute for a year), steals money to pay for sustenance but also giving the stolen money to others in need, howls like an animal in pursuit of Neptune, scales trees and roars ferociously and religiously peregrinates through the squalid, run down streets of the town where rabid dogs prowl and where buildings are vacant empty shells. Battal, wanderer, foreigner, hero, radical prophet, thief, wild animal, lover, healer, hedonistic, generous.
Howling wolves, cawing birds, water whirls harmoniously blend together, then a Mosque, medieval and fortified, tintinnabulations of bullet sprays bounce off the archaic bridge, a car with a coffin strapped on the roof drives by Battal, who has returned to the rocks to find his money. On his side of the river, the snow has all but melted. A sudden feminine trilling on the other side of the river, which is deeply ensheathed with snow, fills the day and Battal ululates back, chasing her as the gulf of turbulent river seethes and surges under the sun, their spontaneous intertwining whistling alarm-call crescendos as purely masculine and feminine and primitive and hymnal and delightful and sensual and fierce and stimulating as the sun and the moon and the river, reviving the life-breath and the animus-spirit and the flesh and the heart and the bone and the very colour and richness of the earth and life itself. Like the wind and the river, Battal and the girl are wild and unruly and run round and round and round.
And that is just the beginning.
Pieces of music by A Silver Mt. Zion rake through certain scenes like sunlight (or G-d's light...), the music a golden threnody of weltschmerz, the musicality evincing the sadness over the evils of the world that encapsulates the sum total of the mood of the film. Six pieces of music in the film are by A Silver Mt. Zion, and four of them are from a CD aptly titled He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms.
Kosmos (2010) laments the lack of faith that afflicts our modern world and the contemporary human, the lack of faith in existence, nature, humankind, the interconnectedness of the world.
Battal's dialogue is directly lifted from, in film order, Ecclesiastes 9:2-9:5, Ecclesiastes 3:16-3:20, Ecclesiastes 2:20-2:26, Song Of Songs (Solomon) 4:13-4:15, Song Of Songs (Solomon) 6:10, Ecclesiastes 11:2- 11:3, Ecclesiastes 7:29, Ecclesiastes 4:9-4:10, Ecclesiastes 4:11, Ecclesiastes 5:2, Job 15:14, Job 22:14
I wanted to build upon the fantastic user comment submitted by gradyharp, a comment all potential viewers should read before viewing:
Sukurov presents us with a day in the life of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and his wife, Martin Boorman, and a priest, depicted from the point of view of Eva Braun, during the latter stages of WWII.
The film opens with a scantily-clad Braun scaling in rigourously-restrained gymnastic strides the empty and echoing mud-toned vast brick exteriour corridors of a Parsifalian Klingsorian fortress during a frigidly chilly thunder-and-rain storm. As the camera eventually pulls back, we see is scaling the loftiest heights of the fortress, and her solid and fleshy and sinuous body eventually metamorphosizes into a strikingly creamy white slim streak against the fortress' diabolically ancient pre-Christian architecture, a foreboding image presaging the end of Hitler's Klingsorian reign.
Shortly after this exercise, Eva, isolated and alienated, ponders her situation as she fingers a medallion with a picture of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.
Perceived as a Nazi by the world, she is, in Sukurov's reality, a misunderstood, intelligent, energetic, passionate, curious young woman ignored and marginalized by the situation she is trapped in.
Her youthful enthusiasm and exuberance and intellectual aptness is contrasted against Adolph's hypochondriac demeanour and his flubbery physique and dementia and overall buffoonery.
The hours unfold adagio-like in the vastly shadowed bare fortress and misty desolate landscape, the quietude echoes, the atmosphere is nightmarish and ghastly, the interactions are theatrically presented like a staged play, the people lost in deeply pensive thought, wandering aimlessly, morbidly play-acting in order to avoid confronting the monstrosities of their deeds (except for Hitler whose eyes orgasmically gleam as he watches war footage of destruction), people knowing their time is running out...
The poisonous auras of Hitler and his enclave eventually break Eva, and by the end of the day, after endless humiliations inflicted on her by the clumpy clumsy sexually impotent Adolph, she transforms from a vibrant living person into to a deathly spectral ghost.
She breaks like the sun, reeling from her morning gymnastic ascent in the sky to a nightfall run down a flight of stairs and a plunge down a shaft and a dive into the fortress' underground into the nighttime blackness, a fall into death, into Hell, into Sheol, into nothingness.
She tells Adolph, whom she calls Adi, early in the film -
Do you know what my dad told me in 1929, when we met? "This young man is an absolute zero". Now, we know that he was dead wrong. You got the better not only of him, but also of millions of others. But even if you are a zero, so what? Would this change anything in our relationship, in my feelings for you? I "The most delicate thing on earth - beauty. What can match the power of this delicate thing? As long as you're alive, I'm alive."
At the very end of day, and the film, Hitler says that they will conquer death. Her response, the last words of the film -
"Adi, how can you say that? Death is death. No one can conquer it."
10/10, one of Sokurov's best films, one of the greatest Russian films ever crafted, one of three of the greatest depictions of Hitler ever released (the other two are The Great Dictator and Der Untergang).
Huang tu di (1984)
Earth, Water, Sky
In the mythical cradle of Chinese civilization, where the barren, intercalated, sandstone, lifeless, loess landscape of Shaanxi province, wrecked by famine and drought and war, is cut through by the Yellow River, and plagued by harsh destitution, the folk songs of the Shaanxi people reflect the hardships of life in their difficult land.
The new Chinese Communist Party sends a cultural archivist, Gu Qing, to this prehistoric region, in search of old traditional folk songs to collect, and in search of peasants to implant the seed of the CCP's revolutionary hope.
The CCP found peasant folk songs appealing because they embodied all the sorrows and hopes of China's peasantry, and the pure simplicity of peasant life. But the Chinese Communist Party redacted the lyrics to the songs, lyrics that reflected the Party's political aims. Using peasant folk songs lured peasants to support the CCP, and it created the image of the CCP as a champion for the poor.
Gu Qing becomes fascinated with the peasant Cuiqiao, a teenager, her silent younger brother, and her father, a strict traditionalist. He lodges with them to record their songs. His idealistic descriptions of the Communist Party's movement ignites the flame of revolutionary change in Cuiqiao's heart.
Gu accompanies Cuiqiao when she undertakes the journey to gather water from the muddy Yellow River.
They traverse limitless gulfs of ancient cretaceous sandstone terrains, terrains perpetually sculpted and resculpted by wind and water erosion; its vast, borderless panorama of yellow and ochre and brown blinds the eye and soul and mind.
As Cuiqiao gathers water, she begins singing a song that expresses the sum total of the life Chinese peasants and the gestalt of Chinese history:
Even in June, the icy Yellow River can hardly flow, They force me to marry as I start to grow. In a grain silo are infinite kernels, Among the people small ones like me are beyond count. Pity the girls, pity the girls. To be a girl is so sad.
The ducks swim easy on the river, The geese brush the surface lightly with their wings. The government man doesn't know - I can sing!
All the green poplars, willows, and firs, Grow comfortably together, But when I try to speak my heart's pain, I can't open my mouth to say a word, Because I'm a girl.
The sand doves fly together so high, Companions gone far away in the sky. Who do I have in my heart? Only my mother. Who do I have in my heart? Only my mother. Who do I have?
Ciuqiao decides to break from tradition and the clutches of the yellow earth to join the CCP.
Will her province, the birthplace of the Chinese people, the base from which Chinese Communism first sprouted and flourished, the location where China wrestled control of its own country from Japan and the Nationists, the yellow earth, consume her, consume all the peasants, consume China's culture, China's past, China's present, China's future?
Earth, water, sky, mountains, a tree, a boat, peasants, an ox, a cave home, are all extracted from China's classical landscape paintings and dotted with soldiers and peasants, breathing life into China's history.
Pasolini's choice to attack fascism and the power and exploitation of sadism by translating the most quintessentially significant representation of sadism (Sade's 120 Days Of Sodom) to screen has generated decades of controversy.
Pasolini fused together the most scatological, cruelest, demeaning, opprobrious, raunchy, noisome, Herodian acts ever captured on cinematic celluloid (at that time) with strikingly beautiful locales, Mussolini's imperial/triumphant Art Nouveauseqe Futurist décor, artworks by Feininger, Severini, Duchamps, Léger and Carlo Carrá, thematic and structural elements of Dante's The Divine Comedy, a slightly marginalized-yet-sumptuously melodic score by Ennio Morricone, characters quoting philosophers and literary writers, exquisite camera-work and lighting, quotes from the writings of Blanchot and Klossowski, Carl Orff's Veris Laeta Facies, Chopin and Bracchi-Ansaldo, and the various modes of torturous execution that were still being used at the time the film was made, in order to maximally illustrate and inculcate the horrors and degradations and inhumane debaucheries inflicted by fascism and the power and exploitation of sadism. Never before had any of Sade's writings been used as source material for a film, a terrifying catalogue of tortures, and what better source material to use to denounce and incriminate and indict fascism and sadism than the most sadistic piece of toilet paper, I mean "literature", ever published? His Salò not only documented the sexual violations and torture and executions carried out by the fascist European states during the wars of the 1940's, Salò juxtaposed that horror with modern civilization as a totalitarian system.
In Salò, Pier denunciated and destroyed the moral nihilism flooding the philosophies of Sade and Nietzsche and Klossowski, and Pier did this by using their own writings and their most critical philosophical illuminations.
Pier placed into the mouths of the fascist victimizers the words used by Sade and Nietzsche and Klossowski. They cite the philosophers themselves.
To quote Gideon Bachmann, And where de Sade attacks G-d and Nature, Pasolini attacks power and exploitation. Sadism, for Pasolini, is a sexual metaphor for class struggle and power politics.
The Marquis de Sade spent 37 days excreting the contents of his head - comprising 120 days of torture - onto a roll of toilet paper, and Pasolini spent 37 days filming 3 synecdochal days of simulated torture.
To paraphrase Gideon Bachmann, De Sade was praying for the French Revolution (so he would be released from the Bastille), and while Pasolini may have been praying for an Italian Revolution against fascism, Pasolini also felt that fascism and sadism would always exist somewhere, at some level, and he was announcing to viewers that is was possible fascism would become global.
The victims psychologically victimized their abusers, because ultimately, none of the abused seriously said, "just kill me now, right now, because I won't do that". They essentially allowed the abusers to abuse them freely, which desensitized the abusers. The abusers had to keep coming up with new methods to degrade the victims, because the victims willingly continued to compromise their personal morals instead of demanding instant death. The more the victims allowed themselves to be tortured, the less thrilling it was for the abusers, the less control the abusers had.
That psychological power struggle made everyone equal, and it fascinated Pasolini.
The victimizers and their victims become interchangeable, both willingly embracing self-destructive aggression. This was a metaphor representing a system of consumption/consumerism - regardless of whether the consumption is comprised of human trafficking, corporate production that destroys the ecology, trafficking child pornography, drugs, weapons, etc - generates progressively exponential degrees and gradations of violence, poverty, hungry, epidemics, death, and the indefinite expansion of the war machine.
Here are a few extracts, sans the questions, of a 1976 interview:
The fact that the body becomes merchandise. My film is planned as a sexual metaphor, which symbolizes, in a visionary way, the relationship between exploiter and exploited. In sadism and in power politics human beings become objects. That similarity is the ideological basis of the film.
There is only one system that has made a difference, and that is consumism. It has managed to change the psychology of the ruling class. It is the only system that has touched bottom: conferring a new aggressive stance, because aggression is necessary for the individual in a consumer's society
Yes. It is the organization of orgies and their realization. And in the end the death of everybody, the final killings. The four depart from the villa near Marzabotta and move towards Salo, where they will be murdered. It reminds me a bit of the march of Mussolini towards Lake Como. And I have divided the film into segments, like Dante's Inferno, and given it, in other ways as well, a structure that recalls Dante, a certain theological verticalism. It is something I have been meaning to do for a long time. Then I read the book by the contemporary French philosopher Maurice Blanchot, Lautreamont et Sade, and decided to launch myself into this venture. I have given up the idea of making a film about Saint Paul. Perhaps this is a more meaningful story for today.
Mainly this: that the producers, the manufacturers, force the consumer to eat excrement. All these industrial foods are worthless refuse.
La marge (1976)
I Promise Never To Betray You
"I promise never to betray you" With these precious words, the viewer is drawn into a visually complex, psychosexual morality play, starring the sexually seductive Sylvia Krystal as the streetwalker Diana, and the sensually stunning Joe Dallesandro as the seemingly happily married Sigimond.
But don't let the Beauty of these two actors betray you: La Marge, or The Streetwalker, is a desexualized, unerotic tableau filled with biblical allusions that foreshadow an idyllic fall.
Director Walerian Borowczyck uses minimal dialogue, uncomfortable body language, and sharply contrasted shades of light and dark to weaken any hint of developing passion or mounting sexuality.
"I promise never to betray you," Sigimond whispers to his indifferent wife at the beginning of La Marge.
We then encounter Emmanuelle, a woman who is endlessly intrigued by sexuality. She is at an emotional crossroads, and has been lingering in Paris as a prostitute, using the name of Diana. She meets our enigmatic Sigimond, and soon falls in love with the gentleness of his love-making.
"I've never killed anybody, or hurt a soul. I'm not a liar or a cheat. I've never done any harm", Sigimond whispers, while driving down a dark, desolate road...
This film is a visual odyssey of symbolism and allusion that should not be missed - this is not a film of the pornographic genre. This film is a modern masterpiece depicting adults who are unable to differentiate between love and lust.
Fango bollente (1975)
The Savage Three
The Savage Three are three young men, fresh into the world, who work together at a computer analysis company. All three appear to be calm, level-headed, well-educated young men with the world at their fingertips. They are best friends, working together by day & playfully carousing at night.
Dominating their carousing is Ovidio Mainardi, played by the handsome Joe Dallesandro. Ovid is married to a beautiful woman who is never home - she is a doctor who has put her career ahead of her marriage.
As Ovid wiles away his days in front of a computer, doing repetitive, monotonous computations, he constantly glances at white mice kept trapped in a glass cage in the facility in which he works. He watches the mice as they trample each other wildly; he begins to ponder his own inner feelings of entrapment.
His own frustration at being in a loveless marriage and monotone job boils over into lawlessness when he and his buddies cross the line from carousing to crime.
Fango Bollente, also known as Savage Three and Hot Mud, follows these three handsome, young men through the busy streets of downtown Rome as they act out their frustrations in raw acts of violence.
This Italian film is a treat for any Joe Dallensandro fan - he is completely unlikable as the complacently conniving & cruel Ovidio.
This film is available in its original English soundtrack.
L'ultima volta (1976)
The Last Time
At first glance, our two stars of Born Winner, Pericles (Joe Dallesandro) and Sandro (Massimo Ranieri) do not appear to be Born Winners at all.
Sandro, played by the charmingly handsome Ranieri, is unceremoniously dismissed from his job after a party he is catering for is robbed at gunpoint. Shortly after, he fails in his attempts to find a new job.
Fate, or what you will, allows a piece of paper with Sandro's address to fall into Pericles' hands. Pericles is the man who committed the robbery at Sandro's last catering job, causing Sandro's dismissal.
Soon, our Pericles, who is the gorgeous Joe Dallesandro incarnate, is living with the newly directionless Sandro; Pericles soon takes Sandro through the fast, thrilling, dangerous, and fleeting, swiftly fleeting, curves of life.
As Pericles tries to help Sandro earn a living as a petty thief, Sandro tries to help Pericles learn to love life again.
Joe Dallesandro is remarkable as an ex-championship motorcyclist whose career prematurely ended after a nasty accident.
The fates of Pericles and Sandro leave an indelible mark upon the viewers; as the other poster commented, the curves are muddled, but they are muddled with good cause.
This Italian film was originally entitled L'Ultima Volta, which translates to The Last Time.
4th Dimension Of Cinema
It is an exhaustive experience watching Sátántangó (and I completed my third viewing in only 6 months) because you feel like you have spent your entire life with these people.
Despite the minimalism of the film, duly note that the minimalism is illusory - there were many ordinary images and sounds (which we take for granted but for the characters comprised their world) which are not normally accentuated in regular films but are given gratuitous attention by Tarr - the sounds you mentioned (coins on counter, clocks ticking, raindrops ticking, etc) and muddy cows, boggy landscapes, bare and broken tree limbs, benches, debris flowing forward in the wind, sideboards and cabinets, wooden floors, shot glasses, curtains, average faces, stormy skies, the blackness of night, etc.
Every single frame is indeed exquisitely and virtuously photographed, the film is a visual Baroque Hymnal, a Baroque Requiem to fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.
His flawless tracking shots, the film's plot structure, and the sequence of events, are all serpentine, cyclical, sequences within the film that begin at the ending and end at the beginning, sequences that intersect geometrically, sequences that have equal-but-reversed spatial, temporal, and narrational points of view.
There is also a plot thread (girl-cat) that serves as a cycle within each half of the film (one cycle starts near the end and moves forward, the other cycle starts at the beginning and leads into the end), both sequences not only overlap, but act as mirrors to each other.
By creating micro and macro spatial and temporal arrangements (which are based on the pattern if the tango) he literally founded the 4th dimension of cinema, something that Tarkovsky was trying to do and gave us glimpses of, he may have succeeded had he lived longer.
The film is 10/10 profoundly challenging and lateral flight through time and space during which no time passes and you are consumed by exquisite photography of a drearily drenched cosmos filled with the rhythms of ticking clocks and pattering rain and whirring fans and clicking glasses, your skin feels rain-drenched, your shoes are all muddy, you danced all night, your mind and body are trapped in a tango pattern that walking on and on fails to escape, when you land, you miss the artistry of the debris in flight and the cigarette smoke and the light shining in during the most inactive empty moments and the characters' sardonic wit and the clamourous rant of the drunk man and the girl you want to smack for what she does to the cat, then you realize you forgot the doctor and you want to hear the bells in the steeple...
Flying Beyond The Firmament
I thought the documentary was excellent, Herzog rawly captured the danger of ski-jumping/ski-flying, some of the shots were breathtaking and heart-stopping.
I liked how he juxtaposed the normal, rustic life of Steiner with Steiner's death-defying "hobby" without emphasizing and exploiting Steiner's Olympic achievement and previous sky-jumping achievements (which had already been accomplished before the documentary was filmed).
He presented Steiner as an average person with an above-average passtime whom not only wanted to push beyond the limits, but was being manipulated and forced by various Championships to push beyond the limits without any safety precautions, which risked his life.
In some competitions, you could tell Steiner was delighted to fly, even though he knew he would undoubtedly land roughly and possibly injure himself, but at other meets, his fear was visible, and he was visibly angry at being trapped and forced to jump beyond ramps where the landing ground was intentionally not set-up for a potential landing ground and not even secured (in order to enhance the spectacle and intensity and thrill of a soaring jump, and to force records to be made, both of which would attract crowds and bring media attention to the competition), which forced him to literally risk his life.
Underrated Herzog documentary, 10/10
Perfume is perfect because of the divine music, the exquisite cinematography and use of colours, the grotesque visual imagery (rats, maggots, filth, unwashed clothes, visual pungency), the gritty-yet-radiant artistry and detail of the set design and costumes, the synthesis of the Christ/Ecce Homo theme and the Plato/Allegory of the Cave theme and the 2 Corinthians theme (2 Corinthians 2:14-2:16), the human scent = human essence = sexual ecstasy = heaven theme, the comedic shock of seeing Dustin Hoffman in powder and a wig, the sardonically witty and ironic collapse of Baldini's building after he achieved the height of success scene, the meticulously sequenced "Baldini Method Of Creating Perfume Lesson", followed by the "Grenouille makes perfume within seconds much to the chagrin of Baldini" scene, the name Grenouille (which means frogs, and frogs are a French cuisine) which was a major plot clue predicting the ending, and the human dinner (end scene), which was temperately humorous. Here is a dazzling review of Perfume: http://tinyurl.com/2dvrfe (Metaphilm.com)