The home sprint. The last weekend. In place of promised MIFF 2014 posts, another visual list (harvested from daily instagram updates and tweets), with its interlinked themes and continued references to Beckett, Vermeer, Vivaldi, and nature. I am amassing a handsome collection of back-of-the-head Hammershøi-esque visuals from my travels, but more on that later.
Film 30: NATIONAL GALLERY (D. Frederick Wiseman)
Walking across the marble-tiled floor of Johannes Vermeer's A Young Woman standing at a Virginal (about 1670–2); seeing The Royal Ballet’s Edward Watson and Leanne Benjamin part sensual, part mechanical metamorphosis (in Machina as part of Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, three dance pieces crated in response to three Titian paintings depicting the Diana myth); listening to single-point perspective in a painting being described to the visually impaired as dividing the composition like a flag into four triangles that meet at the vanishing point; three hours in the National Gallery passed before I could run may fingers over the ripple in the ebony framework, but I didn't really need to tell you that.
(Diana and Callisto, 1556-9, Titian)
Film 31: ROHMER IN PARIS (D. Richard Misek)
Thinking of unlikely chance encounters. Ruminating over faces that, unaware of camera's eye, appear saddened in repose. Here's to the passionate wanderer, the flâneur, making circles, drawing lines, tracing paths, and exchanging glances.
Film 32: AMOUR FOU (D. Jessica Hausner)
In the year 1811, my little dove, putting wings on my shoulders. The sweet scent of violets trampled underfoot, "this is the beginning of a strangely poetic death". A Weimaraner's soft velvet ears, a primrose yellow coat, and a suitcase with two pistols or perhaps a butterfly net even in November. Honeyed timber offset by pale blue walls, and considered movements as befits a still life slowly waking. The painter of stillness, Caspar David Friedrich, and his Wanderer above the Mists (1817–18) are just around the corner, but for now we're "holding a dead woman in [our] arms and a pistol in [our] hand. The prospect is clear [...] this time [we'll] have to kick the bucket too." And when all is done, a Vilhelm Hammershøi portrait of the back of a woman's head in the quiet of an interior once more. This romance is timeless.
(Henrich von Kleist, 1777–1811)
Film 33: CASA GRANDE (D. Fellipe Barbosa)
The partly autobiographical Ballad of Poor Jean unravels in a whisper, but my head and heart are still firmly in the romantic era, in Berlin, smelling a posy of violets from a poet.
Film 34: REMOTE CONTROL (Alsiin Udirdlaga) (D. Byamba Sakhya) *
In which selling milk in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator is not for me, and I am left pining for fiction (you opening tease, you) over reality.
Film 34: HOPE (D. Boris Lojkine) screening with the short film STONE CARS (D. Reinaldo Marcus Green) *
The desperate struggle, unflinching in its gaze, of the aptly named Hope (from Nigeria) and the lionhearted Léonard (from Cameroon) as they attempted to cross the Sahara desert to reach the promise of Europe had me wishing for an outcome I knew was not possible from the very beginning.
"I went for a guerilla style casting call in Morocco. When I met Endurance, she was begging in a mosque, with her baby. Justin was struggling to get by after having played briefly for a third division Moroccan football team. Both had reached the country through the desert and Algeria. Among the rest of the cast, there are ex-thieves, traffickers and even a pimp. The forger was one once as well as the Nigerian chairman in Tamanrasset. They introduced me to this world and its codes very well. I had them improvise scenes and then re-wrote them. One owes it to these actors to be as close to the truth as possible and to keep things simple, go straight to the point."—Boris Lojkine
Film 35: FANDRY (D. Nagraj Manjule)
Harvested visuals: a slingshot search for a mythical black sparrow with a tail like a swift; the jubilant, rhythmic dancing at the town fair before being transformed into a human lamp post; the collection of wood to weave into baskets to sell; studying by the flickering kerosene light, and a dream sequence wrapped in denim.
Film 36: JAUJA (D. Lisandro Alonso)
A dress like a cutout piece of blue sky. A horse's transference of weight from left to right. A man's reflected silhouette in a pool of water that reads like a constellation of stars hanging in the night sky. Acidic pistachio green dusted rocks in a photochrome image to which I am loyal like a shaggy-coated wolfhound. A torso banded black and white. A hand in the long grass. A brief music interlude. The rich saturated colour palette of a glass slide. The effect of synesthesia as we cross the windy plains and wrap our coats tighter. All ends as it begins, with sea lions by a rockpool. The complete and beautiful sensory immersion unfolding at perfect pace, my eye given the chance to skate around the frame, taking in every grassy tuft and lichen covered rock. A favourite, for sure.
Film 37: TRESPASSING BERGMAN (D. Hynek Pallas, Jane Magnusson)
On Fårö Island, tiptoeing through Ingmar Bergman's personal library with Michael Haneke, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Claire Denis. Curiosities I wouldn't normally revel in are indulged.
Film 38: CONCRETE NIGHT (Betoniyö) (D. Pirjo Honkasalo)
The beauty of the black and white palette throws into sharp relief the form. Highlights pierce the eyes, and against those dark velvety hues, feathers and dust particles hang in the air. The steamy reflected view feels subterranean. Yes, were it not for the chill and desperation of it all, I'd stay in this ghetto in Helsinki an unstated length of time. The restrained script gave me time to revel in the light and creep in the shadows, and note a tiny rabbit in the urban jungle of waste as I took refuge in the salvation of music (in a soundscape created by Frid + Frid). In the end, if "you have to choose a face," I choose this one.
(Adding Pirkko Saisio's novel of the same name to my to-read-post-MIFF list.)
Film 39: OUR SUNHI (Uri Sunhi) (D. Hong Sang-soo)
What can I say? It made the vegetarian in me long for a serve of fried chicken washed down with a beer. Or three. The end.
Film 40: TITLI (D. Kanu Behl)
There are some fillers in one's MIFF timetable that pay off, but sadly this was not one of them.
Film 41: TOMORROW WE DISAPPEAR (D. Jimmy Goldblum, Adam Weber)
(After Titli) my balance on a tightrope found and faith restored in New Delhi's Kathputli Artist Colony of puppeteers, acrobats and like-minded souls. A sadly beautiful full stop to yesterday's five-film day.
Film 42: AUNT HILDA! (D. Jacques-Rémy Girerd, Benoît Chieux)
A French animation highlighting greed and our lust and consequent abuse of power through a tale about genetically modified food and the consequences of interfering with nature oddly serves as my MIFF coffee-bean-palette-cleanse and proves a colour-drenched, hand-drawn delight. Replete with a chainsaw, talking plants, the buzz-buzz of bees, a doughy skin massage roll, a humorous breast slam (who knew?), and playful credits thanking the many hands involved in bringing it all to loud electric fruition.
Film 43: QUEEN & COUNTRY (D. John Boorman)
On the homeward dash, film 43 grants Vivaldi's Four Seasons another airing as a stolen clock chimes under the armpit in Hope and Glory (1987) part II. Rowboat at the ready, tonight I'll sleep on Pharaoh's Island.
Film 44: NE ME QUITTE PAS (D. Sabine Lubbe Bakker, Niels van Koevorden)
And now we are in rural Belgium, soaked in depression and rum, with Marcel and Bob (and Louis the Cat). It is both comic and sobering, negotiating this drunken haze, with a tender friendship at its core, and some rather forlorn flowers in a vase.
Film 45: FISH & CAT (D. Shahram Mokri)
One unblinking eye, several threads of fractured repetition to play with, lakeside near the Caspian Sea. The documentary seen beforehand, Ne Me Quitte Pas, opened with a quote from Beckett, and still he is our guide, it seems, with shades of Waiting for Godot as we restlessly wind in circles. The ambition of a single continuous take; the score by Christophe Rezai with its piercing knife sounds and loaded menace in perfect timing with the footfall of a man or is that a hunter; the reduced palette of dark red, bleached khaki, and dirty silvered sky; it all works like a magnet in what Shahram Mokri describes as "a film about time". Opening with a story of a restaurant in a remote location that serves human flesh, being a backseat flâneur in Fish & Cat is something else entirely.
+ One of the MIFF 2014 orphans makes ironing more than a little tricky
* It appears that in the glorious haze that is MIFF 2014, I have (again!) doubled up my numbers and have two different films listed as film 34. The total number of films here should read 47.