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Archive for December 2008

Hunger ****

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HungerHunger does not necessarily force a full explanation or any justification. What it does attempt, and achieve with some grace, is an explanation of why Bobby Sands died and led others to their graves. A matter of the individual mind. And, too, a sensitive portrayal of the condition of the oppressor, in all his anonymous agony. And both, in all their universality. Read the poster’s loglines.

The film is quite unconventional in structure. Dialogue focuses about a central exchange between Fassbender’s Sands and a priest, a scene which contains much of the film’s dialogue and as a result feels far longer than it is. In the best possible sense. That is an artful interpretation of character, not a glorification.

The suited guard tasked to clean the shit-covered cells finds a tremendous symmetrical spiral adorning one wall. Taken aback, he must then proceed to wash the stain away, but it fights against him, so engrained and solid has the faeces become. Steve McQueen knows that he is sculpting something powerful and true from muck and mire, and that what emerges is of transcendent beauty.

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Written by James P. Campbell

14/12/2008 at 12:10

Año Uña ***

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Año Uña is composed of photographs, static images, taken of real people in real situations, with a virtual narrative and virtual characters. As some have noted, this is a technique under-used in directorial debuts, and is an excellent exercise in cost-cutting. It is also an intriguing interrogation of the nature of the moving image and of intentionality. These photographs are of necessity ‘of the world’, but held together in order and time, and with a narrator, they become ‘a world’ bounded in their portrayal over time, and as interpreted as a dynamic image, much like a work of digital animation. This problem is closely related to the principles of movement-image and time-image. A story emerges from a series of static images, moments; as Deleuze argues right at the off in Cinema 1, time cannot be broken into a series of moments, and as Max argues in Año Uña, photographs do not express truth in privileged moments: this narrative is woven in virtual time from images of the world and Cuaron looks to exploit this in creating a transcendent representation of interpersonal experience.

Ano UnaThe director and writer’s debut is confident and certainly Cuaron Jr. has his own voice. In trying to achieve his artistic aim, however, I believe him to be overstretched. The script is at times affective and intellective, but his male lead is incredibly irritating. Whilst the whispers of his loved object feel intimate, the amorous subject’s are positively venereal. I suppose this is largely down to the nature of his discourse: I cannot contend that it is inappropriate or unrepresentative; simply that it forces one into a condescending and self-ignorant corner. The young man, in the throes of puberty, is entirely preoccupied with sex. The tone is set with his first lines, regarding the last night’s masturbation. Daring and candid, the portrayal of his innermost thoughts may be, but also one-dimensional. It plays to stereotypes by ignoring the boy’s other thoughts. I wonder whether it is out of embarrassment at my sex or at this one-sided portrayal of it that I feel ashamed to listen. I presume this afflicts other audience members, though I was the only one to transmute this awkwardness into open laughter. The trouble is that this representation of the boy’s thoughts is accurate, but the teenage boy has thoughts about more than his object’s “tits” and “ass”. Boys, and indeed girls, of all ages do hold discourse on sexual desire, sometimes even in such a linguistic mode, but there are innumerable shades of feeling that accompany the linguistic train. I also expect that many other textual thoughts are neglected for the sake of exposition. Though Cuaron does well to weave these limited lines into a story that articulates some shades of meaning, it cannot go beyond the boundaries that language places upon expression.

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Written by James P. Campbell

03/12/2008 at 12:10

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