Archiv der Kategorie: Gus van Sant

Berlinale 2018: Day 6

By Sascha Krieger

Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Competition / Philippines / Director: Lav Diaz)

It will haunt you, this monotonous „la la la“ that sounds like a threat, a weapon, a death sentence. It is introduced by the leader of a paramilitary militia somewhere in the Southern Philippines during Martial Law in the late 1970s. This is where Lav Diaz, decorated with a Silver Bear and a Golden Lion just in the past two years, takes us in his new film (though he is not interested in visual historical accuracy). They rule a village with violence and intimidation, hold their subjects in check with a made up religion of fear and persecute dissenters. Violence is an everyday act. It happens in the distance or is at least partially blocked from view. The camera is a detached observer, distant cold, most of the time freezing its world in still frames. A small world it is – country lanes, the interior of shacks and huts, a field, the militia’s headquarters. The perspective never widens, the outside world though not absent doesn’t matter, it stays out or gets sucked in. The characters do not talk, they sing. This may be film history’s first a capella musical. The militia’s songs are monotonous, restrictive, ritual, when imagination takes flight as in the case of the unexplained muse singer accompanying poet Hugo coming to town when his doctor wife is abducted, who expresses a universal hope and sorry that the people living her cannot and must not convey themselves. The singing creates distance, it forces the viewer to listen, to shed expectations and allows him to see things in a fresh way. It makes the unheard heard and lifts the banal up to the universal. For what is happening here is not restricted to this time and place, the struggle between oppression and resistance a never-ending cycle. Diaz‘ slow clean black and white images, drenched in a magic light, bright and twilight-like at the same time, real and as from a dream, convey a cold world, pale, gripped with fear but also poetic, imaginative, bursting rules just by defying logic, staying on a scene for way too long or depicting the seemingly irrelevant. For life happens outside the framework of rules, freedom is stubborn and finds its niches. Ang Panahon ng Halimaw creates its own wold, space, time, a fascinating, mesmerising song of life, with its own rules that free and don’t restrict. May the river of life, meandering but ploughing on, sweep away the dark. As in this memorable, dream-like, gentle and mind-shattering film.

Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (© Giovanni D. Onofrio)

Weiterlesen

Werbeanzeigen

Berlinale 2013: Diary Day 2

By Sascha Krieger

Promised Land (Competition / United States / Director: Gus van Zant)

„We were going to make a movie about American identity“, says Matt Damon at the press conference for Promised Land. „We found the issue later in the process.“ The issue is fracking, the controversial method of accessing oil and natural gas resources, America’s ticket to energy independence. Or so many hope. Matt Damon is Steve, working for a natural gas company, who has come to convince the inhabitants of a downtrodden community that gas is their path to a prosperous future. Soon he encounters two serious opponents who make his life considerably harder. For a while, Promised Land is a compelling study in people their priorities and the hard choices they have to make. Yes, fracking might poison their land forever but isn’t that an appropriate price to pay for getting one’s kids through college. It is one of the strengths of this film that it refuses to take sides. All have good reasons, even Steve’s colleague Sue (Frances McDormand) for whom this is just a job to support her family. Gus van Zant, as always, is a careful and subtle observer, noticing every little doubt behind the self-confidence. His direction and the witty and complex screenplay full of great dialogue, which was written by Damon and co-star John Krasinski, allow the film to remain and interesting study on collective and inner dynamics for quite some time. Where it fails is in its intention. This is supposed to be about American identity after all, causing the film to constantly return to praises of the land that once was, reminiscences of a happier past, down to Steve’s boots which he inherited from his grandfather. This is all a little much and instills a conservatism that doesn’t do Promised Land much good. In the end, Damon, Krasinski and van Zant seem so uninterested in their topic that they give their film the easiest and worst of ending. When all is said and done, Promised Land is strangely harmless, almost a feel-good movie. And that sure isn’t good news.

Weiterlesen

Film review: Restless (Director: Gus van Sant)

Enoch has an unusual hobby: He visits the funerals of strangers. At one of them he meets Annabel, or rather she meets him, he, the teenage boy always dressed in black (“I don’t have any bright colors”, he says), shies away from the living, he prefers the society of the dead. But Annabel cannot be gotten rid of so easily. At another funeral she turns up and rescues him from an inquisitive funeral director. The ice breaks and the two run off together. It’s the beginning of an unusual friendship and later romance: For these are two people in limbo, hovering between life and death: Enoch lost his parents in a car crash which nearly killed him, too. He is alive and healthy, yet has tuned out of life. Annabel, on the other hand is full of life yet death has a firm grip on her. She has cancer and only three months to live. Both tread that wasteland between life and death, both in different ways. And yes, they both need each other, one to learn to live again, the other to walk into death with her held up high. One need not go back to Love Story in order to detect the clichéd nature of this set up. But this is a Gus van Sant film and the master seismograph of youth works his magic once again.

Weiterlesen

Werbeanzeigen