Slowfest

The best antidote to hecticity is idleness. For complete idleness, mental as well as physical, I suppose one could meditate. But if that is an overdosage for your particular circumstances, you might try being still, staring into the screen, and programming the screen so there is less to process. More than a screensaver, say, which could return you to the level of meditation. But less, far less than the programming usually appearing on your screens, most of it unbidden. Try these:

Gerry – so minimal it is almost ambient. Do not watch this with anyone inclined to “what are they talking about?” or “well that doesn’t make any sense”. In fairness, I suspect co-authors Affleck and Damon’s inclinations (“scenarios”, “dialogue”) probably hurt Van Sant’s (time and space revealed?) and allow for such moot analysis.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – many many more things happen in this one than in Gerry, but it still sends audiences packing midway. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I get this non-getting, but the whole rest of my mind is like “PEOPLE! What do you have against ghosts, monkey-men, talking fish, and the absence of violence and evildoing? This is cinema utopia damnit!”

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=14619648&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Jeanne Dielman – the influence of Akerman, especially this work, can be seen in Weerasakathul’s. Not the talking fish, nor the absence of violence, and in this sense it does not create that thrilled wonderment that a picture like Boonmee can. But hanging out real time while someone does chores can be mesmerizing, and comforting somehow. Actually, this is a good one to watch with your “what is that – a little stove?” friend who you’ll not invite to the Gerry screening. I wonder if I were watching it when it was made, without the constant appeal of “period” everything – decor, autos, wardrobe, architecture – would I still be captivated?

Despite this post’s title, it’s worth noting that pacing alone is not enough to satisfy a need for quiet. Remember this? Not a good comparison with Dielman’s vintage eye candy or Boonmee’s magic, perhaps, but why do I prefer the desert void of Gerry to that of A Taste of Cherry? It’s a question too challenging for my newly idle mind.

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Tropical Malady

I have not seen anything like this, and I would like to see more. I expect a lot of viewers would find the second half too long and slow, but I would like to be able to invent a potion that would enable anyone to quiet down to the place where you can just dream along with that second half, enjoying the alien voice of the shaman tiger ghost and the shimmering of the tree over the transfiguring cow in the jungle night.

Addendum: the first half is completely different aside from featuring the same two actors in roles that may or may not be related to their roles in the second half. It feels more conventional, in that a lot more is going on, and yet it is also unlike most things I’ve seen. It feels at once naive and worldly – not just in the innocent, near-chaste relationship between two gay guys, but in all of its facets: the dialogue, the production values – it could be amateur documentary, except for the regular sense of the poetic voice and crafty hand of the author here and there. Wow, check out that sentence. Anyway. The first half is wonderful in its own way, and I neglected to mention it earlier because the second half is kind of a show stealer.