Thursday, January 31, 2008


I gave Tiger Competition jury member Jafar Panahi a drunken pat on the back the other night. I told him to keep up the good work. I hope he does.

Today I deliberate with the FIPRESCI jury about their prize for the Tiger Competition. My fellow trainees and I get 1 vote combined. I think The Sky, The Earth, and the Rain, by the Chilean filmmaker Jose Luis Torres Leiva, is by far the best film in competition, and one of the best I've seen all week. I write about it more in my next IFC post, which should be up in a day or two, but it's, as the program notes say, pure cinema. Set in southern Chile and shot with mostly natural light, it's a ravishing visual experience, and a true landscape film. Leiva told me he watched films by Apichatpong and Pedro Costa before filming, and their influence is palpable, in the dappled light and rigorous compositions, respectively, but it emerges as a great work in its own right.

Other fun things: the oppressively minimalistic The Rebirth, from Kobayashi Masahiro. It tracks the everyday doings of two sides of a murder. The mother of the murderer and the father of the deceased child end up living and working in the same factory town. Made up of endless repetitions of their daily work - it's akin to Jeanne Dielman. Eliciting many harrumphing walkouts, I was pretty well fascinated. After an hour of waking, eating, working, sleeping - the biggest bit of drama was when the father couldn't find the soy sauce jar on the table. Their routines are repeated over and over until small discrepancies arise - the father goes to the deli instead of the cafe, for example - and you know the whole house of cards is about fall. But it falls, of course, minimally.

I've never seen Roy Andersson's Songs from the Second Floor, but now I have to. I just saw You, The Living, which premiered at last year's Cannes festival, and it's incredibly funny. Like Tati, he fills the frame with bits of action - every window holds a punchline. His frames are static tableaus, though, like comic book frames stuffed with detail. It's a series of vignettes set in a small Swedish town - people recall dreams, have absurdist arguments with their wives, and generally yearn for a better life. I think I remember that Tartan picked up the rights, although I'm not sure. See it if you can.

Wisit Sasanatieng, he of Tears of the Black Tiger, has a silly piece of thorwback horror fluff with The Unseeable. A camp gothic horror film about a crazy aging beauty and her decrepit mansion, it's a bit like Sunset Blvd. with umbilical cord eating vampires, but it's not as fun as that description sounds. Picks up speed in the end, though.

I eat now.



Blogger Michael J. Anderson said...

Great post, Rob! The Chilean film sounds amazing, as does "You, the Living." Do see "Songs from the Second Floor," it's one of the superlative underseen European films of the decade.

And the back pat sounds very much like you on one too many scotches... a Rob we all treasure.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Spinster Aunt said...


Did you or your crew see Fear(s) of the Dark? I'm intrigued by it ...

Also: did you really say, "Keep up the good work?" Really?

1:11 PM  

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