A PHP Error was encountered

Severity: 8192

Message: Non-static method Tagstripper::versions() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context

Filename: tagstripper/pi.tagstripper.php

Line Number: 67

Art Of The Real | The House Next Door | Slant Magazine
House Logo
Explore categories +

Art Of The Real (#110 of 10)

Art of the Real 2016 The Mesh and the Circle, Roundabout in My Head, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, & The Woods Where Dreams Are Made Of

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2016: The Mesh and the Circle, Roundabout in My Head, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, & The Woods Where Dreams Are Made Of

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art of the Real 2016: The Mesh and the Circle, Roundabout in My Head, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, & The Woods Where Dreams Are Made Of

Can cinema be a vehicle for thought? It’s a question that has been bandied around since at least the silent era days of Jean Epstein. That it can seems to be the premise that undergirds Mariana Caló and Francisco Queimadela’s half-hour The Mesh and the Circle, a cerebral meditation on the nature of the moving image. This philosophic inquiry kicks off with a display of the kind of rigorous formalism reminiscent of Hollis Frampton: An unnamed narrator, who we only recognize through a pair of ostensibly male hands, writes out—instead of speaks—the film’s “script” in a blank journal in a dark room, illuminated only by an adjacent projector throwing images onto a screen. “Film can be a labyrinth,” the hand writes, “where we lose and find ourselves.” The analogical meaning of this shot is clear enough: The narrator’s hands literally “write” the film and the projected images are presumably the very ones that compose the film we’re seeing.

Art of the Real 2016 Dead Slow Ahead and The Academy of Muses

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2016: Dead Slow Ahead and The Academy of Muses

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art of the Real 2016: Dead Slow Ahead and The Academy of Muses

For those still reeling from seasickness induced by Leviathan, Art of the Real has the tonic. Dead Slow Ahead, another experimental, largely nocturnal portrayal of industrial seafaring, moves with the lava-flow tempo suggested by its spot-on title, with director Mauro Herce’s camera a seemingly high-tonnage contrast to Leviathan’s plethora of featherweight recording devices. Panning, tilting, and dolly movements are sparse, usually occurring at paces almost imperceptible to the eye as they scan the musculature and intestinal corridors of a gargantuan cargo ship pushing through the Atlantic toward New Orleans like an undigested chunk of food exiting the body. An organism at once labyrinthine and blocky, it becomes the primary object of study for Herce, who appears only to reveal the human laborers on the vessel incidentally—and even then, as tiny instruments within the alien mechanics of the larger machine on which they toil.

Art of the Real 2016 What Means Something and Il Solengo

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2016: What Means Something and Il Solengo

Ben Rivers

Art of the Real 2016: What Means Something and Il Solengo

After dipping into high-concept self-reflection to ponder filmmaking ethics and colonialism with the more or less narrative-based The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, Ben Rivers has returned to immersive documentary portraiture with What Means Something, a self-effacing study of painter Rose Wylie at her home studio in the U.K.—or so it seems at first. Like Two Years at Sea, the film is defined by its omission of the world outside its subject’s insular and distinctive environment, in this case a leafy abode that suggests a hermit’s lean-to in a woodsy fairy tale, as well as by a malleable montage that alternates between labor and leisure, meditating in sculptural long shot on the former and in detailed intimacy on the latter.

Art of the Real 2015 Los Ausentes and Greetings to the Ancestors

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2015: Los Ausentes and Greetings to the Ancestors
Art of the Real 2015: Los Ausentes and Greetings to the Ancestors

Slow, deliberate camera movement has been a fashionable trait in international art cinema for decades, but in the case of Nicolás Pereda’s Los Ausentes, the household descriptors won’t do. Here, the camera seems to be manned by a slug spreading its oily emissions along the surfaces of an open-air cabin somewhere in coastal Mexico. In many instances, it’s unclear if space has been reoriented at all, until suddenly something juts into the foreground after five minutes and it becomes apparent that the camera has been steadily backtracking. Such is the deal in the opening shot, when a still life of a chewing donkey recedes into space to reveal the film’s central character silhouetted at a table on the opposite side of a window. For viewers of a certain formalist persuasion, there’s great pleasure to this simple technique, a kind of eerie gravitational slide that at least partially fills a hole left by the departure of Béla Tarr from world cinema, but immaculately sluggish side-to-side and front-to-back movement does only so much for a movie. If there’s a foundational flaw to the vaporous Los Ausentes, it’s that Pereda has put too much stock in the ghostly sensations invoked by his technique at the expense of developing much else.

Art of the Real 2015 Edgardo Cozarinsky’s Letter to a Father

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2015: Letter to a Father

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art of the Real 2015: Letter to a Father

“I lived in Paris for 30 years,” narrates Edgardo Cozarinsky in his Letter to a Father, “but I never lived in Entre Ríos.” The Argentine essay filmmaker, and prolific writer of fiction and criticism alike, specialized in ruminations on cultural history during his years as an expatriate, so his turn to a more personal narrative of the past in the form of a visit to his parents’ hometown is particularly organic.

But perhaps the most compelling aspect of Cozarinsky’s story, both within the film and beyond it, is how circuitous his and his parents’ geographical trajectories have been. We learn in the film that his grandparents left Poland in the 1890s with the Jewish Colonization Association to found a community in Argentina. Entre Ríos was the town that resulted, and when anti-semitic fascism rose in that region, the family relocated to nearby Buenos Aires, though his father spent the WWII years stationed in Japan on a naval ship called La Argentina. Although Cozarinsky never draws a direct link between his father’s travels and his own, they both appear as having anchored themselves onto reminders of Argentina. Early in the film, for instance, Cozarinsky recycles old shots he took of Rue d’Argentine in Paris as a synecdoche of his expat status. The tension between the lure of elsewhere and the comfort of home grows with archival footage of a Nazi rally that was held in Buenos Aires nine months before Cozarinsky’s birth, and with an insert of an anti-semitic slogan (“Haga Patria Mate un Judio”) that graced a provincial tax form.

Art of the Real 2015 The Royal Road, Becoming Anita Ekberg, & More

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2015: The Royal Road, The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk, & Becoming Anita Ekberg

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art of the Real 2015: The Royal Road, The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk, & Becoming Anita Ekberg

It was no less than Hollywood—the set, the actors, the inexhaustible flair of it all—that offered, as a female voice on The Royal Road’s soundtrack insists, “a gender-disphoric tomboy” from the Midwest, a “cherished relief from the awkward realities of daily life.” Composed of static shots of the beautiful San Francisco landscape and laced with steadfast commentary, so steady you’d believe the film was edited with the help of a metronome on andante, Jenni Olson’s film makes no secret of the filmmaker’s lifelong infatuation with Hollywood and the ways in which its romantic plotlines have paralleled her own Proustian proportions of desire for lesbian companionship. Watching The Children’s Hour on TV one night, Olson recalls Shirley MacLaine’s coming-out speech and how “it perfectly expressed my childhood experience of simultaneously knowing and not knowing that I was queer.” Hollywood, then, is a fitting starting point for a film that sets out to provide “a defense of nostalgia.” Olson, the off-screen narrator, frequently shifts back and forth between remembering her unconsummated desires and failed relationships (“I’m utterly infatuated, and the ring on her finger marks her as clearly unavailable,” she says at one point) and California’s sordid, colonial past. Hollywood, San Francisco, Spanish colonialism, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and unrequited love are the specific themes through which Olson strives to not only contextualize her own life, but to offer a mode of remembering that can be both nostalgic and critical.

Art of the Real 2015 Iec Long, I Forgot, & More

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2015: Iec Long, Take What You Can Carry, & I Forgot

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art of the Real 2015: Iec Long, Take What You Can Carry, & I Forgot

João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata’s faux-doc The Last Time I Saw Macao, which played two years ago at the New York Film Festival, led viewers on a mysterious first-person murder trail, mixing documentary elements with sci-fi and noir. Their new film, Iec Long, part of the opening-night shorts program at this year’s Art of the Real, also delves into Macao’s colonial past. This time, though, their approach is more delicate, less unreliable-narrator romp than sustained meditation. Yet as before, the past is illusive and in constant flux. The filmmakers juxtapose footage old and new to show us how places decay over time, evoking only a faint aura of their former grandeur.

The short opens in the now, with a celebration featuring popular music and firecrackers. After an upbeat musical number with bouncy dancers and random celebrants enjoying the infernal racket, the audience is transported in time to when the fire-cracking business had a more sinister dimension. In a device they repeat continuously throughout, the filmmakers cut to grainy footage of children against firecracker-factory ruins, juxtaposing these images with what the landscape looks like today. Rodrigues and da Mata tackle both child labor and colonialism, but they reveal their story patiently, almost coyly, via archival footage of working children and a voiceover by one such child, Teng Man Cheang. Born and raised in Macao, Cheang, now 79, is the self-appointed “keeper of the [lec Long factory] ruins,” suggesting a protective stance toward the past, no matter how thorny it may be. And even though the film’s overall mood is melancholic, something akin to hope amid the ruins flickers here and there, the factory’s decrepit, stained walls overtaken by verdant nature.

Art of the Real 2014 The Second Game, La Última Película, & More

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2014: The Second Game, La Última Película, Castanha, & Bloody Beans

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art of the Real 2014: The Second Game, La Última Película, Castanha, & Bloody Beans

In The Second Game, filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu and his father sit down to watch an old analog tape of a soccer match that the father refereed in 1988, one year before the toppling of Nicolae Ceaușescu. We stare with them at the fuzzy television screen for 76 minutes, the duration of the match on which they comment. The documentary, part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real” series, is an autobiographical meditation on memory, but also an off-handed treatment on the nature of film. At one point, Porumboiu’s father remarks that the match is like a film (Porumboiu’s, or perhaps films in general): “You watch and nothing happens.” But, of course, in this sly, multilayered haunting of the past, very much happens when nothing does.

Firstly, there’s the grim fascination of watching a match without sound; it becomes a silent ballet of players indistinguishable to most viewers, a reminder that soccer, like history, creates very localized allegiances. On the field, the visibility is awful as snow trickles down, yet devout fans fill the stands, partly because this is no ordinary game: The two minor-league teams are backed by dueling factions, the communist military police and the army, a tag of war in which Porumboiu’s father, who refused to let either team buy the results, stands as a cautious, politic mediator. Offering a soccer match as a metaphor for a fallen system that transformed sports into nationalistic pageantry of pride and honor, while secretly rigging games—and, politics—behind its citizens’ backs, The Second Game turns an ordinary, nostalgic gesture into a self-reflexive time capsule.