Very often when I see a movie I find myself conflicted as to whether or not I actually like it very much. Over the course of this year I’ve seen a number of films that I’m more or less 50/50 on– the beautifully shot, but dramatically laughable I Am Love; the dramatically intense but more or less by-the-book backwoods noir of Winter’s Bone; the charged, yet somehow illogical and meandering Animal Kingdom. But of them all, I find myself most divided on the matter of Jean-Luc Godard’s latest, Filme Socialisme, a movie that has already become notorious not just for its narrative (such as there is), its politics (such as they always are in a Godard film) or its visual power (such as it always is when Godard is at his best), but even for its subtitles (such as they are).
So divided am I by it, in fact, that I’m unable to articulate my feelings on it simply through a traditional written review, but have instead decided to supply my own commentary on it via my main creative passion– game design. Being that I’ve been concerned with making games that are all about interactive conversations for the past few years, I figure I might as well use one to start a conversation about a film that more or less demands an active participation to get anywhere with it, rather than a traditional, passive and linear cinematic experience. As such, I’m going to leave this article alone then, and let everything play out in the game and the comments-section– itself a kind of interactive conversation game.
Godard famously said that the best possible way to review a movie was to make one yourself. Well, I’d like to think that I’ve at least met him halfway with this. I more or less expect this will be somewhat outside the gaming-literacy of some of our members here, but it’s worth a shot. You can access it either by clicking the screenshot above or by simply going to my blog here. Oh, and remember to click on the SWF when it opens, and use the Control-Key for… well… pretty much everything in the game.
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Posted in Joel's Sunday Matinee on October 28, 2010 |
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(Originally an entry in the “Sunday Matinee” series)
by Joel Bocko
Before the Revolution, Italy, 1964, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring Adriana Asti, Francesco Barilli
Story: In Parma, a young Communist feels torn between his romantic hunger for life, the security of his bourgeois background, and his ideological duty to the cause. Meanwhile, he carries on an affair with his emotionally unstable aunt.
The opening scene of Before the Revolution, or Prima della rivoluzione as it’s more poetically known in Italy, stands among the most elating passages in cinema. You can’t quite pinpoint how this works; trying to relate the alchemy of these moments in typed prose, my fingers tie themselves in knots. Bertolucci, only twenty-two when he shot the movie, would go on to direct more lush, illustrious sequences especially once he began to use color. But somehow here we feel we are getting closest to the pulsating consciousness powering his vision – a sensitivity and sensibility swooning with the pregnant possibilities and numinous actualities of the moment. What exactly do we see? Close-ups of Fabrizio (Frencesco Barilli), our hero, which loom like wall-sized portraits, even on a small screen; soaring overhead shots of Parma as if Bertolucci began to run through his hometown and in his enthusiasm sprouted wings and began to fly. What do we hear? Fabirizo’s neurotic narration, a mixture of lush language and furious, uneasy denunciation, underpinned by Ennio Morricone’s lush, heart-bursting score – fully invested in its sense of operatic intensity, and as unashamed of it as Fabrizio is wary. This film then is a sensuous experience, maybe even first and foremost, but it is also a film of ideas, and a dialectic exists between Fabrizio’s notions and his feelings (as well as amongst the various feelings themselves).
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#93 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series in which I view, for the first time, some of the most critically acclaimed films of the previous decade.
While he is an infant, Atanarjuat’s family goes hungry. The boy’s father, an outcast and laughing-stock, can’t hunt to save his life – literally; the other men tease him, asking if his wife will hunt while he stays behind, sewing and cooking. That’s humiliation in this community of hardy hunters; still, the hunger must be worse than humiliation. Atanarjuat is too young to comprehend the situation, but his elder brother Amaqjuaq soaks it all in grimly – particularly the mother’s advice: “You must never forget to take care of Atanarjuat.” Somberly, the little boy reaches up to his baby brother, holding out a scrap of walrus heart (which a friend of the family, pitying their destitution, smuggled in to the starving brood). Tellingly, the half-asleep infant does not respond – it’s as if even at this early age he is confident in his own ability to survive, and perhaps complacent in the sense that his family will take care of him.
When we meet Atanarjuat and Amaqjuaq as adults (played by Natar Ungalaaq and Pakak Innuksuk), the big brother is still looking out for the little one. Atanarjuat is a skilled runner and hunter, weak and dreamy in other respects, but holding onto his lifelong faith in survival and confidence in family security. In the course of this striking and stirring epic, that second feeling will diminish drastically, as Atanarjuat is forced to look out for himself. But that first feeling – the confidence in survival – will only grow, and be based on a firmer foundation, because indeed Atanarjuat (the “fast runner” of the English title) will endure what kills other men, and the experience will only make him stronger.
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