Archive for May 4th, 2011


Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

      With its verdant, bucolic hinterland and pedestrian-friendly, clean and cozy little city (not to mention its sixty-six year-old protagonist, living on a meagre pension), you would not be drawn right away to realize the close kinship that Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry (2010) bears toward Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert (1964). Both films, however, in essence, track the prospects for masterful lyrism of sensibility in a tone-deaf, blighted world history. Antonioni’s way was ruthless espionage informed and covered by ironic and elusive gusto. Lee Chang-dong’s way would seem to be a self-sacrificial shot in the dark, its protagonist’s killing herself (an option once salient for Red Desert’s Giuliana) hardly the stuff where traction lies. But Poetry, like the métier of poetry, is hard to pin down. In view of the murkiness of its energies—and their consequentiality—it might be useful to refer to a distinguished instance from long ago, wherein domestic probity unequivocally wins out, and craved-for adventure subsides to a furtive and futile nostalgic flutter. In view of that offshoot of an era when bittersweet whimsy was quite enough, we might discover that the entry from 2010 is “poetic” in the sense of having so much stuff on the ball as to take us back to the phantom pitching of Antonioni’s golden moment. (more…)

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