Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #64


End Of The Week Shorts #64

Today's shorts: Celine And Julie Go Boating (1974), Aparajito (1956), Apur Sansar (1959), The Patriot (2000), The Scent Of Rain & Lightning (2017), The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Summer With Monika (1953)

If you put a gun to my head and asked why this is such a highly acclaimed movie*, I honestly couldn't give you a good answer.

Celine and Julie Go Boating is a nonsense film (technically; it means to resemble Alice In Wonderland to a degree) about two women who find each other seemingly through magic and who get lost in each other's lies and pseudo-psychedelic imaginings. No entertainment or meaning is produced from the unending sequences of laziness and mindless laughing as there is no substantial drama and characterisation; there is no real reasoning in the narrative, nor is there true emotion. What little this does say or do is lost in the folds of its meandering 193 minute long narrative, and so this ends without affect, just feeling like a big waste of time a little reminiscent of 1966's Daisies, merely more bloated and alien.

*If that fateful day does come, has anyone got an answer that'd save my life?

Slowly and subtly beautiful, Aparajito continues Ray's Apu trilogy with a meditation, again, on the speed of life. Whilst Pather Panchali seemingly expands childhood and gapes at all of its intricacies whilst documenting the struggling world of adulthood that exists around it, Aparajito sees the two world collide - as they do in the end of Pather Panchali. What this film then explores is what it means to miss life; to look back in longing, to be caught up in the present, to be lost in the present, to loose sight of the future. This idea is embodied in a mother who has learnt, through tragedy, the preciousness of life, and her son who, with baggage of naivety, attempts to move on and up in the world.

What remains constant in the Apu trilogy is sacrifice and tragedy; both inherent to life, but, the question of this extended narrative is of how one can find balance between the two, to transcend the struggle of life and find harmony.

Can a film be more masterfully directed?

The World of Apu sees the sparse ellipses that make up the spine of the Apu trilogy bared for all to see. Less a story about character or event, more so an exploration of effect and ineffect, The World of Apu concludes a story about a boy, turned teen, turned man, who simply never gets a good start in life. For all the momentum he tries to muster, only failure awaits, like a starting-gate that will not open once the racing gun has fired, life hits this boy before he ever really knows where he is going. For all his hope and naivety, there is always equal despair and tragedy. Yet he continues to wander and wait, no one able to open his gates so he can run. The only turn-around in the narrative then seems to be the sight of another struggling boy with no track to run. The world of Apu is one of unending failure, but an abundance of opportunity; a hard world to live in, but maybe one worth the pain.

I do not know why I have seen this movie so many times - the majority of viewings being fragmentary, but still exposures to the same narrative I know almost back to front now.

Whilst this is highly melodramatic and sentimental (sometimes to a fault) this is a rather good film that, above all else, successfully manages to engage the inner conflict of its main character, stretching out and testing their inner reasoning, quite slowly transforming their inner conflict onto their outer world via a transformation from a family drama to all-out war film. This focus on character gives the film weight and so makes for some solid entertainment. It's easy to ask for a little more depth and complexity in the truly evil generals and from the narrative more generally, but I don't care to criticise this too much. A fine watch.

The Scent of Rain & Lightning is a mystery that sees a young woman whose parents were murdered attempt to discover the truth when it becomes apparent that the family's enemy, who has just been released from jail, may be innocent. The strengths of this narrative lie in its exploration of the depth and complexity of a lie and a dirty secret; how this can infect and posses a whole family. The draw backs of this film that kept it from driving into me concern the depth of characterisation and the tone. In short, characters almost always serve the plot - which is convoluted to a degree that, rather than drawing you in, pushes you away because you are not familiar with any of the characters - and never are. Moreover, this has an air of contrivance about it thanks to the writing and performances. Ultimately and unfortunately, these draw backs leave this an objectively good movie that just didn't come to mean much to me as it came to a close. Not one I can recommend.

The substance that can take away your pain is the same substance that can rob you of your joy, your harmony and your grip on meaning: anaesthesia.

The Pied Piper, the multicoloured one who breathes magic song into the world, is anaesthesia in its many forms. He can call away vermin, plague and pain. Refuse to pay him for his work, and he may take away your future and meaning: your children. The Pied Piper manifests over this calm storm of off-beat drama as the ability to cope, to deal with tragedy. He is the source of all inner-conflict as he, as people begin to betray their capacity to cope, begins to call their children away, out of sight, their pain and misery gone with what was meaningful. The question of this narrative is then how far the Pied Piper goes and who will let him escape unpaid.

Terribly affecting - and I mean that in the most direct sense; this is an awful film to be roped into, to be bought by, manipulated by, taught by - for this, I suppose it has to be recognised as yet another masterful Bergman picture.

Summer with Monica is a film about making a mistake; a mistake so plain and obvious that it is almost perplexing that our main character makes it: he gets with a girl who has "trouble" tattooed all over her face. Following foolish impulse, we watch the boy indulge his mistakes, annoyed and vexed, then ultimately infuriated and deeply saddened. However, what emerges from this boy's stupid mistakes, from his summer with Monika, is a lesson in life, a journey towards manhood, responsibility and sense that is worth the all pain. And so watching this stupid boy stumble down this path becomes all of a sudden uplifting, our emotions re-aligned; the truth of youth in 100 minutes.

Previous post:

Greek Myth, Matriarchy, Jung & Social Constructivism

Next post:

Alcestis - The Hospitable Fool

More from me:

No comments: