Directed by Sean DurkinUnited States | 2011
The realization that the film is a portrait of Martha’s subjectivity does not come instantly due to Durkin’s emphasis on long takes, his suppression of extra-diegetic sound, and his refusal to write his way inside his main character’s head space, all of which are general signifiers of objectivity. But what Durkin has achieved is a way of presenting the subjectivity of a person who no longer understands her own ideals, desires, and actions, who indeed is a mere physical shell missing a cohesive soul. Thematically speaking, the film’s post-Manson indictment of the identity-shattering mob mentality of cults couldn’t be clearer, but it’s the depth of detail that Durkin and Olsen infuse into Martha’s character that really allows the parable to breathe.
Directed by Matt PorterfieldUnited States | 2010
Erecting an observational ensemble study atop a fictional foundation allows Porterfield to achieve two unique effects: that of drama and reality coexisting in never quite clearly demarcated degrees, and that of real people pulling from their own memories and life experiences to comment on the subject of mortality. Putty Hill is essentially about people, their stories, and the way that those stories find ways to link up, and Porterfield’s attention to the simplest, most mundane of behaviors is never less than rapt.
Directed by Peter Brosens, Dorjkhandyn TurmunkhBelgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Mongolia | 1998
Movement – of Basaar’s spirit, of trains across endless panoramas, of traditional customs passing on to modernity – becomes the crux of the film. Brosens and Turmunkh reflect it in their fluid integration of visual motifs that recur throughout, such as shots from the window of a moving vehicle and static compositions of various herds (people, cattle, dogs) moving from one side of the frame to another. Within this framework, the lack of movement becomes equally substantial; a landscape, vast and unchanging, passes through the camera’s lens as if to represent a static force amidst all the movement, and thousands of dead canines are scattered across the desert and the sides of village roads, acting both as mementos for an old way of life and shocking reminders of collective guilt.
Directed by José Luis GuerínSpain, France | 2007
Guerin seems to have deliberately fashioned his film in such an open-ended manner so as to invite these decade-spanning cinematic associations. Because after all, In the City of Sylvia proves to be in its own quietly self-referential way about the experience of watching and making movies. Latiffe, suggesting an androgynous Renaissance painter with his flowing long hair, skinny mustache, and loose, unbuttoned long-sleeve shirt, compiles the various physical features of the women around him into his notepad, hoping to concretize the vague impressions in his mind, much like the slow process of mental images into scripts and ultimately cinematic images.
Directed by Terence DaviesUnited Kingdom | 1988
Davies frequently subverts this, introducing sound but not cutting to the scene connected to it. Images and events frequently compress illogically, allowing Davies to explain them or connect them later on. This seems to mimic the associative nesting of memory, as scenes don’t unfold linearly in time but in the order in which one is associated with another, making the connections all the more suggestive. Davies also saves one of his finest moments for the transition between the film’s two main sections…
Directed by Alain ResnaisFrance, Italy | 1963
Resnais seems to stress that while people can be sympathetic they can never fully understand the psychological impact such events make on those who go through them. Bernard may be the film’s most interesting character precisely because of the multiple perspectives on his character; everyone sees him differently: his mother, Alphonse and Françoise. But he won’t allow anyone in, and it’s only in private moments that he reveals how traumatized he’s been. The title itself is, after all, an allusion to the woman he killed during the war.