This topic is part of the 2012 MUBI World Cup. If you have not already done so, please read the first post at the topic for an introduction to and rules about this year’s World Cup:
The purpose of this topic is to cast votes in the matchup listed above and also to be a forum for discussing the films in the match.
Anyone who has seen both of the films listed above may vote in this match. You must vote for whichever of the two films you personally like better. In order to vote you must post a reply to this topic containing one of the following sequences:
If you are voting for Palms: “Moldova (Palms) 1 – Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat) 0”
If you are voting for A Monkey’s Raincoat: “Moldova (Palms) 0 – Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat) 1”
Your vote must contain the names of both films with a “one” after the film you are voting for and a “zero” after the other film. If your vote is not formatted in this way it will not be counted.
Along with your vote you are strongly encouraged to leave additional comments regarding your reactions to the films, your reasons for why you voted the way you did, and responses to other participants’ comments. Being able to have deep discussion about the films and different aspects of them is an important part of finding enjoyment in participating in the World Cup.
This match will end on Thursday, May 24 at 10:00 PM GMT. No votes attempted to be cast after that time will be counted. Shortly after the match ends the votes will be tallied and a winner of the match will be declared. If the films both receive the same number of votes, the match will be considered a tie.
The percentage of votes each film receives in a match will have an effect on whether or not the corresponding country will participate in the final round of the World Cup. Thus even if the film you vote for loses in this match, your vote will still be important.
The results of the matches as well as the schedule for future matches can be found here:
If you would like to participate but are unable to find sources to watch these films, please send me a personal message so that I can invite you to the private website featuring internet links to view the films.
You can find the introduction thread for Palms HERE There is an interview with the director and an academic essay included in the thread which are most enlightening, and my own humble view of course….
Moldova (Palms (1993)) – (1) vs. Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat (2005)) – (0)
As stated before in this tournament, this World Cup has shown me that, amongst other things, the documentary is one of the potentially weakest forms of cinema depending on the context, each film liable to collapse depending on its form and subject for me abruptly. Sadly the fact that it’s the most produced type of film in existence does not help it – yes, it’s only developed interest in the mainstream in the 2000s, unless someone corrects me for making such a stupid statement, but there are plenty of them in existence and many of which you’ve never heard, a swamp of documentaries which, even if they provide interesting subjects or even have important messages, blur and lose their impact, even more so now they’re made on digital cameras. The irony of the latter part is that digital allows anyone to make a film but, unless it’s made by someone who can craft it into more than raw footage or it is first person footage from significant events (such as the images from the Arab Spring Revolutions of last year for example) it merely becomes more film images liable to be forgotten.
A Monkey’s Raincoat has a very interest message to say and plenty of interest but to be honest I’ll forget about it after the Cup’s over. I know that sounds extremely cruel, and I mean no offense to anyone who loved it, but I have become burnt out by the common visual and structural similarities in documentaries like it, which can be seen anywhere from television to films I’ve found in my old university library collection when I’ve searched through it. I will probably remember the talking shopping bag who dismisses the world as ‘bullshit’ in the beginning, an inanimate object turned into a conscious creature who has soaked up the cynicism of human beings in an inspired piece of animatronic art, but very little else.
Palms on the other hand is the exception to the above criticisms of the documentary, closer to an essay film in places, but significantly becoming a work which both has an important message and able to linger long after you’ve seen it. Kuxa Kanema’s introduction perfectly explains why it’s a gem more than I can here, but I will add that, when the narrator suggests that extreme poverty is the only form of freedom, it sounds like he truly means it. It’s an incredibly subversive statement, that to be able to have true free will you must cut oneself off from society this far, and sticks in the mind. The only question left to ask, if anyone wants to take a shot at it, is what does the pre-existing footage of Christians being fed to lions and being killed mean? Is it a Christian undertext for the film, a backdrop from the history of Moldova’s existence or does it have another meaning?
Moldova (Palms) 1 – Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat) 0
Palms : This is an extremely brave and powerful film. It gives us an insight into the life of destitutes, madmen and unwanted people who live on the fringes of society whom we wish to ignore in our daily lives. The filmmaker seems to point out that not only do these people exist but also happen to be a by product of the “system” that we live in. It is a rather bleak film and at no point does it try to fetishize poverty. It presents the truth which is beautiful even if externally ugly. I am not entirely sure if I agree with the commentary that runs through the film but at the same time I do relate with the overall sentiment which the filmmaker seems to convey through it. Many thanks to kuxa for submitting this. I feel this is your best entry in this cup so far.
A Monkey’s Raincoat : I wasn’t too happy about this film representing Netherlands but then I agreed to view it as a Mani Kaul film more than a film representing any specific country. I was very happy with what I saw and realized that it was quite a personal film from Kaul. Apart from the subject of the film where he questions the purpose of Art in today’s world and wonder’s if it is as irrelevant as a monkey’s raincoat, I also noticed a touch of nostalgia for his homeland and a possible yearning to go back home which did not fail to touch me. Kaul shoots the film with a an ordinary handycam but still makes sure that the film makes an impact through its themes and images. Again, thanks to localdjango for giving us an opportunity to view this late work by Kaul which might have been ignored under normal circumstances.
Kuxa Kanema’s introduction perfectly explains why it’s a gem more than I can here, but I will add that, when the narrator suggests that extreme poverty is the only form of freedom, it sounds like he truly means it. It’s an incredibly subversive statement, that to be able to have true free will you must cut oneself off from society this far, and sticks in the mind.
That’s an important point Coheed and I happen to know that renunciation is definitely a form of freedom for monks and ascetics in certain eastern religions. I am not sure if it finds any acceptance in Christianity though.
I was really hoping to find time to watch these. It was a match that particularly was standing out to me as one I wanted to see. Both films sound like something I would find remarkeable. But life has been quite overwhelming recently with my days being more than full of other pressing duties, and it’s not going to let up until after this match is over. I do hope many people enjoy it though. It looks like it has potential for some good conversation.
Thanks to Kuxa for an intro thread.
Moldova (Palms (1993)) – (1) vs. Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat (2005)) – (0)
Good match. I found Kaul’s film very interesting. It really felt like a cinema of the displaced. No one really had a home as such….. but Palms is a near perfect expression of suffering and despair and has to be the winner.
I feel this is your best entry in this cup so far.
Of all my submissions to this cup Palms is one of my favourites alongside the Dupes and Dancing In the Rain which is to come later.
One correction in my intro thread. Moldova is nestled between Rumania and Ukraine. Not Russia which I originally stated… a brush up on my geography is clearly needed :)
Watch out for Moldova in this competition.. It could be a dark horse!!
Oh man the more I read the worse I feel about missing this match…
OK, I couldn’t help it. I’m finding time. Just watched A Monkey’s Raincoat. Now have to squeeze in Palms.
Although I didn’t find A Monkey’s Raincoat to be that revelatory, I did find some of the questions it posed to be rather profound. What is the purpose of art in this modern world? Is it necessary? Is it even useful?
Is art mostly for the artists sake? Is it just some kind of geeky in group like us cinema lovers where concerns don’t really go beyond our group? There’s the woman who talks about how she likes smoking because it keeps oxygen from going to her brain so she doesn’t have to think too much. She prefers to feel instead of to think. It seems like that’s keeping art to a rather selfish realm. The film ends with a temporary art exhibit being taken down. All of these pieces just go up and down again. A few people see them, but of what significance was it? People labor over the smallest things in their art, but for whose sake?
Do people see this a sad film, or a liberating film?
Not many voters here this time…Palms is an amazing film, Verdi’s soaring strains combined with the most extraordinary images of fringe dwellers i think I’ve ever seen to the backdrop of a letter to an unborn son (not already dead Kuxa? I found no evidence of this, did I miss something…) perhaps about to be aborted, perhaps the product of incest. Unforgettable characters revealed here, I put this on not intending to see it all in one sitting but then did not leave it for the duration.
As has been noted, throughout the film the father exhorts his unborn to eschew attachment feeing certain that is the way to lose one’s freedom and spirituality, that once the system besmirches you your soul is forever compromised. Although there is nothing indulgent in the environment of this film, (very much on the contrary), there is nevertheless always something indulgent in the idea of living separate from “the system” as without it, there would be nothing for all but chaos and death and he makes a concession to this reality in his comment that the system is not of itself evil, that it is just trying to “be” – as we all are. Like mystics and hippies, the idea of being a beggar, shunning worldly goods, living on the fringe as an ideal is only ever possible because of the great hordes knuckling down and working their asses off. The disenfranchised depicted here were obviously not rebels against society of course, but physically and/or intellectually handicapped individuals, heart and gut wrenching individuals, in a societal framework that either had no constructs whatever in place to support them, or if there were, that they themselves had not the wherewithall to access. So while Aristakisian’s dialogue suggests advice to someone who might have the faculties to make a choice, his subjects really had little power of choice making the ideals underpinning his narration seem to me at odds with the human subjects of the film. There is a domestic argument in this film that was as darkly tragic, so sadly pathetic, yet spirited and even amusing, so many emotions evoked! I loved the closing scenes at the cemetary (I am very fond of cemetaries) with some of the best music, and stark imagery of dead crows and silent framed photographs. A fascinating film, and my favourite I think of the cup so far. 5/5
A Monkey’s Raincoat – I could add artists to “mystics and hippies” as another demographic often dependent on the system, handouts, benefactors of the system’s supporters, here we see artists struggling to create, wearing themselves out all night getting this little detail just right, “this” often being something only a very few will view and even less think about before it is trashed, cast aside and forgotten, trying in their inexorable way to bring something to the conscious minds of the system dwellers, make them think, take them out of the square and being so sensitive themselves they have to deaden their minds to the follies of mankind or go mad. It’s a heavy burden, often with little reward as we have seen throughout history. I once went to an art gallery and one exhibit was a woman sitting in a beautiful corner at an antique desk writing in graceful script “my life is cut out for me” over and over again across hundreds of printed pages, as she wrote across each she let them one by one flutter to the floor, she was surrounded by them all about her feet. You could buy a page for a couple of dollars. I was very fascinated by this woman and remember sitting watching her for quite some time I bought a page but had to throw it out after a time as it felt so deterministic and became a kind of enemy to me.
Well I am not so interested in art – pictures, art galleries I have a low tolerance for them, even less for the musings of artists, I am much more interested in structures – bridges, ships, mansions, castles and cathedrals, whether the world needs art has been thrashed out ad nauseum I guess and is a moot point, art is and always will be, people are born compelled to provide it to us sometimes at the expense of their sanity and very lives at times and there is sorrow in that, human sorrow, we can but humbly allow it to enrich experience to the best of our various capacities whether “art” be an irascible talking shopping bag, a woman writing a repetitive mantra or the timeless work of a great master. 3/5
@ Meg… Yes my mistake his baby is not aborted, but the likely outcome is that this will happen. Thanks for correcting this!!! And amazing stuff you liked it so much :)
With regards to A Monkey’s Raincoat I also felt the same towards some of the artists. They were all displaced as I mentioned before, but they all had their studios and their art. I felt they were the lucky ones. many refugees, emmigres have to toil and work day and night to survive rather than sit up all night painting!! I do find modern conceptive art interesting and that is what kept me captivated, but I wouldn’t want to go out on a night with them as I think they would probably just irritate me!
I thought I might have missed some significant clue distracted by something, I often do…yes a night with the artists would be a long one I’d rather be up in the loft with Srulik and his doves:)
Moldova (Palms) 1 — Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat) 0
Non, non, non, non, non, non, non, non non-professional actors with extraordinary talents embody compassion, and an ambiguity of foreignness while performing near perfect roles delineated by the author’s fusion of religious bastardization and sociological obfuscation in Artour Aristakisian’s debut film, Palms. His poetics might sound equally at home in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra standing on his head or a hippie cult messiah. Is its literature strong? No, it’s invisible. There isn’t one frame of metaphor to test against any definition of reality. It is the kingdom of reality masquerading as a genius film student’s final project. The ideas are all delusional of course, what ideas aren’t when contorted by a self-aggrandizing preacher of regurgitated profundities? These polemics are hollow, overly-used transgressive hyperbole, seemingly impotent, gnawed by generations of diseased reason and some of the most popular misreadings of human worth under the sun. Yet, they’re our ideas still, as well as our actions. Not one of his stubble-faced, urine-soaked, petri dish specimens would understand or care to what purpose this magnificent charlatan may have double-talked his way into their confidences, true or false. This film uses the same rationale as Nazi Aryan-breeding ideologues, but instead of euthanasia, it proffers a more torturous future of purity, virginity and religious experiments of deep in eutero-psychosis. This movie isn’t dangerous, the twirling search for easy answers in the minds of viewers is what’s dangerous. Balthazar was just a pitiable dumb animal, not a vessel of religious froth, and likewise the chorus of physical debilities wailing through hallucinations are merely that—the mad, the grossly unfortunate, the end of a spectrum of homogeny. However, we’re not judging ethics, history, genetics, social laws, or religious martyr worship, we’re judging a film, of which I’ve never seen one more probing or fearlessly willing to drown in its own septic swamp of megalomania to test filmmaking’s limits. Rare as a blood-stained dove ascending from a suicide’s riven chest. Palms in an extraordinarily powerful concoction of damage and a loud indictment of our primal fear to confront it. Kudos to Kuxa and Localdjango, both, for mining pure veins.
Moldova (Palms) 0 – Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat) 1
moldova has one of the most painful histories i know. annexation, ethnical cleansing, a new medieval period starting with communism, Holodomor, deportations, torture, beatings on the streets in the 50s for speaking their native language, intensive russification/sovietization, transformation of churches in barns, cinemas, toilets or sports halls, civil war, separatism, occupational army that stays there until today, supporting an illegal transnistrian regime (someone called it the black hole of europe) and exercising pressure on the political life of the country, economical instability, corruption, poverty, despair, massive exodus, high criminal rates. moldova is not a country, it’s a wound. some of these details come up in the movie, although what it tries to do is sublimate this disaster into spiritual elevation, into a peaceful sabotage of a twisted state of facts. the relation between the syntax of a language and a specific syntax of thought is also present here, meditating also on the consequences of losing the former, which leads to the adulteration of the latter, all this achievable through state, read soviet, education.
the film reminded me of both lopushansky’s visitor to a museum and of farrokhzad’s the house is black. it speaks about love, not the type of romantical babble confiscated by the healthy ones, but the crumbles that are left for these samovars, as andrei makine called them, half-bodies with half-lives.
ha, what i likies was the presentation of a salary as judas’ thirty silver coins, the miserable consolation we get for treason. jesus taught everyone poverty and letting financial matters to to heavens, in the manner birds and field flowers do. so, if you accept coins, a previsible life with previsible goods that would fit into your monthly income, you refuse divine help and its wish to care and provide for your needs. the film presents begging as freedom. i don’t think it is, since begging became sort of a business, a very profitable one, which allows building multi-storey villas. the bulk of such businessmen and women is romania’s main demographical export, a community that made my country surprisingly famous everywhere :| (gypsies).
Moldova (Palms) 1 — Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat) 0
Voting now. Comments to follow. Hopefully discussion will continue on this one even after the match ends.
I’m surprised Magpies hasn’t voted since one of these films with dead birds.
@Rapciune—thanks for your info on Moldova and your comments on “the relation between the syntax of a language and a specific syntax of thought,” both in Palms (Ladoni) and in the history of the country/wound. Much is beyond me, but it’s a stem of thought I’ve never even considered in certain oppressions, and in the adulteration of many cultures. Again, thanks.
VOTING IS CLOSED
i am still trying to figure if you are ironic or not :)) . i think you are. either my language, or my thought, or both are not working properly, haha. well, moldova surely went through a lot of trouble. still does. they are still going through a lot of pain with defining their language as romanian (which it is, because they are identical) or moldavian. language is an object a debate there, a reason of irritation for many of its citizens and is connected to their political and ethnical identity. they even have a day in the year dedicated to the language – 31th august i guess. defining your language shows, briefly, whose side you are on there.
@Rapciune, I think I might rise in some people’s estimation if I was indeed Ironic, but I’m not. Irony can be a rather silly and overused method of subjective superiority through little original effort, especially when it leaks into sarcasm. Or so my son mentioned to me once, and upon which I agree with him. Truly, I do appreciate your comments, and the idea of syntax in language being tied intrinsically to methods of cognition (in general) is something I’d never pondered. Especially when a new cultural/political boss mandates changes within the use of original language or its ban. Perhaps this is a reason the Irish language was always kept alive in pockets of Republicanism beneath the huge shadow of England’s language, an historical oppressor. Oddly, Joyce, Yeats, Flann O’Brien, and Beckett were informed (to some degree) by just such a historical linguistic transgression, perhaps paradoxically helping to bring on English literature’s radical detour into modernism. It’s always good to hear your comments—I look forward to them.
Moldova (Palms) – 7
Netherlands (A Monkey’s Raincoat) – 1
The winner is:
A treasure is our language that surges
From deep shadows of the past,
Chain of precious stones that scattered
All over our ancient land.
The only question left to ask, if anyone wants to take a shot at it, is what does the pre-existing footage of Christians being fed to lions and being killed mean? Is it a Christian undertext for the film, a backdrop from the history of Moldova’s existence or does it have another meaning?
I’m not but almost every chapter seems to make some kind of reference to teachings of Christ such as the beattitudes and being poor in spirit. I didn’t write any others down but there were a lot of them. It was very curious. I’m not sure what parallels the director was trying to draw. Does anyone think the advice or reasoning of the narrator had any truth to it? Was there anything in the advice that you thought was actually useful? Or was it just the mumblings of an outcast trying to justify or make sense of his disabilities and poverty?
There’s a common saying that Christians should be in the world but not of the world. There is a love for the people of the world and community and working to help other people especially those who are poor or in need. But Christians should not behave in the same way most of the world does, but should hold God and his commandments holy above all over things. It’s interesting that in the film he talks about what a Christian is and that they don’t immediately look like everyone else. I’m forgetting what he said makes them different though. It was something about being able to make love to death. I couldn’t quite figure that out.
they are still going through a lot of pain with defining their language as romanian (which it is, because they are identical) or moldavian. language is an object a debate there, a reason of irritation for many of its citizens and is connected to their political and ethnical identity. they even have a day in the year dedicated to the language – 31th august i guess. defining your language shows, briefly, whose side you are on there.
I’m seeing this reverence for their language in their national anthem. Here’s the full anthem translated to English:
A treasure is our language that surges
From deep shadows of the past,
Chain of precious stones that scattered
All over our ancient land.
A burning flame is our language
Amidst a people waking
From a deathly sleep, no warning,
Like the brave man of the stories.
Our language is the greenest leaf
Of the everlasting forests,
Gentle river Dniester’s ripples
Hiding starlight bright and shining.
Our language is more than holy,
Words of homilies of old
Wept and sung perpetually
In the homesteads of our folks.
A treasure will spring up swiftly
From deep shadows of the past,
Chain of precious stones that scattered
All over our ancient land.
@Riss—Your three last entries are all seeds which could expand into some wonderful dialogues, and I hope people do just that. For myself, on your first entry (archival snippets of Christians/innocents being tortured and killed as entertainment), I have very little to add. Instead, I agree with you that it’s a Christian undertext, almost an encapsulation of the film’s themes of suffering toward a higher cause of spiritual well-being and eventual redemption. But here’s a question which kept nagging at me, perhaps you or others can answer: did anyone else feel that the narrator was feigning deep allegiance with society’s sub-pariah victims in a Christian context? Was he being entirely genuine in advocating purity, suffering, madness, and a life outside the system? I suppose I questioned the narrator’s conviction, and wondered if the filmmaker was poking a finger at those who would empathize with the oppressed and damaged then elevate them as spiritually heroic for their suffering—but only as a method to cleanse themselves of responsibility in the real world of food, hospital assistance, money, living conditions, medications—social needs. Christ was also concerned with corporal suffering, and implored those who would be saved to help the downtrodden in this world (a side bar of liberation theology, or Engaged Buddhism might enter the conversation). He himself cured the sick, raised the dead, fed with loaves and fishes the multitude, making the film’s narrator somewhat compromised in his sole look at spiritual healing for corporal ills. Is the voice-over also the language of the mad? Our narrator’s views seem far too austere and perverse for anything except poetry, while his love for the child creates a disconnect when looked at alongside his lack of responsibility in dealing with his incestuous involvement in the paternity of the fetus, other than in some vague realm of Christian mysticism. It seemed more layered than a simple reading of Aristakisian’s powerful work will allow. In watching the documentary, if one can call it a documentary, I often wondered if the author didn’t have his tongue in his cheek when feeding words into the narrator’s mouth. Perhaps not, it could be that I’m just too cynical at the degree to which a Moldova man might wish one’s own child a life of utter degradation and constant pain for some illusive spiritual purity—even in nationalist metaphor. That is, unless the vocal track was intended as subversive irony and satire, thereby casting the film as actually opposed to the narrator’s beliefs, but never stating those beliefs directly. The line of demarcation seems intentionally very blurred. Which I don’t view as a problem, but only a confusion to be analyzed by the viewers ourselves.
I’ll agree that it seems more layerd than a simple reading allows. But I do think it hopes to incite readings. The director in his interview (did you happen to watch it?) said most people just outright rejected the film. This is probably because those people assumed a simple reading and didn’t like any of the possibilities they could fathom.
I have no strong convictions about answers to many of the questions you asked, but I do have several suspicions. Here are some of them. I’m guessing that Aristakisian was not being specifically tongue in cheek or poking a finger at anyone. Again going back to his interview, he stated when he started filming he was not intending on using the footage for a publically distributed film, but just out of his own personal fasciation. He said he would have filmed these people all day if he could have. I think there is just something about people “outside of the system” that provokes extreme curiosity in him. And, again this is just a suspicion, he does seem like someone who society might often deem as a bit of a weirdo and probably feels a bit alienated from society himself. I’m sure most serious film lovers on this site can relate to some degree. I’m guessing that he doesn’t have any particular sympathy to these people specifically, but just in general. Although he is curious about them specifically. He said the whole narration concept was taken from a real guy he followed around who wouldn’t talk to anyone except to his at one time unborn son who he will probably never see. Thus I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the other tales told about people we see in the film are taken from other real stories he heard, even if they were manipulated and placed in different contexts.
You ask if the voice-over is the language of the mad. This is one question that I feel more confident about answering, and I would answer “yes”. The narrator himself talks regularly about people being mad, and from what I remember suggests that becoming mad might be a necessity for achieving this kind of purity through poverty. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a kind of somewhat cohesive logic to what the narrator says. People who are mad are often very logical, they just start from strange assumptions. While I don’t think that Aristakisian believes this worldview presented by the narrator, I do think the narrator himself is trying to be sincere. I think he is trying to make sense of how to justify his life once he discovers he is outside of the system, suffering, and mad. Because he can’t see any way to make his way into the system to try to relieve his poverty or cure his madness or physical ailments, he justifies his suffering and rejection of the system as true virtue. I think he sees correlations of suffering and distinction from the system in Christ and his early follwers, and he takes the aspects that seem to correlate and melds them with the stories of the impoverished people he sees around him and his own desires for his son.
As a Christian it’s compelling to see because the narrator experiences great suffering and recognizes the failure of material wealth, jobs, position in society, and even health to the the source for ultimate satisfaction. He recognizes a want for a kind of transcendence and a realization that the concept of desiring purity is a part of that. And he reocognizes something desirable and true in the teachings of Christ, but he completely misses the mark and instead of finding Christ himself as the source for the healing and satisfaction and seeing the virtues as an outpouring of that relationship, he makes the individual, isolated strivings of those virtues the ultimate goal. He is still bound to empty suffering.
I wasn’t able to finish Palms (or see more than a bit of A Monkey’s Raincoat which didn’t seem to ‘grab’ me), so didn’t want to comment during the voting. I appreciate the comments re Palms and Kuxa’s excellent thread re the film. However, I had some major problems with the film that made me stop watching it after about 40 minutes. For me, the narration sounded more like the ravings of a madman than anything coherent. It seemed to have an apocalyptic, end of the world tone of despair, which I finally just couldn’t stomach. After awhile, it seemed the filmmaker was just exploiting his subjects, taking whatever bizarre shots possible. When he was filmming the man shaking at the bus stop, eating the apple; and then the old woman with a craggy face, who didn’t want to be filmed, and waves off the camera; I thought his filming and commentary a bit insensitive for my own personal taste.
When the filmmaker was constantly trying to find the most disturbing imagery possible, showing us the man with the discolored, deformed hands, I just couldn’t take the litany of images and depressing narration any longer. It felt like poverty porn. Also, the whole unborn child thing got a bit much, as the reading I had done on the film said it was referring to an aborted fetus. There was a line in the narration where the man says something about the bones and skin of the baby that had been scraped out, implying to me that the aborted fetus was a correct reading.
However, I know others see this film differently. For me, a film like The House is Black is much more hard-hitting and done with more compassion and understanding toward its subjects. I didn’t see the same film as others, so sorry I can’t join in with the praise. I just had to turn it off to preserve my own fragile sanity – and won’t be revisiting the film any time soon. But that’s just me, I guess. Does my failure to properly appreciate this film make me a bad cinephile? In any case, apologies to all those who liked the film, if this tone is sounding too dismissive.
For me, the narration sounded more like the ravings of a madman than anything coherent.
Yes for me it also sounded like a madman, although like I said above I thought maybe there was some kind of strange coherence to it. Like a poetic coherence even if the poetry was removed from ultimate reality, which is what makes it mad. Still curious about what BrotherDeacon things about this.
It seemed to have an apocalyptic, end of the world tone of despair, which I finally just couldn’t stomach.
I don’t think this is an uncommon reaction. I was browsing some reaction from cinephiles on some other sites about this and a lot of people had trouble making it through.
After awhile, it seemed the filmmaker was just exploiting his subjects, taking whatever bizarre shots possible. When he was filmming the man shaking at the bus stop, eating the apple; and then the old woman with a craggy face, who didn’t want to be filmed, and waves off the camera; I thought his filming and commentary a bit insensitive for my own personal taste.
Not that I want to subject you to any more of the film, but maybe you’d be interested in watching the interview with the director that Kuxa posted even though it does feature some exerpts from the film. I’m curious about what people think about his comparison to filming poor people to painters who used to hire poor people to post for pictures of kings and other famous people. I wonder which could potentially be more exploitative? In one a person gets paid but is specifically standing in for something else. In filming these are the real people. It doesn’t seem like he’s interfereing in their life too much, just fliming it as it happens. But I’m sure he knows people will watch it as bizzarre and strange. I wonder though how strange these people see themselves. I wonder if the people immediately around them see them as strange or if they just see them every day and are used to it. I wonder how indicative all of this is of Moldova, a place I never heard much about, in light of Răpciune’s view of it.
When the filmmaker was constantly trying to find the most disturbing imagery possible, showing us the man with the discolored, deformed hands, I just couldn’t take the litany of images and depressing narration any longer. It felt like poverty porn.
I was wondering if this poverty porn idea would come up again since it was something attributed earlier to The Rose Seller and there was a lot of conversation about it. I’m not too sure what to say about it, but it does seem like it could be valid. Again the director doesn’t state any kind of sympathy for these people, just a kind of fascination.
For me, a film like The House is Black is much more hard-hitting and done with more compassion and understanding toward its subjects.
I hear this film mentioned so much. I really ought to see it soon.
Does my failure to properly appreciate this film make me a bad cinephile?
No, it doesn’t make you a bad cinephile. A cinephile is someone who just loves the artform of cinema, not someone who likes a specific list of films. If we all liked the same films that wouldn’t make us very discerning or individual.