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 Freedom: “Lithuania (Freedom) 1 – Sri Lanka (A Woman in a Whirlpool) 0”
If you are voting for A Woman in a Whirlpool: “Lithuania (Freedom) 0 – Sri Lanka (A Woman in a Whirlpool) 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, June 14 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.
Good luck, Risselada. I’m gonna watch your film right now.
Lithuania (Freedom) 0 – Sri Lanka (A Woman in a Whirlpool) 1
Thanks localdjango, and I’m watching A Woman in a Whirlpool tonight hopefully!
Lithuania (Freedom) – 0 – Sri Lanka (A Woman in a Whirlpool) – 1
Bartas had exposure in the first Directors’ Cup, so not sure what he is doing here. This film, typical of his style, features a bare minimum of dialogue, some great cinematography (Bartas does all or much of the cinematography on his films and all show his great eye for detail), and little narrative exposition. It is film stripped bare by its filmic bachelors. Freedom had some gorgeous pans of the sand and mountains, telling close-ups of the faces, a great soundscape of the sea and the waves crashing onto shore. At times, the one main male character (played effectively by Valentinas Masalskis) is made to look almost demonic, in the dark lighting.
We know almost nothing of the three main characters who are escaping – from what, from whom, and why. Everything is oblique. These are strangers in a strange land. Although I found Bartas’ non-narrative technique could work in films of his such as House, here so many of the shots just seemed rather empty of signifiers. By taking us away from nearly all narrative frames of reference and just letting us endlessly ‘contemplate’ his subjects gazing out to sea or out into space – we have nothing to connect with them. The film looks nice, but felt as cold as the wind-swept sea they gaze at.
The one man behaves cruely toward the woman (a nasty scene), but she still follows him along sheepishly. Why? Without context or rhyme or reason to the actions, it is hard to sustain any interest in any of this. We float on a sea of possibilities. Lacking this context or sustained storyline, we can’t be blamed for our own indifference to their fate. This is a Beckett-like wasteland of sand, sea, and wind. The crabs scurrying about the sand have as much meaning here as the humans. Also, what’s with all those close-ups of back flies crawling over faces?
A Woman in a Whirlpool is a Sri Lankan version of a ‘soap opera’ (as defined in a recent thread). We have betrayal, revenge, lust, and jealousy all working toward a final denouement. Everyone is out to get everyone else, no one is to be trusted, and everyone is behaving from a totally self-centered motive brought on by degradation or the hope to one day better one’s self in a very tightly controlled world. (Wait – doesn’t that summary sound a bit like Freedom, too?). Here, in a jungle microscosm, are all the ingredients for a heady story. Throw in some clever camera angles and some ghosts from the past appearing at key moments, and you’ve got yourself movie!
I found the Bartas a bit too cold and abstract. I’m voting for this Sri Lankan live-wire
Btw – I am definitely keen on Bartas, so glad to see a film of his in this Cup that I hadn’t seen before. Both of these films are well worth watching. I also thank Riss for his intro thread for Freedom and giving us the Critical 20 discussion link. I just thought I would put my own comments on the voting thread, hoping to spark some more comments on either film. Some of the discussion on the link helped clarify some of my own thoughts.
I hope we get some more votes on these two good films. Thanks to both presenters.
I admired the Bartas film quite a bit. I guess it’s a kind of film I like for whatever reason; the “nonactor-types brooding in exotic locations” film. Though elevated above others through an elegant execution. I think a lot of Asian films, in order to be considered “high art”, would probably have to look something like the Bartas film; the trend of Asian films shot like European films getting tons of praise and attention at major festivals. Part of the reason why I chose the Bandaranayake film was because I felt it was indicative of an aesthetic or a sensibility that is indigenous to Sri Lanka. It’s not that that automatically makes the film more substantial but it is another way of looking at the human condition. Most importantly though it’s a great film. It’s highly regarded in Sri Lanka and is still considered quite risqué. Thanks Risselada for the stellar Bartas, it’s my favorite discovery of the cup thus far and I’m definitely going to check out his other work. I loved both films but a gun to my head I guess I’d choose the Sri Lankan film.
Why Freedom? This is arguably Bartas’ weakest film with the possible exception of Eastern Drift. Corridor or A Few of Us would have been a more interesting choice.
Lithuania (Freedom) 1 – Sri Lanka (A Woman in a Whirlpool) 0
Sultry machinations and cold sad mysteries, thanks for these two submissions both terrific but was so drawn into the latter, if this is a lesser Bartas am looking forward to more.
Why Freedom? This is arguably Bartas’ weakest film with the possible exception of Eastern Drift. Corridor or A Few of Us would have been a more interesting choice.
1. I would like to hear the argument that it is his weakest film. I prefer it to Corridor. And I think it’s on par with Few of Us.
2. Corridor and Few of Us we ineligable to be used in this cup per the rules because they were used in a previous cup.
I didn’t like Freedom personally. A little too over the top in how drawn out and cold it was.
It was quite atmospheric, but I didn’t understand why the balding man had to come off as so evil.
Too generic of an art house movie for my taste. Shots were too long, and there were too many shots of the desert/beach, which in turn kind of killed the visual impact.
It seems like I won’t have enough time to check out A Woman in the Whirlpool. So I just decided to drop off my opinion on Freedom.
I liked A Woman in a Whirlpool, so thank you for that Localdjango. My love for Freedom still wins out though.
It’s cool to hear you feel like this was indicative of a lot of film from Sri Lanka. Again it’s good to have something like that as an introduction to film from a certain country. Interesting that it was considered risque as from comparing it to other films of the same matters or style elsewhere you’d expect to see a bit more love making. There were half a dozen times when I was sure we were going to see some breasts, but then it was like the film was trying to tease the viewer. Some of the murder was quite gruesome though, only by showwing the horror and pain on the people’s faces. Pretty good acting too. It felt almost Shakespearian in all of the backstabbings and murders and cross plots.
A question for the ladies. Were you attracted to the unibrow?
I like Corridor and Seven Invisible Men better than Freedom, but I like Freedom better than The House.
And as Riss said, a lot of his films were played in the first DC.
I understand calling Freedom cold, but I don’t see how it can be called over the top.
@Oxy. Thanks for the comments!
Bartas had exposure in the first Directors’ Cup, so not sure what he is doing here.
Welllllll, even though a lot of his films have a simliar style, I still thought this one was worth seeing as well. Just my perspective. As you can see here though there were a few people who were still new to him…
This film, typical of his style, features a bare minimum of dialogue, some great cinematography (Bartas does all or much of the cinematography on his films and all show his great eye for detail), and little narrative exposition. It is film stripped bare by its filmic bachelors. Freedom had some gorgeous pans of the sand and mountains, telling close-ups of the faces, a great soundscape of the sea and the waves crashing onto shore. At times, the one main male character (played effectively by Valentinas Masalskis) is made to look almost demonic, in the dark lighting.
This isn’t enough for you?! ;)
While I also loved The House, I did not like it as much as this and some of his other films. Maybe because conversely I actually get overwhelmed with too many “signifiers”. The House seemed quite weird and full of interesting things to look at it, but in that way it was less relateable. I don’t know how I’d find myself in such a house, and it sure would be weird. But weird doesn’t always sustain me. Stripping those things away to show a landscape that seems more natural than specifically designed by humans lets me sink in more by being able to imagine myself there for many reasons and not getting too caught up in figuring out the few specific possible reasons.
Oh but for some people the phrase “a sea of possibilities” sounds great. I think in real life that would be overwhelming, but the way it manifests in a film like this is something nice for me.
Bartas seems like an interesting dude. Has anyone seen “An Army of One”? I look forward to seeing his other films. Also, unibrows are coming back in a big way everybody knows this.
Thanks for the comments, Riss. I guess this is about the fourth film of Bartas I’ve seen. Of what I have seen, his style in House works best for me. That is not only a personal favorite, but a 5/5 film. In that film, I thought the allegorical drive was a bit clearer than in other films of his. For me, the choice of faces and nationalities in the film seemed to resonate as if this House was a sort of microcosm of humanity.
I think Bartas is using his minimal plots in some sort of allegorical way, like all the best filmmakers. Let’s just say for Freedom I was a bit more lost as to just what was going on. But, of course, each of us sees these films differently, as others may like another film of his better than one I would pick – like House. Guess it demonstrates how each of us views things from our own unique perspective, making no two film viewings the same. Really shows in our different comments in these voting threads.
How do you, Riss – or anyone else – relate Bartas’ work to other of these ‘slower,’ more contemplative filmmakers – the so-called CCC? How would others see him relative to Alonso, Guerin, Weerasethakul (coming up very soon in the Cup!), Ceylan and company? I think Bartas has as good an eye as anyone making films today. All his films feature striking images and exceptional camerawork. That’s what I like about his films and so many of the other filmmakers others find a bit ‘too slow’. Hell, life is speeding by so fast, it’s nice that some filmmakers are pointing out ways for us to lessen our hectic pace – to stop and look around us and see something we otherwise might miss.
In any case, bad luck, Riss, to have such a devilishly delightful film in competition against Bartas. That was a find indeed, LocalDjango. Nobody who sees either of these films really loses when the films are as interesting – and as different – as these two are.
“Were you attracted to the unibrow”
ha, no but certainly to Unibrow’s (Mudalali’s)tears, they took the film to a higher power in the closing moments for me. I loved his combination of vulnerable heart and self serving bluster, he was quite adorable and I often found myself chuckling at him. There was a lot to love here, they were all terrific, Suddi was one of the best depictions of the mercenary jezzebel archetype I’ve seen in some time, wonderfully slithery… I spent quite a few years in the tropics, I could sense the tropical heat all around throughout the film despite winter temperatures here and watching this under a blanket beside the heater. And what a great title! Woman in a Whirlpool… well she certainly was in a whirlpool of inevitable tragedy and demise. Re breasts not being on show, I just assumed all that panning away was because of censorship….
I also couldn’t think of Freedom as over the top, time and again I thought please just hold it here let me breathe and don’t get in my way of appreciating this moment fully … and he didn’t not once so for me it was impeccably blissfully understated and of course the little parades of other creatures..freed crabs, a tentative lizard, stately water birds, milling goats. I loved these things. If David Attenborough was to do a Waiting for Godot, would it look something like this? Appreciation for any small thing felt very figural after watching this, a crust of bread, a kind word, a roof overhead, hope…a fly swat (yes those flies were hard to watch, the tormented hardly now noticing, a seeming symbol of being inured to accepting what is when one is powerless to stop it).
VOTING IS CLOSED
Lithuania (Freedom) – 2
Sri Lanka (A Woman in a Whirlpool) – 3
The winner is:
Mother Lanka we salute Thee!
Plenteous in prosperity, Thou,
Beauteous in grace and love,
Laden with grain and luscious fruit,
And fragrant flowers of radiant hue,
Giver of life and all good things,
Our land of joy and victory,
Receive our grateful praise sublime,
Lanka! we worship Thee.
Thou gavest us Knowledge and Truth,
Thou art our strength and inward faith,
Our light divine and sentient being,
Breath of life and liberation.
Grant us, bondage free, inspiration.
Inspire us for ever.
In wisdom and strength renewed,
Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended,
In love enfolded, a mighty nation
Marching onward, all as one,
Lead us, Mother, to fullest freedom.
If David Attenborough was to do a Waiting for Godot, would it look something like this?
Ha – good one, Meg!
Re breasts not being on show, I just assumed all that panning away was because of censorship
Me too. I was surprised the director got away with as much as he did. Boy, those lead characters sure had a bad case of ‘jungle fever’, as it seemed like they were doing it in the jungle whenever they had the chance. Were there no ants about?
5 voters – w-h-a-a-t the…? Are you kiddin’ me? Where are some of our regulars? Here was a chance to see an important Bartas film and a rare gem from Sri Lanka. These opportunities aren’t going to last forever, folks.
Oh well, go talk about how Prometheus figures in the Alien films, if no one cares about these type of films in the Cup. We seem to be getting more parochial for a supposedly international film site. Here are international films, free for the viewing, and so few takers on a site with hundreds of thousands of ‘film fanatics’. Film fanatics my foot!
hey, I only had a day to watch them both. Cut me some slack!
Chris – they’ve been posted on the blog for the Cup for several weeks, I believe. Hey, I’m busy, too, but trying to get a few of these in before the blog – and these opportunities – disappear. Also, just because the vote is over, no reason not to see the films. Contact Riss for details if anyone needs access to the blog.
But, these films really don’t need my promotion. They speak for themselves. Just surprised more aren’t a little bit curious about them. These Cup things can be fun and no one needs to stress over them. No one is watching all of them, so if anyone is interested, just jump in somewhere and see how it feels. But, I won’t belabor the point. To each his or her own.
Yeah, I just got access to the blogs a day or 2 ago. I’ll probably watch A Woman in a Whirlpool for fun some day since Sri Lanka is a bad ass country.
Lets see if I can manage to participate in the next batch!
That would be great, Chris! Hope to see you on a voting thread.
Riss and the uploaders have put a lot of work into this, that’s why I would encourage anyone interested to participate at any level. Thanks!
I didn’t like either one very much, finished them too late to vote. I’ve been watching other films in the So. Korean batch and assorted goodies on YouTube. These two paled badly in comparison. Should we spend our time watching mediocre fare (yes I’m calling S.Bartas’s entry mediocre) or pedestrian Sri Lankan murder stories, when there are so many great films to watch? It’s a question which is becoming more emphatic for me. I don’t expect anyone else to agree, but I think there’s much ado about nothing lately. No one’s fault, except perhaps my own for becoming so jaded instead of thankful. Voting would have been difficult had I been on time.
well… I was happy to discover the Bartas which was a significant “director find” for me but yes I hear what you are saying, in the broad scheme of things ..although you have been really enthusiastic about some matches, no? i think the negative commentary from those it does not suit has frightened people off and one of the reasons there’s been a low turnout.. to me it’s just an opportunity to see stuff from different countries nothing more, nothing less that is why it exists… the problems cited (not cream of the crop cinema sometimes, one off submissions from people less than expert etc) were always going to be part of a geographical focused cup – being of the opinion “why should I bother when there’s better things to watch” is a personal choice, no one is forcing anyone to participate and I don’t see the point in the ongoing repeating of these sorts of messages
well….i just didn’t vote in this one because i saw enough bartas in the previous cup. and by the sounds of it, there wouldn’t have been any more surprises with this film…
I read it was his “most accessible”, an observation that seems to often translate as “less than” in the cinephile’s hierarchy of esteem….anyway as such it was probably a good starting point
no one is forcing anyone to participate and I don’t see the point in the ongoing repeating of these sorts of messages
I completely agree and won’t be a negative ninny again (I hope). We all have our own priorities and films we want to watch. There must be a good reason for the low turnouts, as other Cups have had more, with tapering off maybe at the end. I am going to have to bail soon myself, as I have other projects on the go, so am the last person to cast aspersions.
Apologies to all, especially if they are hurting the cause. I have enjoyed my own participation (even if others haven’t maybe), but will have to call it quits for awhile after the Germany/China match. I’ve managed to see the streaming films up until then. Of course, anybody is free to do what they want without anymore hectoring by me.
I’ve just missed some of the commentary of some of our Cup regulars, that’s all. I’ll get a life one of these days…
Oh yeah I can see that. I certainly loved that film too, but maybe for different reasons like you say below
Totally. And I think that comes to the main point of what I like most about these cups. I watch a film. I have an opinion. Now I have an avenue to try to probe my mind and figure out what my reasons are for that opinion. In having to articulate them I understand them better. Now other people are doing the same thing. If people had a different opinion of a film, I get the insight of that, which can affect my perception of the film and thus my perception of the world. If other people have a simliar opinion of a film, they might have different reasons. Which can also give me new insights. It’s great! Thanks!
How do you, Riss – or anyone else – relate Bartas’ work to other of these ‘slower,’ more contemplative filmmakers – the so-called CCC? How would others see him relative to Alonso, Guerin, Weerasethakul (coming up very soon in the Cup!), Ceylan and company? I think Bartas has as good an eye as anyone making films today. All his films feature striking images and exceptional camerawork. That’s what I like about his films and so many of the other filmmakers others find a bit ‘too slow’. Hell, life is speeding by so fast, it’s nice that some filmmakers are pointing out ways for us to lessen our hectic pace – to stop and look around us and see something we otherwise might miss
Some of those folks you named I’m more familiar with than others, but I think he ranks up there at the top. Still all of these filmmakers are fascinatined by different things. They are prone to different moods and perspectives and visual qualities. Some of them fit different levels of human narratives into the films as well. So they are all quite different as well. I don’t like a filmmaker just for being slow. I still have to find something that personally fascinates me in what they are showing.