It is a very poetic experience, is partly quite disturbing, and quite the sleep pill. I saw this on the Gothenburg International Film Festival in 2015, both me and a friend along with much of the audience seemed to have been dozing off one time or another. There was literally a guy snoring next to us. Prepare with coffee, tea, sugar, etc., or make a short pause, to best experience this beautiful and surreal film!
What starts as a behind the scenes look at a film being shot in the Atlas mountains (Oliver Laxe's "mimosas") evolves into a strange adaptation of a Paul Bowles story in this experimental work from director Ben Rivers. Both beautiful and macabre this is a work both radical and enthralling. Well planned and full of beautiful moments with pristine camerawork by the director himself. Not for every taste but should be.
The film certainly fulfills the promise of non traditional narrative structures. It is a winding plot, that tells itself from several angles from the beginning. It is also not afraid to slow down and observe the tangents, giving each moment as much weight as the next. Though this philosophy is refreshing, it made the plot difficult to follow at times. Certainly not a film for most, but it still has its charm.
From 42nd min unparalleled violence, an hallucinated nightmare. The dazzling heat of the sun vs the iced darkness of men. Our civilization & theirs cant merge, Islam doesnt compromise, it enslaves. = Dès la 42ème min 1 violence inégalée, 1 cauchemar halluciné. La chaleur éblouissante du soleil face à la noirceur glacée des hommes. Notre civilisation & la leur ne peuvent fusionner, l'islam ne transige pas, il asservit
A disciple of Paul Bowles for a period of time a decade or longer back looks at the journalists who are taken and killed by IS as the precise meaning of his work. Put another way, the failure to show the human condition, the breakdown of the individual’s humanity in the film, marginalize Bowles in an unacceptable way. I think Bowles is better read in the same way Under the Volcano is better read.
There is a humorous literal reading in the director losing his way, his voice, and then finding a new audience as the 'king of can(Ne)s', but Rivers is surely not interested in such petty aphorisms. The 16mm, especially projected, is sun-soaked beauty, and his colonialist fable is a violent dream to be consumed in. No one does metal more justice, especially here as a spell to conjure the darkness.
Rivers has collected, in the manner of a wanderer or sage or both, a series of images climaxing w/ one which speaks for all of them, as well as the undertaking itself. Cribbing from Paul Bowles (and certainly reflecting a degree of self-criticism), Rivers is looking at those who go into the heart of darkness in search of treasures or transcendence. There is a kind or sham tourism that leads to a destiny in indignity.