Laxe himself stars as a self-described “neo-colonialist” filmmaker who goes to Tangiers ostensibly to hold a series of film workshops. It quickly becomes clear, however, that his intentions are not purely disinterested, as he begins to turn these children into pawns in the service of his own film.
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Laxe's debut feature is a playful take on the possible condescending nature of filmmaker's taking on non first world stories especially involving children. The film evolves as it goes on and despite its gorgeous images never really achieves the director's intent. Instead one is left with the desire to rewatch so Kiarostami instead.
Beginning is very successful, but then it drags on a bit.
The theme of filming people filming is only bearable because of the novelty of having kids in Morocco filming as a theme and a pretty solid set of interrogations.
Lovely film. So many frames look like Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" photographs. Enjoyed the journey from the first half in the city, where the kids are bouncing off the walls under the rule of the egotistical, narcissistic "director," to the pastoral second half, where the kids relax and frolic in the country. I hope in "real life" child labor laws were enforced!
An interesting conceit revolving around the "making of" a documentary. Walking that fine line between real and narrative. Pretty well done in that manner. Filmed in black and white which seems to add to its somewhat realistic look at some Moroccan youth, who come across as daily terrors these kids. Oh mercy. It's not the deepest of films and the ending goes a bit astray for my tastes. But I'd say it's worth the view.
Writer-director Oliver Laxe explores some interesting, if familiar, ideas in this blend of documentary and fiction that posits him as a visitor trying to teach children a bit about film-making while striving to twist things to his own end. This inevitably corrupts the potential purity of the central idea, revealing the chasm that lies between the humans making movies and the camera that simply films everything.
Made me think of Haroun's Bye Bye Africa and Sissako's La vie sur terre. Like these other feature debuts in which the director is present, Laxe's film feels like a space-clearing endeavour, a remorseless self-scrutiny of the filmmaking enterprise in which the filmmaker confronts the anxieties and ethical quandaries of his craft. This creative self-exorcism complete, the filmmaker can then move on to other work...