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Berlin sleep-debt snatches : 5—The Second Thursday

Ever hear of Slow Criticism? It's a new movement in film criticism launched into the festival-world's public consciousness at Rotterdam last month, when a special edition of the Dutch magazine Filmkrant, edited by Dana Linssen, came out. The idea is to counterpoint the rush to instant, snappy judgments from film reviewers worldwide, who find themselves increasingly harried by knuckleheaded editors.

According to Dana: "The following pages are a refuge for wayward articles that too seldom find their way to print, because they are considered too philosophical, personal, political or poetic."

Might be a goer. Especially if Slow Criticism champions what I'd like to dub Fast Arthouse. Because, just as the mighty Vern (http://www.geocities.com/outlawvern/) keeps telling us that "poems don't got to be soft," I firmly reckon that good movies don't got to be slow, especially those showcased at festivals such as the Berlinale.

Exhibit A : Green Waters, aka Aguas Verdes, an unheralded, so far not-much-talked about (except by me!) Argentinean picture tucked away in the Forum.  The lurid debut from writer-director Mariano De Rosa is about a paranoid dad on holiday with his two kids—one of them a jailbait teenage girl—plays like Pasolini's Theorem, if the latter had been remade as a Spanish horror film circa 1975. Formally and tonally audacious, it's the only new movie I've seen here that I've been able to get particularly enthusiastic about (though I've liked My Dear Enemy, Deep in the Valley and the Ahmadinejad documentary Letters to the President), and it goes like the proverbial clappers. This means that it'll be trashed as unserious and unartistic in certain quarters, but so be it. Then again, it's a real slowcoach of a picture compared with...

Exhibit B : The Dancing Hawk, aka Tanczacy jastrzab, 1977, Poland, by Grzegorz Krolikiewicz, whom I'd never heard of before arriving here.  The film is part of the “After Winter Comes Spring” section of movies made behind the Iron Curtain in the 10-15 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it's the only masterpiece I've seen here (after 24 films). Jagged, impressionistic and relentlessly inventive (visually, sound-wise, thematically) biography of a mid-ranking Communist apparatchik (think Terry Gilliam remaking Mirror, on amphetamines) plays like a wild, hilarious avant-garde short - for a full 98 minutes. The pace and invention do dip a little here and there, but in the end I was reminded about the mighty American racehorse Secretariat, about whom it was said he could sprint for a full 12 furlongs.

Otherwise, not much to write home about. My dark-horse Katalin Varga has proved popular and looks a plausible candidate for the Golden Bear, alongside Iranian About Elly, Moodysson's wildly polarizing Mammoth, the near-universally popular Everyone Else from local heroine Maren Ade, plus perhaps Bouchareb's London River. Hard to see much else getting into it at this late stage.

Delights for today: The Milk of Sorrow (big 9am press show at the big Berlinale Palast), maybe the Dallesandro documentary Little Joe, the 2 hour sheep doc Sweetgrass (which I keep wanting to call Sweetmeat) and, tonight, one of two After Winter pictures, either Jadup and Boel or The Grass Is Greener.

Meanwhile, from the big screen to the small. This just in:

Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson are among the star cast announced for the BBC's new version of sci-fi classic The Day of the Triffids. Actor Dougray Scott will play hero Dr. Bill Masen, while Eddie Izzard, Brian Cox and US star Jason Priestley will also take roles in the drama.

Also from BBC.co.uk, a little news-story that would have been a rather bigger deal back before Winter had become Spring:

Russian and US Satellites Collide. A satellite owned by the US company Iridium hit a defunct Russian satellite at high speed nearly 780km (485 miles) over Siberia on Tuesday, Nasa said.  The impact produced a massive cloud of debris, and the magnitude of the crash is not expected to be clear for weeks.

…sounds a bit like the Berlinale.

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