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Berlin sleep-debt snatches : 6—The Second Saturday

Above: Mariano de Rosa's Aguas Verdes.

With just Clinch (Schwitzkasten; John Cook, Austria 1977) to come (1930 tonight at Arsenal—the cinema, not the footy stadium), the festival score-card looks like this:

1. Films seen in their entirety from start to finish : 32
2. Films walked out of: 3 (Material after 115m; Mental after 90m; Ghosted after 20m)
3. Films walked out of and back into : 1 (Jadup and Boel—missed less than 5m near the end. Long story as to departure and re-entry.)
4. Total films "seen" in whole or part: 36 (average rating out of 10: 5.5)
5. Best new film: Green Waters (Aguas Verdes; Mariano de Rosa, Argentina 2009) 8/10
6. Runners-up: Home From Home (Germany) 8/10 ; then My Dear Enemy (South Korea); Deep in the Valley (Japan); Letters to the President (Canada/Iran), all 7/10.
7. Best film from any era: The Dancing Hawk (Tancazcy jastrzab; Grzegorz Krolikiewicz, Poland 1977) 9/10.
8. Next-best from the archives: Slow Summer (Austria) 8/10, then Little Valentino (Hungary); Stars of the Day (USSR) both 7/10.
9. Worst film: Enraged Sun, Enraged Sky (Rabioso Sol, Rabioso Cielo; Julian Hernandez, Mexico 2009) 1/10
10. New films which I didn't manage to see but am particularly keen to do so: In the Electric Mist from Competition; Ander and The Bone Man from Panorama; Encirclement from Forum; When It Was Blue from Forum Expanded; Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl from Berlinale special. (Most negatively buzzed: Absolute Evil and Human Zoo.)
11. Celebrities glimpsed: 2 (Henning Mankell [grouchy]; Joe Dallesandro [tiny])
12. Non-filmic highlight of the festival: (Der) Bruno S in Stadtklause, Bernburgerstrasse, Friday 6th February 2009. Public performance followed by impromptu "private" rendition of a "poem" (?), in German, about the Tower of Babel.
13. Non-filmic lowlight of the festival: getting into a childish argument about exit-doors with two cinema staff at the International after the screening of Enraged Sun, Enraged Sky, Friday 13th February. I'd wanted to ask some cutting questions of the director (and, if possible, the Panorama representative) at the Q&A but circumstances (director didn't speak English, too many people on stage) meant this wasn't feasible. In a classic case of what psychiatrists call "transference", I thus got into an argument with the first folk I happened to have any kind of friction with. Idiotic and immature stuff. Why do we live but so seldom learn?
14. Predicted winner of the Golden Bear: Everyone Else (Alle anderen) by Maren Ade (Germany).
15. Dark-horse danger: Mammoth by Lukas Moodysson (Denmark etc).
16. Most unlikely headline of the week: regarding The Pink Panther 2, in today's Berliner Zeitung : Dialektik des Serialismus (yes, they're kidding—a sub-headline refers to the film as "Grosse kinokunst" i.e. "Great cinematic art").
17. Best atmosphere at a screening: Home From Home at CineStar, Friday 13th: packed out, with patrons sitting three and four deep all the way up the stairs for this finely-calibrated crowdpleaser.
18. Worst atmosphere at a screening: Enraged Sun, Enraged Sky—see above. To program the film at all was bad enough, but to put it into the International, one of the world's great temples of cinema, was an insult.
19. Best pieces of fabric at the festival: not having glimpsed jury-president Tilda Swinton at any point, it would have to be the curtains at the International. Vast, two-tone shimmering things of milky-white stripes and spangles. If world cinema needs a flag, then these colossal drapes in this superb cinema will surely do the job.
20. Excerpts from a notebook (specifically 200 Blatt sheets feuilles vel kartek lap listu folhas, HerlitzPBS AG-Berlin):

Mental: "they get space to explain maladies"
The International "UN-building as citadel of sinisterness"
The Exploding Girl: "wonderment at cobbled-2gether little gadget"
Marin Blue: "horror-muzak!"
Burrowing: "Malickian feel in domestic surroundings, with kid-poetic v/o"
Ricky: "convincingly shitty nappy"
The Happiest Girl in the World: "thudding irony of title"
Araya: "siren-regulated bosses' paradise"
Slow Summer: "delicacy of touch / quite ruff-n-ready"
The Beast Stalker: "grey-eye awakes!!!"
Ghosted: "amateur hour"
Distance: "social + emotional fuckup—lowboiler"
My Dear Enemy: "Korea's gone from his hers?"
Beeswax: "kitschy bric-a-brac + knickknax"
Stars of the Day: "hypno regressions to past lives"
Mr. Governor: "unflappable diplomatic charm, discretion, tact, self-effacement, reserve"
Deep in the Valley: "moan @ progress"
Kill Daddy Goodnight: "handy that he keeps the birthmark even after fleeing to USA!!"
Everyone Else: "bubbling to a kickoff"
Green Waters: "grinning satyr Roberto"
Material: "disgruntlement with party bosses"
Naked of Defenses: "lettuce-chop crackup"
Little Valentino: "laidback, unsmiling youth"
After Winter Comes Spring: "not so grim"
Soul Power: "all for benefit of Mobutu!"
Members of the Funeral: "slooow"
Letters to the President: "vox-populism"
The Dancing Hawk: "shot like 3-D!"
The Milk of Sorrow: "Dol.Claiborne"
Little Joe: "naked among t/vestites"
Sweetgrass: "terrain is overwhelmed"
Jadup and Boel: "softened spikes"
Short Cut to Hollywood: "like hero, goes to bits"
Enraged Sun, Enraged Sky: "enraged audience"
Home From Home: "tonguerolling cows?!"

Neil, I always enjoy your responses and insights, even when I don’t agree with you. Having said that I am most curious to hear more about “Enraged Sun, Enraged Sky” as it seems to have set particularly poorly with you. Beyond that, it’s hard for me to imagine that it could possibly be as bad as you say given the quality of Hernandez’s previous features. The cinematography at the very least had to be strong, right? That alone would seem to merit placement in a temple of cinema. Also, I’m curious as the only other review I’ve seen of this one is Shane Danielsen’s commentary in IndieWire which included this observation, “Recalling, at times, such queer landmarks as Genet’s “Un Chant d’Amour” and Ron Peck’s “Nighthawks” and even Gus Van Sant’s “Mala Noche,” it demonstrated with almost every scene not only its maker’s fluent command of the medium, his unerring compositional eye, but also a remarkable sensuality, a feel for the textures of flesh and fabric and concrete, and for the quiet, hidden places in which desire may be sated. At once urgent (sex is very much the engine of this drama), and weirdly endistanced (courtesy of its capital-A arthouse technique), it offered a kind of meditation on what the American novelist Samuel R. Delany once called “the splendor and misery of bodies and cities” – one that built by slow stages to a devastating final hour. If there was a discovery to made at Berlin this year, this was it.”
I had dinner last night in Berlin with Shane, having read his report earlier in the day – also dining with us was Jay Weissberg who will (I believe) be reviewing the film for Variety and who also regards it as some kind of masterpiece, best film of the Berlinale etc. I also know that it won the Teddy prize for best gay-themed film at the festival. None of this, however, impacts on my personal opinion that ERES is 3 hours 11 minutes of perhaps the most pretentious drivel ever committed to celluloid. And I have seen enough of such fare in my time down the last three decades. Any fool can make a bad picture, but it takes a special kind of no-talent fraud to insult audiences in such an insufferable way. ERES isn’t quite the worst film I have ever seen but it is the most unpleasant experience I have ever had inside a cinema. Then again, when you see the film for yourself you will most likely have an entirely different reaction. I can only call films how I see ’em.

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