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The Auteurs Daily: Liverpool

 

The Auteurs Daily

Liverpool

"Like his debut feature, Los Muertos (2004), Argentine filmmaker Lisandro Alonso's Liverpool (2008) is a work of rugged solitude, executed with a careful simplicity of unhurried, unbroken, and generously distanced shots," writes Ed Halter for Artforum (whose new, September issue is up today, by the way).

 

"Like people in a Jacques Tourneur ghost story, Alonso's creatures seem to exist in separate planes that overlap without quite connecting, a sense of disconnection which here extends from loner to community," writes Fernando F Croce in Slant. "Formalist yet visceral, monosyllabic yet eloquent, Liverpool ponders the lure and absurdity of nests in a world of unending, faraway ports."

For Andrew Schenker, writing at the House Next Door, "Liverpool is so focused on stripping its screen of anything but the most banal actions and so committed to eliminating even the slightest show of expression from its characters' faces that at times it seems like there's nothing left to the film except a series of artfully rendered compositions. It's within these compositions themselves, though, that Liverpool's meaning is to be found, even if, taken cumulatively, their effect remains maddeningly diffuse."

Michael Guillén had a good long talk with Alonso last week - and he links to a few more interviews as well.

See also: Reviews from Cannes 2008, Michael Sicinski's take from Toronto that September and Quintín in the November 2008 issue of Sight & Sound, where Maria Delgado spoke with Alonso.

Liverpool screens at Anthology Film Archives in New York for one week starting tomorrow and at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on September 17, 19 and 20. At the Edge of the World: The Cinema of Lisandro Alonso runs at Seattle's Northwest Film Forum from November 11 through 19.

A few links tweeted via @theauteursdaily (RSS) over the past couple of days: Leo Goldsmith in Moving Image Source on Len Lye (1901-1980), commercial animator, documentary and experimental filmmaker; Rick Moody, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Norman Spinrad and Irvine Welsh each pick their top five films on drugs for FilmInFocus; at the Huffington Post, Ben Stiller and Jerry Stahl recall their attempts to get an adaptation of Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run? off the ground; David McCandless (Information is Beautiful) visualizes "Time Travel in Popular Film and TV"; 27 years on, Virginia Quarterly Review asks David Wyatt to revisit his 1982 essay, "Star Wars and the Productions of Time."

Updates: Northwest Film Forum has announced today (PDF) that it'll be taking Liverpool on a 16-city tour.

"A slow, methodical, and extremely sharp work, Los Muertos may be some kind of cousin to Jim Jarmusch's wonderful (yet much derided) new film The Limits of Control," argues James Hansen.

Updates, 2/9: J Hoberman in the Voice: "Alonso has stylistic affinities with an international group of youngish Festival directors - Albert Serra, Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Fred Kelemen are the best known - who might be called exponents of New Realism or the New Depressives. Each, though, has his own personal interests. Alonso's - as explicated in his three previous movies: La Libertad (2001), Los Muertos (2004), and Fantasma (2006) - involve the riddle of everyday activities and the impossibility of relationships."

"The detached camerawork, by Lucio Bonelli, and avoidance of dialogue intimates that Mr Alonso is working in a realist tradition that owes a debt to observational documentary," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "Yet there's also something bloodless, almost clinical about his approach, as if he were a naturalist conducting field research."

"Liverpool's revelatory final shot - in which an object akin to Citizen Kane's Rosebud is presented for our contemplation - adds one last mysterious layer," writes Keith Uhlich in Time Out New York. "Like everything else in this enigmatic masterpiece, the image resonates with myriad metaphorical possibilities. Yet the more we look, the harder its meanings are to pin down."

"Unfolding against forlorn shipyards and Patagonian winter landscapes and rendered through shots forbiddingly long in distance and duration, Liverpool is a formally compelling film, though its strategies are laid so bare it's difficult to pay attention to much else," writes Benjamin Mercer in the L Magazine.

R Emmet Sweeney talks with Alonso for the Rumpus.

Update, 6/9: "'Feel' is the operative word for Liverpool's profound beauty, which is not a pictorial beauty, nor psychological or thematic." Daniel Kasman explains.

 

Deleted
Uhm… La libertad (2001) is Alonso’s debut feature ;-)
This needs indeed to be corrected, especially since Alonso started his career with a trilogy of three features which were La Libertad (2001), Los Muertos (2004) and Fantasma (2006).
Thanks – I did honestly wonder why La libertad wasn’t considered a feature.
As ever, Dave, thanks so much for the shoutout. I am so tempted to attend the Seattle Northwest Film Forum retrospective: “At The Edge Of The World: The Cinema of Lisandro Alonso” come November 11–19, 2009. Lisandro will be there for the run of the series and it would be great to get know him better. He’s actually a very charming, funny individual with whom a trago or two would be welcome.
I was also struck – pleasantly! – by the casual, friendly atmo of your talk with him, M.
Adam
NWFF is releasing the film in the US and Canada. Here’s the press release http://www.nwfilmforum.org/downloads/0000/0156/AlonsoPressRelease.pdf

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