Two Gates of Sleep (Directors’ Fortnight), Five minutes in, it crossed my mind that I might be watching the beginning moments in the career of a very gifted student of the schools of Malick and Tarkovsky; Griffin certainly lets it known, both in interviews and in his styling, who his heroes are. That Gates doesn’t live up to the promise of these opening minutes is both unsurprising and disappointing, mainly because, very intermittently, the ability seems to be there. This project’s ultimate downfall – which is common for films with this kind of ambitious search for an epic, quiet, nature-dwelling godliness – is that it becomes so precious, and so desperate for poeticism, that it auto-asphyxiates, blocking out any and all emotion or life. The sound design and photography are aces, and I think that Griffin and I would have a lot of overlap in our DVD collections, but, like Dolan, it is apparent that he wants to be his idols, rather than showing a reason to be amongst them. At least for now.
Certified Copy (Competition), see Day 7 write-up, in which I saw this a second time.
The Lips (Un Certain Regard), I like the flow and, forgive me, ‘focused aimlessness’ of Lips, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what in the world this film was trying to do, nor if it is completely fiction, completely doc, or both. My confusion is probably not entirely unintentional, nor completely the film’s fault, and I do not have a displeasurable memory of it (I actually had a similar, dazzlingly frustrated feeling while watching Our Beloved Month of August, for what it’s worth). Are these women acting out real interviews with real people, but in character? And what about the men who ogle them when they are all dolled up in their off hours? The press notes could tell me, but I’d prefer another look.
Young Girls in Black (Directors’ Fortnight), As one-dimensionally angsty as this film about two suicidal goth stereotypes often is, it somehow manages to be quite relaxing and enjoyable to watch. Like Civeyrac’s previous Through the Forest, it has a brooding dreaminess, that is not far off from how I remember feeling when I was a teenager watching The Virgin Suicides for the first time, that somehow connects to the nostalgia of being young without forgetting that it is often a scary and alienating mess. While the girls, obnoxiously, are typical Hot Topic anti-social butterfiles that everyone in high school always suspects will take their own lives, the film wins major points in the way it depicts the family life that they live in, which is cautiously jovial and kinetic, fully aware of the girls’ fragile states, while also being genuinely loving to the point where it is both baffling and understandable how they might have developed into these kinds of girls, who aspire to the heroic aspects of suicide. The film, which isn’t as ironic as the title might suggest, takes an interesting turn at the 2/3 point that unfortunately doesn’t really know where to go, but the last impression is still one of a breath of fresh air in a genre that is very often drowned in too-serious, pointless murk.
Blue Valentine (Un Certain Regard), I’m a little embarrassed to say, I guess because it has such a Sundance-y, Amerindie vibe to it (including a damn (and damn gorgeous) Grizzly Bear score), that I got more out of this than I did from Maren Ade’s, also affecting, recent break-up movie. But, alas, the inevitable second half of this (debut(!)) film was absolutely crushing. However, I do wish, for both this and Everyone Else, that the deterioration of their respective couplings were less black & white in their presentations (Valentine mixes the first few months with the last few days of its relationship, which of course will be only the most insanely blissful moments juxtaposed with cringeworthy ugliness, while Everyone Else‘s pair goes from seemingly fine to immature assholes almost at the flip of a switch). And while Valentine doesn’t seem to do much more than state the obvious – a relationship that is held together by, and whose raison d’être is, mutual physical attraction, is a ticking time bomb as middle age takes over, unfairly hitting one partner before the other – the performances by Gosling and Williams make the disintegration of a completely average and banal pair of individuals feel unrelentingly tragic.
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