Reviews for December 2nd, 2009
Directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu.
In Inuktitut with subtitles. In the Arctic region of Canada during the mid-19th Century, an Inuit tribe gathers together to listen to an older tribesman recall how Europeans he had encountered over the summer had offered to trade sharp needles for sex with Inuit women. Now, with summer coming to an end, it’s about time for the tribe to dry all of the fish that they’ve collected over the summer which will provide them with food for the winter. Ningiuq (Madeline Ivalu), Maniq (Paul-Dylan Ivalu), her 10-year-old grandson, and Kuutujuq (Mary Qulitalik), her friend who’s ailing, journey to an island where they’ll be able to safely dry the fish while Apak (Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq), Maniq’s father, goes hunting and promises to return to bring them back home before the water freezes. When Apak doesn’t arrive as promised and Kuutujuq succumbs to her illness, Ningiuq and Maniq have no choice but to find shelter inside a cave on the island as winter imminently approaches. The grandmother and grandson bond while struggling to survive together. Co-writers/directors Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu have woven a seemingly simple narrative that gradually becomes an emotionally stirring, lyrical and enlightening journey for both the characters onscreen as well as the audience. It’s quite interesting and heartwarming to watch the dynamics between Maniq and his grandmother who tells him stories in hopes that he will learn from them and pass them along to other generations down the line. She loves him very dearly and shows it not only through her genuine compassion, but in her eyes and through the tone of her voice as well. Cousineau and Ivalu do a splendid job of providing great attention to detail and heightening the sense of realism while fearlessly showing close-up shots of the characters’ faces which express a plethora human emotion even without words. The appropriately slow pace helps you to take your time to absorb all of the images and sounds. It’s also worth mentioning that the very touching soundtrack which opens and closes the film with the song “Why Must We Die?”. Morever, the beautiful scenery becomes a character of its own in a way and, quite often, looks so picturesque that you could easily pause the film at any point to gaze at its stunning visuals filled with so much wonder and life. At a running time of 1 hour and 33 minutes, Before Tomorrow manages to be a poignant, heartfelt, enlightening and lyrical journey filled with beautiful, haunting images. Number of times I checked my watch: 1 Released by Igloolik Isuma Productions and Kunuk Cohn Productions. Opens at the Film Forum.
FILM IST. a girl and a gun
Directed by Gustav Deutsch.
This experimental film combines footage from a wide array of silent films from mostly the 19th Century. Jean-Luc Godard once said that, “All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun.” Well, lo and behold, the first images of the film happen to be of a girl, namely, Annie Oakley, shooting her rifle. That footage happens to be from Thomas Edison’s 1894 Kinetoscope film. Other images include molten lava oozing from erupting volcano, soldiers during World War I, flowers blooming, naked women, men and women interacting, bestiality, smoke billowing and more. Each of the five acts has a Greek title starting from “Genesis” to "Paradeisos," "Eros," "Thanos,” and, finally, to "Symposium.” Every now and then, there are excerpts from the texts of classic Ancient Greek poets Sappho and Hesiod as well as philosopher Plato. In many ways, director Gustav Deutsch, who previously directed the versions 1 through 12 of Film Ist, has made an elliptical, bizarre and complex film that will probably require more than one viewing to understand what it’s trying to say about mankind, nature, sexuality, war and other themes that recur throughout.. Those who prefer to be spoon-feed a narrative arch and clear-cut messages will themselves either bored or annoyed more often than not. Much of the film looks like a work of art that should be studied, analyzed and discussed scene-for-scene in film school. Others might consider the film to be pretentious rather than artsy, but intelligent audience members, especially those accustomed to watching experimental films, will find the combination of color-tinted images and the accompanying musical score to be quite fascinating and oddly captivating. At least the film isn’t as experimental as the film The Flicker which has a stroboscopic light blinking on and off for 25 minutes along with an irritating sound that might give audience members seizures. FILM IST. a girl and a gun ultimately manages to be a provocative, elliptical and oddly fascinating work of experimental art. Number of times I checked my watch: 2Released by Sixpack Film. Opens at the Anthology Film Archives.