At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
August is “The Month of Reality” at Film Space. September, “The Month of World Smash.”
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, August 29: Every Little Thing / La moindre des choses (1997) by Nicolas Philibert – 105 mins – France, Documentary.
During the summer of 1995, faithful to what has now become a tradition, residents and staff at the La Borde psychiatric clinic get together to put on the play that they will perform on 15 August. During rehearsals, the film retraces the ups and downs of this adventure. But over and above the theatre, it describes life at La Borde, everyday life, time passing, trivial goings-on, loneliness and tiredness, as well as the moments of merriment, laughter, and wit peculiar to certain residents, and the close attention which people pay to one another. Nicolas Philibert, director of the hugely-acclaimed Etre et avoir and In the Land of the Deaf, calmly and compassionately builds an experience that is less like watching a documentary and more like being enveloped in a book of breathlessly honest poetry. He delicately celebrates the work of La Borde and quietly makes us question the distinctions that society applies in the classifications of normal and abnormal.
DVD Times: Philibert was a relatively unknown figure outside of France until the smash hit that was Être et Avoir (To Be and To Have) brought his very particular style of work to the fore. In the present film, he takes on the very difficult task of filming the lives of people who are suffering from mental illness. During four weeks, he and his team lived at La Borde - a rather grand care centre located in a chateau in the middle of France. La Borde remains a trailblazer in the field of psychiatric therapy and part of the therapy is a focus on the arts. We arrive in the midst of preparations for the summer fete - an annual event in which the patients and the staff put on a play.
However, before we get to meet the patients, Philibert chooses to confront us with our own preconceptions by following patients from afar, looking only at their demeanor. The images are quite brutal, making us question how we would treat these people if we met them on the street. The issue of appearance and façade is also echoed in the play - is the line between sanity and insanity just a matter of being able to act in a way that society deems normal? Philibert is too savvy an operator to be didactic or sentimental, leaving it up to the audience to figure out who are the patients and who are the carers. There is actually very little discussion of illness itself - occasional shots of a patient having an injection or taking medicine are the sole reminders of this. None of the patients discuss what their illness is - probably a conscious decision on the part of Philibert as this takes away the labels, leaving solely the individual in front of us.
Philibert is without doubt one of the most interesting documentary makers out there - far from the brash anger of Michael Moore, he paints a subtle image leaving the viewer with more questions than answers. The camera in his hands seems to almost disappear leaving us to be a passive observer within the film, sharing the lives of people we would seldom meet.
About the director, Nicolas Philibert
Nicolas Philibert was born in 1951 in Nancy (France). After studying philosophy, he turned to film and became an assistant director, notably for René Allio, AlainTanner, and Claude Goretta. In 1978, with Gérard Mordillat, he co-directed his first documentary feature, His Master's Voice (La voix de son maître) in which a dozen bosses of leading industrial groups talk about control, hierarchy and power, gradually sketching out the image of a future world ruled by the financial sector…From 1985 to 1987, Nicolas Philibert shot various mountaineering and sports adventure films for television (Christophe, Trilogy for One Man, Go For It, Lapébie!, Baquet’s Come Back) then started directing documentary features that would all obtain a theatrical release: Louvre City (La ville Louvre, 1990), In the Land of the Deaf (Le pays des sourds, 1992), Animals (Un animal, des animaux, 1995), Every Little Thing (La Moindre des choses, 1996), at the La Borde psychiatric clinic, as well as a film essay pitched between documentary and fiction, with the students of the school of the Strasbourg National Theatre.: Who Knows? (Qui sait?, 1998) In 2001, he directed To Be and to Have (Etre et avoir), about daily life in a «single class» school in a mountain village in the heart of the Massif Central (France). Screened as part of the Official Selection at the 2002 Cannes Festival, Prix Louis Delluc 2002, the film was a huge success in France and around forty other countries.
DVD available from Amazon.com.
September is “The Month of World Smash” at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, September 5: Redacted (2007) by Brian De Palma – 90 mins – US/ Canada, Crime/ Drama/ War. Rated R in the US for strong disturbing violent content including a rape, pervasive language, and some sexual references/ images. Mixed or average reviews: 52/52 out of 100.
BriandePalma’smovie "Redacted" focuses on the rape and murder of Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi in March of 2006 at the hands of US soldiers serving in Iraq. The crime was well publicized but many of the available images were edited, or “redacted,” to protect the public from their graphic nature. De Palma attempted to showcase the event with these real images, but to his surprise he was also limited by legal binds.
Amazon.com Editorial Reviews, Tom Keogh:Brian DePalma’s ferocious Redacted is one of a number of cinematic protests against the Iraq War and the withholding of information and images about the war from the U.S. public. But it is also shares De Palma’s perennial interest in the relationship between film and violence, a relationship that has changed significantly in the real world because of the Internet, cable news, and the ubiquity of camcorders on the ground in Iraq. In a world more intent than ever on watching everything, De Palma has fashioned Redacted to look like a daisy chain of found footage taken from disparate sources. These include an American soldier’s video journal (which, not insignificantly, is also supposed to be that soldier’s audition piece for film school), a French documentary, a security camera at the edge of an army compound, and streaming video online from insurgents and military families alike. Taken together, Redacted recreates the kind of Iraq War scenes we’ve heard about for years: soldiers kidnapped or felled by booby traps, pregnant women and children shot by American guards at military checkpoints because Iraqi drivers misunderstand orders, etc. With mood and setting firmly established, Redacted then tells the story of an atrocity ripped from headlines in 2006: the rape and murder of an Iraqi teen, as well as the murder of her family, by American soldiers who then proceed to cover up their crime. Meanwhile, other soldiers, well-meaning witnesses to what happened, implode with doubt and uncertainty about what to do. In a way, Redacted is really about the paralysis of ordinary Americans confronted by the horror of our collective misjudgment about Iraq. It's a work of fiction using actors, meaning that De Palma employs a verisimilitude which sometimes doesn’t sit well with anyone who has seen a lot of Iraq War documentaries featuring real troops and real Iraqis. But De Palma is trying to do something very difficult, i.e., make the case that in war, truth really is the first casualty.
DVD available from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, September 12: Come and See / Idi i smotri / Иди и смотри (1985) by Elem Klimov – 142 mins – Soviet Union, Drama/ War. In Belarusian/ Russian/ German. Not rated, but most viewers agree it has more strong disturbing and violent content than any other film ever made. Generally favorable reviews: 80 out of 100.
A boy is unwillingly thrust into the atrocities of war in WWII Byelorussia, fighting for a hopelessly unequipped resistance movement against the ruthless German forces. Witnessing scenes of abject terror and accidentally surviving horrifying situations he loses his innocence and then his mind.
IMDb viewer: One of the greatest war films ever made.
A.V. Club, Scott Tobias: Produced to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Russia's triumph over the Germans in WWII, ElemKlimov's searing Come and See paints a real historical event as an expressionist nightmare, full of abstract horrors and heightened surrealism. In this way and others, it's the Russian cousin to Apocalypse Now, but Klimov's episodic journey of the soul is framed instead as a coming-of-age story, told through the widened eyes of a teenage boy who wakes to the existence of evil in the world. Aleksei Kravchenko (whose frozen, stunned visage was reportedly induced in part by on-set hypnotic suggestion) plays the only son of a peasant family in the border province of Byelorussia, where Nazi soldiers burned more than 600 villages and massacred their inhabitants.
After digging out an old rifle from a sandy gravesite, Kravchenko joins a motley resistance force in the forest, but the other soldiers, recognizing his youthful inexperience, leave him behind when they go off to fight. His wanderings lead him to a teenage girl (Olga Mironova) who seems almost imagined, but their quiet, playful moments together are broken by an onslaught of German paratroopers and bombs descending from the skies. When he returns to his village the next day, he finds his family and neighbors slaughtered, and he joins the survivors as they're shepherded to another village, where most are to be burned alive in an emptied church.
Cheered on by sadistic Nazi soldiers, some of whom take pictures for posterity, the mass slaughters captured unblinkingly in Come and See serve as a blunt reminder of the recent past. But this documentary-like realism is made all the more powerful by the boldly poetic depiction of war that precedes it. Klimov's dazzling visions from the boy's point of view owe a debt to the first-person camera in Andrei Tarkovsky's classic debut My Name Is Ivan (a.k.a. Ivan's Childhood). His impressions are unforgettable: the screaming cacophony of a bombing run broken up by the faint sound of a Mozart fugue, a dark, arid field suddenly lit up by eerily beautiful orange flares, German troops appearing like ghosts out of the heavy morning fog. A product of the glasnost era, Come and See is far from a patriotic memorial of Russia's hard-won victory. Instead, it's a chilling reminder of that victory's terrible costs.
IMDb viewer: Hallucinatory, heartrending, traumatic and uncompromising, such a movie will not to be all tastes. It certainly does not make for relaxing viewing, although those who see it often say it remains with them for years after. This was Klimov's last film for, as he said afterwards "I lost interest in making films. Everything that was possible I felt had already been done," no doubt referring to the emotional intensity of his masterpiece, which would be hard to top. By the end of their own viewing, any audience ought to be shocked enough to pick up a rifle themselves and vengefully join the home army setting out to fight the Great Patriotic War …
DVD available from Amazon.com.