Thursday, March 18, 2010

Baltic Consciousness: Sügisball

Sügisball (2007) - Õunpuu
Through Veiko Õunpuu's lenses, Estonia seems to be a fitting new setting for films about alienation of the modern society. His miserablist drama is filled with ugly buildings, construction sites. But it is also speckled with absurd humor and shot exquisitely. Most of characters are vulnerable so they resort to hurting people who are close to them. Only stable person is a gigolo doorman Theo(Taavi Eelmaa) who keeps a log of his conquests. But he ultimately finds himself a victim of the class differences. Õunpuu proves himself to be a romantic here though. At the core, his sensibilities have more in common with the privileged. His hopeless romanticism is stretched farther in his more experimental The Temptations of St. Tony. Both of which I find somewhat naive.

Ghosts of the Chinese Past: Ghost Town

Ghost Town (2009) - Zhao
Filmmaker Zhao Dayong's 3 hour doc on mountainous town of Zhiziluo, Yunnan Province(near Myanmar border) is a big, shapeless slice of life of its inhabitants. The change is coming slowly but surely to the sleepy mountain town. It's all quietly observed. There are many extremely gorgeous scenes including sun drenched, smoke filled(because of their wood burning cauldrons in the middle of every household) interiors with dirt floors and a night time exorcism scene with gaggle of firecracker wielding children. I understand Zhao had to slim down nearly 6 years worth of footage, but the film is still 1 1/2 hour too long. He definitely needed a ruthless editor or two. For starters, he could've easily lopped off most of animals lounging on the street scenes. A good documentary but I liked Up the Yangtze better on Changing China doc.