Monday, October 2, 2023

Dissection of a Marriage

Anatomie d'une chute (2023) - Triet anatomy-of-a-fall-duo A fallen death of a husband in a troubled marriage in a small town in French Alpes and a following indictment and trial of his foreign wife is what constitutes Justine Triet's Palme d'Or Winning courtroom drama. It's a modern marriage maginified under a microscope, revealing the nitty-gritty life of a young couple as their power dynamic plays out in the courtroom for all to see.

Triet, with only 3 feature films under her belt, all of them comedies, shows her tight handling of a material (co-written with her partner Arthur Harari). But the real star here is Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann), a German actress whom Triet collaborated in her previous feature, Sybil. With the film's natural dialog and believable setup, Hüller manages to build a sympathetic character, a successful writer, a foreigner, a mom to a blind boy, trapped in a mountain town with a husband who has an inferiority complex.

At first, the police rules his fall from the attic window as a suicide. There were no witnesses. But there were some forensic evidence casting enough doubt that it might have been a murder. Sandra (Hüller) gets indicted and the case goes to trial. With her lawyer Renzi (Swann Arlaud) who was a college friend who was in love with her, Sandra defends herself from a vicious procecuter who accuses her of ill-tempered and violent woman who couldn't stand her loser husband.

As the trial plays out, it's revealing that there's prejudice against Sandra, a foreign woman, in a place where her husband grew up and had community. The film becomes less of a murder mystery but a procecution of a woman in the eyes of judging public. The unrelenting media blitz surrounding the trial and everyone painting her as an unfaithful harlot who blamed her husband for his own shortcomings.

Anatomie d'une chute paints a complex picture of a marriage where no one particular party is to blame. It's people's pre-ordered hate that makes one party more at fault and not the others. The real life isn't that black and white, especially when children are involved. Even the court decisions in family court can't ever paint the complete picture. Triet is very good at showing these nuiances and balancing all the points. The reenactment of the couple's violent argument recorded by the deceased as a material for his book, Triet skillfully cuts away to the courtroom, leaving us to guess who's throwing glasses and who's hitting who. Moral muck, guilt, ambiguity are bread and butter of every day life. Their son Daniel grows increasingly uncomfortable around Sandra as she tries to shield him from all the ugliness of the grownups - the money problems, dad's depression and taking anti-depressants, her own infidelity, etc. But he ends up becoming a pivotal witness to testify.

Well tuned and balanced, Anatomie d'une chute is a revealing film about this day and age where patriarchy and everyday sexism is slowly losing its grip on our society (or lets hope). Sandra Hüller again, is fast becoming the heroine we need in this social climate. Also, Triet, as with Sybil, examines the nature of art and literature- the art immitating life, plagiarism and even autofiction in a very captivating way.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Zone of Unsubtlety

The Zone of Interest (2023) - Glazer The Zone of Interest The film starts with a family, a father fishing in the creek with his children. It's peaceful and there's nothing that suggests that he is an SS commandant in charge of operations at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Maybe not nothing, since he has the buzzcut that is most severe as far as cinema memories go, he has to be a nazi. It turns out Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel of Amour Fou, White Ribbon, Babylon Berlin) is indeed a commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) and his Aryan children live in a brick and mortar house with a perfectly manicured vegetable and fruit garden, overlooking a barbed wire fence and a very active furnace of the camp. For Heddy, who hated city life, the place is a dream come true, more space, a garden, extensive supply of servants (from the camp), material goods (fur coats and jewelry, also collected from the camp), and fresh air(!) for the children. She touts proudly that she is known as the queen of Auschwitz in her social circle.

The Zone of Interest features great sound design and score. Low rumble of industrial machination (furnace) is always heard, so as frequent muffled screams and gunfires while they dine, sleep and play in the garden. Glazer doesn't let you forget that these banalities of evil are built on power and dominence, that they are not naive people shielded from what's going on just over the fence. They were consciously aware of what they were doing the whole time.

There are some striking sequences, like Höss hurriedly getting his children out of water when a sudden flow of ashes and bones flashfloods the creek they were frolicking in. The swanky garden party features active furnace spewing human ashes in the background just over the fence. And cutting between the past and present days at the end is also very powerful. But as a feature length film, the premise already has overstayed its welcome within thirty minutes of the film.

The miscalculation of the filmmaker here is that obvious visual metaphor doesn't quite work in a serious feature film, especially one about the holocaust. The point Glazer is making, the characters' willful blindness and absurdity and evilness of it, serves much better in shorts. I kept thinking of one of Roy Andersson's masterful absurdist short skits where he balances humor and tragedy perfectly.

The Zone of Interest is an obvious misfire from Glazer. Maybe his craftmanship is more suited for shorts and music videos after all.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Out of Focus

In Water (2023) - Hong Screen Shot 2023-09-20 at 4.12.00 AM Hong Sang-soo, a Korean auteur who's singular minimalist filmmaking has comfortably found home in film festivals everywhere, again, presents two films at the NYFF this year unsurprisingly. In Our Day (had its premiere at Cannes) and In Water. Even clocking just over an hour, In Water will test audience's patience, and I expect there will be many walkouts. It's not because the film is inherently bad (I guess it depends on where you stand on Hong's often idiosyncratic films about not very much, but I digress), but because film is out of focus most of its running time. Expect frustrated audiences getting up and complaining to the ushers that there's something wrong with its projection throughout. But as the film plays out, there are spurts of scenes that are in focus, telling the audience that the rest of the film is intended to be out of focus. Now having made over thirty features, and no problem financing his microbudget films, Hong makes whatever he wants and however he wants. In Water, just like last year's The Novelist's Film, concerns artist's struggle to create and finding inspirations. It just happens to be all out of focus!

So, what does he try to convey in these fuzzy mostly static long shots? Does it reflect the young protagonist's creative block? Does it represent Hong's failing eyesight? We don't get to see three actors' faces most of the time. Does it symbolize the struggle to create is universal by making them sort of anonymous? It is a bold statement for sure.

Sung-mo (Shin Seok-ho, Introduction, Walk-up) is location scouting for his short film in an off-season southern seaside town with two friends, Sang-guk (Ha Seong-guk) and Namhee (Kim Seung-yun). It is revealed in their conversation that the former actor is trying out his directing and the two friends from college days are there to help out. The young filmmaker is putting his own money into this week-long excursion without a script. He is trying to find inspirations in the surroundings.

There had been some ideas that Sung-mo had for a project but he is less certain now if they will work. Sang-guk and Namhee are cordial enough to follow his leads, braving the cold, windy weather by the sea. While looking out over the cliff, while Namhee shows off her Taekwondo kicks to Sang-guk, Sung-mo notices a woman collecting trash on the rocky beach below. He goes down there to talk to her. She is volunteering to clean the beaches because she lives in the neighborhood.

Then there is a phone call Sung-mo makes to a friend (ex-girlfriend?) who is in Malaysia, voiced by Hong's partner/muse, Kim Min-hee. He asks her if he can use the song he composed for her birthday in the past to be featured in the film. He is trying to gather inspirations from everywhere.

Just like reflecting his own creative process, with In Water, Hong shows where he draws his inspirations from - the surroundings, past relationships, supportive friends, etc. But obviously, Sung-mo, a young man who is dabbling in directing for the first time, is not Hong, a seasoned filmmaker in his 60s. It ends with Sang-guk filming him walking into the sea and I burst out laughing, because that was how I ended my extremely pretentious student film that I made long ago. But at least mine was in focus!

Hong is being playful here within the margins of his minimalist aesthetics that he cultivated over the years. The film being out of focus might mean a lot of different things as I mentioned above, but knowing Hong through his films over the years, I don't think there's greater mystery, deep philosophical subtext, or puzzle box to solve in In Water. He is at a career stage where he can comfortably experiment with form, within the minimalistic confines of his filmic world. And I am loving it.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Unseen-World of Connections

Remembering Every Night (2022) - Kiyohara Remembering-03_s_N0A3551_GuamaUchida and Ai Mikami copy It's a warm spring day. A group of musicians are leisurely rehearsing while sitting in the park lawn in Tama-shi, a quiet suburb of Tokyo. A key is missing from a small Casio keyboard player, and they can't continue. They disband for the day, and this is how Yui kiyohara's quietly enchanting, Remembering Every Night starts. The main thread involves a day in the life of three different women as their lives intersect and don't. Unhurriedly, in series of long takes, Kiyohara's second feature floats in its own delicate rhythm with warmth and longing, very much like the frangrant early summer air and sound of outdoors it portrays.

The three loosely interwoven stories meet and go separate ways naturally, complimenting each other and adding layer and texture of lived human experiences. The first thread of the story features an unnamed middle-aged, unemployed woman's (mis)adventure, getting lost. We observe the woman as she does her daily shores - getting groceries, visiting an unemployment office, looking through mails and other items. Through the conversations she engages in with others, we get her background a little and the modern Japanese society in a nutshell: she used to be a kimono dresser who was let go because of economic downturn and the loss of people's interest in traditions. This quiet, unassuming woman is quite lost (figuratively and literally) in what she wants to do - jobs that the unemployment office suggests - a salesclerk, a receptionist at a company, et cetera, don't appeal to her. While sorting through her mail, one of her neighbor's postcards announcing their move to their new home, becomes her destination for the day. But she becomes helplessly lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood soon enough.

While on her way to an wild goose chase, our middle-aged heroine encounters a couple of kids trying to get their unseen shuttlecock stuck in the tree in front of a housing complex for the elderly. She tries to get it down using the badminton racket to no avail, then she starts to climb uo the tree. The kids lose their interests and leave her on the tree. This tiny, almost insignificant scene is observed by a local gas meter reader, doing her rounds in the neighborhood. These transitions - the shift of focus, occur naturally and seamlessly in Remembering Every Night. Then, this young municipal worker is called upon by one of the elder residents of the building, being chatty while putting her laundry to dry on her balcony. An elderly resident has gone missing. Would the municipal worker be on the lookout for him? The elderly woman requests while handing her a bag full of mandarin oranges. The municipal worker soon finds the said elderly man lost in the neighborhood, mistaking other people's houses for his own. Here, Kiyohara gently addresses the nation's aging population and loneliness.

Then we go back to the lost woman in her adventure story. She sees a young woman practicing dance moves in the park in the distance. She unconsciously mimics the dance moves of the young woman - one of the many slight comic moments of the film, as she passes through the park field. Then the film's focus shifts again to the young woman, a university student in her final year, on her way to visit her dead boyfriend's parents, to hand them the receipt for a film roll that was never picked up from the film developing lab. The mother of the dead boyfriend suggests for her to pick up and keep the photos herself.

Remembering Every Night captures the unseen-world of delicate web that connects us all together. The film's very much in the same vein as Hamaguchi Ryusuke's 2021 crowd pleaser, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy but from a different, quieter, less punctuated angle. The film's nostalgic tone, imbued with contemplation of time, memories, loss of memories and longing, lingers long after its credits roll.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Cinematic Vs Literal

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2022) - Földes Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 10.28.08 AM Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 10.28.51 AM Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 10.52.26 AM Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 11.15.47 AM Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 11.19.54 AM Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 11.23.05 AM Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 11.45.56 AM Screen Shot 2023-09-02 at 11.47.40 AM Based on several stories written by famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami from 3 different short story volumes, the animated feature Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman has the same qualities of Murakami's droning writing style. It has some fantastical, lyrical moments, like a giant talking frog, flies from a willow tree burrowing into a woman's ear or giant fish swimming in the ceiling of a love hotel, but it doesn't really justify why full on animation project is called for, for the Murakami style of writing and its wordiness. It's especially challenging considering the stories, however carefully selected to be interweaved, are very much literal adaptations, unlike the recent masterpieces by international auteurs who more freely, adventurously adapted the essence of Murakami far better - Burning by Lee Chang-dong and Drive My Car by Rusuke Hamaguchi, respectively.

Because of their literalness, the animated stories in Blind Willow accentuates the somnambulistic nature of Murakami's prose. The wife of one of the main characters who one day just packs up and leaves, leaving a note saying, "Living with you was like living with a chunk of air," encapsulates my feeling of watching the film and perhaps how I become regarding Murakami's writing over all in general.

It's not only Murakami's forever oblique prose that gets to me, but his women characters, over the years, bug me as well. They are there to be served only as objects of male desires and only to have casually sex with them or talk about sex in very frank manners. I mean, come on man, who asks, how sex with your wife was or why would they divulge intimate information about having sex while sounding alarm of a bear attack in the woods, to a total stranger? Women, in his writings, seems incapable of communicating with his male protagonists other than through sex.

From what I understand, Blind Willow, Sleeping Women was first wholey filmed in live action, capturing the movement of actors in 'play acting', then animated and heads are added and character expressions, animated. I can't quite decide if they are racist caricatures of Asian faces or just plain weird with their features exaggerated. While I appreciate that they are not illustrated in cute anime style, I can't help wondering over the filmmakers' decision-making in depicting what they see as authentic 'Japanese' faces.

I think the film being done in animation to display the surrealistic qualities of the author's writing robs of our imagination in this case. If the unreachable distances between man and woman, emptiness of modern world, 'searching one's self' in droning prose on paper that goes on for hundreds of pages sounds shallow and boring, they are boring in animation as well, unfortunately.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Out of Time

Wanda (1970) - Loden 965_image_01 Wanda, a waifish blonde woman, played by Barbara Loden who also wrote and directed, became the subject of discussion, with its fairly recent revival, on its nascent feminism. Can this passive woman, pushed about to and fro, who shows no urgency in her actions, be seen as a proto-feminist?

Wanda is first seen crashing on her sister's couch and getting kicked out by her unsympathetic brother-in-law. Then she is walking across the Pennsylvania coal field in her white dress. She shows up at a divorce court late and relinquishes her rights to her children and grants her husband the divorce. Then she gets fired from her job at the sewing factory. Her boss tells her that she works too slow. After one night stand with an older man, she is soon ditched at the road stop ice cream stand. After falling asleep in the movie theater and losing all of her belongings, she runs into Mr. Dennis, whom she first mistakes for a bartender, when in fact he was in the process of robbing the place. She clings to Mr. Dennis who is physically and verbally abusive to her, as they hit the road together. He has an elaborate bank robbing scheme that involves kidnapping that he needs Wanda's help with. She gets lost on her way to the bank and arrives too late and have Mr. Dennis killed in the process. Oops.

Wanda seems to be always late to the party: the divorce court, the sewing factory, at the bank robbery. It's as if she is consciously late (slow quitting). With her options in life being very limited, she seems to be holding on to her time as if it is her only resistance against the world that's expectant of her blonde female self. It's not an easy movie to like. After fighting off a rapist, she ends up in a pub where other females show her some solidarity and kindness, she still seems very lost and frightened in an unforgiving world at the end. Wanda is certainly an interesting one.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Life is a Party

Tótem (2023) - Avilés Screen Shot 2023-09-01 at 5.09.29 PM Screen Shot 2023-09-01 at 5.12.52 PM Screen Shot 2023-09-01 at 5.15.38 PM Screen Shot 2023-09-01 at 5.15.53 PM Screen Shot 2023-09-01 at 5.16.11 PM Screen Shot 2023-09-01 at 5.18.52 PM Screen Shot 2023-09-01 at 11.01.23 AM Takes place in a day, Lila Avilés's Tótem tells a family gathering for the birthday of Tona, a young man dying of cancer, seen through the eyes of his 9 year old daughter, Sol (Naíma Sentíes). With her mom who is a theater actor, she is on her way to her grandfather's house. At the house, it's total chaos as Tona's two older sisters who are trying to prepare for the party. With more and more guests arriving - cousins and friends, sisters get on each others nerves - they argue about the responsibilites and about money, while Sol roams the house, eavesdropping, discovering various animals, playing with her cousins. Most of all, she wants to see her father, who is incapacitated most of the time in a room with the help of a personal nurse, Cruz (played by a great Mexican actress, Teresa Såanchez- Summer of Goliath, Fauna, Dos Estaciones). Tona, in great pain, is unsure if he can make it to the party.

We often try our best to shield children from the ugly life of grownups: responsibilites, money, parenthood, guilt.... Young Sentís, like Anna Torres before her in Victor Erice's Spirit of the Beehive, shines as a young, innocent child full of life, but who is old enough to realize that there's something awry about adulthood. Death is something we experience more and more as we grow older. It changes you and perhaps makes you grow up faster. The ending shot of young Sol looking straigth through the birthday cake candles, conveys that understanding without saying any words. Delicate and infinitely patient in her storytelling, Avilés let the film play out as it is supposed to. A beautiful film.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Rat in a Cage

The Housemaid (1960) - Kim Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 12.48.19 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 12.50.48 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 1.46.10 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 2.39.38 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 2.43.25 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 2.56.27 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 2.57.54 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 3.00.24 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-25 at 3.05.00 PM Mainly taking place in a two-story house, Kim Ki-young's The Housemaid is a high on cringe, yet effective melodrama that says a lot about rapidly changing capitalist society. Based on a real life news clip, it tells of an aspiring middle-class family trying to move up in the ladder, at all cost. Studious Kim (Kim Jin-kyu) is a music teacher who conducts a choir composed of a gaggle of gossipy female mill workers (incentives provided by the factory). In order to renovate his newly bought house, Kim actively pursues anyone for private lessons. Because he is a suave, good looking man, there are a lot of adoring workers who want his attention. But he is a married family man, a straight shooter. So when he discovers a love letter planted by one of the adoring girls, he straight up reports to the management, and the girl gets suspended and she later commits suicide. But it is Ms. Cho, the dead girl's best friend, who is in love with him as she takes private lessons to be closer to him.

In the meantime, Kim's seamstress wife's health is failing and will be in need of a housemaid to do house chores and take care of their two growing young children- a hyperactive boy Changsoon and a crippled older sister Aesoon. Ms. Cho introduces Ms. Kwak (Ko Seon-ae), a wide eyed young woman from the factory for the job. She becomes increasingly unstable and throws herself on Kim, then he and his family become the hostage of her threats of going to the authorities. Kim and his family, afraid of losing their aspiring petit bourgeoisie existence, gets trapped in living hell.

The lower class and middle class fighting for the scraps in vertical hierarchy is pronounced more subtly. Knowing Cho is in love with Kim, Kwak naturally wants what Cho has. It's not lust she's after. She just wants what others have, because that's what a consumerist capitalist is supposed to do. The premise might resemble some cheesy 90s psychosexual thriller but its presentation is nothing but - Kim' style is very much indebted to Hitchcock - constant tracking shots, use of space and even POV of water glass containing rat poison.

Bong Joonho apparently is a big fan of the film and took inspiration from it to make his award winning Parasite. But whereas his film (and his films in general) feels highly superficial, too overwrought and heavy on unsubtle symbolism, The Housemaid is bustling with raw energy and plays out like a neo-realist melodrama. Yes, the two-story house and a constantly featured wooden stairs are symbols of a rising middle class's upward mobility. But more than anything, it says a lot about people living under constant pressure of losing everything in a capitalist society. It is their fear which even overcomes murder(s). If you were moved by family devotion and sacrifice in Parasite, the murders and depravity toward children in The Housemade will shock you.

Is it the puffy tail that makes all the difference between a rat and a squirrel? You might have achieved the goal of becoming petit-bourgeoisie by having a pet squirrel, but you will always have rat poison hidden away in the cupboard. The Housemaid pokes at these conundrums of living in a rapidly developing capitalist society.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Nights are for the Heart Broken

Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971) - Bresson Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 11.48.26 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 11.48.08 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 11.51.02 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 11.59.45 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 12.19.30 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 12.32.32 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 12.38.20 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 12.40.43 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 12.59.14 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-24 at 1.01.36 PM Perhaps the most melancholic adaptation of Dostoevsky’s White Nights. A painter named Jacques meets a suicidal young woman, Marthe, and talks her out of jumping off from the Pont-Neuf bridge. For four nights, he falls in love while she pines for her lover to come back. After her lover doesn’t show up, she reciprocates his love and of course, it’s his happiest night of his life until…

In his typical austere fashion, Bresson goes on to tell lovers on the bridge at night story. Young actors emoting their heartbreaks here have no equals in cinema, really. The romantic bosa nova provided by Marku Ribas really adds to the achingly beautiful Parisian night atmosphere. You know the heart break's going to come but when it happens, it's still devastating. Ugh!

Monday, August 14, 2023

Synecdoche, Bucharest

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021) - Jude Screen Shot 2023-08-13 at 10.56.35 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-13 at 11.00.11 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-13 at 11.24.05 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-13 at 11.00.40 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-13 at 11.33.25 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-13 at 12.08.55 PM Radu Jude's satire of modern Romania, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is both uproariously funny and biting in its criticism of the former Soviet Block country's checkered history. It starts with an explicit sex scene with a school history teacher, Emi (Patia Pascaríu) and her husband engaging in what appears to be a homemade sextape. Then somehow the whole thing ends up online for everyone to see.

After that, the whole movie is Emi walking around ugly, capitalist modern city of Bucharest, all stressed out for the consequences she has to face. Everything is hilarious, from Pascaíu's performance to Jude's aimless camera, often sidetracked by inanimate objects he pans to - a broken mannequin, a flower growing from the concrete floor, the McDonald sign, the political party posters, etc.

The middle part, titled as 'Collages', playfully goes through all the hypocracies in Romanian political history, vacuous modern culture and sexist stereotypes.

As Emi sits at the table in an impromptu PTA meeting outdoors (because of Covid), she tries to defend her actions as a private matter that somehow got out of hands and into kids' phones. As the meeting continues, the old conspiratorial, ignorant and racist tendencies from the parents reappear to the surface.

I mean, considering what's going on in Florida, what's happening in Bad Luck Banging is very much universal and on point. Jude's Ci(shit)ty Symphony movie of consumerist Bucharest and in-your-face satire exposing the society’s hypocrisy is, along with Triangle of Sadness and Barbie, one of the best comedies I’ve seen in years. Best Wonder Woman movie too where WW assaults everyone in the room with a dildo!

Saturday, August 12, 2023


Les Trois Désastres (2013) - Godard Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 11.57.05 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 11.59.29 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 11.55.04 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 12.07.06 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 12.05.57 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 12.04.56 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 12.04.35 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 12.01.49 PM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 11.58.34 AM Screen Shot 2023-08-11 at 11.58.40 AM Before Goodbye to Language (2014), where Godard embraced 3D as another art form, he participated in 3X3D, omnibus project commissioned by EU. I won’t even mention the other two shorts by other directors because they were terrible. But The Three Disasters, is a continuation of Godard’s contemplation on art and cinema. His wordplays are strong here: des =dice, astres=stars… as if predicting Hollywood’s short romance with the medium (again) as a gamble. “Writing was necessary. Printing was gratification. Digital will be dictatorship.” He drawls in his gravelly voice. He also observes the invention of perspectives in Western art ruined having any depth in content, correlating it to 2D and 3D in cinema. It’s Invigorating 20 minutes as any of his other films.