There’s a central, important contradiction to the show, which is our ad-exec main character feels enormously, existentially detached from the materiality of everyday life—the very things, concepts, and ideas he is meant to be hawking (except, perhaps, for Hershey bars).
Wenders is more directly present here than he is in Buena Vista or Pina, but even if we see him in the frame early on, directing his cameraman, it’s clear that Salt is Sebastião’s show—the film never descends into the kind of essayistic indulgence of his earlier documentaries.
The quasi-autobiographical nature of Monteiro’s late work comes to a conscious conclusion with Come and Go, which unfolds like a retrospective of its lead character’s—and, by extension, its director’s—various conquests and convictions, before summoning death and ending in a kind of aural benediction.
Standard Gauge, at 35 minutes, was made using a 1000-foot reel of 16mm film (the running time purposefully matches the film’s subject; Fisher has often called himself a “literalist”). This extensive length occasioned, for Fisher, a complex orchestration of time and footage.
As Manny Farber helpfully pointed out, “a film cannot exist outside of its spatial form.” But La Sapienza takes space as its literal subject, how the environments we build for ourselves, either architecturally or emotionally, create room for the known and the unknown.
So, with this piece, I want to look at what, exactly, we saw, and what I think that means. I’ll do that by revisiting a film whose pan-and-scan presentation struck me, at the time I rented it, in the dying days of VHS, as a pinnacle of the pan-and-scan format: Michael Winterbottom’s 2000 drama The Claim.
"I had the impression as a child, from the age of five on, that man exists through language. Here, I had the impression that the world didn’t exist through language. What was around me seemed unreal, so I sought a reality in literature, later in other arts and music, cinema also, very much."
The film proceeds as a series of vignettes, mostly interiors, almost entirely shot with a stationary camera, a self-imposed rule which Hausner will here and there violate for a slight pan or a slow zoom, her austerity coming up just shy of that found in the period pieces of Rossellini or Straub-Huillet.
“I like the title because it puts you in the space of a legend, one of those cities like El Dorado. Maybe we think we’re in something more like a fairy tale, or a fabula. The film doesn’t exist. It’s not real. It’s been created. I like the film in that place.”
With Jauja Alonso follows the ever-widening orbit his films have been tracing even further, nudging his trademark concerns away from the largely observational, vaguely romantic cinema of his earlier work into something considerably more expansive, playful, even supernatural.
Mitchell and his cinematographer Michael Gioulakis do the concept justice with an unnerving aesthetic approach that makes the film’s timeless suburbia as much a character as any of the terrified kids who populate it. Imagine Sofia Coppola’s daydreamy The Virgin Suicides transformed into a twilit nightmare.