It is a narrative reframing that suggests not empowerment from disempowerment, but rather, redemption through the redefinition of acceptable terms of success. And by overturning the traditional power fantasy, a sympathetic understanding of identity disorders emerges.
The new Jia documentary may not have the aesthetic boldness of his best work, but it illuminates the proximity of fiction and nonfiction in his oeuvre and doubles as something of a directorial mission statement, highlighting the role of the artist in writing and preserving history.
The filmmaker embraces the emptiness of the landscape. You can sense that David is traversing the same street back and forth, a dead-end town stretching out until oblivion. The muted palette only adds to the sense of simplicity, giving us license to color the narrative with our own readings.
New logistical work-arounds sought to overcome the difficulties of physically congregating; each decision about tone could trigger dozens of questions. Are the problems we are experiencing self-contained within the pandemic, or perennial? What possibilities exist to radically reinvent ourselves, or is the status quo the final destination?
The feature debut from Melvin Van Peebles uses the possibilities opened by the New Wave (jump cuts, pop music, repetition) to explore something profound about race, identity, life, love, the world, and its rediscovery and restoration is an occasion for celebration.
All of my films really reside in this guilt that I feel of having, for a time, integrated this French injunction of separating myself from working class neighborhoods. And so in all of my films, and I think this film is the culmination of this, I return to these neighborhoods in order to make visible the people I have been made to believe were not worthy of being represented in film.
One of the key questions of filmmaking is the distance between camera and subject, or character. Do you remember any Rembrandt pictures? The question is not about composition and lighting. Why Rembrandt is crucial for art is because he’s choosing the right scale.
As we write and rewrite the ongoing history of cinema, learning from our mistakes (sometimes) and making new ones, missing the great films and often paying far too much attention to the undeserving, and always, always uncovering more and more work worth writing and thinking about, we should remember: question the rubrics and heuristics, the received and accepted wisdom.
Four minutes into the film I can already appreciate the spaciousness and quasi-documentary simplicity that would have endeared my head-in-the-clouds 16-year-old self. Ambient sounds, dreamy transitions, and preference for human faces over narrative momentum lend Syndromes a remarkable directness of expression.
Hopinka aims to show things clearly, and while this film doesn’t always match the thrilling visual impact of his experimental shorts, the result of this direct approach is a complex portrait of contemporary Indigenous life.