La beauté est dans les yeux de celui qui regarde

Time for another one of my boring reports about cinema! And this one was already long due since the Munich film festival finished like over a week ago. So here we go. (Beware of spoilers!)

Ren Shan Ren Hai (People Mountain People Sea)                       2011
by Cai Shangjun, Drama, China, 90'
People Mountain People Sea (good title, so let's repeat it again) is a grim tale about revenge set in industrial China. The awe-inducing and expansive photography work is in my opinion the strongest feature in this film. We are offered a bitter glimpse into the true and ugly life of rural China, travelling from pale and dusty quarries, through overpopulated cities to illegally run coal mines, encountering suppressed suffering and the crude violence of human nature. Apparently a negative aspect for most critics of this film is the ungratifying and incomprehensible ending. But I like it when movies finish without giving all the answers to the spectator.

Ostende                                                                                    2011
by Laura Citarella, Mystery, Argentina, 85'
So this girl wins a paid holiday in Ostende, and while she waits for her boyfriend to join her, she starts observing the people around, becoming curious about an odd relation between this elderly man and his two companions. After the weekend is over and she returns home without ever finding out anything (because nothing actually happens), we get her suspicion in the last minute confirmed after some long, uneventful and often dull moments. An undeclared remake of Rear Window? Despite the mystery elements this was far from being gripping or intriguing. A very pointless production, in my humble opinion.

Klip (Clip)                                                                                 2012
by Maja Miloš, Drama, Serbia, 100'
A daringly realistic portrait about mid-teens growing up in the poor suburbs of Belgrade. Ingredients: horny teenagers, skipping school, partying, drugs, alcohol, sex, family problems, facebook, slutty clothing styles and promiscuous mainstream pop music. The most shocking aspects of this movie however are the very explicit and pornographic sex scenes. But as the director mentioned in a conversation with the public, if she's showing every moment of these teenagers' lives, why hide the more intimate ones and mystify sex? It shouldn't be a taboo. So, be careful who you watch this film with, ha.

On The Road                                                                             2012
by Walter Salles, Road Movie, USA, 140'
Hyped and promoted as a festival highlight, this ended up being a bit disappointing. The story is taken from a Beat Generation literature classic of the same title, written by Jack Kerouac; director Walter Salles enjoys some good reputation in alternative cinema cycles (Cidade de Deus, Diarios de Motocicleta); and the cast consists of some strong names like Sam Riley, Kirsten Dunst and Steve Buscemi, just to name a few. All good premisses but the end result is not exciting or enticing enough. A road movie that didn't quite feel like one. A book adaptation that didn't add much else to it. A long sequence of weary and spiritless moments. Also, Kristen Stewart's presence in the film is lame.

Holy Motors                                                                              2012
by Leos Carax, Drama, France, 115'
Holy shit! By far one of the most fascinating films I've seen lately. The cinematography is remarkable and the film was composed seamlessly. Leos Carax's first film in thirteen years is about a character who is driven around Paris to make nine appointments, all shown in an episodic sequence. For each appointment he plays a different role to an apparently invisible audience and non-existent cameras. As the film goes on, and each role becomes more extensive and involving, his true identity dilutes more and more in ambiguity, jumping from alternative lives into different parallel realities. Nothing and everything makes sense. It could easily be equated with other confusing and disturbing surrealism pieces like Inland Empire or Mulholland Drive. But Holy Motors has its own unique charm and leaves a lot more room for self-reflexivity, as a lot of things could probably only be answered by the director himself. One thing that can be logically concluded is that it's referencing cinema itself and the relationship between art and real life. Also, Kylie Minogue plays in it.

"The film is a form of science fiction, in which humans, beasts and machines are on the verge of extinction – 'sacred motors' linked together by a common fate and solidarity, slaves to an increasingly virtual world." – Leos Carax

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