Manifesto (Julian Rosefeldt, 2017)


Advancement of technology in film is a constant, and thus, the horizons of its boundaries as an art are also ever expanding. For the first time in my life, I really had to contend with whether a single screen theater was limiting for a motion picture. Julian Rosefeltd’s film, or more appropriately, cinematic art piece, Manifesto is a movie which was exhibited in two different forms, both vastly changing the structure and therefore the perception of the piece as “cinema”. It was first released in the Australian Center for the Moving Image in a gallery setting which showcases Cate Blanchette, playing 13 different roles, on different screens throughout the room and reciting 13 different manifestos on the idea of “art” itself. As you walk deeper, the voices of her different characters start to create a conversation or argument, or as Jane Howard put it in The Daily Review, “an unspoken stand-off”. This is an experience, a three-dimensional space which takes the 2-D cinematic image and echoes it to and from us in multiple directions. It’s a cinematic piece you literally walk through, experience as you are in motion in real time, in the real world.

Suffice to say, this is not how I personally experienced this film, and it brought about limitations and complications which again, made it clear that a single-screen theater was inadequate in showcasing the new horizons of what artists can do with the film medium. Manifesto, the 90-minute popcorn motion picture, is not much more than a long-string cut-and-paste rant. Out of the 13 different sermons you sit through, the only one which made any sense in the traditional theater setting was the news broadcast because, well, by its definition it is to be watched motionless in a single sitting. Rosefeltd’s writing is clearly passionate and clearly demonstrates a deep understanding of art history and it’s underlying philosophies, all of which are masterfully recited by Blanchette who, in many cases hams it up (perhaps the nature of the piece is to be satirical of art), but also manages to embody the writing in her movements and her biggest asset as an actress, her eyes.


Australian Center for the Moving Image opening showcase of Manifesto.


It was clear, however, that I was watching something that begged to be limitless, not constrained in a traditional movie theater and demanded its viewers to not be sitting on their asses munching on popcorn for 90 minutes. It perplexes me why Rosefeldt would want his film to be shown in this setting after two highly-touted exhibits in Australia and Berlin which captured the essence of the project’s ambition: to create a cinema which architecturally invades us through all its forms, visual, audial, and as interaction with the viewer. If the gallery exhibit was like riding a rollercoaster in an amusement park, the theater screening which I sat through was more like someone reading me the entire pamphlet or brochure for Six Flags. Maybe this was the point. By showing the project in both areas, Rosefeldt can illuminate the limitations of the theater complex itself. If film is to enter a new horizon as and artistic medium, then Rosefeldt is claiming its current home of the movie theater is not sufficient.


2015 Capsule Reviews: The Last One

Here’s to 2015, one of the best years ever, at least for me. Just in time, here are 4 movies before the buzzer sounds that I’d personally like to sound off on.

My Top 10 Best Films of 2015 is COMING SOON (possibly next week). Hang on tight.

The Revenant (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, 2015)

The Revenant (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, 2015)

You can slice this movie anyway your like to target a particular audience. For the action crowd it’s a tale of revenge, for the biopic crowd it’s a true story, for the political crowd it’s a redemption from betrayal, for the science crowd it’s a story of survival and instinct, for the history crowd it’s a story of ethnic tensions, for the religious crowd it’s a testament of God’s will. In any sense, Innaritu’s The Revenant is an avalanche. It sweeps you in its dark, hellish yet, at times fantasy portrayal of the South Dakota wilderness. It is bloody, beaten, rotting, and yet, it claws and scratches its way to satisfying means. Leonardo DiCaprio is of course incredible, but Tom Hardy is heavily underrated… his role as Fitzgerald is so committed psychologically, it works to perfect ends with DiCaprio’s tortured and intense portrayal of Hugh Glass. Innaritu’s direction with his favorite cinematographer Emannuel Lubeszki combines with harsh white winter with the earthen soil and dripping blood that creates a portrait which would have done 70mm and lengthy hype much more justice and purpose than Tarantino’s lukewarm vision did.


Heaven Knows What (Ben & Joshua Safdie, 2015)

Heaven Knows What is not for the faint of heart. Filmed on a micro-budget but packing a wrenching emotional whallop, the Safdie Brothers have created a film, based on personal writings from star Arielle Holmes, about the pain of love, and the horrifying clutch of addiction. The movie is not an “addiction movie”, nor is it an expose on homelessness. The film is a story, but it reverbrates in the screeching cries and wails of its protagonists and the claws which their lifestyle has dug into their eye-sockets so deep, they can never be pulled out. There is no glorification or exploitation eminent within the film, instead, we root for these characters to survive and cry with them as they fail and fall back time and time again. Set to a backdrop score which haunts and creeps and street landscapes which are so distrubingly familiar to all of us, Heaven Knows What takes little money and a lot of pain and heart to create one of the best “small films” of the year.


The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)

The 8th film by Quentin Tarantino might be his worst, possibly tied with Death Proof. Despite the advertised use of 70mm and the grandiose stage-setting of the film, there is nothing memorable about The Hateful Eight… not the dialogues, the actors, the characters, or the place where they all collide. Built upon the same basic idea of his debut masterwork Reservoir Dogs, this movie nullifies any sort of imagination required from that movie to a shitshow of blood, guts, and wise-cracks that sound smart, but don’t resonate with anyone but the guy who’s writing and saying them. It’s Tarantino laughing at his own joke in a dead-silent room.


Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)

The eye-stares that ensue every time that Carol and Therese see each other throughout the film, coupled with the cold stares between Carol and her ex-husband, all call to show how great the acting is in this movie. The characters here have histories and futures with each other, and it shows simply through looks. Hayne’s direction is crafted such that we can justify calling Carol a love story, without having to put the qualifier “lesbian” in front of it. It is about Carol torn in two ways, glancing at her future of love, brightness, comfort, and passion with wet-eyed glances and hand-touches with Therese and letting go of the disasterous collapse of a marriage with her husband Harge. Blanchett is brilliant in this, and her entire aura keeps Carol at the brink of being both a strong-willed real woman and a majestic unatainable beauty queen. In today’s society there is much ado about not judging women on their looks but rather on what’s on the inside… Hayne’s Carol straddles both the visual allure and personality traits of his female stars. It draws you in with looks, and knocks you out with heart, emotion, and undeniable confidence.