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Posts Tagged ‘Berberian Sound Studio’

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (UK, Sophie Fiennes) I loved The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, a guided tour by Slavoj Zizek of the psychoanalytic dimensions of cinema. Zizek is an entertaining lecturer, and the concept of having him appear within what seem to be the sets of the film clips upon which he is commenting works brilliantly to cause us to reimagine our experience of the films and of cinema in general. I felt myself literally psychoanalyzed by the film. This followup is pretty much a continuation, using the same methodology to talk about how ideology functions. I stayed only for the first hour. The film was becoming a bit repetitive, and I was feeling less patience for the fact that, although Zizek’s insightful readings open up new perceptions, his relentlessly materialist view also closes down others that I find extremely important. Nevertheless I will definitely be seeking the film out to watch the whole thing (and now I also want to watch the first one again).

 

Zizek in Pervert’s Guide

Stories we Tell (Canada, Sarah Polley) A personal documentary which investigates a well-buried secret about the director’s relationship with her parents. Polley’s off-the-charts emotional intelligence is on full display here, as she gets her four siblings and her father and family friends talking and weaves together their occasionally contradictory stories. She makes extensive use of both real and re-enacted home movie footage, and if I have one quibble it’s that these visuals much too consistently provide literal illustration of what is being said. But this is a thoughtful, moving and courageous look at both a particular family and the stories that all families tell about themselves.

 

Stories We Tell

The End of Time (Canada, Peter Mettler) Peter Mettler’s perennial quest is the use of cinema to investigate the nature of perception. As with his Gambling, Gods and LSD, which dealt with “transcendence,” he is here nominally tackling a vast theme, in this case “time.” But I find Mettler’s films less interesting on a conceptual level than on an experiential one. He’s a brilliant image-maker, and The End of Time  showcases his most ravishing images yet — indeed you won’t find a more beautiful documentary anywhere – and the editing is so rigorous that every shot shines like a jewel. While the filmmaker’s spare narration is effective, I could have done without the many voice-over comments from others musing on the subject of time, generally with banalities that seemed crushingly obvious next to the poetry and delicacy of the images. Perhaps that was the point. Mettler is less interested in getting us to think than to see.

Blackbird(Canada, Jason Buxton) I contributed to this film peripherally, as a story editor – one of five, according to the credits. So I won’t review it.

Berberian Sound Studio (UK, Peter Strickland ) This starts off promisingly, with atmosphere and style, something I was definitely craving after a day of highly earnest stuff. It takes about twenty minutes to realize that the director has absolutely nothing up his sleeve but style, which would be okay but he runs out of even that pretty quickly and begins to repeat himself to diminishing effect. The wonderful Toby Jones plays a meek, British sound designer working on his first horror film, in 1970’s Italy. The film’s rather clever conceit is that, though it all takes place in the foley studio/mixing theatre, we never actually see the actual film being worked on, we only hear it. The subject of Berberian Sound Studio is apparently intended to be Jones’ gradual mental breakdown. The problem, though, is that you can’t show someone losing their grip on reality if you never establish reality. Worse, the film is virtually plotless – it seems like maybe they only shot half the film, out of sequence, and then had to patch something together with what they had. Perhaps most unforgivably, for a film buff film, it gets many of the details wrong. The actual technical and creative processes depicted make no sense in terms of the way audio post-production took place in the 70’s (or now). (A more trivial point: the film in question seems to be a mixture of Argento’s Suspiria and the very different German Mark of the Devil, a combination that makes little sense.) This was one of those screenings where you could hear the whole audience heave a collective sigh of dashed expectations when the end credits started.

 

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