Saturday, April 28, 2007

Live blogging from SFMOMA

Over a couple of happy-hour beers at my local cafe, I've completed another quick review. Hooray for sunny afternoon respites from the sun-starved world of a film festival. Colossal Youth Well well well, what to make of that? The programmer's introduction told us it would be difficult, and the trickle of walkouts throughout Colossal Youth's 155 minute running time attest to that. This is one of those times when I could really use talking to someone else about the film: I thought it was magnificent, and engrossing, and heart-breaking. And yet I'm still not entirely sure what it was about. Surely, it's about poverty, and the state's reaction to the same (the film follows characters in a Lisbon slum). It's also about family, or more particularly, father and mother-hood: how parents help their children, how children help their parents. And how they're connected, in good ways and bad. The use of non-professional actors is apparent, as much of the dialogue seems to be read off a page, yet this effect is often used to the advantage of the film (most poignantly as the main character, Ventura, repeats a letter to his son [or son-in-law?] over and over throughout). As for the filmic aspects, it's shot on digital, but manages to have a beautiful, if frightening, style: the 4:3 aspect ratio adds to the claustrophobia of the slum, yet as the characters move from a shanty town to bright white public housing, the effect only increases. Recommended, if you can take the length and the incomprehensibility. But don't say I didn't warn you.

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