Christopher ConnellMassachusetts Film Connection

Blog Post 1 Posted on 2017-01-18 by Christopher Connell

    My own confusion has prevented me from writing these posts until now but here I am. Things are going well so far at Camp 9. We’ve been looking at a project currently in post-production, suggesting edits and whatnot. At this point we’re organizing around making a mock trailer as a proof of concept video. Auditions begin soon, in about a week and a half from when I’m writing this. Everything is mostly still locked in the pre-production stage.

 

    I saw Martin Scorsese’s Silence the other day. I felt where it was coming from more than any of his other movies. I’ve always found his toxic masculinity critique movies somewhat uninteresting and myopic. Although I can recognize that that a lot of them are very good, critiquing a certain type of person has a value that is limited for me because I already agree with the critique and being immersed in the point of view of a person being very opaquely damned quickly becomes very numbing. As relevant and topical a movie like The Wolf of Wall Street is, it kind of bores me. This, however, was so incredibly dense and introspective. I’ve long felt that his movies work best when seen through his cinephilia, and while most of his work is a mix of Raoul Walsh and Max Ophuls, this is mostly Roberto Rossellini and Kenji Mizoguchi. And of course, it is maybe the first movie brat movie that makes good on the promise of their obsession with John Ford’s The Searchers. Rossellini’s career is roughly spread into three sections on a certain subject: the first is war, the second is travel, the third is history. Silence covers all three and largely takes the form of Mizoguchi’s melodramas in that its dramatic structure largely concerns one person (or some people) being gradually broken down by a totalitarian power beyond their control. What distinguishes it is its ambivalence. Pasolini said that Mizoguchi (along with Chaplin and Dreyer) come closest to a mythic epicness than any other filmmaker. Silence, by comparison, is resolutely modern and Brechtian. The power that breaks down the main character has a much more refined point of view: that Christianity has come into Japan and has begun to tear the country apart and destroy the indigenous culture (which as it turns out, is what happened). Everything he says makes perfect sense but the forms in which it expresses itself are barbaric. Most of its third act reminds me of the scene in The Searchers where Ethan Edwards shoots the eyes out of the Comanche corpse, citing the Comanche belief that without eyes, one cannot enter the spirit world and must wander forever between the winds. He understands the beliefs of his adversaries and weaponizes it against them, as Inoue does here.

 

    I also recently saw Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution which made a great impression on me too. Some notes:

 

1) The best coming of age movie ever. Idk about you guys, but neither the type of bloodless and fraudulent nostalgia nor the oh wow that was really shitty in retrospect types of movies about children ever appealed to me. I never felt the confusion or fear or trauma of youth in those movies that I've never really recovered from. In this movie, it's turned into allegory that perfectly conveys these anxieties.

2) Motherhood as a social structure, divorced from the actual goals of parentage, but only to keep a community working until its end.

3) Scariest movie about motherhood ever (for me, a boy). Maybe it's just because I'm a boy, but I think there is something truly horrifying about the amount of modification it would take to make a man-child into a mother, not to mention the fetuses feeding on you from outside your on body, yikes.

4) Perfectly appeals to me aesthetically, narratively, thematically, etc.

5) The fetal imagery and the Nevermind cover art replication in this remind me of Kurt Cobain. Wonder if he inspired it at all.

6) The early scenes of waves crashing on the shoreline recall the opening of By the Bluest of Seas, and it's brimming with a like sexual energy, except that everything that surrounds it is so abject.

 

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