Monday, November 19, 2012

UNDER SNOW (2011, Ulrike Ottinger, Germany/Japan, documentary, A+30)

Films seen on Sunday, November 18, 2012

1.UNDER SNOW (2011, Ulrike Ottinger, Germany/Japan, documentary, A+30)
An unclassifiable film. At first I thought it would be just an observational ethnographic documentary like THE KOREAN WEDDING CHEST (2009, Ulrike Ottinger, A+) and HARVEST SEASON (2009, Pisut Srimork, 20min, A+), but it turns out to be a film which defies explanation.

Things I like in this film include:

1.1 A scene of a woman eating food for a long time near the beginning of the film. What is she eating? Why is her food important? What is the relationship between this scene and other scenes in the film? What is the relationship between this scene and the theme of the film? I don't know.

This scene seems to be a simple scene, but it becomes a very memorable scene for me because I don't exactly know what this simple scene means. I like this scene very much because I can't answer any questions above. This simple scene of a woman eating Japanese food for a long time seems to drive some audience out of the theatre. I don't know why this scene becomes unbearable for some audience. But I guess what drives these viewers out is exactly what attracts me to this film.

1.2 I don't know if the myths/folklores/legends told in this film are real folklores or what Ottinger invented by herself. It may be a real legend like the legend of the Chee River told in the film IN APRIL THE FOLLOWING YEAR, THERE WAS A FIRE (2012, Wichanon Somumjarn, A+10), or it may be a newly invented folklore like the ones told in the film UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (2010, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) and CROSSING THE MOUNTAIN (2010, Yang Rui, A+30).

1.3 The opening shot of this film is extremely breathtaking.

1.4 I like the three blind women in this film very much. They remind me of the three opera singers in THE IMAGE OF DORIAN GRAY IN THE YELLOW PRESS (1984, Ulrike Ottinger, A+30) and the three women who follow the heroine in TICKET OF NO RETURN (1979, Ulrike Ottinger, A+30).

1.5 The film alternately tells two stories--the folklore and the ethnographic observational documentary about some Japanese culture, and I keep wondering if these two stories will intersect with each other or merge with each other or not. These two stories may not exactly merge with each other, but these two stories somehow lend their power to each other in an unexplainable way.

1.6 The climactic scene in the film seems to be the scene in which the cross-species couple meet with the three blind women. Exactly there seems to be nothing important in this scene. The cross-species couple (a man from the present and his wife which is exactly his male friend possessed by the spirit of a fox from the Edo period) don't talk to the three blind women. The couple's path just cross with the blind women's path. But somehow there is an unexplainable burst of emotion in this scene.

I like this kind of things very much. Normally a climactic scene in the film is the scene in which the protagonist's main problem is going to be solved. But for some strange films like this, some scenes seem to be the climax of the films, but it is very hard for us to explain why these scenes have the climactic power.

This kind of things reminds me of the climactic scene in the film BIRTH OF THE SEANEMA (2004, Sasithorn Ariyavicha, A+30). There is a scene in that film which has the climactic power, though its power doesn't come from linear storytelling, but comes partly from the rhythm of the film.

1.7 I decided to give UNDER SNOW A+30 without a doubt at the last scene of the film, which presents the powerful sea. This scene seems to be very simple. The camera just recorded powerful waves of sea rushing to the shore. The scene doesn't tell any stories at all. It can be cut from the film very easily. But somehow it overwhelms me as much as the calm sea in AGATHA AND THE UNLIMITED READINGS (1981, Marguerite Duras, A+30).

2.PARTS OF THE HEART (2012, Paul Agusta, Indonesia, A+25)

3.YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE (2011, Giddens Ko, Taiwan, A+15)

4.FADOS (2007, Carlos Saura, Portugal/Spain, documentary, A+)