Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where does that penguin go?

Films this year:

18. Samira Makhmalbaf, The Blackboard (2000)
19. Werner Herzog, Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

18 is stunning. Can't quite believe this imagination of a then 20-year old director Samira, Makhmalbaf's eldest daughter. Thematically very tightly woven, with a breathtaking backdrop of the very rocky mountain. AND there is much more behind the film; the vast and ruthless reality of the border situation.

19 I could finally watch; another masterpiece from the master. A solitary penguin heading toward the mountain range and its own death well seems like our own collective destiny. Time to rethink all our ethics with our inescapable end in sight.La vie... sur la terre... quelle tristesse!

Friday, April 17, 2009

In Belarus, in Mongolia, back then, and now?

Films this year:

16. Seiichi Motohashi, Nadya's Village (1997)
17. Peter Brosens, State of Dogs (1998?)

16 is the photographer Seiichi Motohashi's first full-length documentary, following people's life in a small quasi-abandoned village in Belarus. People were evacuated after the accident at Chernobyl, but some of them stayed, including 8-year-old Nadya's family. The film's tranquility and the beauty of the land is awesome. And then when you come to the gate of the village... I've got to go and watch his "Baobab" (now being released) soon.

17 is a surprising masterpiece. A decade ago when it was released in Tokyo I wrote a short essay for the booklet. Reviewing it after such a long time and I blame myself for not remembering the whole film well...even though I've watched it probably four times before. This makes a nice pair of Mongolian films with The Weeping Camel. There are more, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Films this year:

14. Shigeru Kobayashi, Chokora! (2008)
15. Byambasuren Davaa & Luigi Falorni, The Story of the Weeping Camel (2003)

Two great documentaries. 14 deals with the street children in Kenya with striking cinematography and vivid colours. 15 is almost too well-made. Many scenes must be directed; they are rendered beautifully, yet the feeling of slightly too much intervention, so to speak, remains. Well worth remembering, none the less.