Syndromes and a Century (2006) and Colossal Youth (2006)

Day 2 of SNUFF reinforced an ongoing problem I (and I'm sure others) grapple with when trying to write effectively and informatively about films sporting vastly contrasting styles. The two art house films I watched today, Colossal Youth from Pedro Costas and Syndromes and a Century from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, are cut from such a different cloth than most of the movies I've seen recently, that they felt a little like a another medium. The viewing experience is more akin to visual meditation than the entertainment we're use to seeing at the movies.

That said, once you move into the head-space necessary to sync into the flow of this type of cinema (either through sheer force of will, or with the assistance of some organic substance... 'srooms come to mind, for example) they can become hugely satisfying experiences. As I mentioned yesterday, both films received high marks from innumerable critics and ranked up near the top of several best-of-the-decade lists. I find critics that describe this type of cinema as “little droplets of pure cinematic joy that gently sweep down and consume the audience in a rapturous symphony of orgasmic imagery and 24 frame per second cognitive bliss” (I just made that up, but you know what I mean) to be utterly useless. The problem is, however .... it's kinda' true. There were moments in both films that left me awestruck, like I'd been exposed to a different sort of cinematic language. Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century was particularly inspiring. There's a scene with two people talking on a porch that seemed, for some reason, almost perfect. The problem remains, I can't explain why. It's a feeling, a connection to the characters that seems at once utterly compelling and yet nothing is said. The story has no real start, middle or end... it's just a collection of moments. These moments are repeated (well, sort of, but not in a Run Lola Run way) once in a rural setting and then again, using the same actors, in an urban one. The two “stories” differ enough to be unique pieces designed, I'm guessing, to juxtapose how similar people in distinct environments evolve in different directions.

I need to give Colossal Youth another try when Criterion releases it with two other Costas films in March. I downloaded it from a French cable broadcast and the print had burned-in yellow French subtitling with white English overlaid on top. There's enough dialogue to have made the exercise of reading the subtitles a little migraine-inducing and I didn't make it through to the end. I enjoyed what I saw and will definitely go back to it. (Nick... I'll need some of your better product for that. I'll be in touch).

All in all a successful second day at SNUFF. I admit that couldn't do a steady diet of languorous foreign art house fare, I have neither the time nor enough spare cash for the bales of weed necessary to get myself in the mood, but I was reminded that gearing down and watching something that washes over rather than beans you is a worthy of the occasional lane change. Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady has moved up the list of possible SNUFF films for later this week.

Tomorrow's lineup? .... I haven't decided yet. Something with guns, I think.



Britarded said...
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Britarded said...

Good ol' Apichatpong Weerasethakul gittin 'er done. I would never usually watch something with 'Syndromes' in the title but if you got something out of it maybe I'll get round to it. In the meantime, Zombieland sounds good. Mmm gunz.

Chandles said...

Nice use of pictures in the post there Sporgey... I guess...