You can see the seams, and this helps us understand what Greenaway’s work is ultimately about, and why it isn’t as well regarded as it once was. The reliance of outside texts and reference points is not only artlessly overt—it can strike a viewer as bound to a particular moment in film history, when cinema argued for itself on the basis of its having mastered a particular syllabus.
In Colo, three relatively ordinary people, a teenage girl and her two parents, are struggling to make ends meet. But by the end of the film, they are entirely new, having been shattered by trauma and reassembled into damaged, isolated individuals.
With naked bodies slowly twisting and writhing in a thick, inky chiaroscuro, a hazy but unidirectional light giving definition only to the rounded forms and flexing musculature of the women onscreen, it is clear that Grandrieux has painting on his mind.
Often the idea of the avant-garde implies a somewhat detached, contemplative mode of viewing, and this aesthetic stance is kilometers away from Gagnon’s bailiwick. Of the North seems to invite rubbernecking more than any conventional audienceship.
One could easily imagine German’s masterwork flickering through the gate in projection booths and then deposited in serpentine curlicues directly into a wet open pit, to be fermented like kimchi or composted like coffee grounds and eggshells.
Mascaro’s latest is his first foray into fiction filmmaking, but like his documentary work, Ventos de Agosto is grounded in the realities of contemporary Brazil, particularly as experienced by citizens situated on society’s margins.