50 Countries Project #1: When the Stars Meet the Sea (Madagascar)

In the child’s dreams, the sound of the tide transforms into one of stampeding hooves in a cattle pen; a memory of a formative trauma that has left him crippled. This is the first post-credits sequence of Raymond Rajaonarivelo’s When the Stars Meet the Sea (Quand les étoiles rencontrent la mer, 1996), an at-times uneven but often impressive film that marks my first encounter with the cinema of Madagascar.

Continue reading

Film review: Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

Clouds of Sils Maria

The first thing you notice about Clouds of Sils Maria is that it looks different. There’s a sense of urgency here that’s not even close to being justified by the narrative – well, in the sense that there is a narrative; this being one of those rare, refreshing films for which it can be said, for decent stretches of its running time, “nothing happens” – and it’s an urgency that can be located most obviously in its transitions and in its occasional bouts of double exposure.

Continue reading

Film review: Leviathan (2014)

leviathan

For Young Earth Creationists, a passage in the Book of Job is sufficient proof that dinosaurs and humans co-existed: a 34-verse description of a mythical, Loch Nessque sea creature whose comparative strength demonstrates man’s weakness and vulnerability (and thus, by extension, necessary submission before God). Its function is that of many of the allegorical works comprising the Hebrew Old Testament: a reminder to the reader to “know their place”; a reminder carved into the ruins of the Tower of Babel and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Continue reading