When did plot become the only way to judge a movie? | ET REALITY

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Steve McQueen’s four-and-a-half-hour postmodern ghost story “Occupied City” forces us to readjust and expand our understanding of how movies communicate meaning. The film takes an almost pointillist approach to telling the story. Based on a book by McQueen’s wife, Bianca Stigter (a Dutch filmmaker and historian whose Holocaust research also produced one of last year’s most astonishing nonfiction films, “Three Minutes: An Elongation”), “Occupied City” ” consists of hundreds of static shots of Amsterdam during the pandemic lockdown. In each shot, an impassive narrator (Melanie Hyams) details the corresponding crimes that took place in each location in the early 1940s, when the Nazis invaded the country.

The conceit is deliberately repetitive and its simple, practical approach moves away from the manipulations of empathy-generating narratives that tend to dominate the subject. My mind often wandered through the film’s countless enumerations, causing me to feel pangs of guilt and also put things into perspective: It is distressingly easy to forget, to lose focus, in the face of horrors whose size and scope are impossible to fully comprehend. for the human brain. process.

Every year I try to see some films in the Revivals section, which features restorations of old titles, many of them previously inaccessible. He highlighted “Un rêve plus long que la nuit” (A dream longer than the night), by the French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Years ago I visited a Saint Phalle exhibition where one of the most striking pieces was a vaginal opening the size of a door situated between a pair of giant legs. Silly, beautiful and terrifying all at once, the film is a pagan fever dream that visualizes a feminist revolution through the eyes of a young girl, and its best qualities are in the details: the sheer diversity of paper mache penises is astonishing. .

Revivals also screens a program of short films by Man Ray, the artist best known for his photographs, but whose films—dizzying experiments with light and movement—turn familiar objects into alien entities. For Man Ray, conventional photography was about capturing reality, which meant that his work would manifest images that were only possible in fantasies and dreams. Now, in the fast-paced age of the Internet, with increasingly sophisticated film technologies at artists’ disposal, it is worth considering films with similar ambitions: those that make the unreal legible. In “The Human Surge 3,” director Eduardo Williams uses a 360-degree camera to capture the wanderings of a multicultural group of friends, each from a different part of the world: Peru, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. Using stunning, extended imagery that resembles that of Google Earth, Williams’ remarkable vision of digital interconnectivity breaks down borders and language barriers in a wonderfully psychedelic way.

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