Slowness

TIFF is almost over. I saw 4 movies in 4 days; quite restrained compared to most TIFF goers. My movies had one thing in common: a slow pace. That is not necessarily a bad thing if the film has other virtues. “Tu Dors Nicole” had charm, despite the slight story. Someone in the audience alluded to similarity to “Ghost World” and I must admit I had a similar déjà vu feeling about the relationship between Nicole and her best friend Veronique. But Lafleur infuses the film with his own style, melancholy and funny at the same time. Walking at night, Nicole observes her neighbourhood and maybe even thinks about growing up.

There is a lot of walking in “Gyeongju”. The young professor visiting South Korea is befriended by a local tea house owner. They wander Gyeongju at night, talk a lot less than Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Both are facing a crisis in their life and are conflicted as to their next steps. “Gyeongju” has some lovely moments, but could have benefitted from editing.

Andrey Zvyaginstev’s “Leviathan” unfolds slowly but gathers force and pace. The themes of greed and injustice are universal, but there is also an astute commentary on the corruption in the Russian society. Brutality and bleakness – no wonder people drink themselves to oblivion. A beautiful film, but not pleasant to watch.

“Timbuktu” is concerned with similar themes of ordinary individuals’ resistance to foreign fighters who use religion for their own extremist means. Unlike “Leviathan”, it engages the viewer on an emotional rather than cerebral level. Mauritania stands in for Mali. Music and soccer are forms of protest (and pleasure).

These were good films, but last night I watched “Belle de Jour” on TV and I have to say that nothing I saw at TIFF this year compares to the crispness and intriguing ambiguity of Bunuel. “Belle de Jour” remains current, open to interpretation, surreal and sardonic, and most of all, memorable.

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