Tuesday, December 21, 2010
THE SOUND OF INSECTS: Record of a Mummy -- a film from Swiss filmmaker Peter Liechti (shown below) who, in this case has adapted, written, directed, produced, and handled the cinema-tography -- is not a documentary at all. Not since On the Bowery -- which at least had a true documentary feel, was shot on location and used actual "alkies" as its actors -- won its doc award, has anything so dead-wrong occur-red in the land of the fête. (OK: The Blind Side was nominated for Best Picture. But Liechti's film actually won.) Before seeing the movie and imagining that it had anything to do with the documentary format, I'd considered the European Film Awards to be a cut above our own. That notion has now been laid to rest.
written by a Japanese man, at that (and set, I imagine, in Japan): so much for verite of location. It's subject: a man who takes to the woods and commits suicide. (No spoiler here: the film begins with the removal of his corpse.) So this is a documentary? Then one might think our filmmaker would by now have been arrested. But of course not. This movie is about as "fictional" as you can get.
Hereafter, Shutter Island and several films in the ongoing Spanish Cinema Now series) are happily probing the latter. OK: So much for the marketing of the movie. How is it as cinema? Interesting. Not bad. Though not particularly award-worthy, either, TrustMovies thinks.
We learn very little about our fellow -- who does not seem to have led a particularly fascinating life -- and this helps drag the film down. I'd have preferred spending my hour-and-a-half with someone more interesting -- but then that person would have been a good deal less likely to commit suicide at this relatively young age. The visuals are rudimentary -- much is as they would be if we were there in the tent that the protagonist has built -- and the attempts by the director to go into fantasy and heightened states of reality are not very successful. You certainly see what Liechti is trying for, but that's about it.
The Sound of Insects, from Lorber Films, is opening at a Manhattan cinema venue I've never before mentioned: the Rubin Museum (150 West 17th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues), beginning Wednesday, December 22, at 7pm. Click here for all screening dates and times (there are only ten of these, so if this post has piqued your interest, reserve now).