Thursday, February 25, 2010
"Is this what a Nostromo sequel would look like, shot by Pedro Costa?" (Danny Kasman)
"Surreal, absurd and sad—all hallmarks of a Lav Diaz film—Butterflies, and indeed there are actually butterflies, is all the more haunting in that it seems to be foreshadowing a real-life event—the killing earlier this month of Canadian-Filipino film critic Alexis Tioseco and his partner Slovenian film critic Nika Bohinc, likely by people they knew, but were not wearing masks." (Wise Kwai)
These low-constrast images are fascinating. I kept thinking, 'These shots seem so simple, so obvious, and yet I can't recall a film that looks to have been made quite like this.' Roaring white noise in the background will give way to dead silence from shot-to-shot; roosters crow all around you in one take; motors and traffic. Murky depths everywhere. Beautiful, ugly, picturesque, mundane: this video is balanced on a knife-edge.
The plot of Butterflies Have No Memories, such as it is, reveals itself slowly and obliquely. There's a dead-and-gutted mining town. A Canadian woman, Martha, comes back to this place, where her family used to live in its industrial heyday. She tries to socialize with her old friends and family employees, who are too busy with their own problems & the getting-on-with of life. No time or inclination for idle nostalgia in a home they've never left, a privileged past they've never romanticized. Some of the villagers concoct a plan (with different levels of moral feeling) to kidnap Martha. From there the film goes even deeper into an abyss. Somehow Butterflies Have No Memories seems to be both in the vein of novelistic, richly structured moral exposé and as well in the "slow," "meandering," small-s surrealist paradigm of contemporary festival cinema.
I do not expect this to be the last time I write on Lav Diaz's work ...