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TSPDT 2013: From the Clouds to the Resistance

Posted by martinteller on May 12, 2013

A two-part film.  The first part enacts six dialogues from Cesare Pavese’s Dialoghi con Leucò, in which characters from mythology have discussions.  The second part is from another Pavese work, La luna e i falò, a modern story about a man (known only as “The Bastard”) who returns to his home village and talks to some people about other people.

I try to be brutally honest with myself.  I don’t know where this compulsion comes from, I guess I just want to be measured by what I truly am.  One thing that I hate seeing in a review, “I got it, I just didn’t like it” (or something similar) when the reviewer either probably or definitely didn’t get it.  So when I say I hate Straub & Huillet, I feel the need to make it clear that I hate them because I don’t get them.  At all.

I get that there is something here about resistance… in the first part people are starting to rebel against the gods and against the masters of land.  In the second part, there is a lot of talk about partisans and Communists and spies and people who died in the fight against fascism, and people unfairly treated by a system that favors the haves over the have-nots.  And to a degree, I get that Straub & Huillet are rebelling against commercial cinema.

But I don’t get why it’s so fucking dull.  I don’t get why everyone talks in such even, monotonous tones as if they were reading straight from a text (as Mauro Monni, “The Bastard”, appears to be actually doing at the end of the film).  I don’t get why the shots are so plain.  I don’t get why it’s so talky and hard to follow.  I don’t get why I should watch this instead of just reading the source material.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to get it.  I’m not just hate-watching their films.  Okay, a small part of me is, just for the sake of being consistent with my earlier reviews of their movies.  But mostly I would like to have an enjoyable experience, or an enlightening one.  I envy those who get something out of this.  I’ve tried reading stuff by Straub and Huillet’s champions, including Jonathan Rosenbaum and Tag Gallagher.  And I don’t get what they have to say, either.  It really makes me feel inadequate and stupid.  I hate that feeling.  It takes me back to high school where I felt above average but not in the same league as the top students.  And the thing is, I feel like even if someone explained it to me in simple terms, I still wouldn’t appreciate it.

I suspect that serious scholars of film will find something to love here.  If nothing else, it — like the other four Straub & Huillet films I’ve seen — is very, very different from what you’re used to, and very challenging.  Speaking for myself, the only part I really liked was the dialogue in the first part between the landowner and the stranger he intends to sacrifice for his crops.  Probably because that was the easiest to understand.  Now excuse me, I think I’ll go put on my dunce cap and read some “Archie” comics or something.  Rating: Poor (31)

IMDb
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