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El cant dels ocells (Birdsong)

Posted by martinteller on August 23, 2013

The last time I watched two films in one day was nearly a month ago.  It used to be a regular occurrence for me.  As more happens in my “real life” — embarking on a new relationship, ending an old one, hunting for a job — I have less time for and less interest in losing myself in a movie.  And less patience for “contemplative cinema”.  In fact, on a recent revisit of Werckmeister Harmonies (which I did not do a writeup of) my attention wandered a bit, to the point where it will probably slip down a little on my top 100.  As my life changes, perhaps my tastes in movies will change too.  And that’s a bit scary… I like to think of my tastes as something that have been meticulously honed over the years, slowly sculpting a personal canon that says “This Is the Stuff I Like”.  But the Stuff I Like is apparently malleable, and what does that say about the thousands of reviews I’ve written as a casual movie critic?

It’s something I imagine most critics struggle with, whether amateur or professional.  The things that resonate with you are not just dependent on the “thing” but also the “you”.  Many times I’ve said that you have to be in the right mood to enjoy a certain movie.  So perhaps my tastes aren’t necessarily shifting, but I simply wasn’t in the right mood to appreciate a very, very slow film about the three wise men/kings and their journey to meet Jesus.  The three (Lluís Carbó, Lluís Serrat Batlle, Lluís Serrat Masanellas) stumble their way through the desert, rarely talking except to bicker and gripe, or hem and haw over which route to take.  There are exceptionally long takes, mostly of them nearly silent, many of them with the three men shot from a far distance.

Eventually they reach Mary (Victòria Aragonés) and Joseph (Mark Peranson) and pay their respects, the only point in the film where there is any music.  And then they stumble on their way home.  Is director Albert Serra trying to emphasize the divine by focusing on the mundane?  Or is he downplaying the divine by emphasizing the mundane?  I’m neither theologian enough nor film critic enough to make an informed judgment.

The movie is certainly intriguing, occasionally amusing, and if nothing else, gorgeously photographed in black and white.  But it didn’t really click with me, whether my tastes have changed, I was in the wrong mood, or it’s just kind of a trying film.  Rating: Fair (64)


2 Responses to “El cant dels ocells (Birdsong)”

  1. Hmmm…well, if hunger is the best sauce, and you’re having more engaging real life experiences, it makes sense you’d be less hungry for cinematic ones. And that they’d be at least a little less enjoyable in comparison. But don’t worry, I’m sure all this excitement will die down soon and then your movies will regain their luster. 🙂

    • Mmm hunger sauce! I don’t think this excitement will be dying down any time soon, but I do have a three week period coming up where I can concentrate more on my old hobby.

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