FFWD REW

TIFF dispatch — day two (September 5)

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Dir. Roy Andersson Sweden/Norway/France/Germany)

Goodbye to Language 3D (Dir.Jean-Luc Godard France)Wavelengths 1: Open Forms

Two Shots Fired (Dir. Martin Rejtman Argentina/Chile/Germany/The Netherlands)Having gone late the previous night with the raucous riot of Tokyo Tribe I opted to skip today’s early morning block of screenings to catch up on sleep and writing. It proved wise as it also gave me time to prepare myself for a couple heavy-hitters on deck for the afternoon.

Several years in the making A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence marked the final instalment in Roy Andersson’s lauded trilogy of works about — as the film’s title-card introduces — "being a human being." There are a handful of exceptional filmmakers the true masters who are able to create and inhabit their own distinct and incomparable cinematic worlds and Andersson is one. Sometimes it can take time to sink into: the pace is slow scenes play out in a single take with a fixed camera and visual palate looks as if all the world’s colour showed up hungover matching a vocal cadence of the characters which never rises above a measured monotone. But once you’re inside it’s magic.

While there are several brief glimpses of nameless individuals going about their lives (and deaths) a number of recurring characters gradually emerge including a pair of morose novelty toy salesmen. While frequently hysterically funny Andersson by turns offers up glimpses of sorrow joy angst and tragedy sometimes all in the span of a single shot. One astonishing scene involving animals and hundreds of extras is easily the most impressive single sequence I’ve seen in years. While a turn to extreme gravity towards the end might not graft seamlessly with the rest of the film watching A Pigeon felt like being privy to something truly special a work I can’t wait to revisit for years to come.

When a new film by Roy Andersson is only your second most anticipated film of the day however you know you’re doing something right as it was at last time for Monsieur Godard’s Goodbye to Language 3D. Not knowing exactly what to expect but having had more patience for Godard’s recent output my anticipations were high.

A behemoth packed into 70 minutes — shot using six digital camera and including a list of literary citations longer than the cast list — Goodbye to Language 3D proved as dense and cerebral as anyone would expect a work I’m woefully incapable of adequately parsing on one viewing and in such a limited space. Roy Andersson might have just left me astonished but Godard left me sincerely exhilarated. On a formal basis alone Godard’s use of 3D is a totally radical expansion of the medium’s capabilities (no small feat!). The maestro clearly still has plenty to say and I couldn’t be happier.I’d admit I was tempted to call it a day after the Andersson and Godard films which had left me with more than enough visual stimulation. After recharging with some friends over dinner and a drink I was ready to get back at it.

Mind sufficiently recalibrated from the Godard I opted for one of the festival’s avant-garde "Wavelengths" shorts programs. While the program was uneven personal highlights included the impressionist painting-inspired brouillard — passage #14 from Montreal filmmaker Alexandre Larose a restored 1971 work from the Polish KwieKulik Group and Mary Helen Clark’s abstract Vertigo riff The Dragon is the Frame. The first of four "Wavelengths" programs I’m crossing my fingers I’m able to see more.

Having only ever seen one film by Argentine Martin Rejtman which left me equally impressed and nonplussed by its unfamiliar comic sensibility I was eager to see what his latest had to offer hoping it might help me crack his endgame. Unfortunately while I enjoyed the film I think I’m deeper in the woods than before. The title Two Shots Fired refers to a botched suicide attempt and the rest of the plot traces the awkward chain of events they sets off in his life. From drama with his flute quartet to his brother’s romance with a girl perpetually breaking up with her boyfriend nothing conventional was at play.

The best descriptor seems to be "uncanny" as conversations and scenes that seem normal swiftly introduce odd asides and the narrative doesn’t mind sidestepping the protagonists to follow ancillary characters for large narrative portions. Tokyo Tribe might have been wild but Two Shots Fired was out and odd and commendable at least for its unwillingness to give us anything we might expect.

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