Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#1 Post by zedz » Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:26 pm

If they don't already, both Alonso and Farhadi deserve their own threads, so you could start them up. Probably better than initiating a harder-to-find discussion about the films in this thread.

I'd even be so bold as to claim that Jauja itself deserves its own thread, but I fear it would just be the usual suspects saying how great it is for ten posts.

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swo17
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Re: Cinema Guild

#2 Post by swo17 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:30 pm

Even domino liked it!

Here's an Alonso thread.

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zedz
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Re: Cinema Guild

#3 Post by zedz » Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:52 pm

swo17 wrote:Even domino liked it!

Here's an Alonso thread.
I burst out laughing when I read the most recent post in that thread.

And domino couldn't possibly have liked Jauja. Did I wake up in the Bizarro World?

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domino harvey
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Re: Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#4 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:05 pm

Clearly based on my taste in art house cinema up through the 60s I'm not opposed to formally challenging films, I just tire of a lot of recent art house fare that I feel plays Paint By Numbers with languid pacing and dopey crypticism. But this isn't one of the bad ones, and is indeed one of the best films of the year (2015 for us Americans) precisely because it does right what so many other films of its ilk do wrong. It evokes mystery and uses formal precision while remaining narratively coherent (mysterious and inexplicable at times, but not untethered to plot) and captivating, in large part due to Alonso's use of real and competent actors. This film would not work at all without Viggo Mortensen's crucial central performance anchoring everything around him in meaning and confidence, period.

So, you know, going into a film with an open mind wins again!

(EDITED to remove embarrassing confusion helpfully pointed out below)

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swo17
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Re: Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#5 Post by swo17 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:28 pm

Birdsong was directed by Albert Serra.

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domino harvey
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Re: Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#6 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:33 pm

Well dog my cats!

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swo17
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Re: Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#7 Post by swo17 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:52 pm

I don't know if it's that embarrassing of a mistake though since all of Alonso's previous features are basically the exact same movie as Birdsong, i.e. Jauja sans Viggo Mortensen.

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zedz
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Re: Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#8 Post by zedz » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:06 pm

domino harvey wrote:Clearly based on my taste in art house cinema up through the 60s I'm not opposed to formally challenging films, I just tire of a lot of recent art house fare that I feel plays Paint By Numbers with languid pacing and dopey crypticism. But this isn't one of the bad ones, and is indeed one of the best films of the year (2015 for us Americans) precisely because it does right what so many other films of its ilk do wrong. It evokes mystery and uses formal precision while remaining narratively coherent (mysterious and inexplicable at times, but not untethered to plot) and captivating, in large part due to Alonso's use of real and competent actors. This film would not work at all without Viggo Mortensen's crucial central performance anchoring everything around him in meaning and confidence, period.

So, you know, going into a film with an open mind wins again!

(EDITED to remove embarrassing confusion helpfully pointed out below)
Mortensen's performance is extremely low-key, but I agree that it's precise and exactly right for the material. It was the first time Alonso had worked with a professional actor (and Mortensen has some amusing anecdotes about that particular culture clash).

The coda is extremely cryptic (or, more to the point, its relationship to the rest of the film is cryptic) but because it works on its own terms (e.g. evoking a new world and characters confidently and efficiently) and the rest of the film, even with its inherent mysteries, also feels complete on its own terms, it's not a case of ambiguity and obscurity being plastered on to cover up narrative deficiencies. I agree that's something of a blight with contemporary arthouse cinema, though I probably don't agree with domino about the specific culprits!

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#9 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:02 pm

I think Jauja was probably the most purely visually beautiful film I've seen in recent years. Over and above the story, I really enjoyed _looking_ at this. I thought that the ending (after reflection) made basic sense.

I note that due to Mortensen's presence (and its availabiltu via streami9ng) lots of fanboys (and maybe fangirls) have seen this film and utterly loathed it (viz. IMDB).

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knives
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Re: Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

#10 Post by knives » Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:27 am

I was tempted to save this for the list thread which I watched it for, but this thread will probably spark more discussion.

This is a film that got me raging mad that the camera moved and cut to medium shots as a betrayal of its essence which is practically complaining that Jeanne Dielman should have spent more time on peeling potatoes. Still, I think that highlights what makes this a new step for Alonso who manages to do the familiar art house tricks in a way that remains meaningful. Here, with the unique colour timing and the odd aspect ratio makes it feel like a de Oliveira homage come a year too soon. It even manages to evoke his sly comedy by way of artifice. It's a beautiful and amazing package that just doesn't live up to that logline it suggests. Perhaps if instead I view the aesthetic as a Toll of the Sea counter to the narrative's Sjostrom melodrama I'd be better off. Which brings up the one aesthetic element that moves perfectly: the absolutely strange use of colour. This is the element that seems the most separate from Alonso's norm and what makes it such a refreshing watch. I don't know how else to describe it than as a presentation of the colours that silent cinema suggested with its blown out greens and blues occasionally rocked by vivid reds.

All of that business on the camera is much more negative sounding than I feel though. This is probably the best of the four Alonso films I've yet to see with the story and Mortensen's typically great performance feeling matured and ready to genuinely surprise. Despite being his film, of those I've seen, most aesthetically defined by being a movie there's something about the story that left it feeling the least defined by normal narrative logic. Anything was possible and the characters could do anything. I suspect this is because of how the film builds a genre based self awareness almost depending on the audience knowing what to expect from a melodrama so that it can do just that in the set up only to drift away to its fantasia.
SpoilerShow
I don't want to mention Lynch since there is little here that connects, but his usage of genre to change how stories are experienced seems especially applicable here. Ingeborg acting like Jessica in The Merchant of Venice is solidly within genre convention that though not hinted at makes sense. That lack of need for exposition though makes what Mortensen does next unpredictable and nerve wrecking.
It is a powerful and unique film even if it is one that doesn't entirely fulfill what it suggests it can otherwise phrased: this is a really great film, but it could have been the best film.

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