VIFF 09: Day 13 10/14/2009
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Atom Egoyan's latest film is a boring, phoned-in mess. Julianne Moore plays a housewife suspicious of her flirtatious husband, played by Liam Neeson, and hires a prostitute named Chloe, played by Amanda Seyfried, to tempt him into an affair, so as to see if he will remain faithful. The plot is laughably contrived and melodramatic, and Egoyan makes no effort to delve below the surface of the subject matter. Chloe fails to examine the sexuality and desire of its characters, and is merely a TV movie posing as art...Badly. I remain convinced that Egoyan is unable to effectively utilize young actors. After the failure that was Adoration, which contained the least convincing teenage characters I can think of, the teenage son, named Michael, of Moore and Neeson is portrayed awfully. One of the absolute worst films of the year.
Ne Change Rien
Directed by Pedro Costa
Ne Change Rien is a brilliant look at music as an art form; as a job; as a way of life; as a form of expression. Pedro Costa has articulated the creative process behind recording and performing music as an art house film. A traditional documentary would not be able to say as much, and would lose some of the essence that Ne Change Rien has distilled, from what at face value is mundane candid footage. The aesthetic of the film is hypnotizing, and made all the more potent by the almost always present music.
We watch as a musician, Jeanne Balibar, and her band practice, perform and record several songs. Costa admirably does not editorialize at all. Every person who sees the film can impose their own meaning and surmise their own conclusions. I saw Ne Change Rien as a look at how the pure beauty of music has perhaps been tainted by improved technology and perfected recording techniques. I was reminded of Werner Herzog's view of mountain climbers as people who steal the dignity of the mountains. Perhaps recording artists have tried too hard to reach perfection and conquer the organic aspects of music, and in the process have robbed its dignity.
Certain scenes possess a remarkable beauty and strength. The most pleasing parts of the film are when we are shown footage of rehearsal and live performance. One scene, which shows the band (singer, guitarist, bassist) recording all at once; each member listening through headphones; us barely being able to hear the music emitting from said headphones, is absolutely absurd. Put simply, it seems unnatural. Other scenes that give off this feel are those of Balibar meticulously perfecting each note she must sing, even before she will step into the recording booth and meticulously find the perfect take.
Ne Change Rien is not limited to such interpretations, and also works as a meditation on the union of cinema and music. Even with music as the most obvious art form on display, it is open to argument, which has a more prominent role within the film. Is it possible to measure? Does that even matter? Is it even proper to attempt to distinguish between art forms, or does that also go against their purity?
I also came to a realization of how much music can impact a film. I found myself consistently moved by Ne Change Rien, which is somewhat inexplicable, considering the complete lack of narrative, characters and cinematic movement. I must now consider if there are films of the past that did not earn my emotional involvement, but rather were just clever enough to use music in a manipulative fashion.
Two things are for sure, though. Firstly, that Ne Change Rien is worthy of its considerable effect on me. Secondly, that unlike mountain climbers, and unlike recording artists that put the emphasis on "recording" and not "artist", Pedro Costa is not out to rob anything of its dignity, but instead to ennoble the cinema.
posted by adam cook