January 05, 2017

Back to Basics #2: Framing Disorientation

2016 was a poor year for the film-buff in me. I watched very few great films. To compensate for that, I am running this new column called 'Back to Basics'. I will now regularly watch great movies, read about them and try to write about them briefly. This is how I had discovered cinema's best several years ago, and it is time to do that again.

'The Headless Woman' (2008/ Argentina) is a big reassurance for me, that this exercise is going to be immensely fulfilling for me. It is the kind of movie I would have watched and forgotten, calling it regular world-cinema. At 85 minutes of run-time, it still feels long and nothing really happens in it after the shock of the opening sequence. 

But then I read about it and realized there is much hidden beneath its subtle layers and absent plot. Without really mentioning anything, the film raises racial and gender issues and is a loud commentary on the ease with which the rich get away with whatever they wish. Most importantly, and this is one thing I could appreciate even while watching, the director's use of shot, edit and sound brilliantly creates a sense of disorientation and emotional detachment. They say cinema is not a medium of thoughts and feelings but one of action. Well, with film-makers like these, cinema continues to find ways to express the unsaid. I will revisit the movie every time I have to shoot a scene involving altered senses sans the stylistic features of Aronofsky or Boyle.

Note about the Director: 50-year old Lucrecia Martel is a filmmaker from Argentina, best known for her debut feature 'La Cienaga' (2002). She is currently working on her fourth feature film which is an adaptation of the Spanish novel 'Zama'. The film will come out this year, nine years after her last.

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