Posts Tagged ‘Corneliu Porumboiu’

Modest, almost trivial, slowly developing, almost static

May 21, 2010

If you haven’t already picked up a copy of this week’s Isthmus, I encourage you to do so—not just because I’m in it, but also to read Kenneth Burns’s review of “Police, Adjective” (for those of you who are allergic to the printed word, the review can also be accessed here), which played at the Orpheum last week.

I’m pleased to see that Kenneth found the film’s more divisive aspects—its sluggish pacing and its self-conscious intellectualism, to name a couple—as admirable as I did. Moreover, I echo his surprise at the fact that “Police, Adjective” has received so many runs here in recent months; going into the spring semester, I certainly didn’t foresee that happening.

Whether “Police, Adjective” will be remembered as the greatest achievement of the new Romanian cinema (the title of “film that defined the new Romanian cinema” seems all but locked up by Cristi Puiu’s “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”) remains to be seen. I think it’s got a pretty good shot, but what do I know. How much time must pass for a “new” or “young” cinema to become “mature” or “adult”?

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“Police, Adjective” at the Play Circle

February 24, 2010

Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you that something like this might happen: Corneliu Porumboiu’s excellent “Police, Adjective,” which I’ve addressed both on here and in the Cardinal, will be screening at 9:30 this Friday and Saturday nights at the Memorial Union’s Play Circle Theater.

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure (and I have to assume that very few have), “Police, Adjective” is more than deserving of a good long look. A month ago I said the film “is like an episode of ‘Law and Order’ written by a tag team of Jim Jarmusch and Ludwig Wittgenstein”; seeing as how I haven’t watched it again since I wrote that column, I stand behind my description.

And if you won’t be able to catch one of the two screenings this weekend, worry not: This won’t be your last opportunity to see “Police, Adjective” in a Madison theater this semester. Alright, I’ve said too much. End transmission.

Even when it seems there’s nothing going on

January 25, 2010

I must admit, I was surprised to find that the New Yorker’s David Denby had many of the same thoughts as I did while watching and digesting the wonderful “Police, Adjective” (which will hopefully arrive in Madison soon after it gets finished receiving majorly positive reviews in all the major U.S. cities). I was surprised because, while I like Denby fine as a writer, he almost never puts forward ideas that strike me as being worth grappling with. However, if any recent movie is capable of summoning one’s inner Heidegger, it’s “Police, Adjective,” and Denby takes the bait, waxing on the relationship between time and cinema:

The movie has a doggedly faithful relationship to time. In a lecture given in 1924, “The Concept of Time,” Heidegger, searching for a definition, said that time has no body but is merely a medium in which events take place. Cinema commandeers this neutral quality as brutally as it can, substituting dramatic time for real time. Most directors fill shots with information, and then edit them into briefer and briefer segments, jumping restlessly forward or backward, or cutting between, say, a criminal and a cop and their simultaneous actions. Porumboiu goes in another direction: he wants us to experience the duration of ordinary events. Andy Warhol, with his five-hour movie of a man sleeping and his eight-hour movie of the Empire State Building, was the high and low comic of duration. Great directors like Robert Bresson and Chantal Akerman have mounted extended sequences in which the unbroken duration of an event becomes its meaning. They are the dramatic poets of real time, and Porumboiu is among their number.

Hmm… I’ll concede the affinities between “Police, Adjective” and some films by Akerman (whose new Eclipse set is tremendous, by the way); but Bresson? Am I missing something here? Bresson’s is a cinema of juxtaposition, of sounds multiplying images, of materiality; it isn’t really a cinema of duration (i.e. he uses very few if any long takes). This is the same misconception, I think, that leads folks to lump Bresson with Dreyer and Mizoguchi and Tarkovsky and the like. Bresson’s poetry emerges from the combination of fragments, not from their temporal elongation. There’s a lot to like about “Police, Adjective”—but Bressonian it ain’t.

If anything, the sequence in which Cristi and his partner wait to meet with their captain echoes the metaphysics of Dreyer’s “Ordet”: even in silence and dramatic stasis, there’s still a ton going on.

On Demand, Adjective

January 14, 2010

If you’re lucky enough to have IFC On Demand on your [parents’] TV, you should seriously consider ordering “Police, Adjective” (2009) at the modest price of $6.99. It’s last year’s most charmingly philosophical film, which isn’t an easy song-and-dance. If I could have my ballot for 2009’s best back, this movie would definitely be a legitimate contender for the tippy-top spot. Romania does it again, etc.

Oh, and here’s the trailer:

On a kinda-sorta related note, TCM will be showing Otto Preminger’s legal epic “Anatomy of a Murder” (1959)—which would actually form a solid double feature with “Police, Adjective,” come to think of it—at 2:30 PM (central time). If you’ve got the 150 minutes to invest, you won’t be sorry you did.

Three weeks later…

January 8, 2010

… and I’m still one of the 12-15 people on Earth who’ve yet to see “Avatar.” I’m hoping to remedy this by means of a Monday morning matinee (it couldn’t possibly be sold out… could it?). Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by the debates surrounding the film’s explicit/implicit politics (summarized today in Glenn Kenny’s column over at the Auteurs Notebook). I won’t have much if anything to say about one of the biggest cinematic to-dos of my lifetime until I actually see the blasted thing—and even then, who knows.

Y’all seen “Police, Adjective” yet? I can’t make up my mind whether to fork over $8 to watch it On Demand or $40+ to see it at the IFC Center in NY (factoring in train fare and whatnot). I’m leaning towards the former option for reasons of frugality.