Sunday, 9 October
Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Vertical Ray of the Sun
Vertical Ray of the Sun * Mùa hè chiều thẳng đứng / À la verticale de l'été * 2000 * by Tran Anh Hung * 112 minutes * In Vietnamese with English subtitles
doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.
Most American movies these days have huge stories, and zero content. This movie is exactly the opposite, and in some ways is closer to European cinema of the 1960s. Here the story is minimal, but it is done in such a lush way. Even when it starts raining it feels like a shower of silver, not like the gloomy rainfalls here in Europe. To put it simply, poetry is still intact, and there is an engagement to the bigger picture of life, something lacking in more narrative driven movies. This is the kind of film you can sink into body and soul.
Although the film has a lush exotic mood, it doesn't get carried away with its exoticism, and breaks the borders between East and West by bringing in elements of Western culture. For example, a Velvet Underground tune that pops up. The reason this diversity is possible is that the director grew up in Vietnam until he was 12, and then moved to France. So he has a double identity, and in his movies he brings together the best of both worlds.
On the surface it is about three sisters who meet in Hanoi over the course of a month on the anniversary after their parents' deaths. In these encounters secrets about the past are revealed. But the real meat is the ultra-sensual mood, and its feeling of incredible harmony with the environment. it doesn't have a conventional approach to narrative story telling... instead it's more a mosaic of small intimate moments, and the power of images to communicate a sense of life.
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