films seen
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Alive and kicking


From What Is Before

Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon
2014 / 338m - Philippines
From What Is Before poster

Archetypical arthouse, and no doubt a must for fans of minimalist/slow cinema. This was my first feature-length Diaz film, and it turned out quite a bit better than expected. I'm not the biggest fan of those long/slow arthouse films, but the ambient sounds and stark black & white cinematography worked pretty well for me.

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The film zooms in on the zeitgeist of the country during the martial law of 1972. Regular citizens and the government are shown going about their business, often with grim results. It stands in stark contrast with the presentation of the film, but it's exactly that tension that makes it interesting.

I won't defend the runtime (nearly six hours of slow-moving, singular cinema is too much for me) and the arthouse aesthetic isn't the most original, but it is executed very well and after a while, I did get into the groove of the Diaz' film. It's just that it wasn't strong enough to keep me there for the entire runtime.


Eoddeon Bangmun
2009 / 108m - South Korea
Drama - Anthology
Visitors poster

I quite like anthology projects, as they offer an opportunity to directors to try something different, do something unexpected, to surprise. But then there are films like this, where each director just turns in a shorter version of what they regularly produce, only shot on a smaller budget.

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In Kawase's short, Kang Jun-Il returns a sacred scroll to its ancestral home. In Hong's short we follow Mi-Sook as she drives off on a whim to visit an old classmate of hers. When she arrives, she finds out her friend is having an affair with a college professor. And in Diaz' short Carol returns home to the poor miner village where she grew up, only to become the target of a kidnapping ploy.

None of the short are anything special. They're pretty much what you'd expect from the directors, only less developed and visibly made with less money. Kawase's short is the nicest of the bunch, while Diaz' was the weakest for me. A waste of potential though, these tree established directors should've done a lot more with this chance.

I'm a big fan of anthologies, and this project sounded very promising on paper. Seventy renowned directors give their vision on the future of cinema. With just one minute per short, there isn't much time to make a point, but it's disheartening to see how few of them even managed to stick to the topic.

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The saddest part was that many of the short didn't even deal with the future, but openly referred to or praised the medium's past. There's also a lot of doom and gloom, with some very basic visions of people not caring enough about arthouse cinema, or playing movies on their phones. Your typical old-man-yelling-at-cloud stuff.

There is only a small selection of directors who seem to have understood the brief, and they struggle to make the most of their limited runtime. What remains is a complete mess, with most shorts looking like they were made on people's afternoon off, and hardly anything that stands out. A disappointment.