Monthly Archives: March 2010

  • In the Realm of the Senses (Ai No Corrida) Nagira Oshima (Japan 1976) Tatsuya Fuji; Eiko Matsuda

    In the Realm of the Senses (Ai No Corrida) Nagira Oshima (Japan 1976) Tatsuya Fuji; Eiko Matsuda

    Viewed Star and Shadow Cinema, Northern Light Film Festival 26 March 2010

    Ticket price: £4

    Les Enfants Terribles

    ‘I had resolved not to make that kind of film if there were no possibility of complete sexual expression. Sexual expression carried to its logical conclusion would result in the direct filming of sexual intercourse.’ Nagira Oshima (Writings on Cinema)

    Nagira Oshima’s (NO) film, ‘In the Realm of the Senses’ (IRS) is a film from which the audience emerge looking slightly bemused hushed and avoiding prolonged eye contact. What they have seen is a dark fable which is hard to understand. There may be a few prurient comments or bald dismissals: “It’s just pornography”. The film is hard to discuss because it is not a film that’s fun. It’s a film that has a point to make, and like most of NO’s work it is made with a moral purpose. NO’s choice of film to exercise this moral purpose is deliberate, exploiting the use of a sexually explicit mis en scene whose purpose is to provoke thought in the viewer.

    I think that responses to films like IRS can only be personal. What I saw on the screen was not pornography although graphic sexual activity did occupy a considerable percentage of the film’s time. I don’t think IRS is erotic, though it is so described, because nothing is left to the imagination, and eroticism needs completion in the mind. The reason IRS not being porn has I think to do with NO’s moral purpose and his understanding of sexuality and its effect upon human behaviour. NO understands that sex when detached from instrumental fertility, becomes potentially a force in which the emotional needs of the child quickly rise to the surface and form the affective language of the adult sensual response. In sex there often is a process of becoming at work in which the adult becomes child, the adult psyche slips into an expressive infantilisation of desires.

    The movement by individuals into the realm of sex initiates relationships of dependence that revolve about stimulation of erogenous intensities which expand to fill and become the sole object of consciousness. Look at the baby with its lips clamped to its mother’s tit. It is in a world is totally filled out by that physical relationship, where the child’s consciousness is reduced to the experience of satisfying its body. Take it from the breast before satisfaction: screaming rage and anger. As adults, one of the common ways(sic there are many forms of sex) in which we use sexual relations is to make a sort of return to being a child. Sex as a kind of parachildhood. In this parachildhood we have license to be child: to engage in baby talk and treat give and take our bodies freely and innocently as the untroubled child. It is a special realm where we have no responsibility except to the desires of our body; a special realm partitioned off from the rest of the world; a special realm where we have the privilege of children to exist only in the immediate here and now, there is no time. (lovers resent the clock, or the disguised glance at a wristwatch). Which brings me back to the lovers in IRS, Sado (sic) and Kichizo. They don’t watch the clock.

    As we watch S and K’s behaviour, their genital play, their lips and eyes, the totality of their pleasure in each other, we are watching two children engaged in creating a world in the den of their sexuality; a world that comprises a game of gestures, calls and responses: game with serious intent. As Cocteau and Hartley understood, children are natural obsessives, able to close down the world and exclude everything extraneous to the current dominant game. When S and K meet they renounce everything except the game, which like the child involves the whole of their consciousness and its expression. Everything is reduced and focused upon mutual satisfaction of needs. It is this pact of the child, or the child archetype as made by many lovers, that NO takes and exploits without compromise and develops it to its ultimate logic, death. And what is death to a child? A child in the game does not understand death as something that happens outside the game: nor can Sado. K realises he has committed and penetrated too deeply into the game to even begin to understand how to escape: all he can do is surrender to its logic.

    Watching EOS, I do not see pornography because I see and recognise in S and K, the child. In their performances and in their direction, it is this quality of child innocence that is realised and expressed throughout the film. It is impossible to reconcile innocence with pornography. As I watch K and S, I see something of myself, not in the external acts of masturbation fellatio penetration strangulation, but a self who recognises the nature of the world they have chosen, the type of game they elect to play. And like all gameworlds of the senses, or indeed spirit, it contains the seed of its own destruction.

    Starting from an old Tokyo story of the 1930’s about a demented woman found wandering the streets holding in her hand her lover’s dismembered penis, NO has fashioned in film a contemporary parable. Observing the world about him he witnessed a change in the nature of society: in the mid 1970’s people were turning inwards on themselves. Society changed from being an active space to a passive space. It became a world of consumption, a world of material desires; a world in which sex was the prime driver of the selling of self identity. Society was turning away from politics and social functions towards the satisfactions of the body. It was the dawning of the era of the YUPPIE. As the world looked to find identity in lifestyles patterns of consumption and relationships, so NO saw an increasing infantalisation of the people and the culture. It is all in the big sell of tits ass and cock, and we are become children, like Sado and Kichizo without even realising it.

    IRS is a dark fable. Not an erotic tale or a piece of porn. It is NO’s fable of psychic regression and its consequences. If we allow the game of the child to overwhelm us, if we allow consumption to subjugate us to its erogenous play, we will end up castrated or mad or both.

    adrin neatrour

  • Kick Ass Review

    Kick Ass

    Ok folk I wrote about the real superhero story Defendor the other day and I have seen another new real people wearing pants over lycra film, the blockbuster Kick Ass by Matthew Vaughn. I really didn’t think you could beat Defendor and I guess in some ways you can’t, I mean they are very different with one being set more in reality than the other. I have to say thanks to Northern Lights for letting me come to his showing as I had a brilliant night. I am not really a cinema person as I don’t really like sharing my experience but this was one of the best nights out I have had at the cinema in years.

    Kick Ass has a fantastic start, when our hero Dave Lizewski played by Aaron Johnson AKA kick ass dons a divers suit, really gets his ass kicked and I mean a proper ass kicking. I went to this movie expecting to see something fun and somewhat childish. It was fun, really fun, it had me laughing loudly throughout the flick but it certainly was not childish. The characters were well fleshed out and had a lot more depth compared to those of Defendor. Mark Miller who wrote the Graphic Novel really understands the world he is dealing with, referencing the superheroes of comics, film and TV on so many levels and I reckon it would take several viewings and a really in depth knowledge of the super hero world to acknowledge all the references. Dave Lizewski is definitely your normal Joe blogs, unlike the alter ego that is supposed to be normal looking but is actually on the handsome side, as in films like Spiderman or the hulk. As soon as he suits up though he definitely is a reference to Sam Raimi’s Spiderman but without the ability to climb walls, spin webs, make perfect costumes or even really hurt anyone.

    Nicholas Cage has been in a good film at last since ‘Lord of war’ and he plays his character well. The villain Frank D’amico played by Mark Strong is very good. His role of balancing being an attentive father with that of just having anyone killed who doesn’t give him the answer he is looking for. It is also good to see a Superhero movie in which the show stealer isn’t the villain. The show stealer is Hit Girl played by Chloe Moretz, a 12 year old girl who is charming, direct, has a foul mouth, is skilled with the the Filipino and looks so cool in a purple wig. She is a little firecracker who reminds me of the Robin from the brilliant Frank Miller Graphic ‘Novel Dark Night Returns’. You can’t see enough of her in the film sliding under villains’ legs and shooting them in the head or sliding across tables and knifing them in the chest. If I had a daughter would be so proud, enjoying her repartee with the neighbours as she called them cunts. Sadly I would find it quite difficult only being able to see her once a fortnight at the maximum security detention centre. That brings me nicely to my final point.

    The film recognises it stands outside the Marvel and DC Universe nodding its head directly to the characters from these worlds throughout the film while accepting they are fictional characters in a fictional reality. The truth is though these characters and this universe is just as fictional. At the beginning of the film Dave Lizewski is talking with one of his friends wondering why no one has ever thought of wearing a costume and fighting crime and it is from this conversation that he chooses the name Kick Ass. The reason why though is less we will get our ass kicked and more most of us don’t really know any crime bosses who live in penthouse suites or have friends at school who volunteer at really clean, specious needle exchange centres and have crack dealing ex-boyfriends with body guards outside their door. Most of the criminals we know are telling us we are going to war thousands of miles away and removing more and more of our job security or selling us high sugar foods or clothes with people’s names on them made in factories in the same countries we are going to war with.

    Overall this was a brilliant movie. My only little gripe was the bullshit 1st person shooter reference which was just totally out of place and a waste of more opportunity to see Hit Girl in action. I will surely be watching this film again sometime and I recommend you do to.


  • Salo Pier Pasolini (It. 1975 154 mins) Paolo Bonicelli, Giorgio Cataldi

    Salo Pier Pasolini (It. 1975 150 mins) Paolo Bonicelli, Giorgio Cataldi

    Viewed as free computer download 23 March 2010

    Adrin Neatrour writes: QED

    ‘It is only at our moment of death that our life, to that point undecipherable, ambiguous, suspended, acquires a meaning.’ Pasolini

    Salo, Pasolini’s last film, is based on the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom. Like the book (not published until 1902) the film also experienced censorship and was banned in most countries, as indeed it still is. Salo’s significance is coloured by Pasolini’s brutal murder, his body burnt and mutilated, by a male prostitute shortly after the film’s completion. Conspiracy and teleological theories compete in trying to explain a death that remains a mystery. On seeing the film I found it hard not to think about the state of mind of Pasolini when he went out to meet his death, the director who had just meticulously orchestrated this filmic take on the Theatre of Cruelty. Salo is a series of savage sadistic events unequalled until Michael Haneka’s Funny Games (both versions): no surprise that Haneka cites Salo as an important influence on his filmic thinking.

    Sade’s 120 days is transposed by Pasolini from revolutionary France to Salo, the fascist occupied portion of Italy in 1944, an area well known to Pasolini who actually lived there in 1944: Salo has a real provenance in Pasolini’s own experience. The film like the book is based on the idea that four fascist libertines accompanied by four middle aged prostitutes, kidnap 18 young people, nine of each sex. They proceed to lock them up and imprison them in a remote chateau where with their armed guards they subject the young victims to a series of degradations tortures and death. The film’s narrative is divided into four acts, based loosely on Dante’s rings of hell in the Inferno: the Ante-Inferno, the Circle of Manias. the Circle of Shit, the Circle of Blood.

    Salo, like Sade’s book is premised on a mathematical logic. It takes place in an enclosed world, governed only by its own laws. However perverse it may appear it is ‘a pure world’. What takes place in this world is a series of operations, of increasing intensity, that are conducted not on ciphers but on bodies. Of course the operations are designed to reduce bodies to the status of ciphers, sites for the imposition of manipulation and power. Using Cinema as his blackboard, Salo is Pasolini as demonstrator of the theorem of the total corruption of society through inequality. Most evident in Fascism, but exactly the same forces at work in the Abu Ghraib Guantanamo, Bagram as well as the realms of BerluSconi SarKozy and BrOwn. With Pasolini the circuitry of amplification between the personal and the political is always evident: his own sexuality in constant mutual dialogue with his political instincts.

    There is something about the music in Salo. Aside from the beguiling and haunting 30’s foxtrot which sounds like a Cole Porter composition, most of the music is present in the film, played as an accompaniment to the events by the lady pianist in the big hall. The music has an arch-presence which has a direct effect on the psyche as we watch the horror in front of us. The discordance between the harmony of notes played on the piano and the action perhaps has some equivalence in the classical orchestra that played in Auschwitz. The music, and I include the Porter style Foxtrot which is a sort of leitmotiv, is physically nauseous. It releases powerfully ambivalent and conflicting emotional responses. The tunes played on the piano follow familiar harmonic cadences, yet something in the form of the individual notes, in the hammers striking the wires, in the working of the dampers, is discordant and painful. The sound creates a demand coming out of the pit of your stomach, for the music to stop. Shoot the pianist!

    I think that the way Pasolini shot Salo was intended to make the film an experience the audience cannot deny. It is shot front on and full on, in effect incorporating the viewer into the film: trapped like the victims in the chateau. There is no escape, no lines of flight, either emotional or spiritual. You dear viewer are IN the film and you must live thereafter with the consequences of this.

    adrin neatrour

  • Defendor

    Defendor review

    Once in a while comes a small film that is the centre of a zeitgeist. Is this it? Probably not but maybe it should be. I love the concept of the superhero and like many kids I read comics picking the heroes that I felt reflected my ideals even before I knew I had ideals. I rejected the ones with superpowers as the result of radioactive spiders, genetic deformities or aliens from outer space. It was always the vigilante or the person driven by revenge. This could be anyone. This was a person and a switch flicks and they no longer relied on the system, in fact much of the time the system was the enemy. Well I grew up, I realised the system was us and lost touch with the hero. Later in life I bought a mask and started getting folk to wear it and would photograph them. I got them to create a whole character around just them and the mask. A character that reflected them, whether it was their pets, their love of music or their distaste for insects. I wanted to, at least for a moment get in touch with what made us super.

    Defendor touches this. It has the feel of a superhero film with its swipes and its driven by a brilliant score by John Rowley. The film is a vehicle for Woody Harrelson who gives his best performance since… well since Cheers. He plays a Arthur Poppington who is on the slow side, who dresses up in a costume, using weapons like bees and marbles to right the wrongs of his past by transporting them to the present. He teams up with Kat played by Kat Dennings that is in many ways is an archetype side kick but she doesn’t even know it. She is a crack addict, street whore who like Defendor dresses up, but she dresses up for business. She takes to lodging with defendor in his friend’s workshop, which he uses as his lair and charges him dollars a day to give him information he thinks he needs which she uses to buy drugs.

    The reasons for why these people do what they do is complicated and is in many ways something difficult to explore in 90 minutes, one line goes a long way to explain it though. Defendor asks Kat why she does drugs and she asks him why he dresses up as Defendor. He says because as Defendor he is not afraid, not stupid and he is a million times better than Arthur. Kat says when she smokes that stuff, it is the same. There are many of the archetype hero characters in this film, the villain, the police ally, the bent cop but like Kat they actually don’t know they are playing these roles. In fact I feel we the audience are watching a movie and not too sure much of the time we are watching a superhero movie.

    What makes Defendor a hero is the things his Psychoanalyst diagnoses him with, FAS, ADT, Depression, Delusional Megalomania, unable to anticipate consequences, serious lack of common sense, socially immature. His weaknesses are his strengths. To me this film highlights something in all of us. An ability to make change, to do little things that make a difference, to do what we think is right despite always being told we shouldn’t or worse we can’t.

    5 years ago I wanted to capture a bit of the hero in all of us. Maybe highlight our ability to do something despite us being told again and again we can’t


  • Lebanon Samuel Maoz (2009 Isr, Fr, Ger, Leb)

    Lebanon Samuel Maoz (2009 Isr, Fr, Ger, Leb) Raymond Anslem, Oshri Cohen, Ashraf Barhorn

    Viewed Tyneside Cinema, Northern Lights Film Festival, ticket price £7.00

    What I had heard about Samuel Maoz’s (SM) film Lebanon (Leb), was that it was all shot from within a tank that took part in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). The idea held out the prospect of a statement about war, in which the tank as a setting, with the armoured isolation of its crew from the outside world, could engage with its audience as one of the forces at play in the movie. There was the prospect of a film that might explore ideas.

    Leb is not so purist that it all the action takes place within the confines of the tank; and tanks have always seemed to me to be like steel coffins. But most of the action is located either within the steel hull or viewed through the cross sights of its cannon. Some war movies, All Quiet on the Western Front, Paths of Glory use the theme of war to deepen thought and emotion in relation to armed conflict. Leb fails in this respect. We have an interior situation in Rhino (radio code name for the tank) which is ultimately just a pretext for individualised stories, individuation that is a standard Hollywood device for humanising ‘our side’. By featuring the crew’s subjectivities SM moves the film out of the hard death dealing carapace of Rhino softening the interior with sentimentality. Recoiling from the implicit hard implacable the idea of ‘ tank’, the film takes on the business of reconciling oppositions: the hard and the soft. Good men bring death. War as a story of sentimental enterprise.

    The action, outside the tank, mostly seen through the cross hairs of the gun sight, comprises mostly of the ‘face’ of war. With its formulaic parade of burnt mangled corpses, smashed people and buildings, and mutilated bodies, Leb is just another Spielberg type war film relying for its effect on image fetishism and faux realism. In its own way a sort of pornography of simulated effect, but which is often used by film makers as a justification for their work with the claim to be bringing the “true” uncensored horror of it war to the audience. The tyranny of the action-image. As if we didn’t know that war is terrible; as if our eyes might consume these images in any different manner from which they consume an ice cream advert. Our perception of the image is guided by desire. In looking at simulated realism, we are dealing with sign language.

    The other issue that interested me in relation to Leb, is that ingrained in the production of any war film is a political point of view, an ideological understanding and statement about what is happening in the conflict. How would this be expressed in Leb? Would it take the form of an outright justification of Israel’s action and position; or would Leb take a more oblique more nuanced less direct but no less propagandist line, as for instance in Ari Fisher’s Waltz with Bashir?

    Ari Fisher’s film represented the Phalangist massacres of Palestinians in the Shatra and Chatilla camps as taking place over one night. It is a matter of historical UN record they took place over 2 nights, thus irrevocably implicating the IDF as complicit in the killings of thousands of innocents. One key concern of Israeli propaganda in relation to the ’82 Lebanon war is to suggest a critical gap between the acts and intentions of the IDF (representing Israeli policy), and their Christian allies, the Phalangists. In simplistic form IDF are presented as good and honourable; the Phalangists unavoidable allies, but pretty bad people. It is interesting that this is exactly the line taken by SM in Leb. The second half of the movie revolves about the captured Syrian prisoner Rhino is forced to take on board. This soldier’s presence is discovered by a couple of Phalangists who first try to take him. Failing this, one of them has a long unpleasant, one way conversation in Arabic about what he is going to do to the unfortunate man when Rhino gets to its rendez-vous point. This is vicious stuff which the Israeli crew, not speaking Arabic, don’t understand. As the shackled Syrian does not speak Hebrew , the crew’s non understanding is convenient as they are exonerated from responsibility. As director/writer SM does not permit the Syrian to use basic communication of his fear of the threats made to him and his penis by the Palangist. The viewer is left with the message: bad Phalangists, they bad men, and the Phalange are the villains the evil force in Leb. The oblique delivery of this message is of course in perfect tune with Israeli propaganda in relation to the ’82 Lebanon war: the Israelis represented the forces of moderation and fairness. Unfortunately their approach was sullied by the savagery of their unavoidable allies, the Phalange. At a propaganda level, Leb toes the Israeli line, and the film is part of a long term strategy by Israel to control the definition of its wars with its neighbours.

    The opening shot of the film, a still shot held for a considerable time of the field of ripe sunflowers suggested a film that might be rich in associations, but the body of the film didn’t develop into anything beyond standard Hollywood fare. Though interestingly the last shot of the film shows the same field, but now occupied by the stranded Rhino. My mind again drifts to the association of Van Gogh and his last picture before his suicide.p

    adrin neatrour

  • Black God White Devil (Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol) Glauber Rocha (1964 Brazil)

    Black God White Devil (Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol) Glauber Rocha (1964 Brazil)

    Geraldo De Rey; Othon Bastos, Maurico do Valle, Yona Magalaes

    Viewed: educational theatre of MOMA NYC , 26 Feb 2010: free complementary screening

    retrocrit: zombie apocalypse

    Black God White Devil was made in the early 1960’s, a turbulent period in Brazil’s history with a military Junta taking over and ruling the country at the prompting of the USA. The internal references in Glauber Rocha’s (GR) film are to the 19th century history of Brazil but the issues are contemporary. Further both content and the form with which GR assembles his material in the film, take on a prophetic resonance in relation to the post colonial era of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; resonance that neither Europe nor America can ignore.

    The English title of the film Black God White Devil (BGWD) is meaningless in relation to the GR’s film. The Brazilian title which translates as, God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun, points directly to the heart of the film. When conditions prevail that lead to the break-up of critical social and economic ties, God and the Devil both lay claim to men’s souls; God and the Devil, good and evil become indistinguishable as the people become bewitched emeshed in their self disintegration.

    BGWD is set during a catastrophic drought, that breaks the earth, cracks open the people’s psyche. The response of protagonists Rosa and Manuel to the break down, physical psychic and social, is flight into the altered state of trance. Trance the operative state of mind of those cut off from all their previous realities and entering a world of new perceptions and imperatives (survival) in which previous self is redundant. Cheated by his boss Manuel stabs him and has recourse to flight which in the chaos of the country can only lead to the hallucinogenic alternative realities of rationalised death and destruction. The forces in play in this devastated land that are ready to absorb the flight of Rosa and Manuel, are movements deleterious to the individual identity: in effect crude apparatus that demand complete submission to a destructive belief system. They first join the group led by the messianic figure Sebastian, whose response to the catastrophe is to preach the tenets of an externalised religious faith twisted and corrupted to subject his followers to an acceptance of their personal guilt and need for collective atonement: “..washing the sinners’ souls with the blood of the innocent”.

    Perhaps taking Sebastian at his word, Rosa kills Sebastian by stabbing him with a knife and she and Manuel flee again, this time being absorbed into the army of Corisco, a scavenging psychic entity who has moved beyond good and evil into the land of the dead. There in the land of the dead there is no logic but death since life is by definition intolerable. The way to save the world from hunger is to kill the hungry, and Corisco brings his trance logic of death to the people in the barren desiccated landscape.

    Taken as one force the apocalyptic vision of Sebastian and the murderous logic of Corisco, the absorbion of the deterritorialised into trance states, can be understood as a response to people’s hopelessness and powerlessness endemic in the post colonial era. The Lord’s Resistance Army of Alice Lakwene and Joseph Kony, Al Qa’ida in its various guises, are coalescences of justified warped religious righteousness given form by an armed nihilistic mission. The mission is always death. The deterritorialised followers, stripped of all that is familiar, transform into an undead horde, existing in state trance; zombies, whose final justification is to refine their beliefs to the simple act of killing for its own sake. Let the sins of the innocent be washed in blood. For the zombie killer, killing becomes an existential rationale for life. The bringer of death is the bringer of life. Life exists only in the trance of the apparatus: all else is illusion.

    GR’s insight was to understand the forces released by powerlessness and destitution in a post colonial situation. The opening shot, a long aerial track of the dried out land provides the setting for the film. But the setting of the film in the extraordinary interior of Brazil, barren and desolate, is not a background. It is more than even a context; the land itself is a presence with a key role in the film. In the same way the encroachment of the Sahara into Northern Uganda is a player in the world of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and the waters of the Jordan, a player in Palestine. Parched land together with demeaning social relations create the conditions for releasing the murderous psychic apparatus that overtake and bewitch the people.

    BGWD is composed using many shots of long duration often with medium or wide lens. This works to bind the individuals and their relation to the settings and to the land which forms them. The final shot is a long tracking shot that conjoins us with Rosa and Manuel as they run across the land towards their vision which remains always out of their sight out of their grasp.

    adrin neatrour

  • The Headless Woman (La Mujer sin Cabeza) Lucretia Martel (Argentina 2008)

    The Headless Woman (La Mujer sin Cabeza) Lucretia Martel (Argentina 2008) Maria Onetta

    Viewed: Tyneside Cinema 6 Mar 10; Ticket: £7.00

    No head for consequences

    Veronica the protagonist in the Headless Woman (HW) seems to be one of those middle aged women who fucks not because she’s alive, but to confirm to herself that she is not dead.

    Lucretia Martel (LM) premises HW on an idea about an ‘event’ that may or may not have happened. In this, it is in some respects similar to Antonioni’s ‘L’Aventura’ (1960) which starts with the ‘event’ of the disappearance of a woman on an island. In both Antonioni’s film and LM’s HW the initial provocations are never resolved but both movies deeply internalise the events (or perhaps non-events) into the psychic grain of the films; albeit in different ways.

    With L’Aventura, the disappearance of Anna falls out of focus, new relationships new connections form and take her place. In Italy still shaken in defeat and trauma of war, Eros is sick and there is a consequent emotional and intellectual alienation cracking through the shell of the bourgeoisie, the professional classes and the intelligentsia. Individuals have no centre only surfaces and edges.

    In HW the forces LM unveils at work after the (non) /event are different. Veronica is the name of the Saint who gave Christ her headscarf to wipe the sweat from his face, and whose image was miraculously transferred onto the surface of the cloth, the sudarium. I think it is Veronica herself in HW who is the impressionable sudarium, a character who in her dieing back has become a sensate surface, reactive to the past of the ruling caste of Argentina. A living re-agent to the forgotten: children stolen, victims disappeared, crimes covered over that no one knows for sure actually happened as darkness falls over the past. Veronica, as a neorealist heroine cannot react with action: she is simply overwhelmed, watching her own life as her own passive spectator.

    The film’s setting is within the bosom of the wealthy middle class of Provincial Argentina. The spaces are filled with children, family, Indian servants, and the men who know how take care of things. The atmosphere is one of closeness, in particular closeness of a sort of neo-colonial control by a social subgroup unchanged for many a year. A group of people well equipped to absorb and subtly mould forces to serve its own needs: to erase the past and continue ‘life as normal’ as if nothing had happened.

    LM’s reference to ‘Headless’ in her title refers, I think, to Veronica’s lack of a mind of her own; an incapacity to chose her own moral direction. Fixed in a social class that has no moral compass she is not able to say “No!” to take a moral stand based on memory, because no head, no memory. Put on the spot by a feeling that something has happened Vero is unable without a head of her own, to make any coherent move forward. And she is appalled and tortured by this inability which she sees but does not understand and which she is unable to counter. She withdraws into a sort of distracted trance and allows others to take the decisions, ‘ Nothing happened you hit a dog…’ and to take any actions thought necessary. Veronica distracted and scattered by the ‘event‘ at first watches over the reactions of others then retreats into a social cocoon from which at the end of the film she seems to emerge with a change of hair style and colour ( blond to black) . As if these cosmetic changes might redeem the past for her; as if the change from a military junta to a loaded social democracy could at a stroke redeem a class of people for responsibility for their past. Perhaps the change of image will succeed and disassociate her from the past she finds so difficult so disturbing so immobile.

    LM with its mis en scene of rain and forgetfulness, its subtle plotting of events that dissolve upon inspection, its soundtrack skirting the film from somewhere just out of frame is wonderfully composed piece of filmmaking. My uncertainly about the film centres on its inconsequentiality and the extent to which it is allegorically layered. Perhaps it is a film about the neurotic responses of a middle aged woman to a driving accident. But the film only became interesting to me when I began to feel (right or wrong) that this was something more, a deeply layered portrayal of a world. Without the unpicking of allegorical cues the film became so much the less engrossing. It is also unclear whom it addresses. I think the film needed some break out from its carefully moulded unities. It needed a moment of revelation to open out to and to address the gaze of its audience with a moment of the real.

    As it stands LM’s HW is almost completely self referential closing down the images into a narrow spectrum of concern. The danger for LM as a film maker is that she will disappear in the cloud of her own unknowing and our indifference. .

    adrin neatrour