Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Posts Tagged ‘mubi

Nina, Please (2010)

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This 15-minute Croatian film, also featured at the Libertas Film Festival and available streaming on Mubi, is directed by Barbara Vekaric. The film tells the story of a power struggle between a husband and wife – the husband wanting love and affection from his partner in the form of sex, and his wife having zero interest in intimacy. While this film reminds me of the American feature film that came out last year, Blue Valentine (2010), it includes none of the romantic backstory that made that film so bittersweet. Neven seems focused singularly on sex like it is the solution to fix his marriage. Nina is grateful for Neven’s financial support but seems to feel only little affection for him as a provider and roommate. She is no longer attracted to him. After Nina’s brother and his girlfriend come to visit and she compares her unhappy relationship to their happy one, she decides giving in to Neven will help fix their marriage. The sex scene at the end, with Nina’s initial protests and rejections giving way to a blase acceptance as the camera holds on her face, is incredibly uncomfortable for the audience. Not only is it technically rape, but the cinematography holds us close to Nina’s unhappiness on the actress’s face. This film has a bleak perspective on marriage, and includes none of the closure that Blue Valentine does. Not one of my favorite shorts.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

April 21, 2011 at 9:06 am

March 9th (2010)

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This film is one of the selections for this year’s Libertas Film Festival hosted in Dubrovnik, Croatia. (The films are available streaming online through Mubi.) Directed by Irena Skoric, the synopsis for this 9-minute film is as follows:

One shot. Two bodies. And an interrupted sex. Film in which faces and voices are outside the shot, and protagonist is Her and His naked flesh, on that March 9th, in a casual relationship and a casual deceit. Nervous croquis of body language.

It’s unsettling to watch this film and see voices disconnected from actions, to see sex played out as a progression of meeting body parts separate from the people using those bodies. As the audience is privy to this intimate scene, so are we privy to pictures of a couple scattered around the room and other evidences of an intimate, emotional connection. Therefore when we finally see the faces belonging to the couple in the bedroom, it’s jarring to see that this is a different man than the one smiling in the pictures. We learn the female character is late to meet her boyfriend, unaware and separate from this intimate affair, and she is just as nonchalant about the feelings of her current lover as she is about the partner she’s deceiving. The lack of cuts and distance from the subjects leaves the audience caught in what’s happening despite its distastefulness; we come to know the girl’s tattoos on her naked body as well as her lovers do. We’re left to ask the question of whether sex is about the body or about the soul. As the woman leaves, we’re left with her dejected lover. In a gender inversion of the norm, we see this man feeling used for his body and angry that he’s allowing this female to walk all over him. He vengefully puts out a cigarette in her salad and we leave the scene discontent.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

April 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Meshes in the Afternoon (1943)

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The best idea I have found on how to appreciate this film is a quote from the filmmaker herself, Maya Deren, found in a write-up on the film on MoMA’s website:

Deren explained that she wanted “to put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to record the incident accurately.”

With this view in mind, its easier to focus on the experience of the protagonist, a woman feeling trapped in her male-dominated world. She doesn’t experience the events of this afternoon in a sequential narrative; she experiences the event in pieces, focusing on objects around her (a key, a knife, a flower, bread on the table). Most of the scenes are interior, because the conflict occurs internally for Deren or because from a feminist standpoint, she is stuck inside a man’s house. Scenes are “meshed” together, whether because she feels them together or because the audience needs to feel the disjointed nature of her emotions is unclear. The music is a huge aspect of why the audience feels so thrown-off and uncomfortable. Because there is no narrative set-up, no real conclusion, we are denied the “pleasure” of watching the film, perhaps because the protagonist herself is denied some sort of pleasure. More information on the film and Maya Deren can be found on Mubi, an online cinema database.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 25, 2011 at 11:59 am

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