Bernardo Villela is like a mallrat except at the movies. He is a writer, director, editor and film enthusiast who seeks to continue to explore and learn about cinema, chronicle the journey and share his findings.
I’ve debated starting this theme for a few weeks, and I ultimately decided I would as it would encourage me to looks for options that actually fit what I’m aiming for. If one pays too much attention to Top 40 type music you tend to see a dearth of creativity in the music video form. The music video is spawned from short films and can be as creative if not more so than their predecessor. Far too often it does just become singing heads. I want to try and buck that trend and find ones both new and old that do something somewhat outside the box, at the very least have some sort of visual narrative. Here we go.
Mammút – Svefnsýkt
Above I refer to “singing heads,” which is a musical equivalent of “talking heads” in a documentary. Essentially the moving image is so dynamic you want more than just speaking to occur either through mise-en-scène or montage. This video has a kinetic edit, uses some superimposition, smoke, and dramatic lighting; along with some creative framing to to take it a notch above singing heads. It then goes further adding a minimalistic story and even more intriguing visuals when the song gets going. A good sign if this is an example of the work done at the Icelandic Film School.
When looking for a theme in which to select films from the start of November until Thanksgiving being literal is not the best option. Films centered around Thanksgiving tend to be overly obsessed with dysfunctional families. So in thinking about the nature of the day which was initially a celebration of survival in the New World, I thought why not focus on foreign films.
The Sea (Palm Pictures)
It’s great to go into a film knowing nothing about it before hand. This was the case when I saw The Sea. While you can easily see it was adapted from a play the themes are consistent and handled cinematically for the most part.
The first thing that is apparent is that the casting in this film is ridiculously perfect. No actor feels out of place. Speaking of which neither are any of the scenes. It is rare to watch such a multi-character film and never be left confused about who’s who. All the characters are sharply defined and they all illustrate the struggle amongst family, between the generations and the joining or avoidance of a globalized world.
The scenes in the pool and the scenes with the black sheep are accessible symbolism that serve comedic or story functions such that the audience is never lost. Another amazing thing is that even though all the characters have undesirable traits they’re all funny and identifiable. The only place the film falters in anyway is that the father has a speech that’s a little too long at the end. With the way the film cuts the framing of the story is very surprising.
The acting all around is great but those who stand out are Gunnar Eyjólfsson, Hilmir Snær Guðnason, Hélène de Fougerolles, Guðrún Gísladóttir and Elva Ósk Ólafsdóttir.
Whenever watching a foreign film, especially one from a culture I’m not that familiar with, I always look for two things: One, does it seem indigenous and not overly influenced by Hollywood? Two, While being indigenous does it communicate a universal message and/or theme. The Sea succeeds in both cases.