This is about the spirit of inconclusiveness in art, actually, and weather form is more important than content… Well, actually this is only a rewiev of a potentially interesting collection of esseys… Yes, interesting!
I have created an own tumblr for the requiem demo…
“They tried to put me in a box and a label on it, everyone… confine me under a word, a profession, a title, anything… But I rejected that kind of… behaviourism… their little game…
Life is a process, but if you give in to the usual content… it is a pity, you lose yourself to mediocrities,…
If, yes, it is always an if… So if I am going to get this assistant trainee for a month I’m going to do a demo of the greater project ‘Requiem’, a part of dialogue between this old woman dying in cancer and her youngish male nurse. I have never been acting so I thought to try now and since dying has always been ‘my speciality’ it is quite suitable to do this woman…
For some days I have let my thoughts wander around her and the athmosphere, how I have imagined it to be and what are the real possibilities. What kind of elements on the whole are needed besides her person, like the wind and moving curtains, summer outside the french doors, rain, scent of rain… Her mind is wandering to days long gone, but she is also very present in the moment, sharp, not losing her mind.
In her past she has done something - it does not bother her because she has thought it out then and come to peace with herself, but the young man is intrigued and slowly drags the story out of her. The actual project ‘Requiem’ consists of this dialogue and flasbacks of the events some forty years ago when a afrikaner diamond mogul was shot dead in his room in London Hilton.
She is sharp but also in pain and sometimes delirious. The visuals in her mind present a delicious possibility… As also the athmosphere of London and Paris in those days. But that does not really come to this demo. So what does? She of course, her habitus, hands and face - how am I going to cope with close-ups… She is sitting in a chair in the same corner the whole time, but she can wear different clothes, different colors and something can be built on the colors - red, white, black, mould green…
The light - I intend to use natural light because it is always the best,. and my little studio corner is so positioned that it should be possible. Perhaps some twilight and evening could be arranged - oh I’m getting carried away…
Anyway, this could and should be happening during June. Completely different thing is weather I’ll have my mac in such condition that I can use the final cut workflow - it doesn’t even open at the moment… some doing in that, but life was never meant to be easy!
These are the kind of windows and curtains I hope to see in Requiem…
It is quite a usual phenomena to have “a great idea”. Nothing wrong in that, but to construct something like a film around that “idea” is somehow very stiff and artificial, and usually leads to “a horror story”. It does not work. The school way. You do crap by trying to adopt a method mentally and emotionally void of meaning. The fact that film is an artform and artificially constructed piece of thinking, life, what-ever is not the same as making crap. Crap is not art, it is just crap. And you recognize crap when you get an uneasy and embarrassed feeling watching it. You are ashamed on their behalf. No function, just doing something because something has to be done… And what has that to do with cinema, or art? Nothing. Some people function in war, some function as farmers, some as investigating journalists. Patton was in his element attacking! I loved to read Hemingway when I was young. Crap and passion. Passion you feel towards your work, your art means you don’t do crap. It means you know yourself and your limitations, and accept them. And don’t do art for mere arts sake or doings sake. Passion means continuity of feeling. It means something unique to you, something you can’t give up. To Picasso it was sneering and to Matisse it was joy, and to Cezanne it was genuine unique structure in a moment - he was the most methodical, scientific. Your mind is a great generator, a machine that does not stop. It functions weather you want it or not, and it comes to conclusions you may not like. Love is a feeling of compassion we have towards some other human being, or a group of people. Love makes us do things we don’t like. Love makes us accept crap because we don’t want to hurt. Love destroys ambition. Though it should not. When it should be on the contrary: love should feed ambition and make us more passionate. How come this happens… This giving up and succumbing to the ordinary? It begins with the trust in form. One thing, one form and we shall succeed! Film industry is a great nation in formal thinking. It is a young field of art, a bunch of upstarts trying to find easy ways and not understanding you can’t make twelve years old whiskey in a week… That is sad but avoidable with just a bit of self criticism: a pearl starts with a grain of sand but it takes years to become a pearl…
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Made loosely after John le Carre’s novel The Constant Gardener is a film with strict conscience and deeply human message. If you have seen the film you know it concerns Africa, poverty and hunger, the malpractice and corruption of international pharmaceutical companies and conspiracy on the highest level. If you have not seen the film there is a plot referendum at the end.
This film is intelligent and versatile with no straight chronology but back and forth jumping style of narration. Meirelles uses all kinds of styles and cameras from webcam and moving hand-held to steady composures, which is delightful and gives an intimate feeling to certain sequences. Also the difference between Africa and Europe - Africa being colourful and teeming with children while Europe is almost black and white with no children visible - wild, alive continent and dead, controlled land of cities is sketched with ease. The international power structures are camouflaged but existing and strong.
The pharmaceutical company tests a drug with serious side effects to poor africans without telling them, and when Justin’s wife Tessa starts to find out connections she is eliminated ‘by an unidentified party’. Obsessed by guilt Justin starts to explore and that’s the core of this film: his run of Amok through Europe and Kenya tracking the leads. His passport is confiscated but he can travel inside Europe without it - the streetcams are a bigger problem, and he gets a false one with the help of Tessa’s contacts. Still the enemy is on his trail and he gets beaten.
The cinematography is like in a reportage, quick and jumpy creating a feeling of uncertainty and persecution, and when Justin Quayle returns to Kenya the cinematography once more gets color, and a lot is filmed from the air: small different aircrafts with Quayle on board or not, giving credit to the incredible scenery. Quayle meets the original creator of the pharmaceutical experiment in practice, and gets real proof from him of the procedure taking place. Armed bandits attack and cruel reality is once more revealed in the beautiful landscape also showing the incapability of UN to intervene.
The acquired evidence Quayle sends to Tessa’s cousin in Europe along with a letter of his own decision: he is running no more for Tessa was his life and without her… So the UN plane leaves him to the place where Tessa met her destiny. As he meets his own death by murder.
A memorial service is arranged in Westminster Abbey with great praise to the deceased Quayle, conscientious but insignificant civil servant. All goes well until Tessa’s cousin start to read out ‘the epistola, the real story behind Quayle’s ‘suicide’. The end is delicious when all the stage is wiped clean and the scandal revealed. The case is closed.
The Constant Gardener is not a big movie but it is an important film of issues like justice and equality, and the power of economics, and as such it succeeds brilliantly. It is an interesting interpretation of an older book translated to present day visuals. The first meeting of Tessa and Justin, her sincere warmth and concern that takes them to bed immediately, and to matrimony not long after, and the pregnancy (real pregnancy of Rachel Weisz) present two different people, who manage to create a relation seemingly successful. But Tessa is a wild thing and after losing the baby there is nothing to stop her. The capacity of Meirelles to keep functioning all the different styles and nuances is remarkable and it is a pleasure to watch this film, intrude their intimacy and find such honesty.
Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a High-Commissioner delegee into Africa is married to Tessa (Rachel Weisz), a hard-line volunteer. She is killed in a supposedly random armed attack by rebels.
As he mourns her, he remembers how he met her, at a journalist’s meeting, where she attacked his views mercilessly. Later, she got pregnant, although she kept on working outside of home. But when they lose the baby, they both become sad, and start having problems in their marriage. She is constantly telling him that he never takes action to solve the problems of poor African people.
When Justin starts investigating, he thinks she didn’t really love him, but married him in order to help the desperate African refugees. They are given a new vaccination without being informed what it is supposed to be against, or why.
Justin investigates further on, and discovers that a new vaccine Dypraxa is being tested. It causes many deaths, though, and that fact is being kept quiet. Sandy Woodrow (Danny Houston) seems to have been Tessa’s lover, but he seems to support the pharmaceuticals’ illegal activities because of the millions one of them can earn if they are selling the product first to the world.
Justin is threatened in London, when he has to quit his job. He returns to Kenya, where he finds that Arnold Bluhm (Hubert Koundé) has been tortured to death. British government minister Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy), Justin’s ex-boss, seems to be at the core of the conspiracy. Justin is convinced that he can’t win or let the cat out of the bag. Justin returns to the same spot where Tessa was killed. He knows that Crick (Nick Reding) or some African gunmen will kill him.
Back in London, many relatives, friends, journalists and politicians gather at Justin’s funeral. They say that Justin was a discreet man who committed suicide silently. However, Tessa’s cousin reads a letter Justin had sent him before dying, disclosing everything. Pellegrin leaves the place in a rage, being taken hundreds of pictures by the few journalists present at the funeral. He speeds off in his official car. However, the pharmaceutical’s shares have gone up in stock markets around the world.