His Dark Materials
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At over 7 1/2 hours Melancholia is Lav Diaz's longest film. It is also his most complex and inconclusive. The film concerns three characters: Alberta, Julian and Rina. Initially they appear as a prostitute, a pimp and a nun but they are not what they seem. As the identities and roles of the characters change, the film penetrates the sadness and loss that each of them suffers and the masks that they wear to conceal their suffering. Dreams, illusion and reality flow into eachother as the horror which the characters have experienced is brought into sharp focus. Bizarre, surreal episodes that are only barely explained such as the therapy session performed by Julian sit alongside the scenes in the forest where Alberta's husband Renato who has joined the communist rebels is hunted down by the military. Lav Diaz has made some very beautiful, challenging films but Melancholia is a particularly wonderful piece of cinema.
Diaz manages to engage you throughout with his impressionistic portrayal of grief and disillusionment. The mastery in which he conveys the characters through silence an atmosphere is truly outstanding. Definitely one of the most unique cinematic voices working today.
Three leftist activists are brought together on one of the last surviving places of earth after a skirmish leads to global apocalypse. They find themselves clinging on to their humanity by taking on each other's personality traits in a cold world filled with sexual perversions, cigarettes and alienation. Diaz's film defies all boundaries and conventionalities of the post apocalyptic movie with a film that follows its own pacing and timing and uses its own kind of cinematography that makes everything look more natural and real.
at 7.5 hours, this is a tough watch and took me 4-5 days. the mood of constant sorrow, reinforced with shadows and rain became like a cloud enveloping me. i did some background reading on political situation in philippines to help process this too. a unique immersive experience. maybe now i'm ready for 'satantango'!
I must confess, it took me months to finally finish this 8-hour movie. It's long, and most of the times stubbornly so. Since some of the scenes are needlessly overlong, they become tedious and repetitive thus lose their power. It's not without merits. It's very philosophical and boasts a lovely black and white cinematography and good performances. I think with some judicious editing, this movie could still be great but more people will actually would want to watch it. As it is, its appeal will surely be limited to select hardcore art-house avant-garde fanatics only.