Best film I’ve seen in ages – Che.
I imagine we’ll go into the politics of the pic amongst its various other attributes when we review it on the Show – but right now I just want to mention its style.
If you look back at reviews of the Godfather when it first came out one thing puzzled some critics. Where did Francis Coppola get the amazing style for the film?
The framing, the pacing – it felt complete, mature, fully-formed. As if Coppola had always been making films that way. How did he do it?
I felt the same way while watching the magnificent Che.
Both Part 1 and Part 2 start off with a slow, meditative graphic that slowly reveals and hides the various locations we’ll be seeing in the film. It beautifully puts you in the mood for this long, hypnotic film.
In Che the camera’s a bit shaky, naturalistic. At first you’d be tempted to say it’s shot in a faux documentary style, but that’s not it.
It’s shot as if the camera’s not there.
What? Aren’t most films shot that way?
Nope: in most pics you get the sense of everyone/everything being blocked – see Hitchcock’s films for this – the players are arranged in the space, in the graphic space, for Hitchcock to play with – to build suspense – to affect the audience – to manipulate.
Che is different.
It’s shot as if by time traveler. As if we’re seeing the recording of someone who was able to dip into the time stream of a person’s life unseen.
Watching the film we feel as if we’re getting impressions – impressions of a life – it’s up to us to read, research more about this person and his times – the film, miraculously treats us as adults. Just as we have to interpret the actions of those around us; fit the events of our own life into our own personal pattern so we have to do the same with Che.
It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen and it’s a masterpiece – go see it.
I’m not anywhere near as familier and knowledgeable about current non-commercial cinema as I should be – I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Che’s style is taken from something I haven’t seen, (as in the influence of Béla Tarr on Gus Van Sant’s Elephant).
Update: Che will be showing for one week only at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre from January 26th 23rd. Am not sure which version they’ll be showing, (Che is the kind of film(s) in which it is impossible to say which is the ‘right’ or ‘official’ version – it’s possible that the print they’ll have will not include the masterful graphic opening as referenced above – but, even without it you should go see the pic if you can.