Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

let's just throw on a movie ...

...a 7 HOUR MOVIE.

I've heard about Bela Tarr's SATANTANGO repeatedly. It is in Hungarian, black and white, mostly in long shots, and, as you might have guessed, 7 hours. It is reputedly genius.

I've never seen it, but after a website knocked 70% or so off the price, I decided to order it a couple weeks ago, and it arrived on Monday.

But now I have to find seven adjacent hours to watch a movie. I've thought about watching it episodically, but I'm not one of those people who breaks up a movie. (Although the movie is broken up itself into three discs, and I'm reasonably sure it's never screened anywhere without an intermission, apparently despite the director's wishes.) I also rarely feel like I have seven hours in a row I can commit. And I've got, like, 2 1/2 seasons of THE WIRE to go, and things are heating up. (I'm on season 3, just finished ep 7.) Plus 470 hours or so of other programming to watch. Add a job, projects, etc., and, yeah.

But: it taunts me every time I look at it. The reputation of SATANTANGO precedes it as one of the most important films of the 1990's, a legend undoubtedly buttressed by its epic length and general unavailability.

A quick rundown of positive descriptors of SATANTANGO from the package: epic, unique, visionary, transcends genre, masterpiece, immaculately composed, brilliantly photographed, tour-de-force, enthralling, magnum opus, mesmerizing, masterpiece. (Yes, it appears twice.) And that's not counting the praise for Bela Tarr.

By contrast, a list of positive descriptors from another recent purchase, FRANKENFISH*: gut-wrenching terror, suspense all the way, new**, will have fans of films like LAKE PLACID and DEEP BLUE SEA hooked.

Incidentally, while I haven't seen the on-screen credits, only one of the films lists a credit for "a film by" on the box. And it ain't the Hungarian dude's one.

So what to watch now? Trick question: it's bedtime! I will now spend roughly as much time in bed as it would take me to watch SATANTANGO. Or FRANKENFISH, like, five times.

*It was at a Blockbuster close-out, and a friend had been singing its praises the night before. This also calls to me, but the idea of watching it alone and/or without lots of alcohol doesn't have much lure.

**Not necessarily a positive descriptor, but I'm reaching here.


Blogger J. said...

"[W]ill have fans of films like LAKE PLACID and DEEP BLUE SEA hooked[....]"

That's basically, "Retarded people will love this!" isn't it?

26/8/08 12:14 AM  
Blogger dd said...

I think even retarded people would be disappointed by FRANKENFISH, truth be told.

There is a good decapitation-by-fish scene, though.

26/8/08 8:16 AM  

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