Monday, 25 October 2010

Straub/ Huillet on the small small screen (and buffering)

TOO EARLY, TOO LATE (Jean-Marie Straub/ Daniele Huillet, Germany, 1981)

Holy shit, Straub and Huillet are on YouTube. Now, I'd much rather see this film on the big screen, or at the very least, on my dodgy yet trusty smaller screen sitting on top of my cabinet. But laptop viewing will happily suffice considering I thought I was going to have to sell an internal organ in order to see one of their films. OK, there's some sniffing out there re: watching films via the web. I don't sniff. It's all down to access. I REALLY wanted to see this film, and 11 chunky segments on ol' Youtube will just have to shake it for now.
Are you allowed to say you've seen a film if it's via the net? Well, yeah, why not? I still palpably felt something when I was watching Too Early, Too Late, felt the frisson of seeing something different, unusual, stimulating - to start the film by ceaselessly going around and around and around a roundabout, minutes of ceaseless circling as a tract by Engels about the plight of poor peasants is recited in halting English, now that just grabbed me by the lapels and shook me. This was not just a landscape film, rotating around rural and urban locations in France and Egypt, but also a field recording of ambient buzz, hum, chatter. Birds chattering, children playing, men chatting in one section. Beeps, honks, city-drones in another. I plugged in my headphones and just listened to the sounds, imagining this was some found fragment of radio documentary from the haunted-media past.
I loved how the recited text slowly started to disappear as the film progressed, how the camera slowly moved to stasis, after ceaselessly roving about in circles, everything dropping away to reveal the simple awe of being present in an environment.

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