the leftovers, series finale
music friday: from the modern rock charts for the week of june 8, 1996

colossal youth (pedro costa, 2006)

Do I want to talk about “Slow Cinema” (or should I call it “Contemporary Contemplative Cinema”?), or do I want to just talk about Colossal Youth on its own and be done with it?

I feel a bit like I’m getting a crash course on this stuff, given my recent dive into the works of Andrei Tarkovsky. And part of me thinks I’m just warming up for the challenge of Sátántangó (Phil Dellio, who is the person who got me to put Sátántangó on my Request List, said of Colossal Youth, “Only 156 minutes, though--that's like a trailer for Sátántangó.”)

I don’t want to be reductive ... well, of course I want to be reductive, but I’m also trying to combat that tendency in myself ... I resist the very idea of “Slow Cinema”, not as an option for artists, but as something I want to watch. I wonder what my reaction to Colossal Youth would be if I’d known what it was in advance? (For some reason, I thought it was a 100-minute Japanese pop movie.)

Apparently I like these movies more than I realize. The Wikipedia entry for “Slow cinema” lists more than 40 “notable examples” of the style, and among them are movies like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which I placed at #44 on my list of 50 favorite movies of all time; Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which I loved; and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which I also loved. In other words, as with all genres, there are going to be ones I like and ones I don’t.

Colossal Youth reminded me of Terrence Malick movies. I rarely like them, but I admire Malick’s ability to make the movies he wants, following his vision without much compromise. Based on Colossal Youth, and on things I’ve read about him, Pedro Costa makes the movies he wants to make. As I once said about Malick, Costa doesn’t care if I thought Colossal Youth was boring. He didn’t make it for me, he made it for himself. I admire him for that.

But I didn’t like watching his movie.

The film looks great. It’s often so dark you can barely see, but that fits with the settings. There are occasional shots that stun:

colossal youth

But honestly, it’s like watching paint dry. I often call movies like this “Coffee Table Movies”. The picture above looks great, but it would look as good in a book you had on your coffee table as it does on the screen, and I don’t have to stare at the book for 156 minutes.

So, call me a philistine. But I don’t let that fact prevent me from watching movies like Colossal Youth. You never know when one of them will end up on my Top 50 list. #548 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time, and #45 on the 21st century list. 6/10.

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