Shot in various regions of Iraq on a dvx-100, andlater a 100a (the second generation upgrade), transferred to 35mm and projected on the big screen, it is as beautiful to behold as Days of Heaven. As I ogled this beauty recently at New York’s Film Forum, I found my hands clasped in front of my chin as if in prayer. I could not believe that I was watching the product of a camera Uncle Lou might use to document his vacation sexploits. The film has every ounce the intimacy and majesty of Malick at his greatest. From its strobo-kaleidoscopic opening to the rhythmic, ruminative sequence that shows how the Iraq invasion transformed men of reason and faith into violent muhajadeen to the hushed third act, which juxtaposes the weather-beaten faces of a Kurdish farm family with billowing black smoke as suggestive as any natural phenomenon in a Werner Herzog opus, this film dares you to call it anything but pure cinema.
This is what cheap turntables and faders did for restless Bronx youth in the late 1970’s. With their shoe store paychecks the kids upgraded to samplers, drum machines and mixing boards. Longley’s triumph fills me with hope that a fresh generation of Kids from Nowhere will grasp the connection between those 24 coveted frames and a public imagination that still gets its most vigorous workout in the darkened theater; that they will use the charisma and authority of cinema to sing in as confident a voice as aristocrat-auteurs like Mann, Scott, Scorsese and Spielberg, without having to set foot in their clubhouse. As it is, the dv kids are working wonders on DVD and the festival circuit.
November 20, 2006
The Future of Movies
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