World soundtrack awards
Young Critics recensie: Kajillionare
Young Critics recensie: Kajillionare Young Critics
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Samen met Cinea en filmtijdschrift photogénie organiseert Film Fest Gent jaarlijks de Young Critics Workshop waarbij aanstormende critici van over de hele wereld samentroepen om - in het engels - verslag uit de brengen van het festival.

In Miranda July’s third feature, childhood traumas and revelatory earthquakes shape the world of an emotionally dysfunctional young woman who's going to learn the most banal of valuable lessons: it’s okay to enjoy dumb things (love apparently being one of them).

Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) is the oddly named and grungy-looking daughter of a quirky couple that prefers an anarcho-libertarian hobo lifestyle to a nine to five job. These ‘self-made’ outcasts are trying to scam their way through life while ironically working every day to clean-up the foamy pink deluge which hypnotically seeps through the walls of their California ‘home’—a 500$ per month office space attached to a soap factory. In comes Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) a glitzy outgoing Puerto Rican who eventually saves Dolio from her emotionally unavailable hippie parents who maintain a purely transactional relationship with their daughter.

Kajillionare plays out like a neoliberal’s straw-man common sense critique of any real attempt to radically reject capitalism. By portraying the parents as outrageously grotesque weirdos, July disingenuously creates the impression that falling in line is the only real alternative to being a sociopathic counter-cultural loser. It’s only natural then that Melanie’s real function is to show Dolio the simple joys of shopping at a supermarket, getting called “hon” and cashing in on childhood trauma. But it’s only after Dolio gets born again in the wake of a much-dreaded earthquake that she is ready to accept the gospel of commodity fetishism and buy herself a pack of chips, or go to a restaurant for the first time ever.

In the end July self-righteously demonstrates that becoming a well-adjusted adult means leaving the bad kind of wokeness (the radical one) behind and meeting someone who will find your quirky pathologies kind of charming.

Stefan Goncharov

Stefan Goncharov

Stefan Goncharov comes from Sofia, Bulgaria. His academic background is in Scandinavian studies and at the moment he is doing a MA in Cultural studies and Contemporary art. As a film critic he has written articles for several Bulgarian outlets throughout the years and has had the pleasure to cover several big festivals like Berlinale and Festival de Cannes. He is also a poet with two published poetry collections under his belt.

Cinephiliac Moment: The sequence in Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg (2007) where the narrator/director recounts the story of how eleven race horses got frozen in a river with their heads bulging above the ice, thus becoming a local winter attraction where lovers go to “spoon beneath the moonlit dome” of Winnipeg. The story is a great example of Maddin’s knack for creating poignant myths drenched in modernist nostalgia and black humor. For me the arresting imagery of the horses frozen in time works on two levels. On the one hand, there’s what we see above the ice—their contorted quasi-expressions and the inhuman gaze of death made flesh. At the very end of the sequence the camera even zooms in on one of the horses’ eyes diving straight into the heart of darkness where Eros and Thanatos are mysteriously intertwined. On the other hand, there’s what we don’t see—the animal’s torsos forever “galloping in place” beneath the ice like distant echoes of Muybridge’s legendary photographs. These horses’ everlasting race towards death perfectly conveys Maddin’s ironic and obsessive nostalgia for the interwar period when all the different ‘-isms’ where at their peak and technological progress went hand in hand with modernism’s naive but powerful utopian thinking. It’s also interesting to note that the frozen horses in the story are eleven while the twelfth photo in Muybridge’s sequence is the only one that shows the horse resting. In other words, Maddin has rejected the possibility of rest, maintaining that cinema is death in motion.

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