Criticisms: Criticisms of “White, White Day”, “The Audition” and “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert”

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White, White Day (Hvítur, hvítur dagurIceland-Denmark-Sweden/2019, 109′), of Hlynur Pálmason (For rent on different platforms) ★★★★✩

Throughout the history of cinema, the landscapes whitish have generated its own mythology film, from the reverse dirty western that explored Robert Altman in the wild whiteness of McCabe and Mrs. Miller / in The same mud (1971) up the haunting white that the Coen brothers stained red blood in Fargo (1996), passing through the snow poetizaban the stabbing sense of loss that befell the community of The sweet hereafter (1997), Atom Egoyan. Elements of all these titles come together, one way or another, into the remarkable White, White Day, the second film of the icelandic Hlynur Pálmason (the same of the promising opera prima Winter Brothers / Vinterbrødre), which had its world premiere in the Critics Week of the Cannes film Festival, 2019.

The dimension westerniana of the film takes shape in the terseness of the main character, Ingimundur (a superb Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, a sort of Richard Harris, icelandic), who decides to bury in the depths of his heart the sorrow for the death of his wife in a car accident. For its part, the ominous traces the movie from its disturbing opening sequence, in which we see despeñarse the car of the wife by a gorge when you try to navigate the curves of a road taken by the fog. And, finally, the weight of the trauma rises to the surface when the protagonist discovers a possible betrayal in the past of his wife, a situation that is already addressed with touch films such as The descendants, Alexander Payne; or 45 years, Andrew Haigh.

The uniqueness of White, White Day must be sought in the way in which Pálmason builds the film with just a few stitches discussed that give colour and relief to a fabric a film dominated by the observation of gestures, movements and interactions of (and between) the characters –a proposal of an expressive that forwards to the cinema of the German Valeska Grisebach, director of Western–. In two scenes relevant, Ingimundur (who describes himself as “a man, father, grandfather, police officer and widower”) attends the consultation of a therapist who should help you cope with your painful situation. But more on that in the dialogues, Pálmason puts the focus on the attitude of the protagonist, in the mode of hiding your feelings behind a look-tight, or in the manner in which the imposing physique of the actor ends up revealing the face more monstrous character when the fury overflows (a journey of sobriety quietist to the savagery kinetic that illustrates the transit of the film from the drama internalised the thriller stormy). Following the same preference for the visual in detriment of the underlining dialogados, Pálmason takes advantage of his talent for creating images of strong symbolic load. There is, for example, the house that, throughout the film, Ingimundur will rebuilt with the intention of encapsulating the memory of his wife; or the image of a horse that sneaks into that same house, an expression of animality that is hidden in the interior of the protagonist; and also the shocking picture of the granddaughter of the protagonist (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir) learning to kill a fish golpeándole the head against the edge of a table, clear reference to the tiny place reserved for the innocence in a world prone to harshness and disaffection.

Ultimately, the heart of White, White Day resides in the relationship of complicity that keep Ingimundur and his granddaughter. The affection and tenderness that emanates from this family bond rescues the film from the pit of nihilism and expands well your horizon emotional. By the refusal of Pálmason to smudge the film with an excess of psychology and, given his interest in the work with certain archetypes (the male figure who assumes his status of patriarch with a fortress of stone; the girl delicate and sensitive that embodies the possibility of the innocence), the director needs to make the most of the “chemistry” between the actors. And in the case of the grandfather and the granddaughter, the blending is absolute. One of their first appearances together, a long travelling side that we see on board of a boat with the motor, because you get to shine –through of the putting in scene and the composure of the actors– the link between the characters, which is evolving and being enriched in each new moment shared. A communion affective complete a film capable of immersing the viewer in the darker recesses and in the most luminous of the human nature. MANU YÁÑEZ

The Audition / The audition (Das VorspielGermany-France/2019, 99′), Ina Weisse, with Nina Hoss, Simon Abkarian and Ilja Monti (Disponibe on Netflix) ★★★½

Beyond the bias hanekeano when addressing such issues as guilt and punishment which becomes an outcome something sadistic, I must say that The Audition transcends the clichés of the genre master-student of music to become a deep and intelligent foray into the psychology of his characters with a mise-en-scene sound, rigorous, and seamless.

In his second feature film as a director after The Architect, the recognized interpreter Ina Weisse describes the personal universe of Anna Bronsky (the other time extraordinary Nina Hoss, winner of the award of the Best Actress award in the Official Competition of the San Sebastian Festival 2019), violin teacher at an institute of elite in Berlin. She manages to Alexander, a guy without refined technique, enters and begins to prepare it in a meticulous even obsessive, to the point that he begins to neglect the relationship with her husband, Philippe (Simon Abkarian) and his son Jonas (also a virtuoso interpreter of violin). While maintaining an affair with his colleague Christian, who urges her to return to give concerts in a quintet, our anti-hero begins a descent into the worst of hells personal with results disquieting and heart-rending. DIEGO BATLLE

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert (United states/2020, 104′), Chris Perkel, Drew Thomas (Disponibe en YouTube) ★★½

Each year, at the end of April, for three days, is performed at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, in the middle of the Coachella valley in the Colorado desert, one of the festivals most popular and influential rock music, pop, hip hop and electronic.

Last year, it’s been two decades from the first edition (1999), and -for that reason – there was this documentary that is nothing more than a self-celebration, an example of brand management which can be viewed free of charge on YouTube.

It all started when a few promoters linked to the ska, to punk and to work with bands such as Jane’s Addiction played with a massive festival. The early years of his Goldenvoice were at a loss, they were very close to bankruptcy (until they were aided and then absorbed by a behemoth like AEG Presents), and recently in 2004 (with Pixies, Radiohead and Kraftwerk on the stage) went “tied”, to give the first great leap in 2006 with the presence of Madonna.

The documentary highlights -with reason – that in small shows day went by -for example – Amy Winehouse in 2007, show 2006 of Daft Punk opened the door not only to electronics but to convert then to the DJs superstars; and that-though the Beastie Boys had already been headliners in 2003 – it was from 2010, with the extraordinary show of Jay-Z, which began the golden era of hip hop in Coachella, we then continued in 2011 with Kanye West and even had a concert in “hologram”of the late Tupac. In 2018, it was the turn of the massive concert of Beyonce and in 2019 Billie Eilish, but that is recent history and fairly well known.

Between testimonials from promoters and musicians, some color images neo-hippie and fragments the very short proceedings you are going through, and reconstructing the history of a festival that began full of errors, improvisations and misalignments, and today is a monster that summons (this year, of course, not be made by the COVID-19) to more than 250,000 people with a revenue exceeding 120 million dollars. One of the few times sympathetic of this institutional documentary comes during the closing credits, and has to do with the delusional negotiations with Prince, who at the last moment agreed to join for the 2008 edition. An anecdote hilarious that, of all forms, it’s not enough to save a product that is much more about show business than about the music itself. DIEGO BATLLE

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