Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day for Night

I find night time to be a much more fertile time for the imagination. Compared to the day, there's more to be excited about, to love, to be scared by and to be intrigued by. There is something innately much more fascinating about looking up to a skyscraper at night and seeing all the lights turned on and wondering what the people are doing than looking at the same building during the day. And hoping not to sound like a crazy voyeur peeping tom, I love looking up at a building at night and seeing people walking around, seemingly completely oblivious to the fact that there are thousands of people walking around beneath them. People are much more interesting, too, at night. You can tell a lot by what a person does at night that you couldn't based on what they do during the daylight hours. Do you party? Do you curl up in bed and read a book? Do you have sex? Do you dream?

Being a night owl myself, I've always preferred a darkened sky. I know I much prefer writing this blog at night, I find it easier to think of things to write about. I prefer the stars and the moon to the sun and clouds. The idea that there are things outside that are so close, yet, due to the cover of darkness, can't be seen is such a wonderful feeling. Perhaps that's why I like movies so much? Sitting down in a dark cinema elicits such wonders and mystery. There's always the sense that I have no idea what I'm about to watch and that, too, creates such a flurry in the mind that it's like an addictive drug.

I had intended on seeing Lawrence Johnson's Night at MIFF in 2007, but a last minute scheduling conflict meant I had to cancel that (I did end up seeing Control though so that was alright) and missed it again during it's incredibly brief theatrical release in February this year. However, sitting down to watch this beguiling film on DVD is perhaps optimal. Curling up into bed late at night with the blankets and a doona pulled up tight and watching this film quite quite magical. I had pleasant dreams last night, that's for sure.

That isn't to say it's a flawless film. I could have done without many of the talking heads that appear regularly throughout the film. I wasn't quite sure as to whether these were noteworthy people or merely people off of the street - although I did recognise Oscar-winner Adam Elliot so I'm still not quite sure about that. I found a lot of their observations quite perfunctory and unnecessary when the images are strong enough by themselves.

The moments when the film recalls Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi are the strongest. Laurie McInnes' cinematography is sharp and haunting on occasions with it's observations and camera angles. Although sometimes I did wonder whether it was merely a case of the images being captured being beautiful by themselves more than McInnes' camera work being spectacular. The true gem of the film though is composer Cezary Skubiszewski's original score, which has already won an APRA Award and deserves to win more. Like Phillip Glass in the aforementioned Reggio film, Skubiszewski's music intertwines with the images to provide a thoroughly beautiful collage. That opening piece of thunderstorms rolling across the landscape is particularly worthy of praise. It's quite stunning.

At only 78 minutes Night doesn't ware out it's welcome like films of this sort easily can. It can be a trance at times, lulling the viewing to slumber. Perhaps that was the idea, I don't know, but it was a lovely experience. B+

And just because I can here are some of my favourite images from the film. There are far too many to post them all so here are five.

1 comment:

par3182 said...

i hope you watched it on a big screen; it was quite thrilling on the huge regent theatre screen at miff

the talking heads are various people lawrence knows, including the woman who tells the story of dreaming about a cat on her head (she's also known as "my friend jane")