REVIEW: Whiplash

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm
This is the thirty-second film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival. 

And rather surprisingly to me, this American production emerged as the best film I saw in the entire film fest, by far. This it achieved by having a story that is as simple as it gets, but presents us with two very strong characters – an ambitious and dogged drummer who falls under the training of a tyrannical but well-meaning music conductor/coach – and is at all times dramatic and inspiring and intense. It was the only film in the whole festival that left me pumped up and excited.

And when I say that the story is simple, I mean that it's very focused with barely any subplots to distract from the main story. The film opens with Andrew (Miles Teller, who broke out with what should've been an Oscar-nominated performance in Rabbit Hole and has since moved on with The Spectacular Now, That Awkward Moment, and Divergent) training furiously with his drum moves. It already looks impressive, but then in walks Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons, from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies and Juno), who conducts the best jazz band in Shaffer Conservatory of Music where Andrew studies (though we really don't see him in any other context other than training for his drums … see what I mean by focused?). The opening scene immediately foreshadows the imminent dynamics of the two, with Andrew eager to please and dogged in his determination to be accepted and be the best, and Fletcher displaying a flippant attitude towards his efforts, viciously foul-mouthed and decidedly unsympathetic.

Andrew doesn't immediately get inducted into Fletcher's band, but once he's there he becomes proud, and is promptly destroyed by Fletcher's tyrannical dishing-out of insults and rants. But that only spurs Andrew further on and he trains harder and harder; the image of blood specks rubbed raw from Andrew's hands splattering onto drumheads and cymbals is pretty much the defining image of this film. Just how dedicated Andrew is is demonstrated in a pretty climactic and intense scene … in the middle of the film, before we even enter the third act. The largely Korean audience members at the Open Cinema (a 4,000 seater auditorium) collectively flinched at it.

In an earlier scene, the audience members even clapped in the middle of the film when Andrew gets an "you earned it" acknowledgement from Fletcher.

The real climax of the film is set in yet another jazz band competition, and I didn't even know it was the climactic scene until the plot twist happens and Andrew suddenly finds himself in a vulnerable position and unable to perform. But then he finds a way and out comes one of the most explosive and jaw-dropping endings to grace the screen in recent years, where the protagonist turns the tables against those who want to tear him down and proceeds to win and win and win. I haven't felt this euphoric over a film's ending since Annette Bening managed the same feat in Being Julia a few years ago.

The word I use a lot here is 'intense', and that characterises both a lot of the drumming sequences (whether it's Andrew practicing or performing) as well as the two leads' personalities, but it also describes the editing. The editing really deserves an Oscar nomination next year; in terms of storytelling the pacing is spot-on from beginning till end, fast and slow when needed; but also in terms of its micro-editing, cutting from shot to shot, it was highly kinetic, as energetic as it could be without cutting from shakycam shots and without seeming messy.

Teller is spot-on in his portrayal of the dedicated Andrew; and I'm calling Best Supporting Actor nomination for JK Simmons right now. He's able to exude both the entertainingly vulgar and tyrannical side of his character as well as the few moments when it seems the guy does
actually has a heart, though Fletcher has a way of switching from one mode to another within a split second that makes you wonder how sincere he is sometimes. The film is dominated by these two characters, that I didn't even notice that Paul Reiser is in the film … also because he looks a lot more plump since we last met him. There is a minor subplot, really minor, involving Andrew's courtship of the popcorn counter girl working at a cinema he frequents.

I've said enough. The short of it, is go see it!

How Good I Think It Is: 8/10
Did I Fall Asleep: No way!

REVIEW: 绣春刀 | Brotherhood Of Blades

at 12:35 pm
This is the thirty-first film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival.

As mentioned in earlier posts, I've been rather delayed with writing reviews for the last few films I caught at BIFF.

With this film though, I literally didn't remember a single thing about it when I looked at the title, and then looked at it again. Not the story, not the characters, not the actors – no inkling at all. Which says a lot, I guess.

Watching the trailer jogged my memory. I remembered that the story succeeded in setting up a dilemma for the characters, a trio of men loyal to each other but who hid secrets from each other in trying to do right by each other. But you know what, I was also thinking while watching the trailer, that new Wong Fei Hung movie was more intense and entertaining.

REVIEW: V Tichu | In Silence

at 12:23 pm
This is the thirtieth film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival.

I'm doing a disservice with this review, given that I'm writing it a couple of months after I saw the film. I'm looking at my scribbled notes but I don't fully remember much of the film. Not necessarily the film's fault, it's not a conventional narrative.

Essentially, the film portrays the lives of a few members of the creative community in Poland around the World War II era, but instead of an integrated story we see their lives re-enacted, and their thoughts narrated, separately from one another, in a movie largely devoid of dialogue, relying instead on sumptuously shot images that magnifies the emotions of the scenes. These are musicians, dancers, artists, all Jews I believe. It's a strangely effective way to portray the plight of the Holocaust victims, one that I don't think I've seen before. It eschews traditional movie storytelling and focuses entirely on thoughts and emotions as the world around the characters descend into hell, which affects how the film is shot and edited.

And my, was the film nicely shot. Just watch the images in the trailer below. In happier times everything is warm and sunny, with gratuitous use of rack focuses, showing beautiful memories, a man kissing his new bride while the camera circles around (and other such poetic camera moves), sunlight glinting off crystals in a homely room with a man playing his piano, extreme close-ups, that sort of thing; and then when the story gets dark it's brooding, lots of blacks and dark colours in the production design.

I did note down in my scribbled notes 'despite sumptuous values, disembodied from audience' and 'cuts disjointedly', but I can't remember why I felt so. I was also pretty sure I fell asleep in parts of it, but that's probably due to general tiredness (I saw this on Day 8 of the film festival) and this isn't exactly a fast-paced film. I think I should give the film another watch when I'm in the mood some day.

REVIEW: Fehér Isten | White God

at 11:35 am
This is the twenty-ninth film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival. 

The movie opens with an oddly empty Budapest during daytime, calling into mind the opening scenes in Vanilla Sky and I Am Legend. Then a young girl cycles into the picture, an incongruent image. Knowing the premise of the film, you're not surprised when you see a line of dogs appear far behind her, before growing into an army and charging down towards the girl, calling into mind the mass animal attack films most prominently featured in The Birds or Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Along with the Bourne-esque music, the sequence felt like an odd mix of The Birds and the Tangier chase sequence in The Bourne Ultimatum.

After that, the movie naturally flashbacks to days earlier, when that young girl Lili (an excellent Zsófia Psotta) is dropped off to stay with her estranged father Dániel ... along with a dog (a kind of Labrador perhaps) that Dániel isn't expecting. Lili's dog Hagen attracts our sympathy immediately, of course (it's a dog after all), but in the early scenes it seems that owning dogs can be a hassle, especially in apartments; Dániel doesn't care for dogs, especially when Hagen howls at night, and the neighbours complain that they don't have a license and shouldn't be allowed to keep it. Things come to a head when Lili is sufficiently distracted at band practice by her dog and Dániel was called in by her teacher, so a frustrated Dániel unceremoniously dumps the dog by the roadside, leaving it to fend for itself.

From then on we mostly follow the dog on its adventure, one that is kind of familiar, except that it's more usually seen in animated films (and where animals talk). The lonely and vulnerable Hagen slowly finds its footing as it makes friends with other dogs, but is soon captured and passes through several hands; unlike Oliver Twist, the poor dog never meets its Mr Brownlow, but just gets treated worse and worse, eventually ending up with a a heavy-set man whose specialty is in aggressifying dogs for dogfights. We watch in horror as our gentle protagonist is turned, through the power of steroids, into a saliva-spewing fighting machine. After its first fight though, Hagen escapes ... only to return and – rather inexplicably, by the way – becomes the dog version of Caesar, leading a seemingly ubiquitous army of dogs to terrorise the entire city.

The dogfight sequence is amazing to watch, if only because it was violent and bloody and left me wondering how on earth did they film it without hurting the dogs.

The other accomplishment, of course, is getting what seemed like a hundred or more dogs running down street after street, barking madly, seem to attack the extras/stunt persons. To be honest, as much as it is a novel spectacle to watch on screen, it is also kind of silly, because while the film does show us a few accounts of Hungarians being terrible to dogs, it can't be that the dogs are taking revenge against everyone (and unlike in Apes, the dogs don't have the sort of intelligence to desire to take over human civilisation).

As a result, in the third act the narrative begins to frazzle and it felt a little like it doesn't quite belong to the rest of the film, which had up to that point done a skilful job in portraying the drama surrounding Lili's relationship with her dad and her peers (I've seen a few Hungarian dramas by now, and they really excel in portraying 3-dimensional characters who are both realistic and yet still manage to surprise audiences), as well as showing Hagen's sad slide into violent mania.

I did think about Malaysia during the film, fantasising that the dogs in the movie are in Malaysia, mowing down the pet shop owners who mistreated dogs, the so-called religious figures who persecuted Syed Azmi for his charitable 'I Want to Touch a Dog' project,

I noted in my scribbled notes 'quick homage to birds' but it's been a couple of months since I saw the film so I can't remember what that referred to, lol. I guess you gotta watch the film to find out. :)

How Good I Think The Film Is: 7.5/10

Suggested List of 2015 Oscar Nominations

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 4:42 am

BEST PICTURE
Whiplash



BEST DIRECTING
Doug Liman — Edge of Tomorrow



BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE




BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE




BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
JK Simmons – Whiplash



BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE




BEST WRITING, ORIGINAL




BEST WRITING, ADAPTED




BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Exodus: Gods And Kings



BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Exodus: Gods And Kings



BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Exodus: Gods And Kings



BEST MAKEUP
Exodus: Gods And Kings



BEST FILM EDITING
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Whiplash



BEST SOUND
Fury
Godzilla



BEST SOUND EDITING
Fury
Godzilla
Interstellar
RoboCop



BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Exodus: Gods And Kings
Godzilla
Interstellar
X-Men: Days Of Future Past



BEST ORIGINAL SCORE




BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Song of the Sea



BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Big Hero 6
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
The Lego Movie



BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Leviathan (Russia)
The Fatal Encounter (South Korea)
The President (Georgia)
The Tribe (Ukraine)


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Rocks In My Pockets

REVIEW: Племя | The Tribe

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm
This is the twenty-eighth film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival. It is the first Ukrainian film I've seen, and also the first one told entirely in sign language; every single actor communicates only with sign language throughout the film, without exception. Without subtitles. 

In fact, there's probably no other film like this.

The idea is that while we lose out in understanding the precise content of their communication, we get the gist of what's happening based on the characters' settings and circumstances, and the actors help us along by signing constantly at an intense pace (they seem to be arguing or scolding each other most of the time). Also, it's worth mentioning that it is not a silent film; the audience is hearing what the characters cannot.

What's the setting? A teenage boy enters a boarding school, presumably for the deaf, and is quickly admitted into the school's alpha male gang, owing to the boy's firm physique and robust strength. The teachers are present only in the beginning of the film — for example, there's a very familiar scene in a classroom with a teacher signing her lessons to the class but one of the alpha male gangsters is interrupting it with his own cheeky signing, leading to silent altercations with the teacher — but after a while they seem to largely disappear from the scene, and we're only shown the interactions among the students. Those interactions are also fairly familiar tropes, with the alpha male gang bullying the younger kids.

On the other hand, there's a subplot involving two girls who are close to the alpha male gang because the gang pimps them out to the truck drivers nearby. One of the girls is the lover of one of the alpha male gang, so things get complicated when our main boy first engages her sexual services, then later falls for her. This leads to a couple of sex scenes, shown in its entirety.

The film makes use of fluid long takes, and many scenes are filmed entirely in one take; the Steadicam work here is stellar and I didn't notice any issues with focus. And these aren't slow-moving shots; the camera is generally swooping along as it follows the fast-walking boys, coming to abrupt halts sometimes as they are interrupted by something, and then continuing, which sort of mirrors the staccato like gestures of the characters. Other times there are static long-shots, with lots happening within the frame, like when the alpha male boys come to ransack the younger boys' room, or when one of the girls go through an excruciating experience of an illegal abortion. (How excruciating? You actually hear her voice.)

The film leads to an explosive final scene, again filmed in one long take as we see our main boy, now innocence all gone, walking up 7 flights of stairs and turning the tables on the alpha male gang. It is both surreal and cathartic, and reminded me slightly of what happened at the end of von Trier's Dogville.

All the actors did well; Grigoriy Fesenko is perpetually brooding as the protagonist. I didn't find out whether all the young actors are actually deaf, or if they're not whether they knew sign language beforehand.

It's probably not the sort of film that you can walk into without knowing its nature and still enjoy it; but, knowing what you're walking into, it's certainly an interesting experience, and not as difficult a watch as one would imagine. You will notice of course that, with the content of the conversations missing, you're more aware of the physical poses and gestures of the characters, and sometimes you're surprised by the fact that something happening nearby isn't registered by another character because he or she isn't looking in that direction and thus isn't aware of it.

An unusual film that's a recommended watch if it's available to you.

How Good I Think The Film Is: 7/10

Did I Fall Asleep: Might have.

REVIEW: The Cut

at 5:49 pm
This is the twenty-seventh film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival.

Tahar Rahim, one of the most watchable actors from France, was the reason I decided to catch the film (even before I read the synopsis). He's played various characters in France, and then a Celtic tribal leader in The Eagle, and then an Arab in Day Of The Falcon, and now he's … an Armenian Christian at the onset of the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks during WWI.

The film begins as these films do, showing us the relatively happy lives of a family just before the storm clouds of war rolled in, starting off with the words "Once upon a time … once upon no time …". Nazaret (Rahim) is father to two cheerful daughters and has a wife who sings him to sleep (the song consists of a hypnotic repetition of the word 'chanoi'). The ominous war finally arrives at his doorstep as Ottoman soldiers turn up at their village without warning and seize all adult men to become slave workers, and just like that Nazaret is torn from his family. The work is hard and meaningless (I never really understood why in war movies and prison movies do we always see hostages/convicts hauling stones in wheelbarrows and breaking them down), and the soldiers are moderately bullying. One day, however, all the Armenian men are taken away by a separate group of Ottoman soldiers and … executed. Nazaret somehow survives, though not unscathed, in a way that the title of the film hints at.

By then Nazaret's spirit is crushed, and he wanders from place to place, at first being rescued by deserting soldiers, later finding his sister-in-law in a camp of dying Armenians before she expires herself, and then arriving at a village where he is taken in by the kind owner of a soap factory. Nazaret works hard and tries to survive, but then a coincidental meeting leads to a sudden revelation: his daughters are still alive! From here Nazaret's adventures begin proper. He travels from place to place, looking for information about his daughters, and when he finally finds out their fate, his next destination to seek them out is a surprising one, and one that embiggens the scope of the film even further ...

There's probably been other films that've dealt with the topic of the Armenian genocide but I haven't seen them before, but it's hard to believe there's any that matched the epic scope of this film, even though the film does quite intimately focus on the experience of this one Armenian man. 

Interestingly, it's directed by Fatih Akin, a German Turkish director of whom I've only seen one of his earlier films Im Juli (In July), which starred Moritz Bleibtreu (who makes an unexpected – for me, slightly distracting – cameo here). While the Turks are indisputably the bad guys here, they're not unsophisticatedly vilified; there is a scene set after the end of the war which sees the Turks ignominiously walking out of the town while the Armenians curse and stone them from the pavements (a scene that is of course reminiscent of so many movies set during wartime Germany, including Schindler's List with the Jews walking out and the Germans cursing them and a kid yelling repeatedly "Goodbye Jews!"), when an Armenian manages to thr
ow a stone that hits a Turkish boy squarely in the eye and he bleeds profusely, you kind of feel for that kid for that moment, and so does Nazaret, who puts down the stone he is about to throw.

Also helping with the epic feel of the film are the evocative sets and locations, from the simple, rural Armenian towns in the beginning of the film to the various kinds of desert scenes, moving on to authentic recreations of the early 20th century look of the surprising countries the film takes Nazaret to.

Once again, Tahar Rahim doesn't disappoint. But I knew that already. :)

How Good I Think The Film Is: 7.5/10

Did I Fall Asleep: Don't think so.

REVIEW: The Mule

Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 7:01 am
This is the twenty-sixth film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival.

It's based on a true story, though I haven't been able to find the Wikipedia article about said true story, which I really wanted to because parts of the story strained credibility. Which makes it really interesting!

The year is 1983. The film centres on Ray Jenkins (Angus Sampson, who also wrote and co-directed), a really naïve man with an over-protective mother (obviously), who works at a dead-end job at an electronics store. So when his best mate Gavin (Leigh Whannell, whom you might know of as the writer of the Saw trilogy and other James Wan projects) offers him a slightly dangerous job of smuggling 1 kg of drugs through his stomach from Bangkok with the promise of 8,000 Aussie dollars in return, Ray takes it after some amount of hesitation.

Naturally, where the story gets really interesting is when Ray is detained at the Melbourne airport. The customs officers couldn't find anything, so the detectives who take charge of the case, the intentionally violent-prone Croft (the world's favourite Australian character actor, Hugo Weaving) and the default good cop Paris (Ewen Leslie) put Ray up at a hotel room and attempt to wait Ray out ... I mean, the bloke has gotta shit at some point, right? Ray is in on their plans and begins to ... constipate himself. This is as simple and effective as dramatic conflict gets in a movie. It's the opposite of a race against time.

Meanwhile, other things are building up around Ray's story. Gavin is pressured by the drug lord whose drugs are in Ray's stomach to get the drugs and kill his friend Ray, perhaps both at the same time. The lawyer assigned to Ray's case attempts drum up sensationalism about Ray's case to the media, but is entirely blockaded by the yacht race that has the nation gripped. Meanwhile, Ray's over-protective mother attempts to help her son by sending over laxative-laced steak ...

The ordeal Ray goes through in trying to avoid jail by holding his shit in literally (one doesn't often get to type 'holding his shit in literally' often, really) is both awesome and stomach-churning to watch. One could almost smell the fart in the room from the way the detectives cringe their noses, and the sound editors helpfully gave us an audible account of Ray's bowel grumblings.

Despite the waiting nature of the story, the film never sags through its middle act, which is kind of a feat, and as an audience member you get used to the incredulity as the X in 'Day X' goes into double figures. In the third act a number of subplots come together and get resolved in a satisfying if slightly incredible manner, but we come to like Ray (or rather, feel sorry for him) and wish to see him get through this alive.

I did ask the question in my head, given that the film stated that this was based on a true story, how much of what we see happening at the end of the film was true.

Overall, a pretty good story in a pretty good Australian production. Check out the excellently edited trailer below.

How Good I Think The Film Is: 7/10
Did I Fall Asleep: Nope.

REVIEW: 그들이 죽었다 | We Will Be OK

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm
This is the twenty-fifth film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival.

Gosh, I really regretted picking this film. I didn't remember why I picked it when the movie started as I had forgotten the synopsis, but soon I understood why: the film deals with a group of filmmakers who are finding the business rather difficult to get into.

Except that the whole thing is just rather aimless and boring. Our main character is Sang-seok, who is in ennui. His friend Jae-ho decides that he's not getting enough roles as an actor, so why not make their own films? So Jae-ho pulls together just a few friends who constitute his skeleton crew, but doesn't know a thing about directing, and annoys his DP by not getting location permits first, and perplexes his actress when she saw that they're filming with an iPhone. By the middle of the film the little filmmaking venture Jae-ho is attempting has clearly fallen apart.

Then the film changes direction with its story; it's not a subplot, but a new plot. Sang-seok meets a karaoke girl and kind of uses her as a rebound after finding out that a girl he slept with was totally not interested in him. He goes back home, tries to write a screenplay himself, then tries to kill himself, then coincidentally finds the karaoke girl living not far away from him. The karaoke girl firmly believes that the world really is ending on 12.21.2012, so Sang-seok invites her to spend the last day with him. Except that at the end of that half of that film, in what feels like a spontaneous move on the part of the film's writer-director, that sequence changes into "oh, Sang-seok was just imagining all of that for his screenplay". And then it pulls out a Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World ending, except that it's not at all emotionally satisfying, quite the opposite.

As I mentioned, it's all rather aimless and boring, and it doesn't help that the characters aren't likable, except maybe the karaoke girl (not very, just a bit). For sure it's a low-budget film and its plot is partly dictated by the available resources (which is very little), but ultimately the filmmakers failed to give the film a purpose for the audience to watch it.

There's the fact that the actors all use their own names for their characters; Sang-seok is Kim Sang-seok, and Jae-ho is Baek Jae-ho, who also wrote and directed it. Baek's explanation as to why they did it made sense: if audiences remember the characters then they'll already remember the actors' names. After all, they really are a bunch of filmmakers who are trying to break into the Korean film industry (which is over time resembling more and more of the impenetrability of the Hollywood studio system, spurred on by Korean society's celebrity worship), so one could imagine there's a lot of autobiographical element in the film. ... But what happens if the film is annoying to the audience? Would we think of those names favourably?

There's a scene showing Sang-seok's ennui that led to his misguided suicide attempt. It lasts about 2-3 mins, and felt like forever without a point; could've been done in 20 seconds.

Another random comment: Sang-seok actually looks better in person than in the film. Odd.

Probably the least enjoyable film at the film festival for me.

How Good I Think It Is: 2/10
Did I Fall Asleep: 20 mins at some point in the beginning, and then here and there after that.

REVIEW: National Gallery

at 6:03 pm
This is the twenty-fourth film I saw at the 19th Busan International Film Festival. This was the film I gave up Boyhood for. If only I had been able to get into an earlier screening, I wouldn't have to make such compromises, sigh …

It's nothing more than a documentary that shows us the going-ons of London's National Gallery. I have fond memories of the place, it's probably my favourite of London's museums or galleries. I was never good at art, nor did I have the aptitude for art appreciation, but I remember feeling happy walking past all those paintings and looking at them. 

One of the paintings, a portrait of a young man, had caused me to halt my steps and stare at it longer than usual. I was happy to see it again in the film, made me smile.

Well, having been there, what does this film offer that's special? Besides showing us the gallery space and the visitors who look at the paintings and the guides who explain to the members of the public the stories behind the paintings, it also takes us into the restoration rooms where deteriorating or vandalised paintings are meticulously retouched, the discussion meetings between administrative members of the gallery, a life drawing class with nude models, etc. The film is just that, and more of that, over and over again. It doesn't get more straightforward than that.

The parts I enjoyed the most are the tour narration bits: one female guide always invites her audience to stand in the shoes of one of the characters in the paintings, and then weaves the context and the story within the painting to get people to appreciate the painting in front of them more strongly; another male guide who takes younger children and tweens around naturally takes a more talking-down attitude, but also does it in a way that I personally found engaging.

Other than that, I struggled to stay awake in some parts of the film's nearly 3-hour running time. Director Frederick Wiseman does tend to allow his subjects to talk onscreen. I mean, sure, he shot the entire conversation in all cases, but was there a need to include almost all of it? It's hard to care when you keep having to discover the context and references of what these people are discussing regarding the gallery and the paintings and the people, especially after 2 hours of it and still more to come. 

Perhaps it's something that would be appreciated by people who like people-watching. But personally I would've shortened the film significantly, perhaps down to half, and it wouldn't have lessened the experience for me, possibly enhanced it because I would've kept awake for all of it, because it's not like I gained more from listening to ten minutes' worth of discussions about how, for example, how effective are the members of the public's experience of the gallery (it doesn't help that the woman who was arguing her case was so politely diplomatic that she took ten times longer than necessary to make her point), or five minutes' worth of the pity it is that the placement of a particular painting resulted in a shadow across the top 10% of it but well, there's no better place for it ... as opposed to just a minute or two of those conversations.

Based on one of the scenes in which the National Gallery's budget was being debated, it seems the film was shot in 2011. Did it take that long to edit ... and still be this long?

In a way the film reminded me of Into Great Silence, a German documentary film about French monks in a secluded monastery that is almost the same length as this film that is every bit as patience-demanding as it sounds.

How Good I Think The Film Is: 6.5/10
Did I Fall Asleep: Many times, but in a film like this it actually doesn't matter.

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