As an adventurous spectator of cinema who writes about films and is very much interested in where cinema is headed as an art form, I can say that Art of the Real, a film series that showcases innovative, daring, non-narrative films, has been a great wealth of resources and a place of discovery over the years.
Since its inception in 2013, Art of the Real at New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center has been celebrating genre-bending, non-narrative filmmaking. In its sixth year, the series presents new such works by filmmakers from around the world, plus a retrospective featuring Japanese experimental filmmaker Toshio Matstumoto's non-fiction work and a tribute to the late Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyne Saab. If you are a curious about the possibilities of cinema as an art form, and hungry for something new and thought provoking as well as entertaining, the Art of the Real series is the place to be.
The series runs from Thursday, April 18 through Sunday, April 28. For tickets and more info, please visit FSLC website.
Swiss filmmaker Nicole Vögele's observational film Closing Time focuses on a tiny, late-night food stall owned by Mr. Kuo and Mrs. Lin, under a freeway overpass in Taipei.
The film leisurely explores the surroundings of this night neighborhood: an arcade parlor owned by a young couple, a dollar store next door, a wayward dog waiting for its long lost owner, a late night/early morning market where Mr. Kuo shops. Stragglers converse over a rice porridge with side dishes about the weather -- the recent strong typhoon destroyed domestic produce, leaving not too many choices for Mr. Kuo to shop for ingredients -- about the changing neighborhoods, about working too much...
The couple prepares and cooks six nights a week. We barely get to see them in daytime. The sky is always dawn violet, the street is filled with thousands of mopeds, traffic lights and signs of the shops reflected on the puddles, with the sounds of the night. You get used to the rhythm of this working class microcosm. It's quiet and somnambulistic.
On his moped, Mr Kuo takes off on the road in the latter part of the film and ends up in a small town down in the south of the country. We don't know what conspired for him to take this path. Was he tired of his daily routine? Did he want to get away? Doesn't matter. We are afforded the lush scenery of Taiwan's countryside.
Beautifully composed in Super 16mm in a rainy season of Taiwan, Closing Time is a contemplative film shedding a light on a part of the world that rarely gets attention.