La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

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senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#76 Post by senseabove » Wed May 13, 2020 4:53 pm

I decided it was a Long Movie night last night, so settled in for Llinas' Extraordinary Stories after work, and I'm pleased to say that I think it's just as brilliant as La Flor. Borges and Greenaway and Ruiz and Cortazar get tossed out as reference points a lot, but (excepting that the latter two I've yet to explore much of) the name that kept coming to mind for me was another Argentinian writer, Cesar Aira, known for writing his wildly unpredictable novellas one unplanned page per day, letting the story progress entirely according to his whim, and never back-tracking to make what he's already written make sense with what he has written later: there is only forward, creatively. Obviously, a film can't quite be so slapdash about things, but there's a similar sense of narrative momentum-as-purpose to the two Llinas films. And the relevance of Greenaway as a reference is not so much the formal playfulness or the structural starch as it is that it feels like both their primary concerns are to extend an artistic heritage that includes film, but extends much further back: narrative for Llinas and pictorial for Greenaway—early film serials, but also, say, Laurence Sterne.

La Flor is, of course, much more and more explicitly interested in the film portion of that narrative history, and I don't mean to say ES neglects its imagery, even if it is roughly 70% narration. Its interest in the distinctly filmic section of narrative history may, ironically, be mostly prominent in the disbelief-challenging "use what we can get away with" low-budget aesthetics of a period interlude, which returns as the B-movie horror aesthetics of Part 1 in La Flor. The technique for playing with visual narrative that I found delightful is its casual, playful frankness of contrasting the specificity of images against the generality of words. For example, there's a bit of narration about one main character boating down a river that won't be named before the narrator names the river, because obviously, we are watching someone boat down a specific, real river, but the specificity is actually irrelevant to the story; or conversely, a part where the narrator says a character is "from some country in Africa" while we see a passport from Zambia. There's a similar, corollary interest in the slippage between levels of narrative and levels of reality as between word and image—at one point, after summarizing one character's hypothetical extrapolation from disparate facts he's gathered, the narrator says "But [Characters A and B] knowing nothing about [C], except in X's imagination."

Despite that theme surfacing in a paranoid extrapolation in that particular instance, Rivette is still not really a reference point I feel much beyond the importance of duration to their projects. Rivette's concern is the need to create narrative out of disparate information, and to participate in that narrative whether by joining, rejecting, controlling it, etc., and he effects that in viewers at the same time as characters by exploiting curiosity, the faultiness of short-term memory, and our own capacity for extrapolation. Llinas's interest, though, is in the narrative compulsion for its own sake—not our need to make sense of this mess with a story, but our desire to fill silence with a story, to interrupt someone else's with one it reminds us of, to springboard from the tiniest detail to a story that, by all appearances, is completely unrelated. The two sisters interlude, the disappearing woman interlude, whose only relevance to the story is one characters' unfounded suspicion... they're utterly beguiling detours, anchored in the sheer pleasure of exploring how and why we suspend disbelief. A tantalizing mystery may be what drives his characters, but the substance of this is not the hunt for an ever more encompassing narrative. The substance is in the delight of surprise, our eagerness to listen, the thread rather than what it ties together. (As a side note, the capacity for paranoia is a minor key that Llinas' uses to pique our interest mostly, and it's certainly a hook for the audience, but as in contrast with Rivette, it's not his focus—I'd be curious to rewatch La Flor with an eye on it as a theme... and I'll be curious if he explores it more directly in subsequent work.)

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#77 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 13, 2020 6:17 pm

It's a great film and playfully constructs itself in a more labyrinthine way akin to Borges than La flor, which does this throughout the spy episode, but otherwise only sneakily punctures this Borges/Cortazar layered depth of narrative comprehension in a new dimension. The fourth chapter functions as a secret key to reveal the deceptively separate episodic structure as a whole composite.

Historias extraordinarias seemed to be more rooted in the 'possibilities in perspective' as opportunities for this information, to "fill silence with a story" in the details, as you say. Whether withholding the name of a river, or objectively showing a cast of characters interacting while musing about their own subjective limitations and experiences, or taking detours to focus on new details- the playing extends from characters' invaluable stances to the omniscient one, but also has fun with each's restrictions. Llinas continued to engage in that idea of perspective as the most significant tool for not only generating, but enthusing over the information that gives meaning to, and alters, narrative and the ideas of experience.

Paranoia is a symptom of this process of coping with finite framing, and I think he inserts it into his work to entertain us and evoke the pressure that comes with the territory of battling perspectives and anxiety in facing enigmatic forces (La flor's first chapter features the latter kind of paranoia, while the human-to-human battle exists in the second chapter's sideplot, though we become the involved parties in both and feel the bulk of anxiety in the enigmas in the second chapter- I mean, what the fuck is up with that drugged up boat dream/prophesizing?) but I don't think paranoia on its own is a primary interest, any more than history/one's past is - another key ingediant. Instead it's another recognized and utilized possibility, a "detail" of our/characters' many manifestations of perspective, that Llinas incorporates into the construction of these narratives, using all that can be used in the vast potential of storytelling.

This (paranoia, history, perspective) does fall under an umbrella of 'secrets' which are inherent consequences of perspective. The characters have secret agendas, ideas, thoughts, pasts, and fear these secrets of others. We are involved too - magnetically drawn into the secrets revealed to us by Llinas the puppeteer, and his characters, as well as stressfully coping with them. The 'in media res' cutting of the chapters in La flor force secrets to remain, but Llinas knows that they always will and is generous enough to offer us all the details he does, in each film. There are always more outlets to draw interesting information from, something Llinas and these South American authors knew very well, which is why their works are so investing for audiences, who are - by nature - participants, with our own constraints in access from defined vantage points.

I agree with you that any Rivette comparisons are misjudged, as he uses paranoia to establish anti-paranoia and ignite that existential path from crisis to healing that comes with the sobering truths of life's lack of tangible meaning, and promotes the making of our own. Llinas conversely uses paranoia to elicit a flood of small meanings and enjoys passionately exploring each curiously, validating and entertaining that psychological experience as-is, without needing to capitalize on each in casting them into a larger scope (though he does this in his own unique way by collecting and twisting narratives around them). Both use elasticity of narrative space to meet their goals though.

I cannot recommend Raul Ruiz highly enough, especially if you were as enlightened by the fourth chapter of La flor as most. I've read most Borges, but Cortazar is a writer I've been an arm's reach away from for years. My sister, who works in bilingual publishing (in the Bay area too, actually) wrote her thesis on his novel Hopscotch, which is sitting on my shelf right now dying to be read. His short story was the loose basis for Antonioni's Blow-Up though, which is one of the best inclusions in any of Criterion's booklets, in my opinion. A great read and even more interesting when compared to the film thematically. Anyways, I enjoyed reading your thoughts as always, and definitely don't sleep on Ruiz.

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senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#78 Post by senseabove » Wed May 13, 2020 8:05 pm

Ruiz is definitely on my list in general, and Mysteries of Lisbon is on the long-movies-during-shelter-in-place docket. I've only seen Time Regained and Tres Tristes Tigres.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#79 Post by knives » Wed May 13, 2020 8:48 pm

Mysteries of Lisbon moves along very quickly. It's also the film I've seen to really have that 19th century literary quality.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#80 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu May 14, 2020 3:11 pm

Mysteries of Lisbon is great and involves effortlessly creative storytelling and filmmaking in general, though Love Torn in a Dream is probably Ruiz at his most innovative regarding narrative. I can't properly describe what he chooses to do with layering seven or eight different ideas, but it's so inventive and insane that it needs to be seen to be believed. There are many examples of the diverse ways that Ruiz is imagination-run-riot, but that one is my favorite exhibition of his abilities to wholly transform the possibilities of narrative, basically making an experimental film out of it - which probably doesn't make any sense, until you see it.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#81 Post by zedz » Fri May 15, 2020 12:43 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 3:11 pm
Mysteries of Lisbon is great and involves effortlessly creative storytelling and filmmaking in general, though Love Torn in a Dream is probably Ruiz at his most innovative regarding narrative. I can't properly describe what he chooses to do with layering seven or eight different ideas, but it's so inventive and insane that it needs to be seen to be believed. There are many examples of the diverse ways that Ruiz is imagination-run-riot, but that one is my favorite exhibition of his abilities to wholly transform the possibilities of narrative, basically making an experimental film out of it - which probably doesn't make any sense, until you see it.
Love Torn in Dream explains exactly what it's going to do at the outset, and it's so preposterous that you just have to laugh. Then Ruiz goes ahead and does it, with, moreover, a kind of serious emotional and experiential coherence for the characters that would have seemed to be impossible under the circumstances. It's not my favourite Ruiz, but it could well be his most audacious - which is a hell of an achievement given what other mischief he got up to.

Getting back to the subject of this thread, Love Torn in Dream is the kind of filmic undertaking Mariano Llinas would dismiss as too hard.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#82 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 15, 2020 1:13 am

zedz wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 12:43 am
It's not my favourite Ruiz, but it could well be his most audacious - which is a hell of an achievement given what other mischief he got up to.
My thoughts exactly, it’s just the one I want to show everyone because -even though this is how I feel about a lot of Ruiz- it’s a film I watched with jaw dropped wondering how someone can actually do that with the medium. It’s up there for me, but a few others beat it
zedz wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 12:43 am
Getting back to the subject of this thread, Love Torn in Dream is the kind of filmic undertaking Mariano Llinas would dismiss as too hard.
Sure, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t an influence in some way on his first film’s overlapping narratives, even if he tempered it to his own rhythm. Ruiz’s take on Treasure Island feels more in Llinas’ wheelhouse for deconstructive playing with narrative. It’s one of my favorites, and if I remember correctly you also rank it high (which seems like a very unpopular, rare opinion).

(Btw, Treasure Island is available on YT for free, and it’s one of his few films in English, so thankfully accessible for most)

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gcgiles1dollarbin
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:38 am

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#83 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:35 pm

La Flor will be streaming on Mubi in mid-July, for those who a) haven't seen it, b) want to see it, c) will not subscribe to Mubi but still haven't used their free trial, d) don't have access to back channels, e) don't blind-buy discs, and f) won't pay for the streaming rental at Grasshopper for $15 to rent/$30 to buy. I may be the only one here who is all of those cheap-ass things, but I hope this is useful information for someone else. Apologies if this is redundant; couldn't find it upthread. As mentioned elsewhere, Extraordinary Stories is currently streaming on Mubi.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#84 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:50 pm

Hey, whatever will get people to see it!

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criterionsnob
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:23 am
Location: Canada

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#85 Post by criterionsnob » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:32 pm

Mariano Llinas' Extraordinary Stories (Parts 1-3), now available to purchase or rent on Projectr, along with La flor.


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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#87 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:07 pm

Jean-Luc Garbo wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:50 pm
Adrian Martin on La Flor
Great read, thanks for sharing! (And please, Adrian Martin, do a commentary for a future release of this film to save 2020)

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