Friday, March 28, 2014

A Story of Children and Film

2013, UK, directed by Mark Cousins

A little of Mark Cousins can go a long way, though here his observational style generally works very well.  While some of his connections between films about children seem extraordinarily flimsy, on other occasions he juxtaposes unusual combinations to very insightful effect -- flipping from the Chinese film Yellow Earth to ET, for instance, or, in one exceptional passage, melding reflections on Spirit of the Beehive and Frankenstein with the extraordinary Latvian short film Ten Minutes Older. The extended essay opens with what seems like a useful framing device, calling on van Gogh to suggest the value of examining one subject over and over in great detail to see what a constant reworking might yield. Unfortunately, but consistent with his own style, Cousins adds a second, much more personal frame too, with his nephew and niece filmed at play one morning and providing a kind of template for subsequent reflections. The double framing seems redundant, and ultimately quite distracting -- you want to see more of his wonderful clips, including his own comments thereon, rather than his family. That, in the end, is where the real treasure lies, and there's an excellent website featuring material on the films featured here.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States