FROM THE EDITOR
Been a while, sorry, life gets in the way of climate-art newsletters. Let's call this the Jan-Feb edition. (Much of what I post here is originally from the Viaduct FB group btw). I was mulling a focus on what I call 'future-music', music that can carry us forward and help us believe in the future. But with a batch of great recent movies that explore our relationship with that future and our habitat in lyrical and striking ways, let's go with 'future-films'.
But first, once more ICYMI at the time, this is from the About page of a certain budding photographer killed by police. You may have heard of him:
I am an aspiring photographer. Well I mostly do this stuff for fun but I enjoy it very much. Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people. I take different types of photography, anywhere from action sports to rural photos, to bodies of water and my favorite, landscape photography. My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell, why not capture it instead of doing the "norm" and writing it down or speaking it. I hope to one day let people see what I see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work. So on that note enjoy my page and let me know what you think.
Tyre D. Nichols
Up and over anyway. Photo by Vladyslav Krasnoshchok.
'EO' (like Eeyore) the donkey escapes captivity and wanders the grubby fringes of Europe that is modern-day yet somehow 'out of time' (in both senses of the expression). He is utterly innocent and vulnerable, a mute but wise observer of our relationship with animals. Some of the story unfolds from his point of view or extreme closeup, but beyond that his inner life is a mystery. He is simply a donkey, not personified or possessing special abilities. He encounters some good people, some flawed, and others that hold a harsh mirror to society.
It's a fable that's somehow both minimalist and maximalist. Part poetic, part punk. The visuals are simply stunning, the structure and style of the film are captivating and unexpected. It's both magical and edgy. Sometimes funny.
Yet after I saw it in the theater a few months ago I debated if/how I should recommend it. (I should have written something right away since I'm forgetting my immediate reactions, which were intense.) There were moments when I couldn't believe what I was seeing and couldn't wait to share about it.
But don't let the expectation of whimsy fool you. It is whimsical but it's also not for the faint of heart and certainly NOT for children. Please don't even think about it. I wondered if I could recommend it in good conscience at all. Along the way there is violence towards animals - including EO, at one point he takes a battering that made the crowd gasp - though most of it is not shown directly. There is a graphic murder of an innocent person.
The ending is not a happy one, I think it's important to know that. Make no mistake, this is an art film that gives you what it wants, not what you want, or what you would get by Hollywood committee. Which is why it's so great, and weird (mostly good-weird), and unflinching, and moving, and at times deeply painful. It made me think and feel and stayed with me, percolating for a while. I still think about it. There is something very human about this film, though not usually coming from the humans. It may be centered on a donkey but of course it's about us.
So yes, I really recommend this film if none of the above scares you away.
ALL THAT BREATHES
Streaming on HBO Max. From the Evening Standard:
All That Breathes is visually stunning and poignantly captures nature’s struggle to survive in an urban dystopia. Turtles crawl among a thick mound of bin bags and discarded boxes; pigs bathe in a dirty street swamp formed during a torrential downpour. In one particularly beautiful shot, a black kite glides in the thick smog next to a half-moon floating on the edge of the sky. These moments blend perfectly with Roger Goula’s soundtrack, which channels the synth-laden, ambient sweep of Jon Hopkins and Ólafur Arnalds.
The richness of the film’s imagery is key to the power of its message. Sen eschews traditional documentary techniques: there are no talking heads or statistics on slides.
While the sectarian tensions of Modi’s India simmer constantly in the background throughout, All That Breathes’ predominant concern is not political. This is a gorgeous, empathetic meditation on the interconnectedness of man and nature; and the raw ugliness of the destruction of the world we share.
EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE
This review is long but worth a read. Includes a cameo by Wim Wenders!
The film is by no means a happily ever after fairytale, resolving the extinction crisis with a single sweeping answer. The story, true to its sci-fi genre, is ultimately a dialogue between future and present people. It’s a reminder [...] that 'there is a future, and there are people in it.'"
"It’s not climate dread. It’s seeing the beauty and saying, I don’t want this beauty to be gone. How we talk to ourselves about how it will all turn out is important. It might be a psychological trick, but I think the mindset that we take is important."